NYT Crossword Answers: “I’m Just Kidding!” to a texter

You’ve probably noticed that some of the clues are just dashes, and the entries for those clues aren’t numbered. These are not production errors. The dashes represent the end of the input after we add the SUN to the input on the other side.

Let’s take a look at 20A. The clue for this supposed three-letter entry is “Annual Contest Winner”. I can’t think of a title that’s only three letters long. Can you? There must be more.

On the other side of the black square, past that three-letter slot, is an unnumbered entry with a dash for a hint. I was able to get IVERSE from the crossovers, but that’s not a thing unless Apple started writing poetry.

What if that SOLAR ECLIPSE had hidden the SUN in the entrance? If we add it, we get MISSUNIVERSE, which makes much more sense.

I’m thrilled with my New York Times Crossword Thursday debut! First, I would like to salute the 2017 puzzle by Tracy Gray and Loren Muse Smith, which I drew heavily from (standing on the shoulders of giants).

I love puzzles that take advantage of the online solving experience (like last Sunday’s Easter Egg Hunt puzzle on the New York Times crossword app that turned EGG puzzles into pictures of colored eggs). So when I thought of this theme, I imagined how cool it would be for some black squares to eclipse the SUN and then disappear to reveal the rebuses of the SUN. I’m not an astronomy fan, so I had to constantly stare at this image to remember how a solar eclipse actually works.

I created a list of probably 50 or more topical answers, many of which didn’t make it, including: SAMSUNG GALAXY, EASTER SUNDAY, E PLURIBUSUNONE, MENSUNDERWEAR, LETSUNPACK IT and COMESUNDER FIRE. Grid constraints were quite difficult. I spent days trying to create a grid where the SUN rebuses were randomly scattered – I even created 16×15 and 16×16 versions as well – but eventually found that a 15×15 grid with symmetrical rebus squares gave much cleaner results.

Even though this is your typical weekday rebus puzzle, I hope the solvers still have a pleasant “aha” time. Thanks to Will Shortz and the writing team for their in-depth – and I mean in-depth – suggestions that helped make this puzzle better.

The New York Times Crossword has an open submission system, and you can submit your puzzles online.

For tips on how to get started, read our “How to Make a Crossword Puzzle” series.

Resolution almost done, but need a bit more help? We have what you need.

Warning: There are spoilers ahead, but subscribers can take a look at the answer key.

Trying to return to the puzzle page? Right here.

Your thoughts?

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