MGWCC #637

crossword 5:05 
meta 2:30 


hello and welcome to episode #637 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Grid… of… Fortune!”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions tell us that the answer is a phrase. what are the theme answers?

  • {“Welcome to ‘Grid of Fortune’! I’m your host, Matt Sajak. Our first category today is: ON THE MAP. Good luck!”} MID-ATLANTIC. so this is kinda fun—we’re playing wheel of fortune. the puzzle byline also says “matt sajak”, which is a cute touch. just like in the tv show wheel of fortune, we have to guess the answer from a partial list of letters, because many of the down answers are unclued.
  • {“Next category: PEOPLE”} BLANKET HOGS.
  • {“Next category: BEFORE & AFTER”} COLUMBIA RIVER RATS.
  • {“Next category: PHRASE”} CAN I HELP YOU.
  • {“And our final category: LIVING THING”} GRIZZLY BEAR.

the grid is only solvable by guessing plausible down answers that are consistent with the fully clued across answers, and doing so fills in the gaps in the theme answers. so that’s all fine, but then what’s the meta answer?

the key is in the intersections of the unclued down answers with the theme answers. i’ve circled them in my screenshot above. read in order, they spell out I’D LIKE TO SOLVE THE PUZZLE, which is a very fitting answer to a fun puzzle.

i’m running behind, so that’s all i’ve got time for this week. i really enjoyed this puzzle, though! it reminded me a little of solving downs-only, except i had to do some acrosses-only. how’d you all like this one?

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24 Responses to MGWCC #637

  1. Ben says:

    Hey joon, looks like you accidentally left a bit of last week’s write-up at the end there.

    As for the puzzle – great solve! It must have been hard to find theme phrases that would include the meta answer in order.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      It must have been hard to find theme phrases that would include the meta answer in order.

      Given that the letters can be in any position in the word? I doubt that was hard. Here are some alternatives I came up with off the top of my head just now.


      • Matt Gaffney says:

        But you can’t have any of the hidden letters repeated elsewhere in the entry, since, per Wheel rules, they’d all be revealed if one of them were.

        • C. Y. Hollander says:

          Oh, I never noticed that you had kept to that constraint! Very nice touch, and I agree that it makes the task a fair bit harder, especially if you do it yourself. I should think you would use a computer to automate the search for you, but if you did it the old-fashioned way, kudos.

        • Abide says:

          Wow– just learning about this part. I award a bonus star (6 total)!

        • David Harris says:

          When circling my crossed answers, I spotted and appreciated that you followed the rules on that—nice touch!

        • Dave says:

          I don’t understand why that matters. The puzzle only requires you to note the intersections of the long acrosses with the unclued downs. The rules of Wheel of Fortune don’t seem to make any difference.

    • joon says:

      oops, sorry about that—was trying to get this posted from a car this morning and had a copy/paste fail.

  2. R says:

    Another one where not being able to print it and mark it up made it harder to have things fall into place. I can’t wait for either my office or library to open up again!

    • Margaret says:

      I said exactly this to Matt when I submitted! After the puzzle a couple of weeks ago with the extra corner letters, I realized that I need to print out sometimes.

      • Cyrano says:

        As someone without a permanent home (and therefore no chance of ever owning a printer), I have solved most puzzles for the past several years in pdf versions on an iPad using the Apple pencil. It is great option because it allows solving everything from daily puzzles (at speed because the latency is so low) to WSJ variety puzzles. Admittedly, it requires you to have an iPad and invest in the pencil, but hey, you don’t have to feel guilty about using paper. Just a suggestion. Happy solving however you solve!

        • David Harris says:

          For some themes, it’s also helpful to quickly recreate the grid in a crossword construction software, if you have one—only takes a couple minutes, and then you can mark stuff as theme, add circles, etc., in your local digital file. Just in case that helps!

        • David Glasser says:

          Some apps, like AlphaCross on Android, have a “mark cell” feature which can help, although not quite as nice as paper.

  3. Jay Miller says:

    I thought the puzzle was absolutely brilliant and lots of fun–thanks Matt (missed Vanna)

  4. Amy L says:

    I guess if you’re a Wheel fan, the answer is pretty guessable without filling in the grid at all. I actually watched a whole half hour WoF show for the first time, just to make sure I got the answer right. Vanna was wearing a very pretty black and red dress.

    • Mike says:

      About 10 seconds before I had the meta method figured out, the phrase “I’d like to buy a vowel” popped into my head. As I went through the grid and pieced the first 3 words together I was all “hey wow my blind guess was right!”

  5. Streroto says:

    Really fun puzzle, the downs made the grid an additional challenge which made the whole package all the more fun.

  6. Tom says:

    I tried desperately to edit the comment because I realized I was sounding whiny, and I don’t want to do that. Besides the puzzle I was referring to was actually two weeks ago, not last week as I mentioned.

    I’m sorry for complaining, I guess I was just SO sure and then felt stupid for missing what was a very well designed puzzle. Forgive my META mutterings please.

  7. Garrett says:

    I thought filling in the grid was quite difficult, especially in the NE

    • Garrett says:

      Also, I had difficult understanding the meta mechanism at first. I was surprised when i went to submit my answer how many people were already on the leaderboard!

  8. Daniel Barkalow says:

    Didn’t get it until I resolved the puzzle knowing all of the answers but not filling in the “???” ones. Very satisfying to read the answer out of the blanks I was filling in when solving WoF puzzles.

  9. Seth says:

    Cute meta, but solving the puzzle was pretty tedious with all those unchecked squares. I got GRIZZLY BEAR first, figured the last word of the answer might be PUZZLE, and basically backsolved the whole thing.

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