MGWCC #405

crossword 2:57 
meta 0 minutes 


mgwcc405hello and welcome to episode #405 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Opening Set”. for this week 1 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a 9-letter word. eerily similar to last week’s instructions, but something tells me this one is going to be easier. what are the theme answers? five clues get asterisks:

  • {Nicole Kidman’s co-star in “Birthday Girl” and Sandra Bullock’s in “Murder by Numbers”*} is BEN CHAPLIN, an actor i’ve never heard of.
  • {Amusing word that means “to remove the smell of a certain animal from a person, pet, or object”*} DESKUNK. sure.
  • {It may call for cardamom, ginger, and milk*} CHAI RECIPE. this one was hard to parse, because it really looked in the grid like it might be CHAIR something. (we’ll come back to this.)
  • {Cautiously optimistic statement*} SO FAR, SO GOOD. excellent answer.
  • {Desert structure*} BEDOUIN TENT. less excellent answer.

okay, so they all start with names of furniture. that wasn’t too hard, but it’s very good. perfect week 1 puzzle. SO FAR, SO GOOD was the highlight. i think matt put together a very good set; you could imagine an entry starting with COUCH or TABLE, but most of them would be (at least etymologically) related to the furniture articles themselves.

the fill had some good (P.F. CHANG, JUMP PASS, GO BALD) and some less good, but nothing to get my dander up. fun, breezy week 1 puzzle.

what’d you all think?

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11 Responses to MGWCC #405

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    I wasn’T ABLE to post a rapid time.
    It made me utter a choleriC “OUCH!”
    Despite my gauCHE STatement above,
    MATT – RESSurection will be mine!

    I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. It couldn’t have been easy to get them at the starts, as my little ditty demonstrates. Four stars from me.

  2. Evan says:

    Hand up for trying to find a 9-letter furniture piece on Wiki first for several minutes before realizing, “Oh. The answer is FURNITURE.”

    • PJ Ward says:


    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Thanks, Joon — 486 right answers this week.

      Evan — yeah, I thought about making it “A 9-letter word starting with F” but then I thought that’s too much. Only 8 wrong answers so I think it was unnecessary, though those 8 were from solvers who “overthought it” but saw the pieces of furniture.

      pgw & joon — I thought BEDOUIN TENT was a cool entry! It’s a specific thing.

      • pgw says:

        Oh – I have no problem with BEDOUIN TENT as a thing – just didn’t love the fact that the furniture it contains is pronounced exactly the same within the grid entry as on its own. Again, my concern level here is extremely low.

      • Evan says:

        Oh, I agree that adding in other qualifiers would have been unnecessary. I was just remarking on how I overthought the solution myself. Good Week 1.

      • John says:

        Agreed on the BEDOUIN TENT. Fantastic fill.

  3. Jason says:

    I figured I’d overthink this. I was stuck looking for words that started with TABLE because that’s what was missing. I settled on TABLETOPS. Oops.

  4. pgw says:

    Yeah, this is a pretty good list. Trying to find alternatives leads mostly into obscurity. The internet tells me that severe word processing nerds are familiar with something called a “tab leader.” Plenty of communities seem to have a mani/pedi spot called Diva Nails. This guy is … not famous. This guy, on the other hand …

    I wasn’t thrilled with BEDOUIN TENT because “bed” neither breaks across words nor is pronounced differently than the furniture. I would have preferred, e.g., BEDEVILMENT, with minimal need to rework the grid. I’m not losing any sleep over it though.

  5. Daniel Barkalow says:

    The characters used to connect the name of a chapter with the page it starts on are called “TAB LEADERS”. Etymologically, that would be a distant cousin, since the common ancestor “tabula” meant a writing surface and only got adopted as furniture after the data organization meaning split off.

  6. slubduck says:

    Tablet Apps
    Tab Learners (those figuring their fretting out?)
    Hut Chanters (QBs?)
    Rock Erosion
    F U Tonto (possible response to ‘what mean we Kemo Sabe’?)

    sorry, I can’t help myself

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