WSJ Contest — Friday, February 8, 2019

6:19 grid; maybe 20 minutes meta (Laura) 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Countrysides”—Laura’s review

WSJ Contest - 2.9.19 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 2.9.19 – Solution

This week, Mike wants us to find a world capital. Let’s see where we can start:

  • [19a: Capital that’s the site of the Áras an Uachtaráin presidential residence]: DUBLIN
  • [20a: Capital that’s the site of the Gouvernements­gebouw presidential residence]: PARAMARIBO
  • [54a: Capital that’s the site of the Amalienborg royal residence]: COPENHAGEN
  • [58a: Capital that’s the site of the Pallati i Brigadave presidential residence]: TIRANA

Four world capitals, and we’re looking for a fifth. On the meta-solving principle of “when you have some things in a list, make a list of other things that they suggest,” I listed the countries that these are capitals of:


Nothing came to mind that could further extract a solution from this list, until I asked my usual solving pal to help me focus (let’s say it louder for the folks in the back: if you are not at a tournament competition, there is NOTHING WRONG with asking for help or googling for information that would help with a crossword or meta answer). “Look to the grid,” he said, “Is there anything there that seems relevant to the themers?” And off I went! Turns out, the first three letters of those countries are right there:

  • [53a: Furious feeling]: IRE
  • [24d: California’s Big ___]: SUR
  • [42d: Beast’s abode]: DEN
  • [10d: Priestly vestment]: ALB

What comes next after those three letters in the theme entries’ countries?


The capital of Peru is LIMA, and our answer.

I’ve heard enough from [47a: K­pop superstar]: PSY so how about [8d: Deck with a pool]: LIDO instead? I’d always thought this song was by Elton John, until I got the note, sayin’ toe the line or blow it and that was all she wrote.

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7 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, February 8, 2019

  1. Last letters of the countries (AND, NAME, ARK, NIA) are in the grid, too.

  2. Tom says:

    The second half of those countries are also in the grid – “and,” “name,” “ark” and Nia – leaving only the four letters of “Lima” unused.

  3. ant says:

    I saw those 3-letter codes for the four countries in the grid, so I assumed we would be looking for a fifth country. There are two more in the grid: MAR is the 3-letter code for Morocco, and AND is the 3-letter code for Andorra – but which one to pick? RABAT is on a large body of water (like the other capitals), and has an official Palace (called Dâr-al-Makhzen). Andorra la Vella, not so much – so RABAT it is.
    Unfortunately, I see now that the ISO-3 code for Ireland is IRL, and the code for Denmark is DNK. Whoops!

  4. dbardolph says:

    I was momentarily sidetracked when I learned that the current president of Albania is named Ilir Meta.

  5. Gideon says:

    The title hints that both “sides” of the country are there, leaving just the middle.

  6. Bill Katz says:

    I got the answer, but did fine a good red herring:


    Take the last letter of each and it spells BERN, the capital of Switzerland. I was then nudged to find the second halves and the missing LIMA came out…

  7. Garrett says:

    Stumped by this one, but now that I get it I totally love it!

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