MGWCC #351

crossword 6:05
meta 15 minutes, maybe 

mgwcc351hello and welcome to episode #351 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “How to Succeed in Crosswords Without Really Trying”. for this week 3 puzzle, matt challenges us to identify the four-letter answer to the clue: “In politics, he succeeded”. what are the theme answers? there are five long answers in the grid, with similar clues:

  • {At the Oscars, she succeeded} clues JOAN FONTAINE, best actress winner of 1942.
  • {At the Australian Open and U.S. Open, he succeeded} clues multi-slam winner PETE SAMPRAS, who won 5 us opens and 2 australians.
  • {In boxing, he succeeded} clues CHRIS BYRD, a boxer i’ve never heard of. in an email clarification, matt directed us to this page and asked us to ignore “recognition”. okay.
  • {In Washington, she succeeded} clues first lady NANCY REAGAN.
  • {In chess, he succeeded} clues former world champion J.R. (jose raul) CAPABLANCA, the great cuban.

so, given the hinting about what’s going on with CHRIS BYRD, it seems like we’re supposed to consider the “other” sense of the word succeeded, namely “was the successor to”. it’s a little unclear whether we are looking for the person who succeeded each theme answer, or the person who was succeeded by, so let’s see if we can work it out:

  • JOAN FONTAINE won best actress after ginger rogers and before greer garson.
  • PETE SAMPRAS, as i said earlier, won 5 us opens and 2 australians. that makes this kind of a mess, but if we assume it has to be the same person at both tournaments, it has to refer either to succeeding boris becker or being succeeded by andre agassi.
  • CHRIS BYRD, on that page, both succeeded and was succeeded by lennox lewis if we ignore “recognition”.
  • NANCY REAGAN succeeded rosalynn carter and was succeeded by barbara bush as first lady.
  • J.R. CAPABLANCA succeeded emmanuel lasker and was succeeded by alexander alekhine.

i don’t think the predecessors spell anything, but the successors’ first names, taken in order, spell out GALBA, one of the roman emperors during the “year of four emperors”, 69 AD. that seems promising for “in politics”. the problem is, both galba’s predecessor and his successor have four-letter names, and i don’t think the structure of the meta really disambiguates the situation. each of the five theme clues is of the form “in ___, s/he succeeded”, and the answer in the grid is actually not the person who succeeded but the person who was succeeded. so if the meta clue follows that pattern, then the answer would be galba’s predecessor, nero. on the other hand, you can read the theme clues as a complete sentence with direct object, e.g. “At the Oscars, she succeeded joan fontaine”, referring to greer garson. that reading is maybe preferable because it’s actually a true statement, unlike the actual clue/answer pair in the grid, which is not really a true statement in this sense of “succeeded”. anyway, this reading would make the answer to the meta galba’s successor, otho. now, nero is a much more famous emperor, but otho does come up in crosswords from time to time.

so i am a little annoyed by this meta, because it seems like matt is forcing us to choose between the interpretation that makes sense or the interpretation that’s consistent with the other theme answers. i guess maybe it hinges on whether you view the “answer” to {At the Oscars, she succeeded} as JOAN FONTAINE, or whether the “answer” is the implicit greer garson. i haven’t yet submitted an answer, but i’m going to go with the latter, which means i’m submitting otho, and frankly, i don’t even care if it’s wrong at this point.

in case you can’t tell, this is my least favorite meta in a while. there wasn’t a great “aha” moment to it because i felt like the “succeeded” thing was pretty obvious, certainly once matt started directing us to chronological lists of boxing champions. the fact that you couldn’t really do the meta without googling (barring encyclopedic knowledge of some rather diverse lists) is, if not a mark against it, certainly not a point in its favor. then the ambiguity in the final answer just kind of cemented the whole thing as vaguely unpleasant. there aren’t a lot of mgwcc metas that i just plain dislike, but this was one of them.

on the bright side, it’s an awfully fancy grid, with 5 long theme answers, including stacked 11/12 pairs, plus a lot of other long fill (four 10s, two 8s, a whole buncha 7s). the word count is only 72 and the fill was, if not squeaky clean, at least quite good overall. i’d say it pulls the puzzle up from a 2 to a 3—the meta, after all, is the most important thing.

what’d you all think?

