WSJ Contest – June 29, 2018

untimed (Evad) 


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

WSJ Contest – 6/29/18 – “Rainbow Connection”

Good Monday morning, lovers and dreamers. This week in the WSJ Contest Puzzle we’re looking for a color. Given these are the waning days of Pride Month, I took the title and instructions to imply the colors of the rainbow flag would be important to this meta. Let’s see if that was a good guess (spoiler alert, *NOT*):

I could only find one entry that seemed to be obviously tied to the meta solution:

  • 37a. [What the letters in the rainbow mnemonic ROY G BIV represent (they may point you to the answer), HUES

Hmmm….I first wondered if some of the other entries point to one of those colors, perhaps “green” LEGUMES or whatever color CASSAVAS are (tapioca is yellow but I’m not sure if cassavas are?). Anyway, there didn’t seem to be enough of these kind of entries to fill out the rainbow, but what I did notice were a lot of A’s and T’s, particularly running diagonally through the center of the puzzle. This got me thinking that perhaps we were to draw the bands of a rainbow with the letter A somehow, but why A?

As it turns out, letter distributions are the key as I looked at how many A’s there were, I noticed that there was just one I. In fact, there is only one of each letter in the ROY G BIV mnemonic in the grid. That’s peculiar. What if I “connect” them? Shazam! You get an arrow that “points” to the meta solution, the color TEAL running diagonally up from left to right in the upper right of the grid. Lovely idea and a superb execution.

I’ll leave you with this sweet song:

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13 Responses to WSJ Contest – June 29, 2018

  1. jps says:


  2. da kine says:

    That’s a fine bit of crucifaction. Like a fool, I forgot it was even a meta and closed the tab before trying to work it out.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    This was an awesome solve. Slowly things came into focus…ROYGBIV letters each appear once…four of them in a line…the others sort of randomly placed…what is that forming?…an arrow — boom — TEAL! Great adrenaline rush.

  4. Bob Huckvale says:

    Has anyone else noticed that often a daily puzzle in the preceding week has a connection to the contest puzzle? In this case it was Wednesday’s puzzle that featured the six colors of the LGBTQ flag, which only omits indigo from the ROY G BIV list. I thought I was being clever by concluding that the left out color from Wednesday would be the Friday answer, and began looking for an I to confirm indigo wasn’t anywhere in the puzzle. I found the I, but also noticed very few of the other letters were included. That led me to highlight the seven letters, and then connect them to find the arrow shape, and the answer. I have to admit that I audibly cheered when I found the answer, congratulating myself in the otherwise completely empty house.

  5. neil B says:

    I connected the dots but did not see the arrow so couldn’t finish. Excellent construction

  6. dbardolph says:

    Outstanding bit of construction. I don’t give 5-star ratings often, but this one for sure. I sort of wish he hadn’t given the “pointing” hint, which had me drawing the arrow right away. I like to think I’d have gotten there without it – but then, I like to think a lot of things about myself.

    • Matthew G. says:

      Agree that the phrasing of the single meta-related clue made this much easier than it could have been with a slightly vaguer clue. I would probably have advocated to make it a little harder. But beautiful construction even so.

      • dbardolph says:

        On the other hand, if Mike’s intent was to produce a brilliant puzzle that was accessible to lots of solvers, he nailed it. I withdraw my quibble.

  7. Andrew says:

    Would this puzzle have been IMPOSSIBLY hard if 37A weren’t clued that way? If it were just an innocuous cluing for “hues,” would it still be solvable?

    • Matthew G. says:

      I think the critical piece was something that pointed you at the ROY G BIV mnemonic. Once you have that, the puzzle is solvable. And I think there was a way to do that that made the next step somewhat less obvious.

  8. Norm H says:

    Absolutely brilliant concept and construction, but the HUES clue was a dead giveaway to the meta. It’s basically saying, “Here’s how you solve the meta.” I wish that had been more subtle, because a great idea executed this well deserves a more challenging presentation.

  9. Garrett says:

    Showing that spelling errors are the bane of solvers, I spelled [Paul of “Hollywood Squares”] as Linde rather than LYNDE. Consequently, I had all of ROY G BIV as unique letters in the grid except Y, and so I — of course, submitted Yellow.

    I was already astounded at using those letters only once in the grid, but now that I see that they formed an arrow pointing diagonally to another hidden color I’m doubly so!

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