MGWCC #101

crossword 3:57
puzzle 5 minutes, 3 days, or never

mgwcc101greetings, and welcome to the 101st episode of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “All the Grid’s a Stage.” this puzzle marks the beginning of MayHem, and i don’t know if i “got” it. i mean i got the right answer, but i feel i must be missing something, because… well, let’s take a look.

the meta asks us to identify one of shakespeare’s plays. the only overt hints are the starred entries:

  • the two-part answer at 17/61d is {copy someone at knitting*} = WORK WITH THE / SAME PATTERN.
  • and in the center of the grid, the {Shakespeare title character*} is ROMEO.

so it’s not romeo & juliet, obviously. what is it? i used ROMEO as the “pattern” and tried to find a play that matched it, cryptogram-style. there isn’t one, of course; all of shakespeare’s plays have titles longer than five letters. but if you put in an entire word for each letter, then the constraint that ROMEO has two Os (in the 2nd and 5th positions) quickly leads to all’s well that ends well, which is what i found after 5 minutes. but nothing else in the grid corroborates it, so i didn’t send it in for a few days, thinking that i must be missing something. i mean there’s27d, AS WELL, clued as {Additionally} , but i don’t know if that was even intentional. it’s not symmetrically placed with anything, and the rest of the title is nowhere to be found. but finally time was up and i hadn’t found anything else, so … i sent it in. matt says it’s right, and he also reminded me that i had an extra day to look it over (wednesday deadline this week).

am i missing something? how did you all do the meta? i find it hard to believe that matt would make a 78-word grid just for 31 squares worth of theme, so … i must be missing something, right? but whatever. i guess all’s well that ends well, eh?

tough meta due to vagueness, but it wasn’t a hard crossword at all, so i guess we’re easing into mayhem. fill roundup:

  • my favorite clue was {David, Oliver or Madeline} for KAHN. an iconic crossword constructor, a german goalkeeper, and a clue actress. together at last!
  • {Africa’s northernmost capital} is TUNIS. i was tempted to put in CAIRO, but TUNIS is a much better answer if you think about it, because of the way tunisia juts up there into the mediterranean. (it also has the virtue of being correct.)
  • {___ Vader} is DARTH, of course. ridiculously easy clue, but it does give me the opportunity to link to this grisly review of star wars episode II: attack of the clones. (warning, that’s just part 1 of 9, each of which is about 10 minutes long.)
  • {“I’m A ___ Man” (t-shirt seen in Korea)} is a t-shirt i’ve never seen in korea. (the answer is SEOUL, of course.)
  • {Made in America, so to speak} is a nice clue for a nice entry, U.S.-BORN.
  • best entry? {“Count me out,” crassly} clues “SCREW THAT.”
  • {Food that’s one letter off from a large sea} is a CAROB BEAN. neat. remember that the next time you’re tempted to spell it “carribean.”

all right, that’s all from me. let’s hear from you in the comments.

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72 Responses to MGWCC #101

  1. SHAW says:

    I had no clue on this at all… however one additional thing I noticed is that the word usher appears *twice* in the center Down column. Does that mean anything? Red herring? Also, there were three “ELL”s in this puzzle. Again, *?*

  2. MM says:

    I figured that Matt meant that the answer had the same pattern as “Romeo and Juliet”; i.e. “[name] and [name]”. So I sent in “Anthony and Cleopatra”. Then I realized that “Troilus and Cressida” also works, but Wikipedia tells me that Troilus doesn’t die, so I figured I was right. But I guess I got it wrong after all!

  3. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    My losing guess was MEASURE FOR MEASURE. I justified it by thinking that is how one would proceed if one were to “Work with the same pattern.” Also thought it was too simple, but if Matt wanted to be cruel (couldn’t happen!), he might just throw in such a meta to catch us off guard. Of course, I couldn’t account for the asterisk on ROMEO. I should have tried harder.

  4. Al Sanders says:

    I thought the ELL’s might be a hint in that ELL “ends WELL”, but I’m not sure if that was intentional.

  5. John Laf says:

    Funny….thought the same as Joon but didn’t send it in. Wound up sending in “Antony And Cleopatra” for same reason as MM. Great minds think alike?