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71 Responses to MGWCC #351

  1. Justin Weinbaum says:

    Boy I’m hoping Joon was wrong and the “real” answer is more satisfying. After looking at endless Wikipedia lists, I decided it wasn’t worth continuing to solve this one and stopped.

    My idea was that the person finally won, after losing the previous time. Like Reagan won after losing to Carter.

  2. Evan says:

    Oh goodness. I couldn’t even get this far. I assumed it was [theme answers succeeded….] and found:


    All those -ER endings made me think….the theme answers came AFTER those people? Thus TAFT? It made no sense, obviously.

    Edit:…..and apparently it was right. Damn.

    • Justin Weinbaum says:

      This sounds reasonable, if there’s someone who came after an _ER in politics.

      • Evan says:

        That’s the problem, though. That definition can fit a lot of different people. I also considered POLK coming after TYLER for the same reason.

        • Amy L says:

          I saw that too and submitted BUSH as he came after WaltER Mondale.

          I never thought to look at those who came after.

          • Evan says:

            Me neither. And in fact, my list looks even worse now because EVANDER doesn’t belong on it. Chris Byrd beat Holyfield for the title, but Holyfield wasn’t the reigning champ.

        • Joe says:

          In politics, Woodrow Wilson succeeded Taft. And Woodrow Wilson fits with the matching initials of the other successors referenced in the clues — Greer Garson, Lennox Lewis, Barbara Bush, etc.

          From talking to friends, Matt accept Taft as well as Nero and Otho. Not sure how many others he accepted.

  3. Jim Curran says:

    I went through many of the same mental gyrations and Googles with successors and predecessors – except for the use of GALBA to get NERO or OTHO. That seems way too convoluted for a MGWCC meta, no? I finally guessed BUSH because of the political reference and the predecessor/successor hints. Apparently a bad guess.

  4. George says:

    I also was torn between Otho and Nero. I submitted Nero and it looks like it is the right answer, and I think it’s clued more heavily by the double initials that spell galbo, and those double initial names succeeded the clued answer. So although galbo is not double initialed, he succeeded Nero, who would be the clued answer, and I went with Nero being more famous as well. I got it right, but was hesitant submitting and refreshed the correct answer submitters until I could verify if I was right or not. Phew!

  5. kzcondor says:

    My answer was different from Joon’s, and was accepted. I don’t really understand the meta. I noted that all of the successors’ names had repeated initials and this was the only thing I could get a grip on, so I looked for a four-letter politician who was succeeded by a double-letter politician and came up with “Taft”.

  6. chnest says:

    Yep, it’s Taft. I focused on those that came before, but those that came after all have the same first and last initials. After Taft, came Woodrow Wilson. Doh!

    • Dan Seidman says:

      Since all of the grid entries were full names, I wouldn’t think the final answer could be just a last name. (It’s true that Nero and Otho had other names, but they are commonly known by just the one.)

  7. Dan Seidman says:

    I also felt it was implemented backward — that the grid entry should have been the one who succeeded someone else. So I spent a lot of time trying to find a connection between Ginger Rogers, Emanuel Lasker, et al. Plus Lennox Lewis is ambiguous the way it was done, since Byrd is listed twice in that list, following Lewis both times but preceding him only once.

    Here’s what’s interesting about Lennox Lewis, though: his middle name is Claudius, and that’s who Nero succeeded. It looks like Matt accepted both Nero and Otho, which I think he had to do.

  8. Matt Gaffney says:

    Yeah, this one has some issues.

