MGWCC #226

crossword 5:47
meta DNF 4 days 

hello, and welcome to episode #226 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Just My Type”. this week, matt challenges us to figure out my (his) blood type. so, what are the theme answers?

… well, that’s part of the problem. i have no idea. there’s this in the middle: {Bright idea, given the situation (this is negative)} WAY TO GO. can’t quite make heads or tails of that clue, but it’s obviously thematic. a blood type is generally specified as (O/A/B/AB) and positive or negative; so the “this is negative” is certainly suggestive.

there are two long answers in the grid, both across 11s:

  • {Used someone’s trust for personal gain} MANIPULATED.
  • {Absent from class, perhaps} IN DETENTION.

are these significant? i don’t know. i’d love to manipulate … something or other here to get a useful-looking lead.

there are also a quartet of 9s, PHARYNGES and PAVAROTTI across and NONVOTERS and FORTIFIED down. those don’t look too exciting.

crossing WAY TO GO in the center of the grid is HOP TO IT, clued as {Get moving}. this could easily be thematic, but i can’t see what we’re going to hop to, starting from where. also suggesting that something in the center of the grid is important is 1-across, CENTRE, clued as {Kate Middleton’s middle}.

other ideas i’ve fruitlessly tried: O-words. {Palindromic artist} yoko ONO is in the grid at 42d, and her surname alone suggests sending in the answer O-negative, but that can’t be the entire meta. there are lots of other grid answers where dropping a leading O gives a legitimate crossword answer: OVINE, OREOS, OTERI, … ODE/OLE … these don’t look too promising. i think they’re just in the grid because words with those vowel patterns always find their way into grids. there’s also the clue for PAVAROTTI, {Orotund Italian singer}, which would still work if you dropped the initial O. that is … suggestive.

back to WAY TO GO. {Bright idea, given the situation}… is this a hint about brightness? light bulbs? that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. WAY TO GO? like … roadways? highways? gah.

oh, okay, okay. maybe onto something here. (light bulb going on!) look:

  • {Used someone’s trust for personal gain} MANIPULATED, but also could be ABused, if you add AB (AB+).
  • {Absent from class, perhaps} IN DETENTION, but also could be sent (AB-).
  • {Bright idea, given the situation (this is negative)} WAY TO GO, but also could be right (B-).
  • {Esophageal openings} PHARYNGES, but could be Oesophageal (O+)? maybe? google says yes.
  • {Orotund Italian singer} PAVAROTTI, but could be rotund (O-).
  • {Political group} NONVOTERS, but could be Apolitical (A+).
  • {Amassed troops on, as a border} FORTIFIED, but could be massed (A-).

hey, that’s seven of the eight blood types. the missing one is B+, i.e. B positive. phew! another 11th-hour get. and since it’s literally 11:56 as i type this, i think i’ll skip the fill roundup. but geez, what a meta! seven symmetric long theme answers, covering seven of the eight blood types, with a highly elegant and well-concealed trick. wow.

your thoughts?

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46 Responses to MGWCC #226

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    This was one of Matt’s best for me, just a few steps below his gloriously soaring escalator. I noted rotund/orotund during solving, then began searching for the others. In my rating, I have to deduct a quarter star, since “(this is negative)” seemed too much of a tipoff in Week 4 when there are only 8 possibilities with blood groups. It told me Matt was likely playing “missing member of a set.” On the other hand, the leader board’s low total, not to mention Joon’s practically unheard of difficulties, do suggest this proved bloody hard, as Matt posted. Personally, had it not been for the parenthetical remark, I would have interpreted bright/right as representing B positive since the B is present in the clue. I’d guess he wanted the B visible at the left edge of the clue list, so he used Bright rather than Right.
    Along with my answer, I commented that B positive is good advise for grokking a meta before submitting! I ‘ve also deducted another quarter star, since the esophageal pair merely nods to the British spelling, unlike the more well-crafted partnerships where the resultant word has a change in meaning. Overall, 4.5 stars for me. I thought it was particularly clever that our tricky meta-master swore off double duty clues not long ago, then gave us double duty answers. Well done, Matt.

  2. sps says:

    Guessed correctly, but not grokked at all. Wow! I want to go back and look at this again…

  3. Hugh says:

    Had much the same route to the meta as Joon. My key to matt’s masterpiece was OROTUND.

  4. Ken / Cazique says:

    40-Across on the last minute (almost literally) get, Joon! I was similarly at sea for a little bit on the “this is negative” bit, even with O/rotund as a clear something’s-going-on-here point with a blood type, it took me awhile to notice the others and figure out which one was missing. Great specimen of an elegant clue-based meta that also requires (or at least benefits from) solving the puzzle – and particular kudos for making the A, AB and O clues each a pair of symmetrical entries. Five stars.

  5. Patrick L says:

    Missed it. But I like it.

    So I guess the odd “1995” in the clue for OTERI meant nothing. I somehow need to learn to recognize typos from actual oddities like ‘Orotund.’

