This is an interesting Sunday theme. I love that the shells are represented by the names of nuts, and that they shift from the beginning to the end of the game. I also like that the [PEA] that is shown up front has disappeared at the end, because that's just how this game goes. Never put money down when you see folks playing it in Trocadero, by the Eiffel Tower, for example. You might as well set your bills on fire, which is maybe what is hinted at by that Schrödinger-square F that could be another PEA "if this shell game weren't a scam." But, of course, it is, so leave that F in there!
Some nice bonus fill today and some tricky, fun clues. I enjoyed learning the word ALCOPOP (2D: Smirnoff Ice, e.g.), but TONIC in my gin is about as close as I come to such a drink. Right beside that, UNCOUTH (3D: Lacking polish), I thought, gave this grid some polish. And I've learned a lot about YEMEN through doing the NYTX. The capital, Sana'a, is frequently seen, it's port of Aden (which is currently the temporary capital) tripped me up the other day, and now I learn that North and South Yemen were united in 1990.
ELOPE (19D: Give a ring while on the road) was very good, and I liked the pair of three-letter Simspons salesmen - APU and MOE. MOO got a tricky clue ("Low"), and LINCOLNLOGS (115A: Material for small buildings?) got a big smile. And for a moment or two, when I had SHORT_ for 41D: Egghead?, I thought Mr. Steinberg was daring to put his editor into the grid! Now that would have been hilarious. But no, I was fooled for the umpteenth time by a self-referential clue. Hah!
1A: Browns (SAUTES) - B. Fine.
Worst: PCGAME - Can't Minecraft and StarCraft both be played on handheld devices? And has anyone said "PC game" ever, in any situation?
We have some crosswordsy plurals in ALOES, COKES, HIS, and TYS, and I suppose LPN is some kind of nurse, but it's not something I would have gotten without all the crosses. SEAWAR, COACT (really?), and PINTMEASURE are a bit ad hoc, but overall, for me (as they say on the Great British Baking Show), there was far more good than ill, and so I'll give him some LEEWAY. My only real problem is with SPARES, which I have always seen marked by filling in one corner of the scoring box, not with a slash, but still... thumbs up.