WSJ Contest — July 10, 2020

Grid: 6:30; Meta: an hour +  


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Missing Links”—Laura’s review

Our answer this week is a five-letter noun.

WSJ Contest - 7.10.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 7.10.20 – Solution

No real standout themers in the grid — and I was pretty stumped until I asked for a nudge. It was suggested that I “take the title literally, and look for repeated strings” — and that was enough to find what we were looking for.

Repeated strings were, in keeping with the puzzle’s title, APE and MAN — and, they were connected by a letter — a link, if you will, though it’s not really missing per se. The letters connecting APE and MAN spell out NEXUS, which is a five-letter noun and our answer. One meaning of nexus is a “connection or causal link,” so it’s appropriate!

Not much else to say … shh, I’m actually on vacation and kinda phoning it in. This’ll have to do. Back atcha next week when my teen son and tween daughter aren’t asking me when I’m getting off the computer to go do something fun.



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13 Responses to WSJ Contest — July 10, 2020

  1. jefe says:

    Ack! I saw the 5 instances of MAN and knew that had to be relevant, but didn’t see the APEs (though I did notice CAPERS/TAPERS).

    Got distracted by the numbers in LESSONTEN/ENTENTES, ONEADAY/REDONE, ICENINE. I thought LESSONTEN was too made up as a central long entry to not be relevant.

    • Seth says:

      LESSONTEN was what led me to the solution. It pointed me to the X, the only X in the grid. Combining that with the striking similarity between that section and the SE section led me to seeing the APE and MAN around the X.

  2. Billy Boy says:

    Grid was tougher than usual and I never got the Meta. Over thought it, but had no one to ‘nudge’ me. I took the sevens and looked for odd letters out. The even number of them baffled me.

    Clever and duh, now.

  3. Pam says:

    I was distracted for too long by the five pairs of near-identical words – prep/prey, read/real, etc. I finally gave up on those and noticed the APEs. Then I saw the first MAN and had an excellent aha moment.

    • Bill says:

      Pam, I also got excited when I found five pairs of words that were only one letter apart, but then I found a sixth pair.
      OMAN – OMAR
      TIER – PIER
      ATE – RTE
      READ – REAL
      PREP – PREY

      I never got the meta.

  4. Mister G. says:

    I actually concluded that with LESSON TEN, but also ICE NINE and ONE-A-DAY combined with TEE and GO PROS (nearly “golf pros”),“missing links” had to do with golf. That is, the numbers were hole numbers. and in typical Mike Shenk fashion, the grid would somehow depict a golf course with some holes missing. Add to those answers the homophone ATE for ”eight” and the letters “s”, “i” and “x” connectable, and you have my rabbit hole that I spent way too much time fixated on to recover.

  5. Christopher Morse says:

    Parapet and Papeete have exactly five letters in common.
    As do (unless I’m mistaken) Emanate and Enamels; Enamels and Germane, Germane and Emanate, Tacoman and Acted On; Acted On and One A Day;

    I was certain there was no way so many seven-letter answers sharing exactly five letters could be a coincidence, and concluded the missing link was somehow linking the only two remaining: Ice Nine and Ross Sea. I guess I was wrong.

  6. Dan Seidman says:

    I went down a couple of rabbit holes: first thinking LESSONTEN was important for the same reason jefe mentioned, and then the similarity in the way PAPEETE and ROSSSEA were clued and trying to come up with ways to “link” those together, Google Maps and all.
    After enough staring at the grid I finally noticed the prevalence of APEs and when I counted five of them I knew I was on track. Still took me a little while, but I got it eventually.

  7. James says:

    Dang it! Dagnabbit!! Clever, and I knew I’d kick myself for not getting it. Curse you, Mr. Shenk for fiendish meta.

  8. Garrett says:

    When I finished the grid I was fully staring at it and Taco Man popped out at me. “Taco Man,” I thought, “I don’t remember that!” So I looked at the clue and was, like, “Oh yeah, right — Tacoman.” Nonetheless, the MAN part left such an impression on me that I started noticing it all over the grid. Too many times for it to be a coincidence. So I started looking for APE. Nexus fell right out of those.

    I awarded five stars because Mike had to hide six pairs of APE :: MAN plus’s place six strategic letters between the in such a way that it was not immediately obvious, yet without introducing junky entries to deal with all the constraints. It was masterfully constructed.

    • Diana says:

      Lol. “Taco man.” I kept seeing that too every time I’d look the grid over. This is before I eventually got the meta and was not even the entry that led me to the solve. But you made me laugh by reminding me how I kept reading it as “taco man.” Even though I have family ties to Tacoma.

  9. Streroto says:

    It’s just so interesting to see how different people perceive the grid. Man stood out for me right away, but it took me a little while and rethinking the title before I got the ape part.

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