WSJ Contest – Friday, January 15, 2016

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s (Really Mike’s) Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Address Finder”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest - "Address Finder" - 1/15/16

WSJ Contest – “Address Finder” – 1/15/16

This week, we are asked to find a two-word phrase. Before we dive into the meta, let’s talk about the puzzle itself. Oof, what a tough one, huh? And having theme entries that are just the ambiguous “Site” plus a number doesn’t help. In no particular order, here are just a few of the entries I struggled with:

  • 1d. [Nice round number] had me thinking of numbers that were round, such as zero, but since that wouldn’t fit in three letters, I thought maybe Nice referred to the “masked capitalized” city on the coast of France, but no three-letter French numbers came to mind other than UNE. Ends up were talking golf rounds here, and the answer was PAR.
  • I’m unfamiliar with the phrase 15a. [Developmental point of reference], AGE NORM.
  • The question-marked 8d. [Out of order?] had me thinking of clerics who have been defrocked, but it’s actually the more straightforward CHAOTIC.
  • I was in the mindset of aeronautics with the clue 16a. [Commercial flyer, e.g.], but instead we have a HANDOUT.
  • 19a. [Joint beneficiary] is a tough clue for POT SMOKER, as I was thinking of knees then prisons at first.
  • 24a. [Headed for the fence, perhaps] had nothing to do with baseball, but to someone who would sell stolen (HOT) items
  • 25a. [Body problems] are DENTS in a car body
  • I was sure that 31a. [Shaping tuck] was the crossword-friendly LIPO, but it ended up being a DART. I think of this with dresses, are they used elsewhere? In any case, an obscure clue for a common object.
  • Also tough in that area was my insistence on ARM for 36a. [Pigskin propeller], which instead was TOE.
  • I’ve never heard of a “costermonger” as referenced in 47a. [Costermonger offering], but I see they are FRUIT sellers in Victorian England. Again, someone going out of their way to make a clue for a simple item very difficult.
  • 54d. [One might be followed by a camel] is an AXEL found in figure skating.

mediterranean-mapSo all of those misdirections led to a long solve even before I could concentrate on the meta. For that, it seems we only have four clues (along with the title), as the “sites” are:

  • MOROCCO and

The first thing I considered was to see where they are located in relationship to each other on a map. As you can see, they roughly limn the Mediterranean Sea, but not exactly enough that I was comfortable with that for our two-word phrase. (Why not choose France or Spain over Andorra if all that was wanted was one “corner” of the drawn boundary to be in that NW area?)

My home state’s road map

Then I started to wonder why the constructor chose the word “site” to clue these entries instead of the more common element, “country.” What other use of the word “site” is there? As a computer guy, websites came to mind, and the word “address” in the title also confirmed this direction as websites are found at urls entered in a browser’s address bar. So how to associate countries with websites? Well, this page helped a lot. And here are the relevant codes:

Put them together and you get ROAD MAPS and our meta answer. I can’t help but think the symmetrically-placed entries DOMAIN, NATION, EDU, ORG, GOV, COM, MIL and NET (clued in non-website ways) were subtle hints also in this direction. Tough challenge this week, huh? Hope all at the MIT Mystery Hunt are having success with challenges even harder than this one!

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6 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, January 15, 2016

  1. John Haber says:

    I suppose I was vaguely aware that in addition to com, edu, and org there are country codes, given the Russian sites from some of the most blatant spam, but can’t get much more obscure than this. Ugh.

  2. Serablue says:

    Thanks for posting this. I completed the puzzle (yes, it was a long slog…that’s how I like it) but couldn’t fit the life of me get the connection between the four countries. I missed the larger context hints of edu, com, org as well. Kudos to you!

  3. austin says:

    I guessed Mediterranean Sea. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  4. Abby B says:

    What about describing the first letters of the places? “Entrance ramp”?

    • Evad says:

      Yeah, but why those four countries in particular? Also having so little theme material would be hard to justify in a puzzle of this size. Noticing that the symmetrically placed ORG, MIL, COM, etc. were also part of the theme material was key to solving this meta.

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