AV Club Contest — July 11, 2018

untimed grid, hour meta (Laura) 


AVCX Contest - 7.1.18 - Solution

AV Club Contest – 7.11.18 – Solution

Wow. I will try to do this writeup justice — I’m covering for Ben, who is wrapping up NPLCon in Milwaukee; just my luck that this week’s AV Club was a metacontest!

First, you’re getting a penciled-in grid solution, direct from my artisanal wooden clipboard, because this baby cannot be solved in Across Lite.

The puzzle in Across Lite, on my friend Rich’s phone. Don’t try this at home, kids.

Second, the grid itself solved much like a Marching Bands, which is a superfun variety puzzle type that you can get from various outlets, such as BEQ, Outside the Box (a.k.a. Joon), and Games magazine. Namely, instead of Across and Down, you get Rows, with two entries per row, and a Maze Path, where you get numbered clues for entries, but you have to figure out where they begin, and how long they are.

I solved the grid. That was fun enough! In no way was this an [10.1: Single transient item (as opposed to the much more common plural form): EPHEMERON.

But wait, there’s more! Per the instructions:

Unfortunately for the makers of this maze, there is also someone who has decided to find a quicker way from the beginning to the end: the Maze Ruiner. That person has found a way to pass through the walls (leaving some obvious evidence behind) and forge a much shorter path to the exit. Clues for the MAZE RUINER’S PATH are also given. When you’ve found the Maze Ruiner’s path, examine the evidence left behind to figure out what will be needed to repair the maze.

Here are the clues for the Maze Ruiner’s Path, and my initial ideas of what the entries might be:

  1. It’s paid to keep people quiet: 2 wds.: HUSH MONEY
  2. Old saying: SAW or ADAGE
  3. Quickly and effortlessly recite: 2 wds.: RATTLE OFF or REEL OFF
  4. Finds on the radio dial: 2 wds.: TUNES IN or TUNES TO or TUNES INTO
  5. Inactive: DORMANT or IDLE

Next I tried to find a path in the grid that would get me from the H starting square to the E ending square. I found HUS and MONY … but there are some letters missing. Wait, if I keep going, each entry seems to have some letters missing — and weren’t we told that the Maze Ruiner had been “leaving some obvious evidence behind” in making their path? Following the syllabus of Metasolving 101, I listed the evidence left behind, i.e. the letters missing from the words in the Maze Ruiner’s path, highlighted here (and the full path is overwritten in red pencil above in the solution image):

Hedge Maze

Lewis Clarke / Longleat : Hedge Maze / CC BY-SA 2.0

HUSH MONEY, ADAGE, REEL OFF, TUNES INTO, IDLE: HEDGE FUND, which is what’s needed to repair the maze. Because a hedge maze, as Wikipedia reminds us, is “an outdoor garden maze or labyrinth in which the ‘walls’ or dividers between passages are made of vertical hedges.” So if someone ruins your hedge maze, you’d likely need a hedge fund to repair it.

As Harry Potter, who negotiated a hedge maze in the final challenge of the Tri-Wizard Tournament (Goblet of Fire), might say: Pure dead brilliant! I thought this was a fantastically fun and challenging solving experience. What did you think?

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7 Responses to AV Club Contest — July 11, 2018

  1. Peter Strauss says:

    I loved this puzzle, and hated it from Wednesday right up until Sunday evening, at about 7:45pm Pacific. The last two to fall were “rewarding” and “loft beds”. After those great “Aha!”s, then came the Ruiner’s path, which fairly quickly fell into place. Hedge Fund indeed.
    What a wonderful solving experience! Thank you, Mr. Heaney!!!

  2. dbardolph says:

    Loved it – that was good in all the ways a puzzle can be. Clever idea, excellent construction, and a very loud click when all the pieces came together. Great puzzle.

  3. RPardoe says:

    Perhaps it is implied and unstated, but did you notice that the missing letters all are on a “wall” or thick black link in the puzzle?

    Related to this, your drawing of the solution path appears to have the wrong “R” for “Reel Off” – use the one to the left of the “E” in “Adage” to avoid crashing through a wall with no letter.

  4. janie says:

    francis: the winner and still champion!

    great concept and construction; great solve —


  5. Brian says:

    Wasn’t able to finish, got about halfway through. Still was super fun and inventive!

  6. Matthew G. says:

    In case someone dissents later, let us pause to note for posterity that as of this writing, there are 25 ratings for this puzzle and every single one of us has given this five full stars. Wow. Are variety puzzles eligible for Orcas?

    This was a great and unusual contest puzzle. Great because it was so much fun and so hard, and unusual because almost all of the difficulty came from filling the grid; once you got over that hurdle, the meta mechanism was pretty evident. So much so that I had the meta mechanism figured out long before I had every square in the grid full. But the grid was so difficult that you really had to labor over this one to crack it without Googling.

    Francis might get my vote for hardest constructor to solve. His themes are invariably elegant, but his cultural touchstones are so aggressively bifurcated between ultra-highbrow and ultra-lowbrow that I have to ply every cross and letter-probability to get through them. A literary pseudonym sandwiched between a reality TV personality and LOFT (not bunk) BEDS — that was herculean.

    • Mr. X says:

      “In case someone dissents later, let us pause to note for posterity that as of this writing, there are 25 ratings for this puzzle and every single one of us has given this five full stars. ”

      I’m dissenting (5 stars is laughable) and will quote you to do so: “…almost all of the difficulty came from filling the grid….[which] was so difficult that you really had to labor over this one to crack it without Googling.” Precisely, a trivia quiz in a box. And even the meta is inconsistent with more than one letter missing from the third word.

      Odd that so many ratings were given for this puzzle when the AV usually gets a very small bunch. And with all those high scores so few comments. Makes one question things.

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