This is a pleasant and easy theme, applicable for a straightforward Monday puzzle. Mr. Pall has recognized 4 phrases that comply with the sample ___ IT OR ___ IT that match symmetrically into the grid (which is to say, in the event you have been to rotate the grid 180 levels, you’ll find yourself with theme entries in the identical locations you at present have theme entries).
The first and final of those are every a grid-spanning 15 letters lengthy, which is all the time enjoyable to see, particularly early within the week. The first of those, clued as “This is my final offer,” is TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT. The different 15-letter entry, within the rotationally reverse place, is MAKE IT OR BREAK IT (“Having no middle ground between success and failure”). I really like TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, and though I feel MAKE IT OR BREAK IT could extra generally be seen as “make or break,” which has seven occasions as many hits on Google, it’s completely nonetheless an expression that folks use.
The different two theme entries are equally enjoyable phrases that take up practically as a lot area within the grid — 14 letters as a substitute of 15 — which certainly made filling this puzzle (including the non-theme phrases) a big problem. Congratulations to Mr. Pall on pulling this off!
I’m jazzed to return to the pages of The Times after 9 years away. Lots can change in 9 years. Back in 2012, I used to be a highschool senior who wrote puzzles in between homework assignments and school functions. Today, I’m a 26-year-old software program developer who writes puzzles whereas ready for code to construct.
Like me, crosswords have additionally grown up previously decade. More varieties of individuals make and luxuriate in crosswords than ever earlier than, there was an explosion of indie crossword content material, and the subject material of the puzzles themselves has gotten higher at retaining in keeping with in the present day’s tradition. It’s an honor to make my contribution to this new and improved period of crosswords.
Today’s puzzle’s journey started once I was brainstorming easy Monday themes to flex my establishing muscle tissue. My thoughts wandered to one of many puzzle’s seed phrases, and I wrote down as many as I might that adopted the sample. I’m by no means happy with a theme if it’s too broad — my rule is that if I can consider 50 % extra candidate theme entries than I would like, I in all probability must slim it a bit or add an additional hook. To my shock, there weren’t a ton of ___ IT OR ___ IT phrases. From there, it got here right down to eliminating duplicate phrases and discovering matching pairs. I particularly appreciated that whereas the phrase construction is fairly inflexible, I used to be in a position to write clues that don’t really feel formulaic and present every theme entry in its personal gentle.
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