Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Double Crossing”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upGood Monday morning, fellow puzzleheads! This week guest constructor (and a lifetime member of the cruciverbial pantheon), Patrick Berry and editor Mike Shenk challenge us to find a five-letter word indicated by the entries of this puzzle. Our general approach is to look at the theme entries (starred or at least the 4-5 longest entries), but here there is no entry longer than 9 letters and more of those than are likely thematic. Hmmm.
Spending a bit more time thinking about the title, I started to look at crossing entries, thinking if I found five that were unique in some way, I might take their common crossing letter to spell this five-letter word. Seeing the DATE in both UP AND AT ‘EM and SEDATE, I tentatively put that common A in my pocket and looked for other similar crossings. I found these:
- TOBAGO crossing BAGELS at the G
- TUBEDO crossing BEDECKING at the E
- TEACHINO crossing CHINA SHOP at the N
- STAKES crossing TAKEI at the T
Spelling out those crossing letters from top-to-bottom, we have AGENT, who could definitely be a “double crosser.” Though I’m 99% certain of this solution, it bothers me that the crossing words are not all at least 4 letters long (I wouldn’t say it’s uncommon to find crossing three-letter words that are not put there on purpose in other puzzles) and that these five crossing words have nothing in common with each other (or the meta solution). [Edited to add: observant fellow-Fiend (and my sub for next week while I’ll be biking in Italy), Jim Peredo noticed that these words all can (appropriately) follow the word “double.” That helps tie things together quite a bit.] Finally, the NW and SE are almost completely unconstrained by theme material, making me wonder if MIKE BOSSY or SOAP OPERA was chosen for a meta-specific reason. Seems a bit incomplete in my mind if not.
As for the rest, I was unfamiliar with the [Typographer’s ornamental flourish], or SWASH, so I’ll end with a picture of one: