WSJ Contest — Friday, March 8, 2019

8:02 grid; a few minutes meta (Laura) 


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

WSJ Contest - 3.8.19 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 3.8.19 – Solution

This week we’re looking for “a five-letter synonym for ‘fight’.” Let’s see what the themers serve up for us:

  • [18a: Rustic roof supports]: LOG RAFTERS
  • [24a: Artists’ olive green pigment]: TERRE VERTE
  • [35a: Star of Orson Welles’s 1941 Broadway production of “Native Son”]: CANADA LEE
  • [51a: House-warming devices]: GAS HEATERS
  • [56a: Massive rock stratum underlying much of Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York]: UTICA SHALE

Each theme entry, it turns out, hides the name of a famous tennis player:


Those don’t appear to add up to anything in particular, but what about listing the first names of those folks?

Steffi Graf
Chris Evert
Rafael Nadal
Arthur Ashe
Pat Cash

Canada Lee

We get SCRAP, which is a five-letter synonym of “fight.” Only a few things kept this puzzle from being, for me, a perfect example of an entry-level meta (say, 1.25 metaweeks on the Gaffney Scale): TERRE VERTE and UTICA SHALE are a little obscure, unless you paint or dabble in geology; LOG RAFTERS and GAS HEATERS are a bit green-painty. (Also, I hadn’t really heard of Pat Cash and had to look him up.) CANADA LEE is someone you might know of if you watch a lot of TCM or are familiar with African American theater history — he played a lot of Shakespeare and was a civil rights activist. He was blacklisted in 1950s and found few roles after he refused to denounce Paul Robeson.

I remember most mid-1980s Starship, including [1a: Starship song that hit #1 in early 1986]: SARA, as some of the worst rock music that ever existed, and all these years later, the video does not disappoint. Come for the nonsensical Dust Bowl framing narrative; stay for the mullets.




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11 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, March 8, 2019

  1. e.a. says:

    Pat Rafter didn’t die for this

    • M.Gritz says:

      I got to the correct solution in a very incorrect way thanks to the P of Pat Rafter and believing Cash’s first name was ‘Sue.’ That the letters were inelegantly out of order gave me much less pause than it should have.

  2. Will Nediger says:

    LOG RAFTERS and GAS HEATERS might be green-painty, but TERRE VERTE is *really* green-painty

  3. C. Y. Hollander says:

    Ohhh… Graf! D’oh! I saw Patrick RAFTER’s name in that entry and didn’t even think of looking for another tennis player.

    Obviously, Patrick doesn’t begin with an S. Out of desperation, I Googled pat rafter nickname, and found out that he had the nickname “Skunky”. He’s not exactly famous by that sobriquet, so relying on it seemed more than a little weak, but it was the letter I was looking for, so I figured ‘Good enough’. Steffi Graf makes a lot more sense.

  4. Matthew G. says:

    Wow. It’s a really good thing I had forgotten about Pat Rafter (Sorry, Pat). I’d have tied myself in knots over what was surely meant to be (and was for me) an easy meta.

    That’s a serious whoops in the construction of this one, I think.

    • Tim Mitchell says:

      In the puzzle’s defense, RAFTER doesn’t cross both words of the phrase as the other hidden names do.

  5. Golem says:

    I saw the tennis players, remembered that the word for a battle between two opponents in tennis is (not a game, not a set, but a) MATCH which is five letters and I looked no further. :(

  6. Scott says:

    Good puzzle. Enjoyable result.

  7. Chad Brink says:

    I thought of a long fight for a point in tennis…..rally! Five letter word, but I guess incorrect.?

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