MGWCC #417

crossword 3:36 
meta ~5 minutes 


mgwcc417hello and welcome to episode #417 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “QB VII”. for this week 4 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a U.S. state. straightforward enough, and anybody with no idea at least has a 2% shot at the right answer anyway. what are the theme answers? six clues get *s:

  • {The San Juan Bautista, notably*} SPANISH GALLEON.
  • {Guiding light*} NORTH STAR.
  • {John Grisham title word*} PELICAN.
  • {Member of the genus Quercus*} OAK TREE.
  • {Valentina Tereshkova, e.g.*} ASTRONAUT. admit it: you had COSMONAUT first.
  • {Vehicle named for a Pennsylvania township*} CONESTOGA WAGON. somebody tell puzzlegirl that this is a thing.

the theme jumped out at me immediately, with a nudge from the instructions and the title: these are all things depicted on different state quarters. i did a quick google to this list, and that was that. in order:

  • a SPANISH GALLEON (along with a palmetto tree and a space shuttle) is on florida’s quarter.
  • the NORTH STAR is on alaska’s, over a grizzly bear eating a salmon.
  • the PELICAN, of course, is the state bird of louisiana, and as such it’s on their quarter.
  • an OAK TREE (in particular, the charter oak) is on connecticut’s.
  • an ASTRONAUT (i guess it’s supposed to be neil armstrong, but john glenn is also ohioan) is on ohio’s.
  • a CONESTOGA WAGON is on nebraska’s, because pioneers.

reading off the first letters of the states, in order, gives FALCON. that’s not a u.s. state, but there is a falcon on the back of the idaho quarter, so that’s our answer.

state quarters of fl ak la ct oh ne id

state quarters of fl ak la ct oh ne id

i really liked this meta. it’s by no means obvious, but it’s simple and extremely elegant: six quarters, in order, spelling out an image on a seventh quarter. the title, which is the name of a leon uris book (in which it stands for “queens bench 7”, so i think it has something to do with a legal matter in britain), here suggests “quarterback seven”, i.e. the backs of seven different quarters. it’s really a perfect title. i think it’s on the easy side for a week 4, but i’m not going to complain about a flawless meta just because it was easier than i was expecting.

that’s all i’ve got for this week. i hope you had a great may—i thought this was a really good month of mgwcc puzzles. hoping to see many of you (including, i think, matt) at indie 500 this weekend!

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28 Responses to MGWCC #417

  1. Paul Coulter says:

    As Joon notes, this Week 4 played on the easy side. It does seem like Matt tends to mix up his Weeks 3/4 or 4/5 a few times each year. After a short detour to check out state seals and flags, I made a list of what QB might stand for other than Queen’s Bench. The most obvious one is quarterback, which Matt cleverly turns to quarter back. Then a quick visit to Wikipedia produced the intended result that Joon detailed above. Oddly enough, another QB is queen bee, and a bee hive does feature on the state seal of Arkansas, as I’d discovered in my earlier foray. Four North Stars from me.

  2. Scott says:

    I submitted Colorado. I interpreted QB VII as the quarterback wearing #7, or John Elway of the Denver Broncos. I further convinced myself (falsely) that the other clues pointed to Colorado as well. A fail for me.

    • CC says:

      I submitted Maryland- It’s the seventh state and also Leon Uris’ birthplace.

    • Lise P. says:

      I also submitted Colorado, for the same reason.

      I guess I just don’t shop enough, or I overuse the credit card, because the coin angle never would have occurred to me. My kids collected these quarters when they were first minted (the coins, not my kids), so I have several almost complete sets lying around. Beautifully crafted puzzle, and good job to those who figured it out.

  3. David R says:

    Alternative answer that I got credit for is INDIANA as it is QB VII so you’re looking for a seventh entry and the grid had CAR which is on that state’s quarter..

    • Matthew G. says:

      As I was solving the grid, I also initially expected that we would be looking for a seventh grid entry that is on a state quarter (a sure sign it’s an easy week 4 is when I’m most of the way to the meta answer before the grid is full). But before I started hunting I happened to look at my list of the state names, and there was FALCON staring at me.

  4. Mutman says:

    Hmmm I guess I have to appeal to the judges here. I saw the quarter back theme, eventually. However, it looked like Virginia had a ship on it too, so I never got all the letters for Falcon.

    I assumed that the VII was a call for the seventh state, so I submitted Maryland.

    Anyone else??

  5. This one fell to the “throw all the theme answers into Google” strategy. The state quarters aren’t the top search result, but they are half of the first 10 search results.

    • pgw says:

      Yeah, that unfortunately weakened what was otherwise a great meta. The germ of the idea did occur to me, but the simplest way to test it was just to do exactly what you did.