  6. Mike says:

    My answer was B negative. I found the same clues and associated them with “blood transfusions”, e.g., the “ab” from “absent” at 62-A would “transfer” to “used” at 17-A (62-A was negative and 17-A was positive). Similarly, O and A have “transfer” capability at 52-A to 25-A and 36-D to 3-D, respectively. The B negative at 40-A had no place to transfer – that’s why I used B negative.

    Also, why was 1995 given as the date for Scary Movie at 24-D?

  7. Jeff says:

    I knew “orotund” was important but I never got beyond that so I just submitted my bloodtype…but it turns out that Matt and I are incompatible.

  8. Matt Gaffney says:

    79 right answers this week including Joon’s buzzer-beater. I added the parenthetical (this is negative) to WAY TO GO at the last minute because one of the test-solvers noted that you could infer either B+ or B- from that (for the other three pairs it didn’t matter, since one had to be + and the other – no matter how you looked at it).

  9. joon says:

    those of us who have been solving the MGWCCs from the start (225 weeks ago) now know matt’s middle name, phone number, cat’s name, and blood type. the possibilities for identity theft will be myriad by the time we get to week 1000. i’m still waiting for the one where the meta answer is his mother’s maiden name, and then the last four digits of his SSN.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      ” i’m still waiting for the one where the meta answer is his mother’s maiden name, and then the last four digits of his SSN.”

      Lampton, but I draw the line at the SSN

  10. Erik says:

    a positive mazing.

  11. Noam D. Elkies says:

    Yes, way better than a B+ puzzle. Noticed (O)rotund quickly, but took a while to see the theme because some *entries* could be similarly transformed: (B)OVINE and, even more remarkably, (T)ERBIUM would correctly answer their clues, so I thought there’d be more such examples whose added letters might spell out B POSITIVE or B NEGATIVE. Surely (T)ERBIUM was not an accident? But apparently it was – or possibly an intentional red herring (or oblique hint?). Was the choice of fancy alternate plural PHARYNGES also intended as an oblique hint to the fancy alternate spelling “oesophagus”? The -NXES plural was easy enough to accommodate by changing GULAG to LORAX, which still retains the (B)OVINE feature if that was intentional.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      No it wasn’t, Noam — I was under the impression that pharynges is the only correct plural of pharynx. I would’ve kept the X if I’d known I could.

  12. wobbith says:

    Wow. Awesome meta. I was never even close.
    Totally misdirected by the anagram of negative in “Bright id[EA GIVEN T]he situation”.
    Decided to guess B+ at the last minute, then talked myself into sending O+ at the last second,
    just because it’s statistically more probable. Oh, well.
    Nice job Matt!

  13. Dave C says:

    I noted orotund/rotund during solving as well, leading me to look only at clues for inspiration, and it was just a fun aha progression from there. Saw the Absent/Sent soon after, but then spent a few minutes only looking for letter subtractions. Then the Used/Abused screamed at me, and the add/subtract/positive/negative theme came clear (assisted by a google confirmation of oesophageal). The gentle “(this is negative)” push gave me the final answer…..

  14. abide says:

    Outstanding. Got a late start, and noticed o/rotund and b/right with about an hour before deadline. Didn’t fully grasp the +/- and had to go into a meeting, so I just guessed (wrongly). When I was floundering around earlier this morning I was planning to send in my blood type…B+. Bloody hell!

  15. Mutman says:


    Great meta! Reason for exclamation: I had actually e-mailed Matt earlier and said if I did not grok meta, I would be guessing B+, my own blood type.

    Then I found the Orotund clue and saw lots of long Os out there and thought I was close, so I guessed wrong with O- (Since Orotund could be gotten by subtracting the O).

    Nice week 4 meta — and all solvers should consider being blood donors, if eligible. It’s one of the easiest ways to help humanity — and it doesn’t cost a thing! [End of public service announcement].

  16. Pete M says:

    I think the parenthetical was critical, since you could interpret + as either meaning that the letter exists (i.e., was added) or that it could be added. I would have entered B-negative without that piece, in that the missing clue would be the one without the B. I would not have solved this without orotund — even after I noticed that, it took a while to shake things out.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Yes Pete, that’s exactly why the parenthetical went in on WAY TO GO.

    • pgw says:

      Yes, the parenthetical was critical. I apparently entered the wrong answer (b negative) because, though I remembered the parenthetical, I never bothered to look at it a second time before entering and misremembered it as saying “this is positive” because that was how I intuited it. I.e. the clue including the letter B was “positive for B”.

      No sour grapes, it was my own hasty entry that led me astray. I’m happy enough having fully grokked this meta, which was indeed difficult.

  17. davidb says:

    Was the conspicuous inclusion of “A” and “B” in the clues at 27A and 63A, the latter of which also had “A” and “B” in the answer, another intentional red herring?

