MGWCC #247

crossword 13:52
meta … not yet 

hello and welcome to episode #247 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “There’s Cash Missing”, a 21×21 brain-buster that i have not cracked as of the time of this blogging. i was traveling this weekend, so i didn’t really get a chance to sit down and look at this until monday, but here we are. the instructions this week tell us that the answer is one of the currencies replaced by the euro. okay. what do we have to go on? there are six long theme answers:

  • {Summary of Honolulu’s economic woes?} HAWAII OWES MONEY.
  • {What baby hive members do during story time?} OCCUPY BEES’ KNEES.
  • {Club made out of green vegetables?} SNOW PEAS PUTTER.
  • {Headline about a coup d’etat in northern Finland?} LAPPS SEIZE CONTROL.
  • {Nickname for a poet who was always getting weepy?} WATERY-EYES KHAYYAM.
  • {Driving hazard?} WOBBLY GOLF TEES. i’m not really sure why the clue isn’t plural.

on top of that, the central down answer {They should be heeded*} is WISE WORDS, and the asterisk surely means something significant. but what?

the first thing that jumped out at me about the long theme answers was double letters. you don’t often see II or YY, so HAWAII and KHAYYAM certainly got my attention, as did the PPSS in LAPPS SEIZE CONTROL. all of the themers have at least one pair of double letters. but the double letters themselves (ICEETPSYBE) don’t spell anything.

then there’s WISE WORDS. does this mean Y’s words? that was certainly my first thought. and yeah, there are 4 Y’s in WATERY-EYES KHAYYAM, but SNOW PEAS PUTTER and LAPPS SEIZE CONTROL don’t have any. there are some entries that start with Y: YES BUT, Y’ALL, YAK. YES, BUT i am not seeing what to do with these.

okay, here’s another interpretation of WISE WORDS: i’m to look at the letters in WISE. that’s actually a lot of the letters of HAWAII OWES MONEY, which is HA_A__O___MON_Y. hmm, it’s a lot of the letters of all of the other answers, too:

  • HA_A__O___MON_Y
  • OCCUPYB___KN___
  • _NO_P_A__UTT_R

uh. i think this is another dead end.

let’s see if we can work this from both sides: there are 13 currencies replaced by the euro. they are:

  • schilling (austria)
  • franc (belgium, france, luxembourg, monaco)
  • guilder (netherlands)
  • kroon (estonia)
  • markka (finland)
  • drachma (greece)
  • pound (ireland)
  • lira (italy, malta, san marino, vatican city)
  • mark (germany)
  • escudo (portugal)
  • koruna (slovakia)
  • tolar (slovenia)
  • peseta (spain)

(did you know that the slovenian tolar is a cognate of dollar? both come from thaler, a low german word.) i was kind of hoping that glancing at these would suggest something, but if so, i’m not seeing it. just by the numbers, though, there are six theme answers and 13 former currencies, suggesting that perhaps each theme answer codes, somehow, for two of these, leaving one “missing” (as per the puzzle’s title). if so, that’s helpful. but i need to sleep on this.

okay, it is now tuesday morning 11 am, literally the 11th hour (well, literally it’s the 95th hour, but don’t quibble). time to figure this sucker out. several of the themers have the phonemes of WISE in order, separated by other sounds: haWAIi oweS, Watery EYES, … okay, i guess that’s not “several”.

what else could WISE WORDS mean? ohhhhh, i think maybe i’m onto something. WISE is a homophone of Y’s, i.e. the plural of the letter Y. likewise we have OWES (O’s), BEES (B’s), PEAS (P’s), SEIZE (C’s), EYES (I’s), and TEES (T’s). okay. that is getting us somewhere. but where? OBPCIT doesn’t give us a currency, nor does OOBBPPCCIITT. but, obviously, we still have to do something with the other parts of the theme answers. there is no reason to go to a 21×21 grid to accommodate answers like WATERY EYES KHAYYAM if all you need thematically is EYES. now, each themer is three words long, one of which is the letters homophone (the middle word, actually, in all cases but WOBBLY GOLF TEES), so i still think the other two words are going to get us two different currencies somehow.

