MGWCC #627

crossword 3:06 
meta 0:00 


hello and welcome to episode #627 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Big Deals”. i typically attempt week 1 puzzles without the instructions, but this week they were included in the puzzle title, so i couldn’t not see them. the instructions tell us that the answer is a poker hand. what are the theme answers?

  • {Heckle an eccentric act off the stage?} BOO ODDBALLS.
  • {Get-together with soccer star Mia and actor Jon?} HAMM MEET-UP.
  • {African insectivores who live in a Saudi city?} MECCA AARDWOLVES. much less commonly seen animal than aardvarks! i wonder how many actual aardwolves there are in mecca; quite possibly more than zero, as they are commonly found in the brushlands of east africa, just across the red sea.
  • {Pack animals faithful to a certain brand of e-cig?} JUUL LLAMAS. i rather suspect that the actual number of these, on the other hand, *is* zero.
  • {Problem experienced while vacationing in the Pacific?} HAWAII ISSUE.

it’s more noticeable in the solved grid than parsed out like this with spaces, but these goofy phrases all contain a full house, i.e. a pair and a three-of-a-kind, in five consecutive letters. (i’ve circled the letters in the screenshot above; they look pretty nutty in the grid!) the particular letters in the “poker hands” don’t spell out anything, but if you take only the second letter in each theme answer you get the poker-appropriate word DEALS. that’s a nifty little bonus.

this is a fine week 1 meta—goofy, but easy and fun. there’s not a great deal to unpack in the meta mechanism, but i enjoyed the puzzle. the crossing of HAMM MEET-UP and AD REP at the final P was cute, considering jon’s most famous role.

this past week i discovered that i’m not the only person blogging the MGWCC! well, okay, i sort of am, but mark goodliffe of the popular youtube channel cracking the cryptic made a video last friday discussing weeks 3, 4, and 5 of may (including the week 5 puzzle that i am still kicking myself for not figuring out). check it out here. it’s a pretty neat video—he manages to convey the enthusiasm he has for puzzles and the rush of the “aha” moment when solving a great meta.

that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d you like this puzzle?

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

14 Responses to MGWCC #627

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 663 correct answers this week…but also 69 incorrect answers, which is way too high for a Week 1. I was a little worried about this, since almost all of those submitted THREE OF A KIND, just noticing the three consecutive letters but not the additional pair.

    If only, say, a dozen people had submitted this entry then I could’ve said “shoulda been more careful,” but with almost six dozen people submitting it I think I need to say “shoulda been a Week 2.”

    Especially annoyed with myself for this since if I had teed this up as a properly almost-unmissable Week 1 we would have crushed not only the Subscription-Era record (I think it’s 685) but also the pre-Subscription Era record (723), since 663 + 69 = 732.

    Oh well.

    • Jon Forsythe says:

      In retrospect what would have been a good alteration to ensure people didn’t submit “three of a kind?” Would it have been to add SET in the grid someplace with the clue “three of a kind, maybe”?

  2. Myelbow says:

    Literally seconds after submitting “THREE OF A KIND” as my answer, I realized that I should have said “FULL HOUSE” instead. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy!

    • Jim S says:

      Took me a bit longer to realize my error – I submitted Sat night then happily deleted the puzzle from AcrossLite because I wouldn’t need to look at it again. Checked the leaderboard for my name the following morning – WHAT?!?! Tweeted about my miss and the large number of incorrect submissions. Then decided to pull the puzzle back into AcrossLite, filled in just the theme answers and saw the extra pair that I missed, and immediately tweeted a retraction. UGH!

  3. Thomas says:

    My only complaint is the stray pair in ODDBALLS. Nice week 1, though.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      Oh I didn’t think about that. Might have changed it if I had. I was focused on keeping any stray instances of the full house letters out of the rest of the entry (hence AARDWOLVES instead of AARDVARKS).

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    BTW the DEALS thing was incredible lucky, I just wrote down my five best entries, then thought, maybe I should have one of the strings spell something cards-related, just as an Easter egg? So I look down and there are the letters in DEALS, and with the 11-10-15-10-11 symmetry already in place with no futzing. Insanity.

  5. Ed says:

    I came very close to submitting “three of a kind” but fortunately noticed the extra pair before I did. I figured there would be a few who missed that

  6. Jim Schooler says:

    I’m not much of a poker player, and almost sent in “three of a kind” until my friend Garrett set me “straight.”

  7. pamela feiring says:

    I don’t know a thing about poker. Three of a kind was so obvious I didn’t even look up poker hands which would have helped me get full house. ☹️

  8. Bob Geary says:

    Not the first time I’ve made up my own meta, but the first time it actually worked :-)

    If you take all the letter pairs that the letter triplets are touching, you get DD UU CC SS EE EE (because MMM touches two different pairs), anagram of DEUCES DEUCES, or a pair of DEUCES, no?

    I was so sure of this one :-)

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      That’s too complicated to be a Week 1, but it hangs together well enough that, if I were in charge, I think I’d count your solution as valid (although I will note that a pair of deuces is very far from a “Big Deal”).

Comments are closed.