MGWCC #603

crossword 5:05 
meta 3 days 


hello and welcome to episode #603 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Go On In!”. for this 17×17 week 3 puzzle, the instructions tell us that One letter in this grid must change to another letter to complete the puzzle’s theme. Which letter is it, and what letter does it change to? okay, what are the theme answers? five clues each have a pair of parenthetical numbers, so let’s start with those:

  • {Sending out signals, as a radio station (3) (9)} BROADCASTING.
  • {At no cost (5) (7)} FREE.
  • {Like red states and National Review magazine (5) (7)} CONSERVATIVE.
  • {Perfectly accurate (5) (4)} PRECISE.
  • {Soon to arrive (3) (9)} COMING.

these answers do not form a symmetric set; although the two long answers, BROADCASTING and CONSERVATIVE, are symmetrically opposite to each other, and PRECISE is centrally located (down the middle), FREE and COMING are, of course, different lengths. COMING is opposite {All inked up} TATTED and FREE is opposite {Logical beginning?} ONTO-. the latter is intriguing because cluing a word as a prefix isn’t very common, and also the word ONTO is closely related to the title, so perhaps there’s something going “on” there.

oh, here’s something related: BROADCASTING, CONSERVATIVE, and COMING, are all synonymous with “on the ___” expressions: on the air, on the right, and on the way. that feels like it ought to matter. aha, the others are too: FREE is on the house, and PRECISE is on the dot/mark/money. i’m guessing money, since the relevant word appears to have a length which matches up with the first parenthetical number in the associated clue. so that’s step one.

what next? well, the second parenthetical number suggests we look for another word of that length, related somehow to either the original clue or the “on the ___” word we’ve already found. how? well, two of them are (9), and the grid has two 9-letter entries, {Posing an obstacle to} HINDERING and {Noticeable} PREVALENT. can we connect either of those to air or way? yes—HINDERING is roughly synonymous with “in the way”, and PREVALENT is “in the air”. cool! so we’re changing “on” to “in” in these expressions. (i suppose i might have guessed something like that from the title, but i didn’t.)

what else do we need to find? in the right (7), in the house (7), and in the money (4). surely in the right is {Morally justified} CORRECT. in the house is {Attending} PRESENT. that means we need a 4-letter word for in the money, and my guess is there isn’t one in the grid, but there would be if we changed one letter.

yup, here it is: {Patron saint of dogs} ROCH is a frightfully obscure saint, crossing {One of the 5 in “par 5”} STROKE at the O. that would be much cleaner as RICH crossing STRIKE, which would give us our “in the money” word.

this is a really cool meta, involving several neat ahas. seems tough for a week 3, because the very first step is kind of a doozy, but i enjoyed it very much.

that’s all from me, not only for this week but for the year. laura will be filling in next week for the year-end puzzle that i traditionally don’t have time to solve, let alone blog, as i’m always traveling to visit family over the holiday period. thanks in advance to laura, and thanks of course to matt for providing these wonderful metas for us every week.

see you in the new year!

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15 Responses to MGWCC #603

  1. pgw says:

    Super cool meta that I didn’t solve, but did have the right guess cued up … and then forgot to hit submit. Had the “right” idea to get a start (conservative=right=correct) but failed to see the connection with the title.

    • mpstable says:

      Exactly the same for me. That weird crossing screamed that it was meta related. I never got why, then never got around to throwing that Hail Mary.

    • pgw says:

      I just noticed that the answer – “change O to I” – is not only what you do to solve the meta, but also what you do at each step along the way, to change the “on the …” phrases into “in the …” phrases. Can I change my rating to six stars?

  2. Adam Thompson says:

    Didn’t solve the meta but I guessed the letter correctly anyway. I noticed the weird elision of “on air” from 19A but I didn’t get further. I went down a wrong path with (up)COMING and (right)CONSERVATIVE.

  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks Joon, and thanks back to you for writing these up every week. If you’re half the fan of my metas as I am of your reviews then we’re both doing well.

