Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “What’s the Right Move?”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upBoard games are the order of the day in this week’s WSJ contest puzzle, and we’re looking for one way to move. Thinking of chess or checkers at first, I guess I was thinking of how pieces in those games move, but let’s see what the theme entries have to offer in terms of narrowing down our “moves”:
- 17a. [*Restaurant selection], BEERS ON TAP – Water Works
- 24a. [*Paint the town red], HIT THE BARS – Just Visiting / In Jail
- 32a. [*Permission to turn], GREEN ARROW – Go
- 39a. [*Whistle-blower of a sort], TRAFFIC COP – Go To Jail
- 46a. [*Diner table stain], COFFEE RING – Luxury Tax
- 57a. [*Future hyacinth, e.g.], FLOWER BULB – Electric Company
A final bonus entry helps point us in the direction of board games: 65a. [You’ll need a famous one of these to figure out the contest], BOARD. So it was thinking about how TAP can refer to a water faucet that led me a look at a Monopoly board.
I had forgotten how many symbols are on the non-real estate squares, and I’ve identified them above in my theme entry listings. I started with “Just Visiting” for the BARS, and taking the first letter of each square on the board, I got WJGGLE, which was close enough to WIGGLE (a way to move), I went back and saw that the square could just as easily be referred to as “In Jail.” So there you have it.
Matt has used a Monopoly board before in his metas, in fact, one was (as I recall) our top-rated puzzles the year it came out where the grid was only 11×11 and each word of the clues for the entries on the perimeter started with the same letter as that square on the board. (Sounds complicated, and it was, but also beautifully executed.) Today’s puzzle is a bit simpler in conception, but still quite fun. I’ll finish with a question about the clue for PREMIUMS, namely [Oxford charges]. Are we talking the school here? And what premiums do you pay or is that what students are called there?
I love 99.9% of Matt Gaffney’s puzzles but I thought the meta for this one was a little tenuous. I almost went with “car” as my answer because the second word of each of the six meta-related answers describes one of the monopoly spaces with a unique picture (i.e. not a railroad, community chest, or chance, the associated images of which appear multiple times on the board). The only other such space is “Free Parking” which features an image of a car.
For the “correct” solution to work, you have to take the first letter that appears in the board space related to each meta answer, *except* in the case of the “GO’ space (and arguably the “In Jail/Just Visiting” space).
For a Gaffney puzzle it wasn’t a solid lock of a theme. I figured “wiggle” was more likely to be the correct answer, so I went with it, but I think “car” makes for a more consistent meta.
I think Oxford refers to the medical insurance company.
Great puzzle. I was stuck on Ouija board for an embarrassing amount of time.
I’ve never heard of them, must be a regional thing.
I got as far as the Monopoly board and then figured the way to move must be “clockwise,” because that is how you move on the Monopoly board.
That was my first thought but it didn’t seem tight enough. I figured out WIGGLE shortly thereafter.
“Hi, everyone! What are you all laughing about?”
“This funny joke Matt just told. It’s a riot!”
“Care to let me in on it?”
“No, if you don’t know it, you wouldn’t ever get it. Sorry man!”
I didn’t get this one. The theme answers were three corners and three “expense” squares. I tried to complete the sets and focused on Free Parking and Income Tax. “Diamond Car” got me nowhere.
All the mentioned squares were not the colored streets or even railroads so I submitted “off-road”. If I hadn’t thought of the bars square as “Jail”, I might’ve gotten the expected answer, but no.
I really enjoyed this one. Have a hazy recollection that Monopoly came to mind as soon as I filled in 65A (BOARD), but I discounted it as too obvious. Wasted a lot of time on the misdirection of the double letters in the theme answers. Tried to fit the themes to chess, checkers, Ouija, surfing, skateboarding (for the last two, I thought the theme answers might hide slang terms)…. I circled back to Monopoly after all the dead ends, and the path to the solution finally emerged.
I did just fine getting the monopoly board. I looked at it, verified the last words of each theme fill matched a part of the board, and submittted “Clockwise,” because that’s how you move in Monopoly. Never occurred to me that I needed to take the first letter in each square to come up with WIGGLE! In fact, had it, I probably would have questioned that. Where is there a way to lock that?!
I think a lot more would have gotten this if we had to look for “a 6-letter verb.” Instead, “one way to move” was definitely intended to deceive and lead us astray.
I have a feeling Matt is steering these WSJ Metas from the somewhat simpler, easier to comprehend, earlier ones – to more like the MGWCC puzzles. And bravo for that. Hooks in!
I, myself, submitted CLOCKWISE, but I should have known better.