  6. Al Sanders says:

    Another thought I had was HENRY THE EIGHTH as it had the same 5,3,6 enumeration as ROMEO AND JULIET. But the ROMEO -> AWTEW pattern match seemed cleaner and all the ELL’s persuaded me to send in that answer. Matt said he only had 60 correct entries as of Monday.

  7. Cole says:

    I submitted Antony as well based on the suicides of the principal characters

  8. Aaron says:

    Still no idea on my end. I noted that the article “A” in the title was capitalized, but couldn’t really figure out anything from that. I sent in OTHELLO, simply because that has a pattern that you might find in a black and white grid, but apparently that was not correct. There were too many patterns . . . makes me wonder if it’s a trick meta, in which sending in *ANY* Shakespearean title turns out to be a justifiably correct answer.

  9. Hugh says:

    My route was similar to Joon’s, solving the meta in five minutes and then stewing over several other possible answers for two days. The deciding factor for me was that the only [Shakespearean] WORK WITH THE SAME PATTERN was AWTEW which has 4 letters in all 5 words of the title. I never did figure out the ROMEO angle to my satisfaction.

  10. Evad says:

    Hmmm, I had AWTEW after only a few minutes and didn’t give it a second thought. Hoping this is a promising harbinger for the rest of May-hem, but I doubt it!

  11. Johnny says:

    I’m with you, Joon. I came around to All’s Well That Ends Well, but was never sure it was the right answer, and felt like I was missing something.

  12. Aaron says:

    I also submitted OTHELLO because it used the same vowels as ROMEO (in the same order), and because it had the ELL that I kept seeing throughout the puzzle. I’m really hoping for a big all-revealing pay-off on Friday. I am less than satisfied right now.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I chose a work with the same structural and thematic pattern … MACBETH. I figured it followed the very traditional 5-act approach of R & J (e.g., foreshadowing the end at the beginning, etc.). It had similar motifs of light and dark, etc. Welcome to the land of over-thinking!

  14. ML says:

    Well, for all the work I did and did not do for this meta, I might as well have put in “As You Like It” – the play that includes the phrase “all the world’s a stage”…I would have been just as wrong! I put in Anthony and Cleopatra because of the suicides.

    I did investigate iambic pentameter – pattern – but there is not clear list of when and when Shakespeare used it or blank verse, instead…

    This does not bode well for me for the rest of the month – praying for a fluke in which my brain will work like Matt’s for at least one puzzle!

  15. sps says:

    I used the same reasoning as joon’s and came up with the same answer immediately, altho I, too, thought about As You Like It. I also stewed for a few days to see if anything else percolated in my dead brain. I thought that I was really missing something, that it couldn’t be that simple…I sent it in on Monday feeling a little doubtful, but I guess it was right after all.

  16. joecab says:

    I went the Othello route as well. If that’s the explanation of the meta, sorry, I don’t like it at all.

  17. John Farmer says:

    Good to know I wasn’t the only one befuddled. I suspected ALL’S WELL… was the answer, and I’d have sent it in, but I was waiting to see if the the light bulb would go on. Then the phone rang this morning…oh well. Love’s Labor’s Lost and Measure for Measure also have repeating patterns, you could say. I thought SCREW… and a few other things in the grid may have been pointing in other directions. I don’t think we need to dig into the play structures and characters for the answers. Titles should be enough. It may be MAY-HEM, but it’s still Week 1.

    I don’t buy the ROMEO hint as Joon explained it. There has to be more to it than that, right? Matt?

  18. jefflouie says:

    The problem with finding a play that matches the pattern of Romeo and Juliet (e.g. “Anthony and Cleopatra” or “Henry The Eighth”) is that ROMEOANDJULIET isn’t the actual asterisked word – It’s just ROMEO. From that I’d think AWTEW is a better answer than A&C, and better than any other answer involving the actual text (or subtext) of the Romeo and Juliet play itself.

  19. Karen says:

    I was in the A&C camp for the same reasons as people said above. I hope when Matt posts his blog he mentions how many of each incorrect answer he got.

  20. joon says:

    i agree with jeff louie. (except it’s antony and cleopatra, not anthony.)