    ***First of all, my intended solution was OTHO, as described by Joon. 40 people submitted this.

    ***I’m also accepting NERO, which was submitted by 67 solvers. I hadn’t noticed the ambiguity in the phrasing: I was going for “In politics, he succeeded GALBA = OTHO,” but at least equally plausible is reading it as “In politics, he succeeded NERO = GALBA.” There are only three Roman emperors with four-letter names: OTHO, some random named GETA, and of course NERO. Unfortunate that of the dozens of Roman emperors, one of the two four-letter non-OTHOs had to be on the other side of GALBA.

    ***A surprising (to me) number of solvers had never heard of GALBA, and didn’t identify it as anything: saw the word, it did not register. Many of those submitted TAFT, since he preceded (same ambiguity as the emperors) a double-initial president, Woodrow Wilson. I decided to accept that answer as well. (And BUSH, submitted by a smaller number of solvers, for the same logic — he succeeded R.R.).

    ***The Chris Byrd thing. I knew boxing’s system of title bouts/championship was confusing and went into it warily, but still managed to get confused, hence my follow-up e-mail which, necessarily but unfortunately, was a huge giveaway to the idea.

    ***So yeah, one of my least favorite metas in a long time as well. Dreadful, I would call it.

    • Slowpoke Rodriguez says:

      I liked the meta just fine, despite the Otho Nero ambiguity. As long as you accepted both of those I thought it was good to go. However, I’m a little peeved to discover that you accepted Taft and Bush as well. Such submissions overlooked an important step, and not knowing names like Galba (or practically any name) is a perfectly punishable offense in crossword-land. Oh well.

      • Tom says:

        Based on the leaderboard, if 107 submitted a Roman emperor, then the majority of solvers must have submitted TAFT/BUSH. I don’t think that can be brushed aside.

    • John says:

      Never heard of Galba (spell check confirms there is no such name ;v)). I looked at the letters and tried anagramming them before deciding i was looking for another alliterative name that followed a 4-letter surname in politics. I don’t think an emperor of 3 months, or whatever it was, is exactly a household name and turning a week 3 meta on previous knowledge of him seems not so much a meta puzzle as trivial pursuit.

      • Flinty Steve says:

        It didn’t have to be previous knowledge. You just had to decide it was worth looking up.

        • John says:

          If i looked up every string of meaningless letters in trying to solve metas, i’d do nothing else. In my attempts at anagramming, i came across: LAGBA, BALGA, GALAB, BAGAL, GABLA… i could go on. All of those are as worthy as GALBA so far as looking up if its something you have heard or seen zero times in your life. On the other hand, the alliterative letters were an undeniable pattern and searching for others was a good bet and resulted in TAFT. I still hold that that follows a pattern of puzzling-logic more than googling random letters.

          • Vraal says:

            The only flaw in the logic here is that they meant something when taken in clue order – no anagramming necessary.

            I dislike when random anagramming is expected, and I too had never heard of Galba, but decided that one stopping point was worth looking to see if that was a thing.

  9. neil bellovin says:

    The answer had to be someone with 4 letters in their name succeeded by a person whose first and last names had same initials. My issue was that in grid we are seeing entire name and taft is only the surname so I assumed was not right. I was racking my brain to see if there was someone with a 4 letter name like Cher but could only find Nero but Galba did have a long name where first 2 names were alliterative. He accepted taft but seemed it should have been his first and last name like Joan Fontaine etc

  10. Abide says:

    I can’t see anything “unpleasant” about the meta, although I did waffle for some time between OTHO and NERO. (Otho was counted right for me, although I told Matt I thought both should be counted right). I think the boxing title confusion was an unfortunate bit of business for Matt, since it gave me a head start on the “successors” idea. Overall pretty enjoyable. Alternative 9 letter LL: “At the 1991 Grammys, he succeeded”: VINCEGILL.

  11. Todd Dashoff says:

    I went with Nero. I got to the same spot as Joon, then made the decision on the basis that Nero “succeeds” in crosswords since his name’s letters can also be used to spell the familiar crossword answers RENO, ORNE, ERNO and ONER.

