Double Crossers

New York Times, May 16

It’s not uncommon for the NYT to squeeze two letters into a single square to carry out a theme, but this is truly impressive: FOUR letters in some squares.

I think the theme clues were unnecessarily asterisked; it was evident from the grid which ones were theme-related, since certain squares were divided into quadrants. The idea was to put four letters in these squares, yielding some alliterative phrases that share most of their letters.

So a “Winning dad in a race” (1Across) is a FASTER FATHER, rendered FA(ST/TH)ER, and crossing with 3 Down, “Edberg enjoying a sports match” — STEFAN THE FAN, rendered  (ST/TH)EFAN; “Like Enron” (6 Across) is IN THE RED IN THE END, rendered IN THE (RE/EN)D, crossing with 11 Down, “Knock again” — RETRY ENTRY, rendered (RE/EN)TRY; “Whispers heard during an in-class test” (20 Across) is CHEATER CHATTER, rendered CH(EA/AT)TER, crossing with 14 Down, “Nectarine grove” — PEACH PATCH, rendered P(EA/AT)CH.

Others: A “Serving tray left next to the frying pan” (43 Across) is a SPATTER PLATTER, rendered (SP/PL)ATTER, crossed with 43 Down, “Orthodontist, at times” — SPACER PLACER, rendered (SP/PL)ACER ; “Just one or two pups, say” (117 Across) is a LITTLE LITTER, rendered LITT(LE/ER), crossed with 97 Down, “Vlasic employee” — PICKLE PICKER, rendered PICK(LE/ER); a “Revival meeting” (58 Across) is a CONVERSION CONVENTION, rendered CONVE(RS/NT)ION, crossed with 26 Down, “Stupid show from a cable TV giant” — TIME WARNER TIME WASTER, rendered TIMEWA(RN/ST)ER; “‘You’re not that sorry!'” (73 Across) is a CONTRITION CONTENTION, rendered CONT(RI/EN)TION, crossed with 74 Down, “Small-claims court” — RESTITUTION INSTITUTION, rendered (RE/IN)STITUTION.

Also: “Bozo, for one” (90 Across) is a KIDD(IE/ER), crossed with 68 Down, “Oven, at times” — COOK(IE/ER); “One who apprentices woodworkers” (80 Across) is a (ST/TR)AINER, crossed with 80 Down, “Lorry in a ditch” — (ST/TR)UCK; and 105 Across, “Singer Britney succeeds at the high jump” is (SP/CL)EARS, crossed with 105 Down, “Where Robert Burns and kin are buried” — (SC/PL)OTS.

In the Best Show on Television Dept.: 27 Across, “South Park” boy — KENNY. That show just keeps getting better. Amazing.

In the I Didn’t Know That, But It Makes Sense Dept: Hugh M. ____ First Amendment Award — HEFNER (9 Down).

And in the Happy Anniversary Dept.: A shout-out to the “Only defenseman to have won the NHL scoring title” — (Bobby) ORR. We have an autographed copy of the famous photo of Bobby Orr flying through the air after scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Boston Bruins 40 years ago. Boston just celebrated the anniversary of the moment with a statue — unveiled just in time for the Bruins to be ignominiously eliminated from the playoffs by the Flyers. Boston was up 3-0 in the series, only to see Philly come back and force a 7th game, which Boston also led 3-0 early. Need I finish this thought? Flyers won Game 7, 4-3. I’m sorry. Did I just gloat out loud?

Questions or comments? Twitter me @crosswordkathy

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