  21. Russ says:

    I thought OTHELLO for the same reason as Aaron … its vowel pattern is O-E-O, same as in ROMEO. I also decided that the puzzle title (All the Grid’s A Stage) was a reference to the game Othello, which is staged on a grid. Oh, well. Sometimes I look at clouds and see bunnies that aren’t there, too.

    — Russ

  22. Sam Wagner says:

    I’m glad to see I was not the only one befuddled by this puzzle. I sent in Measure for Measure at the last minute. Did anyone else notice the center column seems to repeat itself with the exception of the m in Romeo (ushere M ushere) ?

  23. Jonathan Lashier says:

    This puzzle confused the hell out of me. Like others, I considered Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, and All’s Well That End’s Well for those exact same reasons, but eventually went with The Tempest. I noticed a lot of place names in the puzzle, including some place names in normal words (like A-roma) and in the starred one ROMEO (ROME-O). The Tempest contained Tempe, as in Tempe, Arizona, plus all the letters to Tempest are in the words “Same Pattern” and the “The” appears in the first part, so that was working with it in a way. (And just like the other possibilities, there wasn’t enough to be sure whether it was right or not.) Also, I thought of All The Grid’s a Stage and thought that was a clue to World which made me think of a map. Three different clues like that made me think it was the strongest possibility, but I’m probably wrong. I literally spent hours upon hours weighing pros and cons to each possibility.

    Unless all of us are missing something, I don’t think this puzzle contained enough to be sure of an answer like with almost all of his other puzzles (including the very tough ones). However, given his strong record as an excellent puzzle creator, the truth is that we probably did miss something in either the grid or clues that would make clear what the right answer was. I’m hoping it has nothing to do with the meter, because I spent a fair amount of time investigating that angle and would be embarrassed if I had missed something there.

  24. Jonathan Lashier says:

    Sam Wagner,

    I noticed USHERE, USHERE as well. I tried to make it USHER-E, US HERE, U.S. HERE (possibly another clue to locations), etc, but couldn’t get anything out of it.

  25. jimmy d says:

    What a way to start may-hem!! I sent in Antony & Cleopatra… but like everyone else, was frustrated that I couldn’t find more validation for my answer. The extended deadline had me thinking Twelfth Night for a while (May 12), and the double USHERE had me scratching my head all weekend… c’mon, Matt…spill the beans!!!

  26. Jonathan Lashier says:

    OK, I’ve explained how I arrived at my answer up above and how I think we all considered most of the same possibilities, but I just have to ask this question. Did anyone else start trying crazy things with this puzzle? For example, I took the chaos picture that he had posted, cut out the black holes and placed it over the crossword grid to see if it spelled anything.

  27. Meg says:

    I stewed for a few days before realizing that it was ROMEO, not the play, so forget the English sonnet and whatever other “patterns” I could find in the play. Besides, Matt wouldn’t expect us all to be Shakespearean experts, would he?

    I sent in AWTEW, feeling it was better than OTHELLO with its same vowel pattern. There was the crossing WELL and ALL in the title.

    I also felt that since this was the FIRST puzzle, I must have missed something terribly obvious, but judging from the write-up and comments, apparently not.

    So, the meta was very hard and I’m thinking May is going to be a lot more frightening than November.

  28. Jeffrey says:

    Maybe there was no answer, so by sending in nothing I win!

  29. Aaron says:

    @Jonathan–yes. Because the two long theme entries were describing a knitting exercise, I attempted to find ways to thread the puzzle together whenever I encountered one of the many K’s in the puzzle (shorthand for knitting).

    I also circled all of the A’s in the puzzle and attempted to string them together into a coherent pattern, mainly because of the capitalized article “A” in the title, which, if it turns out to be just a typo, is going to make me very sad.

  30. Anne E says:

    Hmm, unlike many of the responders here, I really liked this meta. I went down the same wrong path at first with Antony and Cleopatra, until I recalled Troilus and Cressida. I thought about the 5-act thing, but I’m pretty sure all of Shakespeare’s plays are five acts, so forget that. I thought about how R&J is one of the very few Shakespeare plays with a prologue (I was still thinking play pattern at that time), but there isn’t just one more with a prologue, so that was out.

