WSJ Contest — Friday, September 14, 2018

8ish minutes grid, 10ish minutes meta (Laura) 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Follow the Money”—Laura’s review

WSJ Contest - 9.14.18 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 9.14.18 – Solution

Matt challenges us to find “an adverb describing how you need to solve [the contest puzzle].” Our first hints are the title — are we supposed to find money and then follow it? — and this central clue/entry:

  • [31d: Pieces of ___ (old coins, and a double hint about how to follow the money): EIGHT.

I printed out the grid once I filled it, and yelled “Show me the money!” at it — and whaddayaknow? There’s the money — i.e. global currencies hiding in the eight-letter entries, of which there are eight (hence our “double hint”). There’s a twitter bot that satirizes tired adages like “there’s no I in team” so I’ve been on the general lookout for unlikely hidden words — I found EURO first, then referred to this handy reference to find some of the others:

  • [17a: Obsessive-compulsive, e.g.]: NEUROTIC (EU)
  • [21a: Local news hour, often]: ELEVENPM (Bulgaria)
  • [57a: Court specialty]: TRIAL LAW (Iran, Yemen, et al)
  • [63a: Run-of-the-mill]: ORDINARY (Iraq, Jordan, et al)
  • [11d: Uses as a cover for]: DRAPES ON (Mexico, et al)
  • [18d: Feature of all living cells]: RIBOSOME (Kyrgyzstan)
  • [32d: 1980 tribute album to R&B great Stevie]: WONDERIN (North and South Korea)
  • [37d: He played Robbie Douglas on “My Three Sons”]: DON GRADY (Vietnam)

That’s the first step! Next, follow the money — if you take the first letter after each currency, in order of grid position (see my marked up grid, left) you get the adverb  TENDERLY — as in legal tender, or authorized currency. Follow the money to pieces of eight, tenderly. A few of the eight-letter entries needed to put this together were a tad obscure (RIBOSOME, DON GRADY), but overall I thought it fit together beautifully. Your thoughts?


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31 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, September 14, 2018

  1. JohnH says:

    I spotted EURO, PESO, RIAL, and DINAR pretty quickly, and I picked up the puzzle several more times looking high and low at the remaining long answers, but with no luck. I even took some stabs and surfed the Web, which I hate doing with a crossword. (Could there be a “deri” or an “onde” or a “rin”? Nope.) So glad everyone liked this one but way too obscure for me. I could have kept inventing words like that forever.

    • JohnH says:

      Oops, pardon. Memory failing after 3 days. I looked things up in RHUD, not Google. FWIW, I looked just now for SOM and DON without seeing currencies. Go figure. I’d have said that means highly obscure (when I’m not even talking MW11C), but obviously I’m in a minority, so I won’t insist.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        JohnH, serious question: why do you solve my metas?

        You hate every. single. one. I can’t remember one you’ve liked.

        They’re clearly not your bag. So why solve every one, and then comment on them? It’s a big world out there.

        Imagine a guy who hates a certain restaurant, every single meal, yet still goes back there week after week, then writes a new Yelp review after each meal, explaining how much he hated it.

        People might ask: why does he keep going back?

    • Barttels says:

      I googled “international currency list,” got a nifty list that was surprisingly quick & easy to scroll through, & had them all in short order.

  2. Mary Flaminio says:

    So many obscure currencies! Looked up currencies on google/wiki and none of those came up. Don Grady?? Not my favorite of Matt’s.

  3. Blair Hamren says:

    Francly I yen for more puzzles like this that are not riyal hard and can pound out before dinar.

    But in truth I had not heard of 4 of the currencies and went to the same handy reference in wikipedia. I knew they had to be there since the other 4 were obvious.

    Nice puzzle making by Matt to fit them all in the only 8 letter “words” in the grid, having pieces of eight in the clue, and making the answer, tenderly, match the theme also. Hats off!

  4. Norm H says:

    Simple enough to figure out with Wikipedia. I knew EURO, PESO, DINAR, RIAL and WON, but the rest required a list. TENDERLY is a nice way to tie it all together. So, all in all, it was fine — far from Matt’s best, but serviceable and fair.

  5. Amy L says:

    My currency list was from when the USSR was still around so I had to check something newer to find som. The break-up of the Soviet Union has really helped crossword constructors. Hats off to Gorbachev!

  6. PJ Ward says:

    I thought this was just about a perfect Week 2 level of difficulty meta.

    The title was perfect and informative.

    The inclusion of “adverb” overtly instead of being implied immediately had me looking for LY.

    EIGHT at 31-d and eight symmetric entries of eight letters led directly to the theme answers.

    Common currencies for me, PESO, DINAR, EURO, and DINAR put me on the right path. I recalled LEV as a crossword favorite.

    I took a brief detour looking at TIC and ENPM before I found my L and Y at the bottom.

    Put the letters I had and TENDERLY jumped out and I could then back solve DONG and WON.

    The final level of enjoyment was, as a solving friend put it was “A real groaner at the end which I enjoyed.”

  7. joon says:

    the only one that fell on the wrong side of obscure for me was SOM, which i’d never heard of and never even seen clued as the currency in a crossword. the others were familiar enough, the mechanism was great, and the answer was a real groaner. five stars.

  8. David Roll says:

    a nit–I don’t consider the Euro to be an “old” currency.

    • pannonica says:

      [31d: Pieces of ___ (old coins, and a double hint about how to follow the money): EIGHT.

      Pieces of eight are old coins.

      The double hint elements are: (1) coins (2) n=8

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        The double hint I intended (as Laura mentioned in her writeup) is that the eight 8-letter words are where to look.

        • Mary Flaminio says:

          Totally missed that! Duh! Good puzzle, just not that smart. Look forward to them as always! Boy you have to look at everything.

  9. Burak says:

    I really enjoyed this one. I like metas that are multi-layered both in terms of solving experience and post-solve revelations.

    I first found all the currencies in the 8-letter answers. Their initials didn’t give me anything, so I decided to write down the list of countries they represent. However, I thought, with entries like Euro that would be too vague. And a few minutes later it hit me: Follow! And what’s more, the answer we get is also a pun! Noice!

    WSJ metas have been on a roll lately. Yes, we’ve got a couple of super easy ones, but the last time it was a meh-ta for me was “Marking Time” and that was the prompt’s fault, not the puzzle itself. Thanks, Matt and Mike.

  10. Myelbow says:

    I give this puzzle a thumbs-up. A couple of the coins in question (especially SOM) may be a little obscure, but I think the elegance of the construction (eight eight-letter words, each containing the name of a coin), the fairness of the hints (“pieces of eight,” “follow the money”) and the aptness of the pun in the ultimate solution all make this one a perfectly satisfying solve. Ka-ching!

  11. Garrett says:

    In WONDERIN I saw RIN, which is 1/100th of a Yen. Somehow I missed Won when going through the currencies of the world this weekend.

  12. A T says:

    I found the eight hidden clues but missed the word spelled out after them. Luckily I traffic in puns so still submitted a correct response. Really enjoyed the puzzle even though I had to Google a few currencies.

  13. Scott says:

    I can’t believe that I missed this one. It seems so obvious now and I travel internationally enough that it should have popped. Five stars!

  14. David says:

    Matt, Rule #1, never feed the trolls!

    • David Roll says:

      Just what does that refer to? Rule #1 is never to respond to someone who uses the word troll. (Besides, I am actually droll.) I still think that the term “old” was misleading, but that does not take away from the overall puzzle.

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