WSJ Contest – Friday, January 8, 2016

untimed (Evad) 


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

WSJ Contest - "Contental Drift" - 1/8/16

WSJ Contest – “Contental Drift” – 1/8/16

Welcome back from a two-week holiday hiatus to the weekly Wall Street Journal crossword contest. Biweekly constructor Matt Gaffney is up again and he’s offering us a geographical meta this week. We are asked to name a proper noun, which could be pretty much anything, so let’s see where the theme entries (instructions) lead us.

  • 17a. [To get the contest answer, start with one of these], BIG CITY IN AFRICA – with the Y in place, I threw in COUNTRY. Given that (as we’ll see later on, *SPOILER ALERT*), he’s going for a capitol city, I wonder why the seven-letter CAPITAL (corrected, thanks Amy!) wasn’t used here instead. Would that have given too much away?
  • 25a. [Then do this to your result from 17-Across], CHANGE ONE LETTER – funny how instruction puzzles all tend toward 15-letter entries; I guess since there’s so much latitude in how one describes an instruction step, constructors aim for the longest entries possible.
  • 41a. [Then do this to your result from 25-Across], TURN IT BACKWARDS
  • 53a. [Now you have the answer, one of these, and without leaving the continent in 17-Across], NATIONAL DEMONYM – from the Greek dẽmos, or tribe, a “demonym” is what a group of people call themselves, taken from the name of where they live, such as Cantabrigians or Cardiffians.

Côte d’Ivoire

So with 54 countries in Africa, we have 54 national demonyms to choose from. Most demonyms end in the letter N, so it’s a good bet that our “big city” begins with that letter if we were to turn it backwards, as indicated by step 3 of the theme instructions. My first guess at an African city that begins with N was NAIROBI, and if spelled backwards, we get IBORIAN, which is just one letter away from IVORIAN, or the demonym of natives of the Ivory Coast, today’s meta answer. (I see National Geographic Style Manual prefers the French Ivoirian instead.)

Who me?

Fun fact and nice that the demonym and city reside on the same continent. As far as the rest of the puzzle goes, I was ready to email Matt about the clue [Like right away] for COTTON TO, as I guess I was like, in a Valley Girl phase, not seeing the “like” as a verb. But of course, the clue is correct and to “cotton to” something is to “warm up to” something quickly, as cotton does to other fibers when blended to make textiles. Another fun fact was the word FERRET comes to us from the Latin furittus for “little thief,” which is indeed what they can be.

Until next week!

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6 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, January 8, 2016

  1. Scott says:

    This was a fun puzzle and a nice degree of difficulty for me.

  2. Amy L says:

    Evad: You mixed up CAPITOL (word for a building) with CAPITAL (word for a city).

  3. Dave S. says:

    It wasn’t just “nice” that the demonym and city reside on the same continent. The clue required it. I assume Matt didn’t want Iberian as the answer.

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