    Then started looking at letter patterns. Looked at the repeated O’s and looked for another title with that pattern, and noticed, for example, that Coriolanus has repeated O’s like that. But the problem with Shakespeare play titles is that there are so many versions out there. For example, Romeo and Juliet appears in my complete-Shakespeare copy as “The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet”. Very few titles of his plays, in my copy at least, are as “compact” as we usually think of them. So… this approach wasn’t working out well either.

    It then also occurred to me that only ROMEO was in the grid. I felt sure that if Matt had wanted to, he could have placed AND JULIET in there somewhere as well. So… I then jettisoned “and Juliet”, and focused in only on those 5 letters, and looked at play titles that were unambiguous, i.e., without any other versions that I could find. There are surprisingly few. As soon as I noticed that “All’s Well That Ends Well” was one of them, I saw the initial letters matched the R-O-M-E-O pattern, and voila. I was instantly sure this was correct, I didn’t feel like anything was missing, and I thought it was extremely clever. I’m really surprised there were so many uncertainties and dissatisfactions with it. (On the other hand, I completely disliked last week’s Scrabble meta, mainly because I didn’t figure it out :-), so to each his/her own!)

  31. Abby says:

    I did A&C too, because the title and ending are similar to R&J. I did consider AWTEW (as a match for ROMEO), but that seemed like a worse connection because of “work” (and not just title). I think it was a bad meta. Just like cryptic crossword clues, any meta that you aren’t sure of even after you get it is a bad meta. The right answer should make you sure you’ve got it, and nothing really worked for me.

    I was guessing that knowing Shakespeare was probably a deficit here though. Words in the grid suggested all sorts of things to me: TUNIS (The Tempest), TITAN(ia), SPA (asp), SCREWTHAT (shrew?), REALNAME (Romeo), STARSky…

    The clues too were maddening in their phrasing. “Stat scoring someone”? (Love’s Labours Lost?) It smells/Least well?! It all seemed like Much Ado About Nothing if all we needed were the starred entries.

    I’d hate to flunk out of May-hem the first week, but I don’t think I’m happy with this one even if my answer is right.

  32. Robin says:

    Hey Aaron, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who circled all the A’s because of the capital A in the title!! I got the right answer with the same logic as Joon but never believed it could possibly be correct and finally sent it in today since I couldn’t think of anything else. I feel SO much better after reading how baffled everyone else was too.

  33. SHAW says:

    @jonathan – I did that exact thing with the holes (although virtually, using photoshop), but was dismayed to note that the chaos picture was not square and hence did not fit in an unambiguous and clear way.

    As regards the AWTEW, I hate the idea that it could be the same pattern as ROMEO just because letters two and five are the same. IF we were talking some kind of cipher here, where R -> A, O ->W, M ->T, E -> E, then fine, but otherwise it seems pretty farfetched. What’s so special about that pattern? MALIA (as in Obama), UNWON, GYPSY, MARIA, there are tons of words with this 2=5 pattern, and sure, ROMEO is a character from a Shakespeare play, but I would be surprised if there weren’t twenty other Shakespeare-related words that could be given as the central clue in this puzzle.

    Taking this a notch further, CASCA is a character in Julius Caesar. 2=5.

    I don’t think Matt has ever given us something that weak. (If so, I may as well tune the metas for the rest of May!)

  34. Aaron says:

    @SHAW, yeah, why not just use the word “FOLIO”? I’m still holding out hope that there’s something more or that, as I said, we’re all going to wind up being right. After all, OTHELLO has just as convincing a pattern as ROMEO.

  35. tabstop says:

    Should we put all the people who complain about “the ‘A’ was capitalized in the title” and the people who complain that “there wasn’t any hint that we were supposed to be looking at the first letters” together in a room until they work it out?

  36. jimmy d says:

    Also, the clue for ROMEO references the whole title in the clue, so I’m not buying the “No Juliet” arguments… there are plenty of other ways to clue ROMEO (is bleeding, void, lil’, etc)

  37. Howard B says:

    I guessed ‘Julius Caesar’ since “with the same pattern” I hoped was a cryptographic reference, and “with” could mean “containing”. So the “JULIU” in the title indeed fits the pattern. Great! Unfortunately, after submission I then found a title “Coriolanis” that also contained that pattern, than I did not know and was not in my original source list (oops).

