Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Map Quest”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upAhoy, mateys! We have another WSJ contest puzzle to get to the bottom of, so pull out your spyglasses and let’s set sail!
Today, we are looking for the pirate’s treasure and tell us what’s in it! Five theme answers (with an order indication added to their clues) can be found on the grid/map:
- 41a. [It’s good for a few bucks at a rodeo (1)], BRONC
- 11d. [Deep appreciation of wine (2)], OENOPHILIA
- 17a. [First of twelve pontiffs (3)], POPE PIUS I
- 31d. [It’s shrinking in the sky (4)], WANING MOON
- 65a. [Torches (5)], FLAMBEAUS
So just a few thoughts about how to get started with this meta:
- Knowing that the numbers in parentheses represents an ordering of the theme entries isn’t particularly intuitive, (they could also represent a letter position within each entry), but seeing the enumeration start at 1 and end at 5, ordering was a good bet.
- My first thought was a “football” vibe–the central Denver BRONC(O) entry, LAMBEAU of flambeaus and NFL Hall of Famer Warren MOON led me to try to find football connections to the other entries. Could the PHILIA of oneophilia point to the Eagles somehow? Did Pope Pius throw the pigskin around the Vatican backyard with his prelates? Does the map reference mean the meta hinged on where these teams play their home games? Hmmm…
- Another dead end was wondering if the Greek alphabet was involved–the PI of Pius, the PHI in oenophilia and almost LAMBDA in flambeaus. Another hmmm….
Finally, I hit French paydirt thinking that the proper plural of flambeaus substitutes an X for that S. And why wouldn’t Matt use that, especially since AXIS is patently an improvement over AS IS. And, hey, don’t pirates use X on a treasure map to mark where the treasure lies? Could we find similar treasures in the other entries? Sure enough, we have:
- BRONX crossing (the again superior) RELAXING
- XENOPHILIA (more common than OENOPHILIA, in my opinion) crossing BOXED
- POPE PIUS X (both X and I have been canonized, so both are “perfect” entries I guess) crossing BAXTER (an improvement over BAITER I think)
- WAXING MOON crossing TEXT
- And finally, the aforementioned FLAMBEAUX crossing AXIS, both better than what’s in the grid
Reading those letters-that-could-be-X in the parentheses order leads us to COINS, the treasure found on the map! Fun meta! Were you BIG FANS of this one as well? I bet not a few 27d. [Shekels], DUCATS are submitted this week as a Hail Mary…