    170 right answers this Week. A little Week-4ish.

  4. jefe says:

    Had no clue here but that meta is GOOD

  5. Wayne says:

    Love it. Missed it by a mile.

    I observed that there were 7 words in the grid containing “IN”, and that there was only one of each length, and 5 of those lengths corresponded to the 5 parenthetical numbers in the theme clues. This was a coincidence. Obviously. I know that now. Here in the future. But it clicked loud enough that I couldn’t stop hearing it. Never recovered after that.

  6. slubduck says:

    Did finally get this after a few wrong paths. Began looking at 2 longest entries, thinking “right” for conservative and “broadcasting rights” which is a thing, and I thought promising, but it went nowhere. Noticed synonyms like LOOSE/FREE and SORTS/CASES also went nowhere.
    Then stuck for a day or so with thinking the title could be replaced more simply with the word ENTER ….. and noticing many grid entries that contained the beginning of EN- or ENT- several of which went off the bottom edge of the grid, where I could then append the ending of -TER or -ER to them (PREVALENT, ALGREEN, PRESENT, LAWMEN, POLLEN, DENT, SEVEN) …. believed there had to be some meaning there with seven of them, but it indeed went nowhere as well.
    Then focusing on the parenthetical #s, wanted to find a grid entry that could have a letter removed then combine with the associated entry to make a word or phrase of the specified length. Thinking D’EAU was very odd, noticed I could remove A and anagram for DUE, which went nicely with COMING(DUE) and was the intended (3) for length. Got distracted looking for others, and glad because I bet one could find many similarly ‘iffy’ combos if one tried hard enough.
    Inched toward the correct path by thinking of 2-word phrases such as ON AIR for broadcasting, then ON TAP for coming, then ON CUE or ON POINT for precise. Decided to try alternatives to ON TAP and got to ON THE HORIZON for coming. Decided precise was probably ON THE HEAD or maybe ON THE SPOT/SPOT ON (noticing 7d clue mentions ‘spot’ … also a road i’m glad i didn’t go too far down with all the clues), then easily had ON THE AIR and ON THE HOUSE(also considered ON THE LOOSE here for ‘free’ – hey, it fits and is in the grid – never an intended red herring). Still not really moving forward but knew all this was useful.
    I’m frequently miffed at how long i can dance around the right idea yet not get it, and then see others grasp the one thing that matters at first glance. Many a time I might have stalled out here and never made the final push due to distractions or losing the trail after putting it down, but somehow I decided ON THE HORIZON needed to be something else, and forced myself to focus on the #s, eventually getting the acceptable ON THE WAY ….. then, not immediately, but after another 5-10 minutes of wandering the grid, a glance at the title and I’m thinking GO ON IN THE WAY ……. wait, what’s IN THE WAY? Couldn’t immediately spot it, however what’s IN THE AIR or IN THE RIGHT? Once I saw CORRECT, i knew i would finish.
    Whew. Not caring what next week brings, this one was a satisfying year-ender for me. We’re blessed to have these incredible metas year after year, Matt. Many thanks.

  7. Will Nediger says:

    Wow, that’s brilliant!

  8. Matthew G. says:

    I was completely woofing up the incorrect tree, but this is easily a five-star meta. Wish I’d hit on the proper insight.

    I got hung up on the idea that “Go On In” meant to insert some entries into others. For example, DENT can replace the middle of ROACHES (the center entry) and make a new answer (RODENTS) that still fits the clue {Visitors to dirty kitchens}.

  9. tonyrobots says:

    Really enjoyed this one, and was extremely satisfied to work out each step, but simply from the title I assumed it would be an O->I. Does anyone know if “O -> I” was accepted, or did we have to specify which O to change? (Not that that was too hard to figure out in itself just by looking around a bit.)

    Anyway, this is just my 3rd MGWCC and the previous two weeks were quite simple, so this was my first true challenge, and I loved it! Can’t wait for today’s to drop. Thanks Matt.

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