    My downfall was my incorrect leap in logic on the interpretation of “pattern”. If you read it right, the answer was findable, although no result, correct or otherwise, seemed certain once you found it. So congratulations to all who figured it out!
    Thus, with a miss, I die. (thud).

  38. BrianGoodBeat says:

    I never had any doubt (thanks in part to the starred clues) that SAME PATTERN referred to the letter pattern of ROMEO (as in ABCDB).

    But I, too, wasn’t too sure of, nor satisfied with, the AWTEW answer. I wanted a play title that was 5 letters long and fit the same pattern. When I didn’t find one, I settled for AWTEW, but I didn’t understand why I should be looking at initial letters, since there was no instruction or clue toward that. I wanted to take a few days to think it over, but since I wasn’t allowed to talk it over with anyone, I felt pretty sure that I would have no other ideas and just sent it in. I was afraid I had missed something and would end up wrong.

    After discussing it with someone else who had already sent in their answer and they told me that the letters represented whole words, I was much more satisfied, though I didn’t think of it myself.

  39. Jim A says:

    I first considered ” _________ and ___________” as the pattern, but punted because “Troilus” and “Antony” both fit.

    So, interpreting “pattern” in the sense of “template,” and encouraged in part by Matt’s explicit MayHem allowance for outside reference materials, I turned to Wikipedia. It cites the myth of Pyramus and Thisbe as the source material (pattern?) for two Shakespearean works, “Romeo and Juliet” and (my answer) “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

    Maybe I overthought things; on the other hand I never even considered mapping a letter pattern to a word sequence. If that’s the key, I guess I need to get inside Matt’s head a little better.

    I hope Matt drops by so we don’t have to wait until Friday to learn the solution!



  40. joon says:

    what’s all this about initial letters? the cipher is O = well, not O = W.

  41. I Before E says:

    I put AWTEW because it copied the pattern of the puzzle title ATGAS in that both consist of five one-syllable words. I did not get the Romeo connection, but that’s plausible too (or perhaps a confirmation).

  42. Matt Gaffney says:

    Apologies for my delay in commenting, I’m traveling right now and only have a few minutes of wifi — will have time tonight to address comments specifically.

    The answer was indeed ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL because it has the same pattern 1-2-3-4-2 pattern as ROMEO. It’s a bit of a tenuous connection, perhaps — only about 80 solvers got it right. I’ll be able to post more details tonight.

  43. Michael M. says:

    Clearly I am the only one who submitted CYMBELINE, the only Shakespeare play that follows the same stress pattern as the word ROMEO (three syllables with primary emphasis on the first). AWTEW never even made it to my short list.

  44. pannonica says:

    I thought it was MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, believing it a not-so-rigorous cryptic clue anagramming MORE (“much,” with “ado” as the signal word) around O (“nothing”) = “R(O)MEO”

    I didn’t transmute the themed “work with the same pattern” from an action—”[to] work…”— to a noun—”[a] work…” So I took it to be an instruction.

    Perhaps not exactly the same pattern, but cut from the same cloth. But on the other, other hand, there’s no cloth involved in knitting.

  45. jimmy d says:

    Two lovers, from opposing factions… the female fakes her death, the male kills himself, and then the female really kills herself… I still say that pattern trumps the AWTEW cryptogram…the E’s are in the same position in both!! LOL!!

    Oh well, just being a sore loser… I knew I wouldn’t go 4-for-4, but I expected to get past week one!!

  46. cheryl says:

    One more point about Othello, my choice: Except for the bb’s (which I have always found annoying), all repeated letters in the puzzle are o’s, t’s, th’s, l’s, and there is the presence of two ell’s. That, along with the vowel pattern, one-word name, and the game-board thing, should merit a second consideration. (Also — I, too, am being a sore loser)

  47. *David* says:

    I went with Antony and Cleopatra since its climax was the same “pattern” as Romeo and Juliet. I think there can be an argument for that answer as well. The weakness is that only ROMEO was in the grid, I suppose.

