WSJ Contest — Friday, June 19, 2020

Grid: 7 minutes on paper; Meta: 10 minutes  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Two’s Company”—Laura’s review

This week, Matt wants us to find a two-letter initialism. OK!

WSJ Contest - 6.19.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 6.19.20 – Solution

We learn from 66-Across that there are SEVEN theme answers in the grid:

  • [18a: Mike Hammer or Sam Spade, e.g.]: DETECTIVE
  • [20a: Capital divided into four quadrants]: WASHINGTON
  • [31a: Written afterthought]: ADDED NOTE
  • [38a: Elliott and Gertie meet one in a 1982 movie]: ALIEN
  • [40a: Taker of the Hippocratic Oath]: PHYSICIAN
  • [52a: Abode on a road]: MOBILE HOME
  • [58a: Spinner over the airwaves]: RADIO HOST

First insight: All of these entries have a two-letter equivalent:


Second insight: All of these two-letter initialisms are contained in the grid, as three-letter entries (hmm, this may be why there are so many three-letter entries in the grid!):

PI == [11a: Penultimate Greek letter]: PSI
DC == [10d: Spectacled dwarf]: DOC
PS == [43a: Texting abbr. that may precede “thx”]: PLS
ET == [36d: Summer setting in Philly]: EDT
MD == [24d: Prefix with any month]: MID
RV == [16a: Fire up, as an engine]: REV
DJ == [61a: Sixers legend, familiarly]: DRJ

Third insight: The letters added to the two-letter initialisms in order to make the three-letter entries spell out SOLDIER.

Fourth insight: Applying the first insight, a two-letter initialism for SOLDIER is GI, which is our answer. The abbreviation GI is understood to stand for general issue, but some etymologists claim it initially stood for galvanized iron. I thought this was lovely! It had a really satisfying mechanism, a solid Week 2.5, maybe, on the Gaffney Scale — gettable, but just challenging enough.




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6 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, June 19, 2020

  1. Joshua Davey says:

    I temporarily forgot about the initialism requirement and had “Mobile Home” as AL for the longest time. I’ve been doing too many crosswords. I wonder if ACL was purposely put in to trip me up.

  2. Austin says:

    loved the elegance of the title “two’s company” hunting at “three’s a crowd” and the third letter added is always “coming between” the other two letters. just like a true third wheel.

  3. Joella D Hultgren says:

    G.I. = Government Issue: because the uniforms, equipment, armaments, meals, orders and assignments were Government Issue.

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