  12. Ken Stern / Cazique says:

    I’d say not the best, but not “dreadful”. Joon’s logic must be correct, and I could make a case that either NERO or OTHO ought to be accepted (which I wrote before Matt’s post). Me, I only got to the puzzle at 11:45 today so never really had a chance to let it percolate. I was able to look up the predecessors (Rogers, Becker, etc) and never got to think about the successors. I’d like to think I’d have come up with the idea to invert the clue, find the successors, notice the double letters, look up GALBA and get there, but who knows.

    Not out of line in logical steps for a week 3, but I agree too many possible wrong steps and the Nero/Otho confusion isn’t great (unless you consider it a feature and plan to accept both.

    I’m long past caring about my #s here, but I strongly considered both the emperor angle and putting NERO as my blind last minute guess (since the grid entries are full names, what political people might have short “full names”?) and also BUSH. Ah well.

  13. I also had trouble with the succeeded/was succeeded by thing. When I saw the connection with the double letters, I didn’t recognize GALBA as anything, so I found TAFT as a four-letter name succeeded by someone with the same initials. I didn’t like that it was just the last name, but it otherwise fit.

    I did add Woodrow Wilson’s W to GALBA to see if that added anything, but apparently GALBAW just isn’t a thing. If only I had Googled GALBA to begin with…

    • I did the exact same thing. Did not recognize GALBA as anything, nor did I think to google it. I came up with TAFT, and after scouring a lot of 4-letter politicians, I also came upon Harry REID, who was succeeded by Mitch McConnell as both the Senate Minority Leader and the Senate Majority Leader. I submitted TAFT, on his being more notable.

      I didn’t even consider BUSH, though — Bush came after Ronald Reagan, and in all of the other cases, the answer to the clue that goes into the grid is the one that came first, and the alliterative name is the one that came second, but Bush/Reagan are the other way around.

  14. Mark says:

    Wait I’m confused…the double initial successor angle was an amazing coincidence? Or it’s critical to the meta and I’m just not understanding it? I submitted Taft with complete confidence…

    • Abide says:

      Coincidence/gift horse.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        It wasn’t a coincidence — all the double-letter successors (Greer Garson, Andre Agassi, Lennox Lewis, Barbara Bush, Alexander Alekhine) spell out GALBA with both initials.

        I realize now that Joon and maybe others didn’t notice that, thinking it was only the first or last name? I thought it had to be double inits to get the click. Otherwise, yes — that would be arbitrary for just one initial to do it.

        • Abide says:

          Sorry, I meant it was a coincidence that a four letter politician was succeeded by a double initial politician, and the TAFT/BUSH team got a gift.

          I would reject any entry that wasn’t Nero or Otho, but that’s the Caligula in me.

        • Jed says:

          What made me certain that Nero was correct is the alliteration of Servius Sulpicius Galba. For me, that makes Nero a far better answer than Otho.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          I interpreted the “succeeded” clues as looking for the person the theme answer succeeded, not the other way around. Ginger Rogers, Roy Emerson (most Grand Slam wins) or Jim Courier (#1 ranking), Lennox Lewis, Rosalynn Carter, Emanuel Lasker. Glad I put the puzzle aside and didn’t spend much time on it.

    • Spongeamy says:

      Same here. I was so pleased with myself. Still am, sorta…

  15. - kip - says:

    Did anyone else notice the 4 alliterative clues and try to go down that dark path? (Qatar’s qapital, Religious renunciations, Lady lobster and Cringing crew) I was stuck there for a while but found nothing, gave up, and eventually went with TAFT because he was succeeded by Woodrow Wilson.

  16. jps says:

    I chose Nero over Otho because GALBA is associated with Garson, Agassi, et al. All the grid entries are before Garson, Agassi, et al. Therefore, the meta answer should be before Galba.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      My reasoning too, though I practically had to draw a diagram before I felt confident enough to submit it.

  17. Molson says:

    I noticed that both Byrd and Capablanca won their titles either by forfeit or upon resignation. Pete Sampras won matches at the US Open and Australian Open by forfeit or his opponent retiring due to injury. I couldn’t find anything similar for Joan Fontaine or Nancy Reagan, though.