  48. Jonathan Lashier says:

    Yeah, I must admit that perhaps I’m being a sore loser too and it seems my The Tempest answer wasn’t that common, but I really do think this one was missing that “aha!” moment that Matt’s puzzles normally provide. I apologize if it sounds like my earlier posts were whining. It’s just quite disappointing to have an incorrect answer in the first round, especially when you rejected the correct answer early on. Mad at myself more than anything.

    Congrats to all who got the right answer!

  49. Margaret says:

    I didn’t even consider AWTEW. I thought a lot about Antony & Cleopatra or Troilus & Cressida, pondered The Tempest, considered Othello. Nothing really seemed right, so I kept putting it all off…and then I forgot to send in any answer this morning. Oh well, I hadn’t even considered the right answer, so no great loss there. I did expect to make it past the first week, though. I agree that I like the metas that “click” when you get/see the right answer. Thia one just seemed like a stretch.

  50. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Matt’s fondness for kaidoku puzzles should’ve been a big hint here. When he thinks “pattern,” he’s more likely to be thinking about cryptograms than literary plots. His trivia-oriented metas tend to hinge on letter patterns, letter banks, etc., don’t they? (I think here of the one where we had to come up with a group of names that used up certain letters, and one name was a hockey player. There was really no advantage for knowing about hockey, was there?)

    I love Pannonica’s cryptic clue approach, even though it doesn’t touch on the WORK WITH THE SAME PATTERN part.

  51. Aaron says:

    Oh, I’m totally fine being wrong on this one–wasn’t expecting to get through MAY-HEM anyway. I’m just not sold that OTHELLO doesn’t satisfy as specific a pattern as ROMEO (O-E-O), which is why I was hoping for something more to tie things together.

  52. SHAW says:

    @Joon, thanks for pointing out the clarification that O=Well, not O=W, which truly was not how I was thinking of it. To continue with my sour grapes, though, I still don’t feel the AHA or OHO moment here, and I think it’s because I am doubtful that the 1-2-3-4-2 pattern is really all that rare, at least rare enough that it could be “the” pattern. To wit, if you just randomly select five letters in a row, there is a 3% chance it will satisfy that property ((26*25*24*23*1)/(26*26*26*26*26)). If someone capable of doing this quickly (Alex Boisvert? You lurking here?) were to write a program to investigate the SOWPODS list of 5-letter words I would be surprised if there weren’t also about a 3% success rate. Seems like there are probably a lot fewer admissible words with the vowel arrangement “O-E-O”.

    Really, though, the point is… you got me again, Gaffney! Dragooooooooooooooooo

  53. pannonica says:

    Thank you, Amy! I should soo get special dispensation for that, no?

  54. Mike Nothnagel says:

    I’m squarely in the camp that says this meta was clever and not tenuous at all. Matt is very careful (in my opinion) about giving us exactly what we need to solve the meta (whether we see it and know what to do with it is another issue, of course), and this one is no exception. Once I realized that R-O-M-E-O was the pattern, “All’s Well That Ends Well” jumped almost immediately to mind.


  55. Becky says:

    Using ROMEO as a pattern, I looked for Shakespeare CHARACTER names with the same pattern and found CASCA – one of the murderers and bringers of MAY HEM in JULIUS CEASAR, and so guessed that! I believe it should be a valid answer as well!

  56. Amy Reynaldo says:

    Becky, CASCA is a character and not a work. I think what Matt had in mind with WORK WITH THE SAME PATTERN was WORK as a noun, not a verb.

    So, Shaw, I think all you’re saying is that CASCA could have replaced ROMEO in the grid. But a word like TENTH, while satisfying the pattern, doesn’t point towards a Shakespearean WORK as the meta answer.

    I don’t find the OthEllO pattern remotely compelling. There’s nothing in the puzzle that suggests only vowels should be considered, is there? And besides, there’s a world of difference between OccEccO and cOcEO (c = consonant).

  57. Tyler says:

    I was really determined to succeed in Mayhem after Hell Month disappointment, and I bombed out in the very first week. Depressing. I think this was a pretty weak one, but that could be me being bitter.