okay, so: HAWAII (O’s) MONEY. what to do? is it time to go back and look at the double letters again? we’ve “used” both sets of EE already (BEES and TEES), plus half of SS. so we are looking at hawaII, oCCupy, puTTer, laPPs, khaYYam, woBBly. and aha, ICTPYB are almost the same set of homophone letters as our themers. if you count the Y’s from WISE WORDS, then we have them all except for the O’s from OWES, and we have used exactly one (other) word from each long themer. i still don’t really know what’s going on, but i do think i now have a fallback guess: the estonian KROON is the only former euro currency with OO, so there is a sense in which it fits. if WISE WORDS had been something like KROON-WISE WORDS instead, the seven theme answers would form a little cycle, where you could proceed from one to the next by taking the letter homophone and finding the other theme answer that contains that doubled letter. well, it’s not quite a cycle (the IYO cycle and the CBTP cycle are disjoint), but still.

oh, oops. OCCUPY BEES’ KNEES has another doubled set that i haven’t yet done anything with (KNEES), and there’s no EASE in the theme. hmm. i really don’t know what’s going on with the third word of any of the themers (MONEY KNEES SNOW CONTROL WATERY GOLF).

frustrating! i think i’m close, but i have a meeting coming up for work and i can’t spend more time on this. i’ll just send in kroon and hope it’s right. lots of people have got this right already, so … somebody will have to explain in the comments what i missed.

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to MGWCC #247

  1. Abby says:

    It’s like you said: the words like WISE line up with the (other) double letters in the theme words (YY), except for OWES, so the cash that’s missing has a OO in it.

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    I was surprised that more people didn’t get this. To me, it seemed one of the easiest end of the month puzzles since I started doing Matt’s metas. The puzzle itself was on the hard side, but with its very obvious homonyms for English letters, we were one quick sidetrip from the answer. None but P seemed likely choices for European currency symbols, but I checked anyway. Then I reexamined the oddly worded themers, and all the homonyms were represented elsewhere as double letters except O. In the list of former currencies, only the Austrian schilling, the Finnish markka, and the Estonian kroon had double letters. Since l and k weren’t in Matt’s themers, O and kroon were confirmed. Major bonus points if you’re a non-Estonian who knew this without Wikipedia. Hands up, anyone?

    As a side note, it’s a myth that Ben Franklin “invented” Daylight Savings Time. I admire the man tremendously, but DST was not among his lengthy list of firsts. He wrote a satirical piece about how time could be saved, but it wasn’t for another century that the idea was proposed in earnest by a New Zealander named George Hudson.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    165 right answers this week, 84 incorrect.

    The Estonian KROON is correct. Each of the six theme entries contains a word with double letters, a words thats a homophone for a double letter, and then a word suggesting the double-letter word in another entry.

    So LAPPS SEIZE CONTROL points to the OCCUPY in OCCUPY BEES KNEES, since “occupy” means “control,” while SNOW PEAS PUTTER points back to LAPPS (double P’s, and snow suggesting LAPPS).

    The only one left unaccounted for once you make all those connections is OWES MONEY (since WISE WORDS doesn’t have a double-letter word), so you need a currency with double-Os, and KROON it is.

    Or, in full and more tersely:


    • Abby says:

      I grokked some of that when I was doing it but hadn’t gone back for the rest once I was pretty sure of the answer. Neat!

    • Jim says:

      I got the right answer but never saw this bit:


      Does this mean Estonians are Lapps???

    • Abide says:

      My nomenclature was more like:

      CONTROL o CC upy
      GOLF pu TT er
      WATERY hawa II

  4. Abby says:

    I drove myself crazy for a while looking at the double letters and getting C Y P I O T B, which is almost “Cypriot lb”, which would cryptically at least be Cypriot pound. When I couldn’t find ELSE and ARSE, I changed tack, luckily.

    • tabstop says:

      Not only did I go down this path, but at some point while I was typing up my double letters I hit “R” (no idea how), so with all of CYPRIOT in my list I went with it without looking back.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        22 solvers submitted CYPRIOT POUND. Unintentional but nasty red herring (I was wondering why people were sending it in until someone explained it in comments along with their entry).