    My thought was that it was “In XXX, (s)he succeeded ____” as in there was a blank, combined with the “How to Succeed … without really trying” I thought we were looking for people who succeeded by default or on resignation of someone, so I went with FORD who succeeded Nixon in politics without really trying.

    • MeanMrMustard says:

      That’s totally how I came up with Ford as well. I figured there must be something about Fontaine and Reagan that wasn’t in their wikipedia entry. I just knew I was on to something, and Ford had 4 letters and was never elected to office, so…

  18. Jim Q says:

    Hey Matt! While we’re on the “accept a few different four letter answers” path, how’s ’bout a nod for Ford!

    Benton Becker involved in Nixon’s pardon
    Lewis Nixon seems to be a pretty well known Army officer
    Carter Nixon is an actor (and a senior account executive of Birch Communications! Ooo la la!)
    Mary Lasker had a “Cure Cancer” campaign directed at Nixon
    And William Rogers was an advisor to Nixon….

    So FORD followed Nixon, and given the title of the crossword (…without really trying) he kinda fell into the position.

    okay, so maybe a bit of a stretch… or a lot… but can I get a consolation pat on the back?? That was a helluva lotta search engining… and I’m sure the guy at Birch Communications was happy to get a Google hit.

    However, I found it fun to get this totally wrong. Thanks for the puzzle, Matt!

  19. Jim S. says:

    I ended up with Otho, and I’m glad (and surprised) that Joon and other far superior meta-ers had the same level of confusion that I did. I also looked at the presidents, but seeing 2 different presidents with matching initials preceded by a 4-letter president made me realize that it couldn’t be correct on its own. Either I was missing a key piece – not uncommon for me, especially in week 3 and later – or it was something else. I noticed the initials and said to myself “Galba? That can’t be anything, can it?” A quick google proved me wrong and led to the phrasing confusion that I eventually ended up figuring out.

    I’m glad that Matt accepted both Otho and Nero due to that confusion; I am less understanding of either president being right. Given Matt’s admission that the meta had its issues, accepting those answers seems valid. I’m no meta purist and have taken advantage of guesses myself, so who am I to wish ill will on other solvers – I’m no threat to Jangler or anyone else in any kind of crossword or meta solving competition.

    • Pete Rimkus says:

      To ignore the “GG” “AA” “LL” “BB”, “AA” connection in the list of “who succeeded who” (or is it “whom”?) is to throw away a key point in the meta.
      It could only have been either NERO or OTHO since GALBA is obviously (to me, at least) pointing you in that direction.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        Yes, but a surprising (to me) number of people did not recognize “GALBA” as anything. So maybe it was too obscure a name to serve as the linchpin of a meta.

        • Pete Rimkus says:

          Since the way most people had to find out ‘who succeeded who” was via the Internet (unless you’re Ken Jennings who the Internet goes to when it doesn’t know something), I have a hard time believing they wouldn’t use the internet to find out who GALBA was!

          • John says:

            If you don’t already know Galba, its only gibberish. I don’t google meaningless strings of letters in Gaffney’s metas. it was far more likely, in my ignorance, that the alliterative letters were the trick, not that the initials spelled out something.

      • Eric Prestemon says:

        The flipside problem is that picking Nero or Otho involves throwing away the actual defining characteristic of the meta. It was “clear” to me that the answer had to come before someone with matching first and last initials.

        The reason why no answer is 100% satisfying is because every answer is flawed in some way.

  20. Garrett says:

    I initially read the clues such that the five theme fills were the successors and went off making a list of predecessors. That got me nowhere, so I then went looking for successors to the five them fills. Once I completed that list I had Galba (twice!), which I immediately recognized (three years of Latin in HS).

    Now the problem was (since he is not in the grid) that of identifying his role as that of successor or predecessor. I spent a day going back-and-forth on that before I finally submitted Otho. My logic was that if the meta question followed the logic of the other five clues, then the first yield would be the predecessor (i.e., Galba) and the second the successor. Nonetheless, I was filled with some trepidation! Just a bummer to have Nero before Galba and Otho after and both be 4 letters!!!