    • ajk says:

      I swear I did this, but apparently I didn’t, given that I never tumbled to the (clever) quarter backs theme. Maybe I was too lazy to type all of them. :)

  6. Raygirl says:

    I worked so much harder for my wrong answer! But I actually could defend it in QB VII (as long as you are willing to see QB as just a general nudge toward football).
    Conestoga Wagon to me was immediately Oklahoma Sooners
    And I found a team for each of the theme answers (albeit some pretty obscure schools)
    Atlantic Cape (Buccaneers, picture of a galleon)
    North Seattle (north star — this clinched it for me (wrongly) that I was on right path)
    Tulane (riptide the Pelican)
    Menlo (oak tree)
    Toledo (rocketeers– actual astronaut costume worn at one point donated by alum John Glenn)
    Oklahoma (wagon)

    Anagrams to MASCOT, TN an actual place and an unbelievable red herring coincidence.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 219 right answers this week. Peter Gordon came up with the title, which is indeed very clever.

    I wound up accepting TEXAS and INDIANA as correct alternative answers, since there’s a CAR (60-D) on Indiana’s state quarter and ROPES (28-D) on Texas’s, though they’re tough to spot.

  8. Amy L says:

    I was so excited when I saw that the QB stood for quarter backs. I thought VII must mean the seventh quarter in the series, so I submitted Maryland. When my name wasn’t on the leaderboard, I looked back at my work and FALCON popped right out. I wanted to resubmit saying, NO, NOT THE FIRST ONE, USE THIS INSTEAD! It’s really frustrating sometimes.

    Besides, I always thought it was a pigeon on the Idaho quarter.

  9. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I got tripped up by the fact that exactly one other answer in the grid (CAR) was something on the back of a state quarter (since Texas officially has a lariat partially blocked by text, not ROPES).

  10. Mutman says:

    Drats. I was going to guess Indiana as a desperation play, as Bob Griese was QB of Super Bowl VII, and he was from Indiana.

    I think Maryland is as good a wrong answer as the others, having essentially grokked it. But I guess the panel does not agree :(

  11. Chris Stephens says:

    There’s also the fact that it’s the Indy 500 weekend, and Matt does like to have tie-ins of that nature. So, after seeing “car” in the grid, I kept trying to force Indiana. But my partner, who solves these with me, caught the FALCON, and so Indiana was not submitted :)

  12. Joe says:

    I’m really surprised that no one submitted Montana. It was my first thought, until I recognized that QB referred to quarter backs and not football players.

    • Dogpole says:

      Oh I fell in to that trap based on alternative seven letter answers to the theme clues – First letter of Mission, second letter of Polaris, third letter of Runaway – then some more dodgy answers, giving seven letter quarterback/state. Seemed like week 4 difficulty too – except you could guess it without solving any clues.

  13. Evad says:

    Two false trails really had me scrambling this weekend, the first was trying to associate the entries with football teams. (Raymond James stadium in Tampa is famous for the pirate ship/galleon that I believe shoots cannons whenever the Bucs score at home.) From the top, I was thinking NORTH STAR was a Dallas reference, PELICAN for the Saints (New Orleans), OAK TREE for Oakland (or maybe the Steelers, since Big Ben is often referred to as an oak), ASTRONAUT for Houston and finally the Bills for the WAGON.

    Then I started thinking it was maybe college football teams, since the Sooner Schooner is a pretty famous mascot of the U. of Oklahoma, and Tulane’s mascot is a pelican. But that didn’t go very far either.

    Finally, I was wondering if maybe all of these had alternate answers, since San Juan Bautista first comes up as SPANISH MISSION not SPANISH GALLEON in search results. The Russian is more appropriately a COSMONAUT, and that wagon at the bottom I thought was more commonly referred to as COVERED. NORTH STAR could be POLE STAR or POLARIS, etc. Obviously this was a pretty deep rat hole to climb out of and took me most of the weekend to recover from. (That and running in a marathon relay that was stopped due to heat & humidity…that probably helped to addle my brain!)

    • ajk says:

      I think I went down literally all of these trails, but unfortunately stayed down in the hole. :)

  14. Ale M says:

    I eventually got the right answer, but I’m intrigued by the alternative answer submitted by a friend of mine (VlnVla). Here it is, along with his reasoning:

    “I submitted Georgia. The puzzle’s name was an abbreviation. I’m looking for a state, and notice that each meta entry had state abbreviations:

    sPAnish GAlleon – PA, GA
    nORth stAR – OR, AR
    peliCAn – CA
    oAK tree – AK
    astronaUT – UT
    CONEstoGA WAgon – CO, NE, GA, WA

    “If QB stood for Queen’s Bench (based on QB VII), that gave it a court trial overtone. Since GA appeared twice, I decided that the preponderance of evidence solved the case in Georgia’s favor.”

    I like this! Can the panel review “Georgia” as an alternative answer, based upon VlnVla’s reasoning?

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