WSJ Contest — Friday, April 10, 2020

Grid: about 7ish; Meta: same  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Between Meals”—Laura’s review

Anyone hungry? Because this week we’re looking for a kind of sandwich. The meta answer is not HOT DOG since a hot dog is definitively not a sandwich. (And despite popular opinion, cereal is a salad.)

WSJ Contest - 4.10.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 4.10.20 – Solution

Not much standing out themer-wise, but that long central across has to be important:

  • [40a: Matching pair that bookends a sandwich]: SLICES OF BREAD

At first, I thought I was looking for types of bread that might be “bookending” other entries, and I was distracted by the BEEF in 8-Down. But then the insight descended upon me to take the instruction hinted at in 40-Across literally. I noticed that AGRA was the first across entry and ASEA was the last, and that both of those have a “matching pair” of As that “bookends” two other letters. It occurred to me that there is a popular sandwich that begins with GR and ends with SE. So I started looking for other “matching pair[s]” — and found them thusly:

[1a: Pearl Mosque setting]: AGRA
[16a: Slight slope]: TILT
[18a: They may crash into snowmen]: SLEDS
[20a: Pillow covers]: SHAMS
[47a: Makes smoother]: SANDS
[64a: 400% of dos]: OCHO
[69a: Intentional act]: DEED
[74a: Traveling o’er the waves]: ASEA

Indeed, GRILLED HAM AND CHEESE is a kind of sandwich, the letters of which are sandwiched by matching pairs of “bread letters” in those entries. This was fun! And not too tough — a good meta for folks who are just learning metas. I never bother to look at the solution that the WSJ posts, but I’ll be curious if they get a bunch of folks who submit GRILLED CHEESE without “HAM AND,” and if they’ll accept those entries as correct.

You know who really knows how to make a sandwich? Lady Gaga.



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29 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, April 10, 2020

  1. Barney says:

    I’d call grilled cheese close but no cigar.

  2. Jonesy says:

    I’m not a big fan of this one because it feels too easy to stop at either of ‘GRILLED CHEESE’ or ‘HAM AND CHEESE’ depending on how diligent you were in searching for the ‘sandwiched’ words. The prompt should be a ‘4 word sandwich’ or something because the meta clicks perfectly well without some of the ‘sandwiched’ words. Or else the clue for ‘slices of bread’ should’ve said ‘8 times in the grid’

    Agreed that the full answer is more elegant, and requires properly finding all the X___X words but if you only found 5/8 of them on the first pass, why would you keep going once you have either ‘GRILLED CHEESE’ or ‘HAM AND CHEESE’? This strikes me as similar to the famous ‘PAGEANT’ vs ‘BOWL GAME’ meta where it’s too easy to feel like you’ve gotten the full meta but have actually fallen a bit short.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Well I put them all on the acrosses so the search wouldn’t be even mildly tedious once you got the idea. AGRA is right there at 1-A so missing that would be tough.

  3. jefe says:

    Oof, I goofed. I saw the HAM between the S’s but didn’t make the jump to other begins-and-ends-with-the-same-letter words.

  4. Jeff M says:

    Oh well, was very confident after finding HAM AND CHEESE…never heard of the GRILLED part. H & C and GC are sandwiches you order at a deli/restaurant/diner. I’ve never heard of anyone ask for a GH&C.

    • Joella D Hultgren says:

      I thought the same thing…..H & C, and GC are commonly ordered / made. But GH&C? I did solve the meta, but questioned the title: Between Meals. The sandwich is a meal, and not eaten between meals. Also, the ATSSSODA (as the sandwiching letters) disturbed me a little. It would have been more elegant if the sandwiching letters spelled a type of bread.

      • Seth says:

        Joella, you could read the “between” as an adjective that describes “meals.” What type of meal? A “between” meal! And since this meal comes from letters between other letters, it could be described as a “between” meal.

        But yeah, it would have been amazing if the outer letters had spelled a type of bread. But that would have been impossible to construct I think.

  5. Theodreiser says:

    Wow! I missed so much for this meta. I caught sHAMs, oCHo, dEEd, and aSEa and didn’t even look further because the bookends spelled SODA, like SODA BREAD, so from there I just inferred HAM & CHEESE SANDWICH. I thought the “slicing” of SODA was cool, but it looks like this was accidental.

  6. Joella D Hultgren says:

    Another interesting thing is that GR IL LED HAM is in the top half of the grid, and AND CH EE SE is in the bottom half of the grid. SLICES OF BREAD is between the two “fillings”.

  7. sharkicicles says:

    I almost submitted Ham and Cheese because I first noticed SHAMS and SANDS in the grid. Glad I did some due diligence and scanned the rest of the grid.

    FWIW I also have heard of a “grilled cheese” and a “ham and cheese” but never a “grilled ham and cheese.” Perhaps it’s an east coast thing?

    Still enjoyed the puzzle though.

    • cyco says:

      I’ve never seen it referred to as a “grilled ham and cheese,” either, but I think it works fine as an answer. It may actually be better than a more familiar term like “grilled cheese” because it’s almost impossible to guess just from context clues.

    • Flinty Steve says:

      I can report menu sightings of grilled ham and cheese here in the wilds of Michigan.

  8. Amy L says:

    I think it would have been more elegant if the answer were “Grilled Tomato and Cheese” although I usually say, “Grilled Cheese with Tomato.” Even better would be if “Caralmelized Onions” were added. I’m really not sure why Matt didn’t include those.

  9. Mary Ellen Price says:

    This meta came easy for me. I saw HAM sandwiched between two S’s and it was a methodical solve from there. I love grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, as well as all the other variations mentioned above. It’s a good Easter leftovers sandwich.

  10. Torridd says:

    I guess I’m the only one who entered Ham, Beef and Egg sandwich. (AND is between two esses)

  11. Steve Thurman says:

    I was a big fan of this one. The only flaw was that it made me hungry and I really don’t need to be eating a lot more right now.

  12. pgw says:

    Did anyone submit CROQUE MONSIEUR?

  13. Garrett says:

    How would you rate this meta in terms of difficulty?

Comments are closed.