AVCX Contest – “Tunnel Vision”, January 9, 2019

untimed (Ben) 


The deadline for last week’s AVCX Contest Puzzle from Francis Heaney has passed – let’s check in on what was going on there.

As with any AV Contest puzzle, I didn’t time myself on this one and just let myself enjoy the solve.  This one was a little tricky to initially crack, but one I got one of the theme entries, the rest fell fast and it was only a couple minutes later that I had the meta.

Each of the theme answers has a rebus square clued elsewhere in the grid as “tunnel contents”

  • 17A: Be conscientiously meticulous — GOT(OGRE)ATLENGTHS
  • 52D: Tunnel contents — FIONA (Fiona is an ogre played by Cameron Diaz in the Shrek films)
  • 31A: “The Iron Man” was one for his entire career — BALTIM(ORE O)RIOLE
  • 38A: Tunnel contents — COOKIE
  • 45A: Tyler Perry movie based on a work by Ntozake Shange — FOR CO(LORE)D GIRLS
  • 37A: Tunnel contents — LEGEND
  • 62A: City satirized by a Carrie Brownstein show — Each answer contains the name of one of the PORTLAN(D ORE)GON
  • 4A: Tunnel contents — GUSTAVE (Gustave Dore is a French artist and printmaker)

Now you examine each of those tunnels and take a look at what’s left after you extract all the ORE to find the final answer:


The answer is GOLD! This is pretty straightforward, and I liked the extraction mechanism on the final bit a lot.

Lots of fun fill even with the constraints on this grid.  ANOSMIA probably isn’t a fun condition to live with (since it’s the “inability to perceive scents”), but it’s a nice set of letters, and GALOSHES, SAN DIMAS, AMBIENT (with a requisite ENO next door) and Emeril LAGASSE are all nice additions to the across fill.  The downs are pretty good too – MITZI Gaynor, SOPWITH, SKYY VODKA, AGE RANGES, etc.

4.25/5 stars.

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11 Responses to AVCX Contest – “Tunnel Vision”, January 9, 2019

  1. Matthew G. says:

    So, I got this right, but I remain a bit confused. Two of tunnel contents have a direct tie to GOLD themselves — DORE means”golden” in French and there are Golden OREOs. But then the other two contents–LORE and OGRE–have no apparent connection to GOLD that I was able to suss out.

    That wouldn’t be a problem–because it’s straightforward to get the meta answer by just taking the unique letter from each tunnel–except that we _also_ have these separate {Tunnel contents} clues that remind us to use a specific meaning of each tunnel word. And being referred to the specific OGRE Fiona or the specific type of LORE known as a “legend” tells me … what, exactly?

    The upshot is that the {Tunnel contents} clues felt superfluous to the meta, or even an obstruction because they suggested another step that wasn’t there. Perhaps they were put there to reassure us that the obscure DORE is intended? If that were the purpose, I might have left the solver to Google DORE and then grin when he or she saw the meaning, and know that GOLD was right.

    • Penguins says:

      “…the {Tunnel contents} clues felt superfluous to the meta, or even an obstruction because they suggested another step that wasn’t there.”


    • Austin says:

      i don’t agree about the [Tunnel contents] clues. since the tunnels were unchecked, they provided a second hint as to what the letters in each tunnel were (and they actually helped me on two of the tunnels).

      also i think your two gold connections (DORE and OREO) are probably just coincidence. once you extract the ORE from the tunnels, all you are left with is GOLD and that was good enough for me as a satisfying answer.

      • Matthew G. says:

        It’s strains credulity to say that DORE meaning “golden” is a coincidence. DORE the person is pretty obscure, so DORE the French word meaning “golden” had to be intended.

        Type dore into Google and watch what happens.

        I agree with you that “once you extract the ORE from the tunnels, all you are left with is GOLD and that was good enough for me as a satisfying answer.” That’s precisely _why_ the {Tunnel contents} clues were superfluous. This was a good meta, it was just too “busy.”

        • I don’t know Francis’s original intentions but I’d bet that DORÉ being derived from the French word for “golden” is just a little bonus connection to the theme. You can’t put the D anywhere else (ODRE, ORDE, ORED) and get a common entry in its own right, unless the British WWII major general Orde Wingate is more well-known than Gustave Doré (I don’t think he is, and ORDE isn’t a more common answer than DORÉ anyhow).

          I needed those [Tunnel contents] clues to help me get two of the theme answers, for what it’s worth. I could maybe have gotten GO TO GREAT LENGTHS without it, but I’d never heard of FOR COLORED GIRLS and I’m glad I didn’t have to back-solve the ore meta to get it.

  2. Tony says:

    Spent too long trying to fit various forms of The Avengers at 31- A, especially as I grew up in the Baltimore area and was in high school when Cal won his first league MVP award and the O’s won the world series in 1983.

  3. David Glasser says:

    Note also that the rebus squares are literally (unchecked) tunnels through the black squares. I wonder if Francis had a version of this where the rebus squares were black?

  4. Francis says:

    To answer various questions above:

    DORE’s etymological relationship to gold is a coincidence. As Evan says, there’s nowhere else reasonable to put a D in ORE to make a word. And even though he’s the best choice there, Gustave’s not exactly a household name, so that contributed the choice to put clues in the grid to confirm the rebus squares in the tunnels. (The other main reason is that four unchecked letters is a lot, and it seemed unfair to give no other context for those letters.) I didn’t think everyone would need them, but I figured they would be helpful for some.

    And to answer David’s question, no, the concept was always to have tunnels through the black squares. (Although there was an earlier version with more tunnels and different stuff in them, but that’s another story.)

    • Matthew G. says:

      I’m genuinely surprised to hear that the DORE relationship was a coincidence — I figured it was actually part of the seed of the meta! But learning that it was a true coincidence causes the whole thing to make a lot more sense to me. If it had been just the OREOs, I wouldn’t have thought much of it.

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