There are a number of conventions you can count on fairly consistently in the New York Times crossword.
One is that abbreviated answers are "signaled" somehow - an answer that is an acronym/initialism, or a shortened form of a longer word, has something to indicate it in the clue.
To my understanding, any abbreviated answer would always have one of the following in the clue:
- An explicit indicator that it's shortened "Abbreviated" "...for short", "Casually" etc.
- Abbreviations in the clue itself: "Low ranking GI" for "pvt"
But consider the following:
The town the answer references is "Saint-Lô;" using "St." is simply an abbreviation for "Saint". So why doesn't convention require that the abbreviation is telegraphed, in the same way it is in 9 Across? ("Philatelists's abbr.")
Is the convention more complex than what I've described above?
Note: I know that there aren't Crossword Courts, and that Will Shortz may do whatever he pleases, but crosswords are built on traditional expectations, so I'm trying to draw on the community's experience with why the indicator is expected on some clues and not others.