    And wait — there’s more! Did anyone notice this statement in Wikipedia about Otho?

    Marcus Salvius Otho Caesar Augustus (as emperor, sometimes also Marcus Salvius Otho Nero Caesar Augustus)

  21. Norm says:

    Ambiguous pronoun reference. Fail. :)

  22. ===Dan says:

    I had FORD for a different reason. I saw that the answer was supposed to be a 4-letter politician that was succeeded by someone with doubled initials. It didn’t say “president” or officeholder, so I thought it was valid to note that Gerald Ford was the Republican nominee in 1976, and he was succeeded in that role in 1980 by Ronald Reagan.

  23. Michael Morse says:

    “So maybe it was too obscure a name to serve as the linchpin of a meta.”

    I would say certainly for a third week meta. Even assuming Matt’s followers are incredibly knowledgeable. I’m a little surprised at the hostility shown here against the double-letter solvers. I thought TAFT was a much better answer than OTHO, because the latter turned the double-letter thing into an impossible coincidence. How could solvers ignore that?

    • Dan Seidman says:

      It’s the other way around — the “double letter thing” was what the puzzle was built around, and it clearly couldn’t be a coincidence. So GALBA had to mean something, and the next logical step was to look it up.

      • kzcondor says:

        Surely I can’t be the only one who did look it up, saw that it was the name of some minor Roman emperor, and immediately rejected that as too obscure to possibly be what Matt had in mind. In hindsight, of course, “politics” should have tipped me off, but I expect many of my compatriots in the “Taft” ghetto probably had a similar experience.

        I don’t know why Matt apparently expected people to be instantly familiar with the name (although of course being familiar is not a requirement for being solvable). Some Latin Club bubble effect maybe?

      • Eric Prestemon says:

        Because the “double letter thing” was what the puzzle was built around, an answer like Taft that follows the same rule as the other 5 answers felt like a better fit to me. Why throw that away at the end, if it’s critical to the meta?

  24. Scott says:

    I never heard of Galba before so I was lost. Well, at least I learned something so not all was lost!

  25. Elba says:

    When a constructor has to spend this much time explaining/correcting/defending a meta theme, it’s a dead give away it’s a failure.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      And where did I defend it? Please do tell.

      • Bencoe says:

        I did not subscribe to Matt’s puzzle this year. Not that I don’t think it’s worth it. I’m cheap because I don’t really have any money–it’s my wife who has it.
        But I had to say something here…Matt called his own puzzle “dreadful”. That is the clearest admission that a constructor is not happy with his/her own puzzle I’ve ever heard. It takes guts and honesty and I find it refreshing. Give him the credit he deserves.

  26. Lorraine says:

    huh. i’m shocked at all the fuss. i thought this was a pretty easy meta for a week 3. the only difficulty, in my opinion, was to decide if the meta answer was supposed to be the emperor who came before Galba or after Galba. I chose the emperor who came before Galba because all the theme answers were people who came before other people, so I assumed the meta answer had to someone who came before Galba. I can certainly see why Otho is “righter” in Matt’s eyes, but to me it’s a toss up.

    However, that the meta answer HAD to be connected to Galba (and while i couldn’t pick Galba out of a lineup, i certainly knew the name was someone connected to Rome, and I never took Latin, or Roman history, or any other ancient history courses, so i guess i’m surprised that everyone didn’t at least go “huh, isn’t he someone? someone i should maybe google?”) somehow, to me is unquestionable, to be honest, otherwise it completely invalidates the whole double letter GGAALLBBAA — I mean, what would have been the point of GGAALLBBAA otherwise? So i guess I can see Nero and Otho being right, but not the other “acceptable” answers. I’m strictly a 1-and 2- week meta solver, with an occasional 3rd week thrown in every now and then and a probably-once-in-a-lifetime four-in-a-month, so i ‘m no meta genius by any means.

