Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “So That’s Your Game!”—Dave Sullivan’s write-upFull disclosure (we’re into transparency here chez Fiend): I’m beginning this post without a clear idea of the solution, but hoping that “talking it out” here on the site may help with a critical insight. Let’s start with the instructions, which are to find a sport. The title seems to echo this idea, and looking at the starred theme entries, one can see the names of athletes from various fields of sport in each:
- 17a. [*One of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles], DONATELLO – they all have names of grand masters (Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael were the others, speaking of Leonardo, I’m almost finished with Walter Isaacson’s generally interesting but a bit tedious toward the end biography of Da Vinci). This one is a bit unclear to me who the athlete is, I’m going with William Tell, the archer, for now, but feeling a bit unsure of that given the other more modern names below.
- 20a. [*Material for many guitars], MAHOGANY WOOD – the “wood” is completely superfluous here, but perhaps needed for symmetry. (Reminds me of this Beatle’s tune.) . There are two Hogans I can think of in the sports world–Hulk and Ben, a wrestler and a golfer. Perhaps Hulk is the more famous of the two.
- 35a. [*To be taken lightly], UNSERIOUS – an uncommon word, but a clear pointer to the racecar driving dynasty of Al, Jerry, Bobby and Al Jr.
- 46a. [*x], TIMES SIGN – “multiplication sign” sounds more appropriate to my ear, but a fun clue all the same. Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi can be found within.
- 57a. [*”God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” novelist], KURT VONNEGUT – one of my favorite novelists, another fascinating book I read recently was about his brother Bernard who worked at GE with cloud seeding. Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn is whom I found in this one.
- 64a. [*Match up], CORRELATE – we got Bruin’s great #4, Bobby Orr, here.
So, taking the title pretty literally, we have the following sports (“games”) associated with these athletes:
- Wrestling (or Golf)
- Racecar Driving
- Football (or Soccer)
- Alpine Skiing
When I find ambiguous entries like this, I hope to find confirming information elsewhere in the grid (either in other shorter grid entries, or perhaps in the clues themselves), but no dice there. That left me working with entries I felt were solid and trying to backsolve a sport from them–Hockey seemed definite and Lindsey is definitely a skier, so I’m going to submit SQUASH, cross my fingers and hope the meta gods were smiling on me this weekend.
Other bits ‘n’ pieces:
- Very timely 1a. [Hawaiian flower] ain’t a LEI, but LAVA
- [It’s good for the French] is the feminine form of BON or BONNE (as in “bonne nuit”)
- For both [Wealthy Washingtonian] clues I was thinking D.C., but instead it’s the state, BEZOS and GATES of Amazon and Microsoft respectively
- Finally something I learned, that a BRIS happens on a baby boy’s 8th day. Must be a biblical reference, makes you wonder what God was thinking about on that 7th day He rested?