WSJ Contest – November 20, 2015

untimed (Evad) 


Peter Gordon’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Go Figure”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest - "Go Figure" - 11/20/15

WSJ Contest – “Go Figure” – 11/20/15

Greetings and welcome back for another installment of the Wall Street Journal’s weekly contest puzzle. This week we are looking for a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee that completes this puzzle’s theme. There are five obvious theme entries:

  • 18a. [Second-story man], CAT BURGLAR – I have no idea what the clue is getting at, other than the possibility that a burglar might enter through a second story window
  • 23a. [Kin of platinum], BATTLESHIP GRAY – as likely most of you, I first thought of the metal before I considered the color. I also wasn’t sure if I should go with GREY or GRAY before I worked on the crossings there
  • 33a. [Event in which two people have two hands and two feet on the ground], WHEELBARROW RACE – the hands belong to one person and the feet the other
  • 43a. [Comic strip in which Popeye first appeared], THIMBLE THEATRE – the vaguest of recollections there; quite a bit before my time!
  • 52a. [Richard Reid, familiarly], SHOE BOMBER – the less I’m reminded of terrorists in my puzzles, the better, FWIW

I haven’t played Monopoly in a while, but the first word of each of these entries did put me in the mind of tokens used in that game. (I remember it was announced not too long ago that the iron would be replaced with another token, but I couldn’t recall which one.) So off to the interweb I went to get the current list:

  • Scottish Terrier
  • Battleship
  • Automobile
  • Top Hat
  • Thimble
  • Shoe (or Boot)
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Cat – (August, 2013, the cat playing piece replaced the iron)

I definitely felt I was on the trail, but with 8 tokens, it felt a bit incomplete that we were asked for something that completed the theme, when I had only 5 in hand. So I looked again at the grid and found two additional theme entries:

In Battleship Gray?

  • 6a. [Online acknowledgements], HAT TIPS – why are these necessarily online? A tip o’ the hat was a common greeting before there was an online!
  • 64a. [“Don’t drive like my brother” show], CAR TALK – Click and Clack, the Tappit brothers

Now with 7 tokens, I could see that the missing one was the Scottish Terrier, a.k.a Scottie, leading me to Basketball Hall of Famer, SCOTTIE PIPPEN. I really loved this meta: two hidden theme entries, a great title (I read it as tokens are “figures” that pass “Go”) and a nice connection between the missing token and a very famous basketball player.

That said, I struggled mightily with the fill in the upper right (northeast), what with the names HAL and HUMA, VAT for TUN as a wine cask, a tough word to spell in HUGUENOT, an uncommon adverb AMENABLY, my unfamiliarity with the term TEARER as a boisterous person, and finally tough clues for IN BETA and POLITY. A real Bermuda Triangle for this solver!

Share your impressions in the comments and see you next week! Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American readers.

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