WSJ Contest – Friday, October 16, 2015

untimed (Evad) 

Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “College Search”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

"College Search" - WSJ Contest - 10/16/15

“College Search” – WSJ Contest – 10/16/15

Welcome to the fifth edition of the weekly Wall Street Journal meta contest, this one entitled “College Search.” Here the instructions don’t add much to what we already have gleaned from the title, to wit, we are asked for an American university. (I guess that means the Sorbonne is out of the question.)

Anyway, we have four obvious theme entries and a nice meta hint tucked into the far right corner:

  • 20a. [Cast member of “Gimme a Break” and “Blossom”], JOEY LAWRENCE – the name is vaguely familiar, but I couldn’t pick him out of a lineup if my life depended on it. On the hunt for a picture to refresh my memory.
  • 34a. [Mozambicans’ neighbors], MALAWIANS – only because Zimbabweans wouldn’t fit.
  • 42a. [In the know], WELL AWARE – I hear this in a royal tone, “We are well aware, but we are not amused.” Having the clue for 12a. HENCE be [We may thus conclude…] added to this overall royal vibe.
  • 54a. [Took blades to blades], MOWEDTHE LAWN – I tried to shoehorn GRASS in there at first.
  • And our hint: 69a. [Like some students at this university (and like the letters you need)], PRE-LAW


So we’re looking for letters that are “pre-law” and sure enough, the letters LAW are found in each theme entry. The only struggle was to figure out how many letters from each entry should be taken; I first considered all the letters, but quickly determined they numbered too many to anagram into a common school name.

Reconsidering just one letter before each string, we get Y-A-L-E, which indeed has a very prestigious law school. So a nice tight “aha” moment here.

My main struggles were with the fill in places–BBS for BRB (thinking “Be Back Soon”) for [“I’m away from the computer for a few minutes,” in three letters]. I also had ABO for NEG thinking of blood types, not noticing the singular “type” in the clue. Add DAIS for BIER, SPAR for SPUR, hard crossings between AIKIDO and the proper names WEIR (I’m more familiar with figure skater Johnny) and IDA, and trouble with the consonant-rich JFK, JR., led me to a few missteps scattered across the grid. I enjoyed the clues for SWINE, [Sty-lish creatures] as well as Matt’s chess reference in the clue for RESIGNS, as I’m “well aware” of his skills in this realm.

Until next week…

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1 Response to WSJ Contest – Friday, October 16, 2015

  1. e.a. says:

    i did not get to this one in time and am now very sad about that because this appears to be a superb meta. i’m a sucker for repurposings of stale crossword tropes (in this case the “hidden word” theme), and this one nails it in a way that’s elegant and conceptually uber-tight. to do all that in a relatively easy/accessible (yes?) meta is… bravo.

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