  58. Matt gaffney says:

    Apologies but the wireless in my hotel isn’t working and the front desk doesn’t have a clue. So I’ll need to post my comments in the morning assuming they have it fixed by then, i’m typing this on my iPhone but can’t do a detailed comment this way. Thanks, Matt

  59. Becky says:

    Amy –
    I knew he was looking for the work, but my thinking was that the work would be one with a character with the same pattern. And of all of Shakespeare’s characters there are only Romeo and Casca with that pattern! (At least in my research I could only find two.)

  60. abide says:

    Sour grapes make bad whine!

    I have never solved an end of the month meta (or very many week 3s) over the last six months I have been doing these. But I have also never felt like I needed to call Matt out when I couldn’t grok the meta. I’m in total agreement with Mike N. on how there was enough info here, you just had to see it.

    After finishing, I couldn’t get any connection other than Measure for Measure (which also has a Juliet). On day two, I looked at ROMEO as having a “pattern” (ala cryptoquote). Going through the list of “works’ in Wikipedia I saw AWTEW. (Plus “A’s Well” crosses ROMEO, perhaps coincidentally). I did get the “click/aha/thunderbolt” and felt meta-galactic. I sent the answer in a few minutes later knowing it was right.

    @Shaw, CASCA fails because that pattern is 12312, not 12342. I can’t come up with any other well-known Shakespeare characters that fit the ROMEO pattern.

  61. Howard B says:

    Can’t call Matt out on this one, as the meta matches the answer, the clue, and makes sense in retrospect. I just didn’t catch on to the letter=word pattern this week, so even looking at the correct title in a list never made it jump out at me. It should have, though. Sometimes if you look too hard, you miss the trees, the forest, and actually the whole planet altogether, and that’s what happened in my case.

    Until next time, Matt. Determined to solve the next 3 this month, on principle :).

  62. joon says:

    my take on it is as follows:

    1. all’s well that ends well is the best answer. everything else either doesn’t make use of all the * clues, or makes use of more than the * clues. i actually think cymbeline is a close second. “pattern” meaning metrical foot is only a bit more of a logical leap than “pattern” meaning word-for-letter cipher.

    2. even though i got it right because of the reasons i just stated, this meta was still dissatisfying to me, because it was so minimal and vague. putting those three clues in the grid didn’t constrain it very much, so i was expecting some kind of confirmation elsewhere, and didn’t find it. AS WELL was close enough to get my hopes up but far enough that it was still frustrating. maybe HELENA and/or BERTRAM in the grid (they’re the two main characters of the play, which not too many people know). or words that can “end well,” like well-born or well water or well-wisher or “well then.” or OH WELL, which might have hinted at O = WELL in the cipher. something a bit more than what we got.

  63. Matt K says:

    FWIW, I did have a huge Aha moment when I figured out the correct answer after going down many of the same dead ends as the other posters. I thought the switch from a letter-based pattern to a word-based pattern was a nice misdirect. But I had absolutely no doubt that it was the correct answer, once I saw it. But then, I have a degree in computer science and am a bit more of a logic puzzle person than a word puzzle person, so I may have a bit of a skewed perspective on things.

    @SHAW: 1-2-3-4-2: 3.38%; O-E-O: 0.17%

  64. Matt Gaffney says:

    Wireless back up, let’s see if we can untangle all of this mayhem (more mayhem than I’d intended!)

    First off, thanks to all who’ve commented here. I take it as a compliment that so many solvers enjoy these puzzles and have high expectations of them week after week, as I do myself.

    Some statistics for background:

    75 solvers submitted the correct answer, ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.


    Antony and Cleopatra 78 entries
    Troilus and Cressida 21 entries
    Measure for Measure 14 entries
    Romeo and Juliet 13 entries
    Othello 13 entries
    As You Like It 6 entries
    A Midsummer Night’s Dream 6 entries
    Julius Caesar 4 entries
    Much Ado About Nothing 2 entries
    Comedy of Errors, Cymbeline, The Tempest, Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet — 1 entry each

    Rule of thumb I follow: a MGWCC metapuzzle should “click” immediately with solvers once they find it. In other words, there should be very little doubt, if any, in a solver’s mind that they’ve got it right once they come up with the correct meta answer. If a meta doesn’t click in this way, it leads to a frustrating and unsatisfying situation where the solver not only doesn’t get an “aha” moment but also isn’t sure whether to keep looking. Not good.