  27. Dele says:

    Huh! Color me a bit shocked that TAFT was *not* the intended answer. Everything seemed to line up perfectly for it. I noticed the alliterative successors to the theme entries, surmised that the meta answer should follow that same pattern, and eventually hit upon Taft as a 4-letter politician who was succeeded by alliteratively-named Woodrow Wilson (and assumed that the 4-letter requirement was there to help us choose Taft over Harding, Coolidge, and Carter). The difficulty seemed perfect for Week 3, and my click of satisfaction was just as strong as any I’ve ever felt for a Gaffney meta solution.

    I admit I never bothered to check if the letters spelled anything (since I was sure I already knew what I was looking for, and found it precisely in Taft). Even if I’d realized it spelled GALBA — and even though I *do* know that Galba was a Roman emperor — I’m pretty certain I still would’ve dismissed it, since none of Galba, Otho, or Nero is known by a 2-word alliterative name. To paraphrase the post above mine: that the meta answer HAD to be someone with a double-letter-named successor (just like the other 5 theme entries) to me was unquestionable; otherwise, how could you justify giving it the same type of “he succeeded” clue?

    Personally, I would vote against accepting BUSH, since having an alliterative predecessor (rather than successor) breaks the pattern. In fact, if I hadn’t learned it was actually Matt’s original intent, I probably would’ve voted against accepting OTHO/NERO, too. To me, all of those answers just seem so much *less* elegant and self-consistent than Taft/WW. (But I’m biased, obviously.)

    All of that aside, I enjoyed the challenge as usual. Thanks, Matt!

  28. wobbith says:

    If you think it through, Otho was the only possible correct answer.
    Stop whining.

    • Jim S says:

      The more I think about it, the more I agree that Otho or Nero should be the only acceptable answers. The meta description mentions “politician”, not “president”. Therefore, how does one make the jump to Taft or Bush? Because presidents are the most well-known politicians? What if I scoured the list of VPs, or California or Texas governors, and found a four-letter name bordering a name with matching initials? To me, the vagueness of the word “politician” required something else to be observed in the puzzle, otherwise the list of politicians to scour through is practically endless. And Matt typically leaves very little to chance. Hence the leap to “GALBA” even though it meant nothing to me. I’m no Roman scholar or history genius, but I was able to surmise that a google of the initials might be worth my time. Had Matt meant for folks to name a president, I suspect he would have used that word in the meta description; the general term should be an indicator that there’s something else going on.

  29. Rachel P says:

    Let’s keep beating this dead horse!

    I submitted Taft based on the much-discussed logic of the double letter successors. I figured the double letters in “succeed” (double double!), “crosswords” and “really” confirmed it. The solve seemed very week 3 ish.

    I noted GGAALLBBAA but didn’t google it. That was a rookie move on my part. But I think I probably would have if it were a week 4 puzzle. If Galba’s predecessor’s name had had more than four letters I would have moved on. I actually think Nero is the only Galba-based answer that makes sense.

    But guess what? Matt makes the puzzles AND makes the decisions about what to accept. I’m pretty new here but it seems Matt is always more than gracious/generous if he feels his instructions were vague or if the puzzle had shortcomings. Not sure why anyone cares if he decides to accept more than one answer. It doesn’t detract from your personal solve. This is not the Hunger Games. Right or wrong, we all move on to week 4.

    Looking forward to the next one, Matt. Thanks!!

    • Pete Rimkus says:

      “…it seems Matt is always more than gracious/generous if he feels his instructions were vague or if the puzzle had shortcomings….”


      To paraphrase Bill Belichik … “We’re on to Week 4”.

    • Evan says:

      Totally agreed. I’m always confused by the commenters who say that alternate answers shouldn’t be accepted if Matt’s already agreed to accept them. Why should it bother them?

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        I can understand it. If you’ve navigated a tricky meta successfully and someone else comes up with a defensible (?) but perhaps less elegant alt-answer, you might justifiably feel a little irked that that person gets your same credit.

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