MGWCC #568

crossword 3:07  
meta 5 minutes 


hello and welcome to episode #568 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “First and Third, Two Out”. this is week 3 of gentle april, and i’m trying to do the whole month without using the instructions. what have we got for theme answers? six long across entries have a clue consisting only of *:

  • KIND OF SAUCE. this is the only one that couldn’t really stand on its own as a non-theme answer; it’s the kind of phrase you’d see much more commonly as a clue.

what do these answers have in common? the connection came to me after a moment’s thought, when i wrote down SPY next to SECRET AGENT and then immediately SHY jumped out at me for INTROVERTED. indeed, they all clue a 3-letter word of the form S_Y:


but what’s the meta answer? that took me a while longer. the six middle letters spell out AHKLOP, which isn’t anything, although i noticed that it’s an anagram of LO, PAHK! (incidentally, it’s an elegant touch that they’re in alphabetical order from top to bottom.) i thought about it some more, and i realized that these are almost all of the S_Y words in english. the only one missing is STY. could that be relevant?

why yes, yes it could, because 45-down is {Muddy place} PIGPEN. so this must be one of those “find the extra theme answer that’s not asterisked” metas. indeed, the instructions are: Six of this puzzle’s theme entries are starred. What is the secret seventh theme entry? (You can submit either the clue number or the entry itself.) so PIGPEN is indeed the answer. (or 45-down, if you prefer.)

very nice meta—and, dare i say, just about the perfect difficulty for a week 2. i found it highly satisfying as a no-instructions solve. the title is a pretty good fit, too; it’s slightly arbitrary as baseball phrases go, but it works here.

bits i noticed from the fill:

  • {“To put it differently,” for short} IOW. in other words. i can’t remember seeing this chat/texting abbr in a crossword before. seems pretty useful, though, with those 2.001 vowels.
  • {“Can’t believe it,” when texting} SMH. shaking my head. this one seems more common in real life, but again i’m having trouble remembering if i’ve seen it in a grid.
  • {Fourth astronaut, following Gagarin, Shepard, and Grissom} is gherman TITOV, also not commonly seen in crosswords. i guess it depends on how you define astronaut, but he was the fourth person in outer space. also the first to vomit in space, so there’s a feather in his cap.
  • {The human soul} PSYCHE. PSYCHE is greek for soul, and the definition listed in my dictionary is indeed “the human soul, mind, or spirit”, but i feel like soul/spirit are much less commonly seen in usage than mind.
  • {“Saw” series star Bell} TOBIN. don’t know this actor. (turns out to be a man.) here’s my favorite tobin.

that’s all i’ve got this week. have a great tuesday!

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10 Responses to MGWCC #568

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 415 correct answers, so a real live Week 2. We did it, everyone!

  2. pgw says:

    joon, that’s a good Tobin. Here’s another one:

    I said I wasn’t going to do this again but I’m pleased enough with the meta I published this week to engage in a little more self-promotion here. (Having typed the foregoing sentence I am now quite paranoid that I’ve jinxed it and everyone’s going to hate it, but what can you do …)

    If you find you can’t get enough meta crosswords, head over to where this morning we’ve got 1.5 puzzles up. Also, there’s now an archive where you can click directly to older puzzles without having them spoiled by the more recent posts revealing the answers:

  3. Dan Seidman says:

    I knew I was onto something when I noticed that KIND OF SAUCE and SECRET AGENT could both be MOLE. It took me longer to give up on that than to get the answer once I did.

    • david glasser says:

      I was stuck on that for a while.

      I also thought about seven dwarfs for a bit: introverted could be Bashful, and DOC was right at 1D…

  4. Eric Eisenstadt says:

    Nice one. What’s the connection to “First and Third, Two Out”?

  5. Paul Coulter says:

    What, no SNY? (“Curve of a ship’s plank,” that hasn’t appeared in a NYT since 1993.)

    I thought this was nicely done, overall, though KINDOFSAUCE bothered me a bit as a definition instead of a phrase.

    • Brian says:

      Also, “SNY” could refer to the TV network “SportsNet New York,” which could plausibly work with the clue for 38 across, “Sport’s show’s medium, maybe”, although not with the entry, “AMRADIO” (so not really fitting with the instructions, in addition to being pretty inelegant) .

  6. Jon says:

    Tobin Heath is also my favorite Tobin. I’m really looking forward to the Women’s World Cup this summer. Less than 50 days away from the start of the tournament.

  7. Jim S. says:

    I had a different rabbit hole than “mole”. Communicate could be “GET”, and “GEE” is in the grid; same holds for Scheming (SLY->ALY), Kind of Sauce (BBQ->BBC), and Secret Agent (SPY->SPA). Once I couldn’t get that to fit with all themers, I noticed the S*Y pattern and sailed from there. Great week 2 – congrats Matt! ;)

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