    For the first time in 101 metas, I think this one fails on the “click” criterion. It doesn’t bother me that only 75 solvers got the answer correct (although I didn’t intend this at all, as I’ll discuss on the blog tomorrow). That’s very low for a first puzzle of the month, but hey — some puzzles are tough, especially in Mayhem.

    I also am not too bothered by more people sending in Antony and Cleopatra than AWTEW, as I still view AWTEW as (rather clearly) the best answer.

    What bothers me is that so many solvers who *did* get the correct answer weren’t sure it was right, which shouldn’t happen.

    It also bothers me that this happened during a month when everyone who solves all the metas wins a prize, since I feel a special obligation to make sure the puzzles during such months are fair.

    So here’s where we’ll go with Mayhem now:

    *** Everyone who goes 3-for-3 on the May 14th, 21st and 28th puzzles will win a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set. Since I’ve declared it flawed, there is no penalty for missing the first week’s meta.

    *** Everyone who goes 4-for-4 on May’s puzzles will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set; PLUS, five randomly chosen people in this group will receive a copy of Crosswords to Make You Sweat, my new book co-authored with David Kahn (25-d in last week’s puzzle) and Byron Walden. So there is a reward for getting last week’s meta (two rewards, really, since you can lord it over the 3-for-3 people for the rest of your lives).

    Now, all of this is academic if you don’t rattle the next three metas off without a hitch, so focus! I can promise you that they will be both scrupulously fair and fiendishly difficult. First week controversy aside, I still don’t plan on sending out much stationery.

    All’s well that ends well, eh? Unless you’re Antony and Cleopatra…

  65. Karen says:

    That’s a fair resolution, Matt. Thanks! And thanks for all the puzzles, too.

  66. SHAW says:

    As usual, I heart you, Matt Gaffney. I don’t feel like I deserve the special dispensation, but I’m going to get the next three if it means I have to quit my job to work on MGWCC full-time.

  67. jimmy d says:

    Thanks, Matt…. both for the mulligan and for the 100 awesome, non-controversial, airtight metas that preceded this one!!

    But one thing… 13 people sent in “Romeo and Juliet”?? Ummm…huh? Those people should be disqualified! lol…j/k

    And I have a feeling that this point will be moot for most of us by May 25, if not sooner =)

  68. BrianGoodBeat says:

    Wow, Matt Gaffney is just as good a referee as he is a puzzle constructor! I, too, was concerned about all of this controversy falling during MAYhem and I was SOO curious as to how Matt would resolve it, if he would address it at all.

    A++, MG.

  69. Jonathan Lashier says:


    That was a wonderful and thoughtful response. You really are a class act.

  70. Ben Bass says:

    MGWCC = Matt Gaffney Wields Clout Classily

    I’m late to this party but I was yet another “A&C” person. I am embarrassed to admit that I forgot all about “Troilus and Cressida” and just went for the first and only “name and name” I thought of, despite the lingering dissatisfaction of the missing “and Juliet.”

    Reading Joon’s, Mike N.’s and everyone’s analyses above, I agree that the correct answer was clever, fair and reasonable. In short, tough but solvable. Like Bob Kerfuffle said above, I should have worked harder on this one.

    I take my solace in having solved the Scrabble meta along with all other March and April metas. After this week I will be thrilled to finish May better than 0 for 4.

  71. deneb says:

    Count me as one of those who got it right but doesn’t really know why.
    I was going on the theory that Romeo’s pattern is blank-O-blank-blank-O, and
    AWTEW is in the pattern blank-WELL-blank-blank-WELL. (Not to mention the WELL crossing ROMEO.) I don’t understand what you mean when you say that Romeo’s pattern follows a 1-2-3-4-2 sequence. What sequence is that?

  72. Evad says:

    @deneb, you’re saying the same thing…the letter pattern in ROMEO is 1-2-3-4-2, where 1=R, 2=O, 3=M and 4=E. The trick here was to find a Shakespearean play name whose words used that same pattern.

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