Fireball Contest — June 17, 2020

Grid: 8 minutes; Meta: 30-ish minutes  


Peter Gordon’s Fireball contest, “Apple-Pie Order” — Laura’s review

This month, Peter asks, “What thing associated with the United States is hinted at by this puzzle?” I suppose we’re getting close to Independence Day, so this is timely.

Fireball Contest - 6.17.20 - Solution

Fireball Contest – 6.17.20 – Solution

There are three themers:

  • [20a: Phrase a French croupier says to indicate it’s too late to place a bet]: RIEN NE VA PLUS
  • [38a: 17th-century French chiaroscurist]: GEORGES DE LA TOUR
  • [53a: 2011 Zac Brown Band hit with the lyric “Somewhere down the road you might get lonely”]: KEEP ME IN MIND

Georges De La Tour, Magdalene with the Smoking Flame, 1640



First thing we noticed: Each themer has a bunch of state abbreviations in it:

RIEN NE VA PLUS (Rhode Island, Nevada, Virginia)
GEORGES DE LA TOUR (or GEORGES DE LA TOUR (either Oregon, Delaware, Louisiana or Oregon, South Dakota, Louisiana)
KEEP ME IN MIND (Maine, Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota)

Next thing we did: Since the title is “Apple-Pie Order,” we figured that we could associate each state with the number that corresponded to when it joined the union. Thus:

NE – 37
VA – 10
OR – 33
SD – 40
LA – 18
ME – 23
IN – 19
MI – 26
ND – 39

We then mapped those numbers on to the grid, generating: HOPADOGSS. Hmmmm well that’s close enough to HOT DOGS that maybe we’re on the right track but have the wrong states? And then we cracked it: We only need the two two-letter words in the center of each entry. Not sure if 1-Across was hinting at this direction, but I’ll take it. So:

NE 37 H
VA 10 O
DE 1 T
LA 18 D
ME 23 O
IN 19 G

And HOT DOG is our answer. Nice mechanism, though I’m sure there are plenty of solvers who needed all the downs for those theme entries, and I’ll admit that the possibility of other state abbreviations really threw us off the scent.

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3 Responses to Fireball Contest — June 17, 2020

  1. Joe says:

    I don’t understand the dash between apple and pie?

  2. Karen says:

    The dash turns the noun (apple pie) into an adjective modifying “order.”

  3. David Plass says:

    The leap from state name to “number in which it entered the union is something I’d never get in a mililon years.

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