Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest, #578: “Double Stuff”–Laura et al’s review
Your usual correspondent Joon is still in France with his family watching the Women’s World Cup, so Laura is subbing this week and last week with the collaboration of various folks.
This week’s contest answer is a 5-letter word.
There do not seem to be any stand-out themers, although we’ve got UTTAR PRADESH and RIO DE JANEIRO as long entries, and they’re both geographic areas. There are lots of entries with doubled letters, tho:
Some of these words make new words when you eliminate one doubled letter (on the principle of Oreo Double Stuf having only one F) and some don’t:
If you write out the doubled letters singly, nonsense: MLENLOETMTNLEDOXX
If you eliminate the doubled letters, and write out what’s left in those entries, gibberish: GRAASRESEAITITLY etc
Are there other entries/clues that could correspond with those? Or with the double-letter words?
If we alphabetize those doubled letters, we get DEEELLLMMNNOOTTXX. Eliminating repeated letters, we’re left with DELMNOTX — Delaware, L, Minnesota, O, Texas?
[Here’s where I sent up a beacon for help … and was rescued by a friend who requested anonymity but gave me the tiniest nudge.]
That SE corner is just … bad, with XXLI, WXY, etc — why? Okay, there’s 1D, 3E, 3L, 2M, 2N, 2O, 2T, 2X — maybe some of these these are supposed to correspond? The two XX entries are:
Wwhhooaa! MAXXXXLI! or … XXLIMAXX! MALI and LIMA are both places, like RIO or UTTAR PRADESH … I sense a breakthrough. Wonder if we can make new words with the other paired entries, particularly the ones with “bookended” double letters?
MMA + GRAMM = AGRA
OOZES + TOO = ZEST
EELY + RESEE = LYRES
LLAMA + TILL = AMATI
As frequent crossword solvers are quite aware, the entry for a clue like [28a: The Taj Mahal is there] is more often AGRA, but in this grid, the entry is UTTAR PRADESH (AGRA’s state). Are there other clues that could also be satisfied by the double-letter-bookend-generated words?
[19a: Brand of bar soap]: OLAY == ZEST
[49a: One of ten largest cities in South America]: RIO DE JANEIRO == LIMA
[9d: Stringed instruments]: FIDDLES == LYRES
[52d: Big name in violins]: STRAD == AMATI
Put the new words in grid number order and you get L Z A L A which is … not a five-letter word, and not our answer — but the first letters of the original entries spell out F O U R S — which is indeed a five-letter word, and is indeed “Double Stuff” (i.e. double the doubled letters in the entries) and our answer.
Wwheww. Definitely a satisfying conclusion to the solve, tho the final result felt a little shaky. Your thoughts?
Thanks, Laura — 145 right answers this week.
Very nice. I was confident that the solution would involve finding alternate answers to the clues for 28a and 49a and presumably three other entries, and that crossword-famous AGRA and LIMA would probably be involved, but I never quite figured out how to get the rest of the way. Spent way too much time thinking about doubling and halving Roman numerals.
An outstanding meta, on which I struck out big time. But for a while, I thought I was onto something. Toothpaste as an example of something that OOZES seemed suspicious. The path looked promising when I found exactly four other instances of a double letter in a clue for an entry with a double letter. Besides OOZES – toothpaste, the others are GRAMM – took, LLAMA – spitting, TOO – addition, TROTTER – foot. The double letters in the entries are OMLOT, which anagrams to MOLTO. Obviously, this has nothing to do with the mechanism or the title, and Matt rarely resorts to anagramming the answer, so I knew it couldn’t be the proper path. Still, it was hard to let go of that toothpaste entry point. It just seems like such a forced example of oozing. Five stars from me.
Glad to know I wasn’t the only MOLTO. I thought that was a nice fit with the title. But overall it seemed not good enough to be right but too good to be wrong.
The words stuffed between pairs of double letters is definitely better. Wish I’d solved it. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Also got stuck there.
Can’t believe I didn’t notice the pairs of paired letters!
