WSJ Contest – Friday, February 14, 2020

Grid: 8ish; Meta: same  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Grid Daring”—Laura’s review

This week, we’re looking for a ten-letter entertainment category. Are you not entertained? No? Let’s solve a puzzle, then.

WSJ Contest - 2.14.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 2.14.20 – Solution

There are four starred entries:

  • [17a: *Fourth digit]: RING FINGER
  • [30a: *Singles bar, sometimes]: MEAT MARKET
  • [47a: *Patched things up]: MADE AMENDS
  • [63a: *Deepest self]: TRUE NATURE

First observation: Each themer is a phrase where the first word’s letters are contained in the second word (just like in the puzzle’s title), with two leftover letters:


Second observation: Add a letter to each two-letter set of leftover letters to make a set of three-letter entries in the grid:

  • [18d: Moroccan city]: FES
  • [50a: “King Kong” studio]: RKO
  • [42a: Hush-hush org]: NSA
  • [65d: Recharge your batteries]: NAP

Those added letters, in grid order spell SOAP — which is an abbreviation for an entertainment category, but it isn’t ten letters, so to make the meta answer, we need to replicate the pattern followed by the title and the themers: a four-letter word followed by a six-letter word that contains the first word’s letters plus two extras. That gives us SOAP OPERAS, which is indeed a ten-letter entertainment category, and our answer. I’m not sure if there’s another step/confirmation that involves the leftover letters from the title or the meta (AN and ER, respectively). Maybe not my all-time fave of Matt’s metas, but doesn’t disappoint.

For some love this Valentine’s Day weekend, here’s “Heart-Shaped Box” from Nirvana’s 1993 album, [10d: Preparing for delivery]: IN UTERO.


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14 Responses to WSJ Contest – Friday, February 14, 2020

  1. Seth says:

    Liked this one a lot! There doesn’t need to be any extra step using the letters from the title and the answer. The title is never involved in the solution in any meta, it just hints at the method. And the solution uses the same gimmick as everything else, so there’s your confirmation. No need to dig deeper to see elegance, in my opinion.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    I miss Kurt

  3. Matt says:

    Stumped – used the two letters in the puzzle title that were not doubled as my 9th and 10th letters needed for a 10 letter answer. And never recovered from that mistake apparently …

    • Scott says:

      Matt, I did the same thing.

    • Seth says:

      I had two fellow solvers get stuck at the same spot, and I’m kind of baffled why so many people were trying to use the letters from the title. I have never seen the title involved in a meta solution in any way, except to hint at the method. It’s weird that so many people thought to try that here!

      • Flinty Steve says:

        My guess is 10 letters in the answer made people think perhaps all 10 could be discovered by including the title. Maybe not so weird?

      • Barney says:

        Because you’re looking for ten letters, and the pattern of the title is absolutely identical to the pattern of the four starred answers.

      • RP says:

        It’s not weird. You didn’t do it. Lots of people did it. I certainly considered it.

  4. Nancy lobb says:

    I also used the two letters in the title that were extra. This gave me 10 letters not doubled. From these I spelled Nerf arenas which sounded very entertaining to me!! Too bad it wasn’t right.

  5. Jim says:

    I almost submitted FAMILY FILM, which fits the pattern but is 6/4 rather than 4/6. Glad I gave it some more time and figured out the next step. Good puzzle.

  6. Garrett says:

    I too initially tried to include the title. Next was understanding that — somehow, eight letters was going to lead me to ten. I put it aside Friday night and woke up thinking, “NSA!”

  7. Nancy lobb says:

    What does the title have to do with the answer?? A great answer would have been meta puzzle!!

    • Dan Seidman says:

      It’s in the same form. So I kind of thought of it as a fifth theme entry, and just looked for a phrase matching the format. I figured it out, but I never went through the step of finding the corresponding three-letter entries.

  8. Tom D says:

    As a side note, it seems that good 4-6 combos are pretty hard to find. Best other one I could find was SORE LOSERS

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