WSJ Contest – Friday, January 20, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “That’s an Order!”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 1/20/17 – “That’s an Order!”

A travel weekend for me, so let’s just dive in. We’re looking for a Bee Gees hit that would’ve made a good final entry in this puzzle. I thought it was telling that the word “final” was in the instructions; meaning that we’re dealing with some type of set of seven (considering 6 theme entries) objects that are in some type of order. So what are those theme entries?

  • 16a. [*Immediately upon looking], AT A GLANCE
  • 20a. [*Roll the dice], TAKE A CHANCE
  • 31a. [*Conestoga circle], WAGON WHEEL
  • 40a. [*Land and structures], REAL ESTATE
  • 51a. [*It features scrolls up top], IONIC COLUMN
  • 57a. [*Added up], MADE SENSE

No immediate click, but the entries “estate” and “column” did have me thinking in terms of ordinal numbers (the press, much in the news of late, is considered the “fourth estate” and a “fifth column” is a clandestine group working to subvert a larger group, such as a government or organization). So going back to the others I discovered:

  • First Glance
  • Second Chance
  • Third Wheel
  • Fourth Estate
  • Fifth Column
  • Sixth Sense

That left me with seventh, and the phrase “seventh heaven” came quickly to mind. Is there a Bee Gees song that ends with the word “heaven” I wondered? Indeed there is:

So our meta answer is Too Much Heaven, which seems like an impossibility to me. Nice job with finding a set of words that belong to phrases beginning with a particular ordinal number, and placing the theme entries in that order. My only confusion is with the word “final” in the instructions, in that “seventh” isn’t a “final” entry in a set of seven, just the next sequential one. (Eighth note, grade or amendment is more ambiguous than the rest, but still another entry in the sequence.) I’ll just finish with one of my favorite clues of late: the faintly nautical [Stern with a bow] for ISAAC. See you next week!

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7 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, January 20, 2017

  1. Scott says:

    Another good Matt puzzle. But I do agree with Evad about labeling the answer “final.”

  2. Amy L says:

    I was nowhere near getting this. Even worse, Bee Gees songs went through my head all weekend.

  3. Sally says:

    You make it sound so deliciously easy. Most of us struggled and most of us did not succeed. There were relatively few submissions to the WSJ and only 45% were correct.

    I disagree with your quibble about seventh being the final entry. To apply “eighth” to grade, amendment or whatever is just silly and could apply randomly to virtually any number.

    Love your write-ups, though.

    • Evad says:

      Well, there are a lot of estates as well (clergy was the first estate, I think). There aren’t that many ordinal “notes”–a quarter or half-note doesn’t work with this schema, only eighth, sixteenth, etc. would.

    • Garrett says:

      I’m wondering how you know the number of submissions and the percent correct. Where does one find those statistics?

      • Amy L says:

        Garrett: Go to the WSJ puzzle page and read the comments. Mike Miller always posts the number of submissions.

  4. Felis Dee says:

    I think that the “Final” in the clue was more to do with where in the theme answers to find the pattern that would lead you to the answer to the meta.

    It took you emphasizing the word “FINAL” and mentioning ordinals that it finally clicked for me. -_-;;;

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