Wish I’d followed through on my thought of looking up the other top ten cities in S.A.
Rats. Had the paired double letter entries, but never thought to eliminate the doubles. Which seems so obvious in retrospect. I think, after like a year of doing these, I’m just destined to never really have a shot at the week 4/5s. My brain doesn’t seem to work the right way. :)
When I opened the puzzle attachment in my web browser under a new tab, the title of the tab was “Centerpieces”, this may have been the title at one point and it was changed?
That was the placeholder title. Can you e-mail me exactly how that happened? firstname.lastname@example.org
It was on mine too- when I went to print the pdf it opened a new browser window with centerpieces at the top. It didn’t help me solve it though! ?
If you check the metadata of the PDF (command-I on a Mac, ctrl-D I think on PC?) you can see that its title is “Centerpieces”.
Really enjoyed this one.
I almost had the right idea…but the extra doubled letters threw me, especially YANNI/ANNI, which looked so meaningful.
Double stuffed with red herrings! (From various collaborators:)
Conventional: Rio -> LIMA and Uttar -> INDIA –> NATO.
Wistful: GRA(M)M and M(E)ETER, so tantalizing, went nowhere
Just maddening: “every man has a woman who loves him” is on the album DOUBLE FANTASY and a Palmyra is also called a DOUB PALM
Some truly galaxy-brained red herrings this week.
I spent a lot of time trying to make something of the fact that GRAMM and MEETER become units of measurement when you remove one of the doubled letters. But (like most solvers, I expect) it was that ugly XXLI entry that helped me find my way into the true solution. Nice puzzle!
So does OZES! I spent a little while on that track, too.
I managed to see the double letter stuf(f) and sandwiching very quickly, and got to FOURS after only about 10 minutes of work. Since I’ve only ever solved one other Week 4/4 I figured that there had to be another step where I was supposed to use FOURS to get a different word that was the answer, and then spent another hour or so trying to figure out what else I could do with FOURS relating to 2x4s and the other double letter entries. I finally figured that if there was another step it was beyond me and wasn’t ever going to see it, and just submitted FOURS, which was of course the right answer. Had I been more confident I would have been one of the first 10 solvers!
This was a great puzzle. The title made me go directly to the double letters and with there only being two sets of Ms, I saw AGRA pretty quickly. I didn’t realize the MMAGRAMM set-up and had to bungle around to make the other ones work, only noting after I had picked the correct Ls and Es that it was only the doubles that came at the ends of the fill that mattered.
My only note is that my brain also went right for the Oreo flavor (which I realize is Double Stuf) and in the case of the cookie the double is in the middle, whereas here it is on the end. The meta still works really well, just not (and I don’t think it was intended to) in relation to the cookie.
Also, now I want a cookie.
That is in fact the exact reason I went with “Double Stuff” instead of “Double Stuf”
I was pretty close on this, but i was convinced that AMATI was MIATA and RESLY was SLYER, already in the puzzle! It clunked a lot but looked like MIATA *could* go with CAR so i put that “C” in and came up with SCOUR. Once again my lack of trivia knowledge on obscure things like ancient violins kills. I still got the “S” from SLYER so it looked closer than it was. Perhaps a bit of a knock that the letters for R-E-S-L-Y were already in the grid.
Saw the double letters right away, and that removing the same pair of letters from two entries left letters that spelled words. Didn’t pick up on the front/back placement at first, so got slowed down by several red herrings:
The pair of TT’s which you couldn’t spell anything from
The pair of NN’s which, after removing them, spell “Ai Yai” which is awfully close to “Ai yai yai”, one of many ways to spell “an exasperated cry.”
The extra LL in ALLS. Removing the LL from ALLS and TILL gives ASTI which is a word on cold containers, though not a brand.
I thought these extra double letters were a little inelegant at first, but if anything the pairs of TT and NN made those double-letters stand out more and made the first step more obvious. And it’s more fun to get stuck for a while a couple of steps into a meta than to stare at it saying “I got nothing.”