WSJ Contest — Friday, February 21, 2020

Grid: 6ish; Meta: 30 seconds  


Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Game Pieces”—Laura’s review

This week, we’re looking for the name of a game. Does it mean anything to you?

There aren’t any stand-out themers, but this clue is suggestive:

  • [14a: This puzzle’s missing piece?]: LINE

And I did notice multiple instances of repeated letters in several entries:

  • [16a: Author of novels set in the fictional Kindle County]: SCOTT TUROW
  • [56a: Button-down]: DRESS SHIRT
  • [37d: 1988 Stallone film]: RAMBO III

Once I completed the grid, those three sets of repeated letters, along with three other clusters of repeated letters, resolved into the “game pieces” of the title:

WSJ Contest - 2.21.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 2.21.20 – Solution

Groups of letters spelling out T-E-T-R-I-S are shaped like the pieces (technically tetrominoes) in Tetris — which is the name of a game, and our answer. The missing shape, the four-block line (which was always very helpful for getting rid of rows if you’d made a big stack of them), is suggested by 14-Across. I feel like I played enough Tetris in the 1990s while procrastinating during grad school (I had some shareware version on a 3.5-inch diskette, that played a vaguely Russian-sounding tune while the shapes fell) that those seven pieces, swirling gently through a rectangular grid, must be permanently etched upon my subconscious. And … apparently this is a known cognitive effect of playing Tetris! Gosh I’d really like to download it on my laptop … right … now, but if I do, I’ll never finish this post. Super fun and easy meta from Mr. Berry this week!

In April 2000, some extremely creative, talented, and awesome students at my alma mater decided that the fourteen-story Sciences Library would make an ideal Tetris grid, and using Linux, a bunch of circuit boards, and thousands of Christmas tree lights, they built an “art installation” that was, at the time, the world’s largest Tetris game, and is still considered the largest work of art ever to appear in Rhode Island:


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7 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, February 21, 2020

  1. BHamren says:

    I got this so easily and showed it to my son and he saw it right away also, and yet we never even noticed that it spelled Tetris until your write up here.

  2. okanaganer says:

    I was all prepared to complain that the 4-squares-in-a-line piece was missing, not having noticed 14 across acknowledging the fact.

    It would have been so cool to have that as well. Tough to come up with one, I know! Something like “Puzzling roadside sign”: FREE EELS.

  3. TK says:

    The Tetris solution makes complete sense, but I actually put Connect 4, interpreting the “LINE” from 14A as the line connecting the 4 T’s in the diagonal in the upper left of the grid (marking your win).

    There were some near misses in the grid of 3 in a row, but only one 4 in a row. Interpreting the letters as the titular “game pieces” also led me there.

  4. Jeff says:

    Tetris on the SciLi…was pretty amazing to watch go up (and play!)

  5. Garrett says:

    I saw the TTT III and SSS and my first thought was Tetris, but I did dot see the shapes at that time.

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