WSJ Contest – September 8, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “A Higher Power”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 9/8/17 – “A Higher Power”

First off, a big grazie to my fellow friend and fiend, Jim Peredo, for stepping in for me while I was off enjoying a bike trip (and pasta, gelato, …) through southern Italy last week. I’m still a bit jet-lagged, so let’s see if I can collect my wits and find the school subject constructor and editor Mike Shenk has us looking for this week.

We seem to have many puzzles of late where the theme entries aren’t obvious. (Blame me and my blathering on about stars on clues in prior posts!) Anyway, it turns out there are just two:

  • 34a. [Ideal], PERFECT
  • 37a. [Crossword components], SQUARES

Take those two terms together, and you get a math term referring to the product of an integer with itself (just a “square” to me, I guess the “perfect” is implied). So what are the first few perfect squares?

  • 1×1 = 1 and in that numbered square we have an A
  • 2×2 = 4 – L
  • 3×3 = 9 – G
  • 4×4 = 16 – E
  • 5×5 = 25 – B
  • 6×6 = 36 – R (I liked the nice touch that this intersected with one of the two theme entries)
  • 7×7 = 49 – A

Put it all together and you have a class that deals with squares (and other higher powers), ALGEBRA. I’m happy this meta fell easily and I also enjoyed the wide-openness of the grid, allowed by the paucity of theme material. I learned that “City juice” refers to TAP WATER and particularly liked the inclusion of [Database programming lang.], SQL as I use SQL on this site quite a lot, particularly with the ratings widget. Here’s an SQL statement to retrieve the ratings for puzzles published on this site for 2017:

SELECT 5_stars, 4_stars, 3_stars, 2_stars, 1_star, 45_stars, 35_stars, 25_stars, 15_stars, puzzle FROM ratings WHERE puzzle LIKE ‘%2017-%’ OR (puzzle LIKE ‘mgwcc-%’ AND substring(puzzle,7,3) > 448)

Arrivederci, amici!

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3 Responses to WSJ Contest – September 8, 2017

  1. Scott says:

    As a math guy, I am terribly disappointed in myself for not solving this meta.

  2. 3.5 stars, but mainly for how boring a lot of the non-constrained sections were in parts.

  3. Stephen McFly says:

    It should also be appreciated that the grid (somewhat) creates a large “x”

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