WSJ Contest – January 13, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Four-Letter Words”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 1/13/17 – “Four-Letter Words”

So I’m afraid this might be a short post, if I am forced to excise any of the four-letter words which are the subject of this week’s WSJ contest puzzle. But, with that caveat, let’s begin. We’re looking for a two-word phrase, which notably may or may not be made up of four-letter words.

Only one obvious theme entry this week and it is gobbledygook:

  • 35a. [This puzzle’s offensive answer (censored)], DFRLKFMG – well, unless letters were added when encoded, the original answer wasn’t a four-letter word to begin with. So why censor it?

The grid is interesting in that that central answer is the longest across entry, but there are two 10-letter down entries, TEARJERKER and DEL SHANNON, which aren’t all that related to each other, unless you consider this:

But back to the four-letter words. There are eight of them in the grid:

  • DisC
  • FisH
  • RisE
  • LisA
  • WisP
  • KisS
  • MisO
  • GisT

They all notably have an “is” in the middle, and we have the makings of our “acrostic-like” letter substitution scheme. Using them to swap out the letters in the middle entry, we get CHEAP SHOT, which is a two-word phrase and our meta answer. The answer feels a little unsatisfactory to me in that there seems no connection between it and the puzzle title, unless I’m missing something. Also, I’ve seen this technique before (and I believe from this same constructor), so I was a bit let down by that as well. But, it’s an impressive effort all the same.

Something I learned from this puzzle: that the [Cheetah mascot of Cheetos] had a name, and it’s the alliterative CHESTER. Also, that old gramophone records were made of SHELLAC. Until next week.

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5 Responses to WSJ Contest – January 13, 2017

  1. I was thinking of a different Patrick B. who once did something like this (and then David Steinberg after), but they were a long while ago.

  2. JohnH says:

    I don’t believe the answer’s meant to connect to the puzzle title, which has relevance to solving but in a different way. Rather, it connects to “offensive.” Or you might say that “offensive” connects in different ways to both “four-letter words” and the answer. Works for me.

    It did feel maybe a little funny that I had to use FISH twice.

  3. Armagh says:

    I was of the impression the answer was cheap sh*t, not cheap shot. “Cheap shot” meets the breakfast test, doesn’t need to be censored

  4. Scott says:

    I got the meta without ever noticing that the 2nd and 3rd letters of the four letter words spelled IS in all cases.

  5. Ray Hathaway says:

    Who won?

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