MGWCC #446

crossword 3:36 
meta 2 minutes 


hello and welcome to episode #446 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Mid-Solve”. for this week 3 puzzle, matt challenges us to find a kind of person. okay. what are the theme answers?

  • {Neighbor of Iran} KAZAKHSTAN.
  • {Best Actress winner after Young} olivia DE HAVILLAND.
  • {Churchill successor} harold MACMILLAN.
  • {Element next to fermium on the periodic table} CALIFORNIUM.
  • {Prime number preceding 101} EIGHTY-NINE.

this was an easy one, i thought: all of these clues are wrong, most obviously the last one. (the others you might realize are wrong only if you have a very good working knowledge of list trivia or a great mental map of western/central asia.) 97 is prime, so it would be the prime preceding 101. taking a hint from the puzzle’s title, you can look up all of the intermediate correct answers:

  • {Neighbor of Iran} isn’t KAZAKHSTAN, because TURKMENISTAN is in between them.
  • {Best Actress winner after Young} isn’t olivia DE HAVILLAND; it’s jane WYMAN. (it actually went de havilland, loretta young, jane wyman, and then de havilland again from 1946-49, but the 1950 winner judy holliday isn’t relevant because she’s not between de havilland and young.)
  • {Churchill successor} wasn’t harold MACMILLAN; between them came anthony EDEN. (churchill was also PM twice, sandwiching clement attlee, but again that’s not relevant.)
  • {Element next to fermium on the periodic table} isn’t CALIFORNIUM (#98); fermium is #100 and so we want element #99, EINSTEINIUM.
  • as already i mentioned, {Prime number preceding 101} is NINETY-SEVEN, not EIGHTY-NINE.

taking the first letters of those intermediate answers yields TWEEN, which is indeed a kind of person, but a very appropriate answer for this meta.

i liked this meta. it seemed easy for a week 3, but then, this is a five-week month, so perhaps week 3 is supposed to be a little easier than usual. it wasn’t easy enough that i actually figured it out “mid-solve”, but it took very little time to see what was going on and get the answer. (the fewer lists you have to look up, the faster you could do it.) other than the prime numbers, they were all fairly well concealed.

quick hits:

  • {Animal known for its loud grunts} EMU. that is not what i know it for.
  • {Diane Sawyer’s real first name} LILA. another factoid i didn’t know.
  • {Food often punned upon in restaurant names} PHO. it’s true. anybody remember this meta?
  • {Like arsenic and drink mixes} SOLUBLE. arsenic, eh? happy holidays, everyone!
  • {Putting Ernie on courses} ELS. “putting” from putt, not put. without “ernie” it could have been a tricky clue!

that’s all i have this week. i’ll be traveling the next couple of weekends and i’m not sure i’ll be able to blog the last two puzzles of the year, but i hope so. if not, i’ll be sure to conscript a very capable substitute. if you are celebrating a special holiday this time of year, my best wishes to you!

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to MGWCC #446

  1. Ephraim says:

    I really like the way this played. I filled the whole grid without noticing the theme answers being off by one. I wondered if EIGHTYNINE related to CALIFORNIUM, and found then that both were not quite right with their clues. A friend and I generated too long a list of possible answers (liaison, middleman, go-between, intermediary, friend-of-a-friend) before I saw how the in-between answers spelled out TWEEN. Definite answer, sharp click, and done!

  2. Paul Coulter says:

    This wasn’t as easy for me as Joon found it. First thing I noticed was the place name endings stan, land, and llan. When this fell apart with ium and ine, I didn’t have much of an idea except there were some interesting numbers – Californium’s 98 before the 89, and Olivia de Havilland reaching her centennial this year. Kazakhistan is the 9th largest country, and Harold MacMillan lived to 92. Couldn’t make anything of this, of course. I readily accepted that Kazakhistan borders Iran, Macmillan followed Churchill, etc. But that there are no prime numbers between 89 and 101 just didn’t seem right, even to someone as inept at math as me. Once I looked it up, I almost emailed Matt to tell him he was wrong about the primes. But first, I thought I’d better check Matt’s other “facts.” I wonder how many of us actually emailed Matt with a correction for one or more of the theme clues? Great job – 5 stars from me. Happy holidays, everyone!

  3. Bob Kerfuffle says:

    After the prime numbers had tipped me off to “something’s wrong with these answers,” my first thought was that the “kind of person” we were looking for was simply a LIAR or MISINFORMED. Fortunately for me, I gave the meta an extra bit of thought to find the right answer!

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 325 right answers this week.

    Paul — got 6 or 7 “you made a mistake” e-mails, usually followed by a sheepish retraction :)

    Joon will be away next week, and I randomly have a guest constructor!

    • sharkicicles says:

      That was actually my “in” to solving this meta- noticed the wrong cluing and was like “No way Matt would have done that accidentally,” and then “No way he would have done that accidentally FIVE TIMES IN A ROW.”

  5. Garrett says:

    When I’m solving a grid I try to do it without looking anything up, and I wasn’t thinking too much about anything but completing it (Friday). I got all the theme answers by getting enough letters through cross-clues that I could fill the rest in. Saturday, I pretty much followed Paul Coulter’s line of reasoning, and nothing stuck.

    Sunday I started trying to associate dates with everything, and figured 89 was just the last two digits of a 20th century date. This went nowhere.

    Monday morning I thought, “wait… isn’t there going to be a prime in the 90’s?” I looked everything else up and my first thought — like Bob Kerfuffle — was that the type of person would be a liar. But I’ve got a co-worker who was already on the leaderboard, and I went into his office and said, “It’s liar, right?” He just smiled and said, “Nope! You’ve got to dig deeper than that.”

    After thinking a bit more, I realized that the correct answer was between the clue object (Iran, Young, Churchill, Fermium, 101) and the proposed answer forced by the grid, and the puzzle title was Mid-solve, so I hit on TWEEN. Then I listed the correct in-between answers and realized the first letter of each spelled tween, in order! Always a good feeling when you see the lock.

  6. Jim S. says:

    My experience was similar to Garrett – solved it without realizing anything was amiss Sat AM. Then got to wondering who “Young” was and saw the mistaken clue. Thought, “Boy, Matt usually sends clue corrections pretty quickly” so I dug deeper and got the rest. Very cool puzzle and meta.

  7. CFXK says:

    Not quick on physics or math, so I just trusted Matt on californium and eighty-nine. Know enough about oscars to know de havilland won twice, so never thought to question that answer since following Wyman made sense during that era. But I’m pretty good at history and geography, so was taken aback at both Kazakhstan and MacMillan – knowing Kazakhstan was further and MacMillan was later. But the way I dealt with that was to say: “hmm,matt’s a pretty smart guy, so there must be a tiny little point where Kazakhstan reaches over and touches Iran that I don’t know about, and I guess there must have been a very brief few days that MacMillan served as PM following Churchill before Eden began his much longer term that I’ve never noted. I’ll have to look all that up after I figure out the meta.” Of course, I never figured out the meta, so never looked things up – a meta solution that would have been so obvious had I just trusted what I knew instead of trusting Matt’s dastardly lies!

    I’ll never trust Matt again. Never.

  8. slubduck says:

    hastily submitted middleman, despite seeing the pattern, looking at the correct middle answers, asking myself if their first letters (TJEE9) meant anything (nope) ……. oh crud, i’m not on the leaderboard, what did i do? Not consider that Wyman was the “first letter” in an ordering of Young to deHavilland, nor that the number had a “first letter” as well ….. never go too quickly folks, Matt will always trip you up. Nice puzzle.

    • Ephraim says:

      “never go too quickly folks, Matt will always trip you up.”

      Oh, I’ve been there a few times. So true.

  9. Doggie says:

    If you take the letters in the middle vertical column (“midsolve”) that are in the theme clues, they anagram to “giant”

    • ajk says:

      I got temporarily derailed by reading down that middle column: APT ARTISAN GOT seemed like it had to be pointing to a person from Game of Thrones that somehow matched a pattern formed by the theme answers. :D

      Fortunately, got curious about who the ‘Young’ was, looked up the list, and got it pretty quickly after that.

  10. MountainManZach says:

    I submitted “one upper.” Definitely a type of person, and they might respond to, say, the prime number clue thusly: “97? I’ll do you one better, 89.” Any love for this answer?

    (Admittedly, I never figured out how the title connected.)

Comments are closed.