MGWCC #350

crossword 3:17
meta 0:30 

mgwcc350hello and welcome to episode #350 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “20/20 Vision”. for this week 2 puzzle, matt challenges us to identify an animal. what are the theme answers? there are five long answers in the grid:

  • {Chess’s “Match of the Century”} is FISCHERVSPASSKY. that may look like FISCHER VS. PASSKY, but no, it’s FISCHER V. SPASSKY.
  • {Prince movie/album with “When Doves Cry”} PURPLE RAIN.
  • {It references a dozen animals} CHINESE CALENDAR.
  • {He lost to Bill Clinton} ROBERT DOLE, who if he were reading this clue, would surely say, “matt! i thought we were close enough friends that you could call me bob.” and indeed, in his most famous crossword appearance, he was BOB DOLE. anyway, i kind of think that if you’re going to put ROBERT DOLE in the grid, the clue should be {He lost to William Clinton}.
  • {Where Michael Phelps won eight golds} BEIJING OLYMPICS.

okay, so what’s going on here? well, the title and the central answer are enough to get it: we’re looking for the animal of the chinese zodiac whose year it will be in 2020. why? the other four events in the theme clues all occurred in years that are a multiple of 12 off from 2020:

  • FISCHER V. SPASSKY took place in reykjavik in 1972.
  • PURPLE RAIN was released in 1984.
  • ROBERT DOLE lost to Bill Clinton in the 1996 presidential election.
  • and {Michael Phelps won eight golds} at the BEIJING OLYMPICS in 2008.

so what animal is it? why, they’re all the year of the rat, which is also the first year of the 12-year cycle. (there are some good stories about why that is.)

fun meta! it’s timely (with the chinese new year coming up on thursday), and elegantly executed, with the four events listed in chronological order and spanning the last four years of the rat. only a slight demerit for using the nobody-calls-him-that ROBERT DOLE.

i have this nagging feeling that there’s been a MGWCC before with a chinese zodiac theme (perhaps even timed to coincide with the lunar new year), but if that nagging feeling is correct, i haven’t been able to dig up the puzzle in question. so maybe i’m remembering something else.

that’s all for me. how’d you all like this one?

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17 Responses to MGWCC #350

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 329 right answers this week.

  2. Amy L says:

    Rats! I guessed PANDA which I wasn’t very confident about, but it’s Chinese and black and white–like a chess board. And it looks like it’s wearing glasses, giving it 20/2o vision. This was more like a week three or higher for me.

  3. Jim S says:

    Close, but no cigar. I didn’t make the jump to the years, but I spotted snake-related anagrams in the 3 longer theme answers (SPA to asp, SECAL to scale, and NGOL to long). The snake is one of the zodiac animals, but the fact that it wasn’t 2020s made me realize it probably wasn’t right. Couldn’t get past the anagram coincidence, though. Oops.

  4. Jason T says:

    I cracked the meta and correctly submitted RAT, but for some reason failed to spot the connection between the 20/20 in the title and the year 2020. I thought the title was just a reference to the phrase “Hindsight is 20/20”, since we’re looking back at years in the past. Good thing understanding the title wasn’t key to the solution!

    • Mutman says:

      I had no idea either what the title stood for. But I didn’t well on it because it was clear to me what was going on.

      Well done Matthew Gaffney!

  5. Paolo P. says:

    Here’s a link to the other Chinese Zodiac MGWCC. Coincidentally, it also involved the year of the RAT:

  6. Flinty Steve says:

    After I finished the meta I thought “where did I just see the Year of the Rat mentioned in another puzzle?” I didn’t have to look far. It was 41A in Patrick Berry’s NYT puzzle last Friday morning. Matt got scooped by a few hours!

  7. Robert Loy says:

    And 62-down JFK was elected in 1960, another year of the rat.

  8. Matt Gaffney says:

    The reason I made it RAT was: I am one (1972) and so is MGWCC (2008).

  9. Jason says:

    I mistakenly had ALBERT GORE instead of ROBERT DOLE for the longest time. Grrrr….

  10. AboutTheSame says:

    Rats apparently have lousy vision, so I, too, am grateful for the explanation of the title.

  11. bunella says:

    Nothing to do with the meta but 3 down was MaseRATis.

    I too didn’t catch the 20/20. I thought maybe rats had good vision and I really only needed the Chess Clue and the Olympics clue along with the Chinese calendar to get Rat.
    Too bad I forget to check my email until an hour later or maybe i’d be higher up.

    Oh well. I don’t usually get week 3 or 4 so that’s probably it for me.

  12. Eckmania says:

    The 20/20 title clue was my entry point into thinking about dates. Nice puzzle, Matt!
    How are the subscription numbers?

  13. makfan says:

    Another head slapper. I saw “bobby” Fischer, “Bob” Robert Dole and since we are about to start the year of the sheep, I thought all those bob pointed that way. I committed the classic mistake of not making sure every theme answer tied in nicely, and I didn’t see how the 20/20 in the title figure in. I also had to rush to finish as we did some painting and repairs at home and I was tied up all weekend getting it done.

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