MGWCC #622

crossword 5:10 
meta -3:00 


hello and welcome to episode #622 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Wave Hello!”. this week 1 puzzle was straightforward enough without the instructions. six long entries in this sunday-sized 21×21 grid have the initials SOS:

  • {Position for James Madison and Hillary Clinton} SECRETARY OF STATE.
  • {Condiment at Subway} SWEET ONION SAUCE.
  • {Flying out of the gate} STARTING OFF STRONG.
  • {What Michael Corleone had to do at the end of “The Godfather”} SETTLE OLD SCORES.
  • {Shady pitcher} SNAKE OIL SALESMAN.

the very last across entry was {Signal that help is wanted…and when this puzzle was published} MAYDAY (or MAY DAY, which is rendered differently when found outside the crossword), which is roughly synonymous with the distress call SOS, which must be the meta answer.

i must confess that i don’t understand the puzzle’s title. perhaps there is something to do with saying hello to the month of may, but if there is something more specific than that involved, i don’t know what it is.

i’m a little surprised that this was a 21×21 crossword. there’s certainly enough theme material here, and all of the theme answers matt chose were lively ones, but it certainly could have been done on a smaller scale with (say) 4 theme answers. i like the fact that matt didn’t reuse any words in the themers, even short ones like OF or OFF. that would have been easy to do, but it’s more elegant this way.

the grid is well made. as with any puzzle of this size, there’s some stuff that’s mostly just grid glue, but there’s nothing really awkward in the fill, and indeed, this is close to as fast as i can solve a 21×21 on paper. it helped that the theme answers were fairly easy to fill in with few crossings once the theme became apparent.

that’s all for me. what’d you think of this one?

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to MGWCC #622

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon. 682 correct answers, which is a new Subscription Era record (I think the old one was 653).

  2. e.a. says:

    i thought it was wave hello like you’re at sea where the waves are and you go “hello, please help”

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Yes, that’s just what I had in mind. Anything else seemed too obvious and guessable without solving (three letters, a palindrome, etc.) even with MAYDAY at the end.

      • john says:

        Ah, a hello from the waves. Makes me think of some British, WWII, stiff-upper-lipped type signaling a ship: Hello! I rather think I’m drowning here, old chap.

  3. john says:

    Can you chime in here with the thinking of the title, Matt? I too am flummoxed by it. Really liked the 21 x 21 on a week one. Made the solve more chewy while keeping the meta week one-ish.

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    The grid started out as a 15×15 but I sort of had to go where the theme led me. There were two really good 16’s (the ones I used in the puzzle) and some longer ones as well, but they wouldn’t fit in a 17×17, so I finally realized that it had to be a 21×21 to maximize the theme. Also wanted to not repeat any words.

  5. Alex B. says:

    Intentionally submitting a wrong answer this week would have been like bunting to break up a perfect game.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Ha! (He means we got 682 correct entries this week and zero incorrect). I’ve never understood that no-hitter/no-bunting unwritten rule.

  6. Mike says:

    I found Matt’s puzzle site from the AVCX Passover cross(word)over. After blanking on getting the answers to the last 2 in April, I’m figuring that simply the “SOS” theme of the long answers is waaaaayyyyy too simple of a solution. So I’m doing stuff like trying to make morse code letters (due to the “SOS” theme) out of the dots and dashes in the clues (like the “e.g.” in 20A). Oh well…gotta get that learning curve flattened, I suppose….

    • Reid says:

      The first puzzle of every month is designed so that basically everyone gets it, and then they get harder as the month goes on, so don’t kick yourself that you didn’t get those ones at the end of April, they were not easy!

    • Matt Gaffney says:


      Apologies for that — I’ve just now realized that the Welcome Note I send out to new Patreon backers does not mention that the puzzles get tougher throughout the month. I’ve just added it now, though.

  7. Matt Gaffney says:

    Wow, I just saw Joon’s 5:10 time. That’s absurd.

  8. PJ says:

    I really wanted ABBA in the grid.

  9. R says:

    Stay-at-home orders have kept me from being able to print these puzzles, which has meant weeks 3-5 are much harder without being able to scribble all over them. I’m glad we’re back to the beginning of a month!

  10. spotter says:

    I thought the title ‘wave hello’ was like the joke where someone is drowning (or waving for help on a desert island) and the person on the boat thinks they’re just waving (rather than flailing) and waves back.

  11. Tom Burnakis says:

    OK, at least I am not the only one who thought that the title was not of the usual elegance associated with these puzzles. I was thinking that “Quick Wave”, or “Small Wave” might have been better because then I could jump to Short Wave with ease.

    All that said, the grid was fun, it took a nice leisurely morning with coffee, and interruptions from demanding cats, to finish. The solve was quick, but I am happy to solve any META on my own with confidence since that is an unfortunately uncommon event.

Comments are closed.