WSJ Contest – December 29, 2017

untimed (Evad) 


Marie Kelly’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Play Grounds”—Dave Sullivan’s write-up

WSJ Contest – 12/29/17 – “Play Grounds”

This week, the final WSJ Contest puzzle of 2017, we’re looking for a kind of competition. The 7 (!) theme entries are starred, and without further ado, here they are:

  • 16a. [*Didn’t stoop to], ROSE ABOVE
  • 20a. [*Adolescent growth], PEACH FUZZ – because ACNE wouldn’t fit
  • 25a. [*Bright-colored dishes], FIESTAWARE – is it true that some of the original colors were radioactive or is that just an urban legend?
  • 38a. [*Evening shows], SUNSETS – here in Vermont, the sun is currently setting around 4:30pm, so they’re more like late afternoon shows here!
  • 47a. [*American rabbit], COTTONTAIL
  • 52a. [*Cereal promoted by a cowboy prairie dog in the early 1960s], SUGAR POPS – does this clue imply they are no longer sold? I recall the cereal, but not the commercial.
  • 62a. [*Many an Aussie cattle rancher], OUTBACKER – I doubt many of these ranchers would refer to themselves with this term, but not having been to Australia (the closest I got was to New Zealand about 8 years ago), I can’t stand on a lot of authority here.

One doesn’t have to be much of a fan of college football to recognize all of these entries begin with the name of a college football bowl. I haven’t kept up with how the BCS championship bowls are selected–this year, Georgia plays Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl and Clemson and Alabama (even though they recently lost to Auburn!) play in the Sugar Bowl, with the winners playing a week later in Atlanta. A timely and straightforward meta to end the year.

Here’s to another set of top quality puzzles in the new year! Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2018 to you all.

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16 Responses to WSJ Contest – December 29, 2017

  1. Eric Conrad says:

    I got PAGEANT

    El Paso
    New Orleans

  2. Heidi Birker says:

    Sorry but PAGEANT is the correct answer. The Rose bowl is in Pasadena, the Peach bowl is in Atlanta, the Fiesta Bowl is in Glendale,The Sun bowl is in El Paso, the Cotton Bowl is in Arlington, the Sugar Bowl is in New Orleans, and the Outbacker Bowl is in Tampa.

  3. Crypdex says:

    BOWLS is in the grid at 64A – I think Mike has put that there on purpose to indicate that it isn’t the final meta answer.

    I was perplexed by the dupe at first until Eric (first commenter above) pushed me to keep looking and I eventually hit PAGEANT. Thanks Eric!

  4. beqfan says:

    The BCS (B0wl Championship Series) is depricated since 2014. It is now the CFP (College Football Playoff), the participants in which are chosen by a live committee of (theoretically) impartial panelists, as opposed to the formulas used previously.

  5. Jon says:

    Oh man. I submitted “American football college bowl games” thinking since I put bowl singular then it was different enough from bowls plural that’s in the grid.

    I thought this meta was on par w/ a MGWCC week 1. Didn’t even think to dig deeper to get the route towards PAGEANT.

    Definitely fooled me.

  6. Eric M says:

    Horrendous red-herring meta. If you clued BOWLS in relation to college bowls/”something you might find in this grid”, it would tip the solver away from it as a meta answer. The fact that it was clued with no relation to that could very easily lead the solver to believe it was CONFIRMING the correctness of that answer. And a meta where one can pretty confidently believe they have the correct answer when in fact they don’t is IMHO a poorly constructed meta.

    • Bill Katz says:

      Yes – when only 13% of the submissions are correct, I say the question is not well constructed. Count me among the 87% that submitted the wrong answer.

  7. JRS says:

    I beg to differ with “pageant”. The dictionary definitions I find are:
    An elaborate colorful parade or display
    Any magnificent or showy display
    A show or exhibition

    Nowhere is “competition” mentioned. whereas a bowl game is definitely a competition.

    • NLA says:

      Beauty Pageant-definitely a competition

      Per Abide above, though, I don’t see what PAGEANT has to do with “grounds” where they “play”.
      At best, I could see an element of PAGEANTRY tied to bowl games.

      • Abide says:

        The “grounds” refer to the city. If the title had been “Athletic Supporters” you might think to look for the bowl sponsors
        ( G for Cotton. A for Sugar, etc.)

        • Matthew G. says:

          Except that a bowl is a stadium, which is also a grounds. Think the Polo Grounds, for example. I didn’t have the slightest hesitation that the answer of “Bowl Games” fit both the clue and the title.

          For pageant to be the only correct answer, there needs to be something in the clue that rules out Bowl Games as an answer.

  8. AK37 says:

    I submitted an incorrect answer almost instantly, but went back and found the correct answer after feeling something wasn’t right. A better hint, something as simple as “… a 7-letter word”, would have cleared it up, for me at least.

    I’m also struggling to tie PAGEANT back to bowl games. PAGEANT is a 100% valid answer when you use the correct mechanism, but the best metas tie it all together – hint, answer, puzzle title, and grid (and sometimes clues). Just didn’t quite click all the way home for me.

    In general I really enjoy the weekly meta, and also appreciate that they’ve increased in difficulty of late.

  9. Matthew G. says:

    I suppose you can make a case for “pageant” being a competition, but the first thing I think of when I hear that word is a Christmas pageant.

    I can’t agree with pageant being a superior answer here. “Bowl Games” should absolutely be accepted as correct.

  10. Amanda says:

    I initially thought “college bowl games,” but on further research, the Orange Bowl was missing, and the Sun and Outback didn’t fit with the others. So I realized it wasn’t an elegant enough solution. Then the title led me to look at the city where each was played, and there was PAGEANT. But honestly, I would have submitted bowl games if it weren’t for the WSJ comments about the second possible answer.

    • Evad says:

      Thanks everyone for your comments–I have to admit I didn’t have a lot of time this weekend to spend on this one (most of my meta brainpower was being sapped by Matt’s week 5 of 5 (and week 52 of 52!) head-crusher)–but if I had spent more time on it, I would’ve been bothered by noticing BOWLS in the grid (despite its non-football clue) as well as trying to figure out how the title applied to the solution. Seems like I had good company and it’s good to remember that it’s only a game!

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