  5. DannyBoy says:

    I thought this was sort of easy, too. But I didn’t understand why Wise Words was given an asterisk, and not the others. So that we’d know to include it in the theme entries? But it confused, rather than helped. Like Joon, I overthought its significance, before I decided to ignore the star and simply go with the obvious path.

    • Jason T says:

      Without the asterisk, one might be tempted to consider “AW GEEZ” to be a theme entry. The asterisk definitely helped me figure out that “WISE WORDS” was not only a theme entry, but a special theme entry – the one with the missing cash.

    • Christopher Jablonski says:

      The asterisk helped me as well. It’s not a made-up phrase, it’s significantly shorter, and it’s a down–not a clear themer at all!

  6. Jeff G. says:

    Loved the meta, had a tough time with the fill. O’Leary’s and “If Needed” had me stumped for a long time. Congrats to Matt on constructor of the year!

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Notice that all the theme entries include two words that are a legit phrase in and of themselves: OWES MONEY, SEIZE CONTROL, SNOW PEAS, etc. So WISE WORDS + KROON is consistent in this way as well.

  7. Mutman says:

    I loved the puzzle. Found the grid difficult (did anyone else have ‘water works khayyam’) and the meta challenging. Started seeing the words and double letters matching up. Then saw the OO missing and got the kroon. The third part of the clue I didn’t even notice, and was just added elegance.

    Great job as always Matt!

  8. Howard B says:

    Also solved the meta, although I figured out everything except the last elegant level of theme connection, which I never would have discovered given an infinite amount of monkeys, typewriters, time, and caffeine.

  9. J. T. Williams says:

    I tended to agree with Paul when I settled on KROON as my answer, feeling that this seemed too straightforward for a 4th Friday. I felt that there was something else, something that involved the seemingly unused 3rd word of the theme answers, that I was overlooking. The meta just didn’t seem quite as tight as what I usually expect. Now with Matt’s explanation of the missing piece, the meta is indeed tight and very elegant. Another superb puzzle!

  10. I Before E says:

    Wow, I didn’t come close. Was working the double letter angle, but even if I got closer I would have missed it: The list of currencies/euros I found on Google did not include the Estonian KROON. Must be a recent addition. Fun, tough puzzle though.

  11. DebbieK says:

    Curses! Thought I was finally going to be able to cross “solve a MGWCC that joon doesn’t” off my bucket list! Another brilliant puzzle, Matt. Your Constructor of the Year award was well-deserved!

  12. Abide says:

    Very glad to have gotten this right after 3 days with Stage 3 KROON reveal this morning, after matching up PUTTER with GOLF. I liked the descriptions of “watery” for HAWAII and “wobbly” for KNEES. Even after I started matching everything up ( with my grid looking like a basketball coach’s dry erase board), I somehow had WORDS as the odd man out. Had to decide if answer was “Mark my words” or Markka my words”. Based on the title (“Ka”sh is Missing), I almost sent in Mark. Thankfully I saw MONEY -OO- on my list first.

    Great puzzle and thrilling writeup. DebbieK, I was also pulling against Joon to get the right answer before the deadline. Does that make me a bad person?

    • DebbieK says:

      If so, then we’re both bad people! It’s not so much that I’m pulling against Joon – reading his weekly write-up is half the fun of solving the puzzle. I guess I’m just hoping for a little ego boost to offset the inferiority complex that I usually get after reading about all of these brainiacs solving the metas week after week !

  13. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    Never came close to getting the answer.

    In addition to the “AW GEEZ” cited by Jason T, I would note 72 A, “OH YOU” (O, U?) as another blind alley I considered.

  14. John says:

    Only grokked this as far as: phonetic letters in themes are represented in each theme literally, except OO. So answer has OO in it. To see how much more was put into it than that is amazing.

  15. Anne E says:

    Came up with the O’s very quickly, but then noticed that an accepted abbreviation for the Austrian schilling was “Os”, so sent that in without thinking further about it. OOps!

Comments are closed.