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Unintentional. Just picked two of the most famous current NBA players and figured we should clue ARGO to the movie.

  18. John says:

    Really fun once you got it. Never heard of Oesophageal but luckily it was pretty much a lock by the time i hit that one so i was looking for it. If not for the crazy week 1 i’d have had a perfect month. There’s always next month.

    Thanks, Matt!

  19. J B says:

    First time I’ve ever thrown out a random guess that turned out to be correct.

    Funny that “Way to go” and “Hop to it” are phrases that would come from someone who wanted to “Be positive.”

    Anyone else notice that the Os in TOGO, ONO, ORC, and DADDYO form a plus sign (O+)?

    • Debbie says:

      Yeah, I pretty much spent all weekend looking for patterns in Os, As, and Bs. There are also two instances of A, B, and O being adjacent/diagonal. But all the searching was for naught!

      Another great meta. It’s always so hard waiting for the next Friday…

  20. The Dude says:

    But couldn’t the “(this is negative)” be read as B- instead of B+ if you knew it was one of the B’s?

  21. pannonica says:

    May I have a cookie now?

  22. Wow, another brilliant meta that I missed. I kinda noticed the (O)rotund bit didn’t put 2 and 2 together. I also noticed that TERBIUM could be found by taking the T next to ERBIUM, and it has LEAD right above that, so I was looking for other elements in the grid (didn’t find any, though STEEL comes close).

    And with the Cisra Puzzle Hunt happening this week, I spent more time on that and less on this.

  23. Patrick L says:

    As an aside, I did have some concerns that the Leaderboard could be used for cheating – i.e., use a dummy account to submit a guess or two, and if the dummy name appears that’s confirmation of a correct answer. I support any sort of automated system that makes Matt’s workload easier, but I’m also ok with requiring an explanation for credit.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      It’s theoretically possible, but rest assured that I would release the Hammer of Cruciverbal Justice swiftly upon anyone who tried it.

      • Evad says:

        Yeah, with roughly 774 metas to go, you don’t want to risk being banned for life just as the party’s getting started.

    • MM says:

      Good point, but anyone who would try that has some serious issues (especially after getting struck by Matt’s hammer). I, personally, refuse to randomly guess the meta answer if I have no clue (as has been the case lately!).

    • Mutman says:

      I agree. I’d rather see that a submission was ‘received’ as opposed to a ‘correct’ submission received. Let us all wait until noon Tuesday to find out if we are right or not. Plus, when there are 400+ correct entries received next week and I am still struggling, I’ll feel even dumber :(

      • Abide says:

        I agree with Mutman. It is doubly frustrating to see the folks that got it right when you are struggling for a foothold.

    • jefe says:

      I don’t think it should even show how many entries (correct or otherwise) were received, or from whom. When I saw so few correct answers last night, and joon’s conspicuous absence among them, I gave up and guessed.

  24. Wayne says:

    Note to self: submit your SWAGs!
    I didn’t come close to grokking the meta, but I was planning to guess “B positive”. “B” because there were only 3 B’s in the grid and they seemed to be cowering in fear down there in the SW. “Positive” because of the “negative” in the clue for 40A.

    Another puzzle to add to the very long list of Matt’s Best.

  25. Scott says:

    I did not get the right answer but upon reading this blog, I have to admit the puzzle was excellent – an A+ in my book (which is the answer I sent in).

  26. ===Dan says:

    I was getting down to the wire, and I saw that the advice was “hop to it,” and the crossing 40A “way to go” delivered me directly to the crossing “O-NO” which is a synonym of O Negative. I also saw that 36D “fortified” could be interpreted as pointing to 40 in the grid, but all I could say was FIE. Very neat puzzle.

  27. Abby says:

    I filled it Friday, but I didn’t get a chance to look at it until Monday. “Orotund” and the “1995” in the Oteri clue got me going- if not for the latter, I easily would’ve finished way sooner. The concept of an “Oscary” movie from 1995 (and maybe Italy) was a little too big to ignore.

    If only I had realized sooner that the pairs were symmetrical (or better yet- freaking theme words!), I wouldn’t have a) taken so long to find the last one and b) would’ve known instantly the one in the middle was unpaired. Once I’m on the clues, I try hard to ignore the diagram to avoid red herrings. I really didn’t see it until I’d found everything by searching all the clues. Geez. But at least by then I was sure I was right.

    And you can’t submit “B+”- the form won’t let you! I worried after I sent it that I’d slipped and typed the wrong word when I went back to spell it out. I’m glad the leader board shows success.

  28. Drat, drat, drat. I never had a handle on the meta (although I did pause a moment at the clues for both NONVOTERS and IN DETENTION seeming a bit awkward). I intended to submit B POSITIVE if I couldn’t find an answer, since it’s the most elegant answer, being a confident statement and all . . . but I forgot. Drat.

  29. Ben Bass says:

    NAFC, but wow what an elegant meta. +1 on the impressed list.

    BB, who is always positive

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