WSJ Contest — Friday, September 25, 2020

Grid: 8; Meta: same  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “You’re Surrounded”—Laura’s review

WSJ Contest - 9.25.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 9.25.20 – Solution

This week, we’re looking for a 36-Across. What’s a 36-Across? About seven letters.

  • [36a: If one were here, it’d be surrounded]: US STATE

And what is it surrounded by? I had a feeling that we were looking for more US STATEs, so I poked around for a bit, and finally found them … turns out, the entries around the borders of the grid begin and end with the letters of state abbreviations (one might say they are “surrounded”):

KLUDGY — Kentucky
VERONA — Mr. Gaffney’s home state of Virginia
NORDIC — North Carolina
GRAMMA — Georgia
AZRAEL — Alabama
MESSES — Mississippi
AVATAR — Arkansas
MACPRO — Missouri

What US STATE is “surrounded” by KY, VA, NC, GA, AL, MS, AR, and MO? Why, that would be TENNESSEE, which is a 36-Across and our answer. I’m sure there are trivia-type folks who know off the tops of their heads which landlocked state is surrounded by the most other landlocked states — <checks map> looks like it is indeed TN, since runners-up AR, WY, and CO are surrounded by seven other states — and which one is surrounded by the fewest (looks like NV if we’re defining “landlocked” as a state that doesn’t touch an ocean or an international border, but when DC gains statehood it will win).



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10 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, September 25, 2020

  1. Jack says:

    I submitted Vermont. It’s the only 7 letter state other than Georgia that fits the pattern of first + last letter = the state abbreviation. Oops.

  2. jps says:

    The grid works as a map with the eight states in geographic order around TN. Nicely done.

  3. Barney says:

    I failed the oft-noted trick of paying attention a word so weird it had to be there for a particular reason. In this case “kludgy.” Rating this puzzle unreservedly five stars.

    • Tim Mitchell says:

      I did the same thing. I knew it had to be there for a reason, but it escaped me for the longest time. Another huge hint would be the cheater squares in all four corners, but I didn’t get that until later.

  4. Billy Boy says:

    I forgot to do it on Friday, printed it out after today’s puzzle to do on paper with coffee and unfortunately saw just two highlighted squares. Grrrr. Good puzzle and simple Meta, wish I’d done it Friday, I don’t get many Metas, think I’d have gotten this one.

  5. Garrett says:

    My attention was drawn to the two rows and two columns containing only three-letter words. That looked so intentional.

    I was also quit distracted by the MGWCC meta, which I am still banging my head against.

  6. Torridd says:

    Couldn’t figure this one out. I kept looking for the states in the puzzle itself. The closest was Indiana found with STAID and INRI but felt that didn’t look right.

  7. Margaret says:

    My Hail Mary was Tennessee because of OCTETTE and IMARATE. It’s usually OCTET without the TE and somehow the TE at the end of IMARATE looked weird to me, so the TE made me think Tennessee even though the postal code is TN! Funny how the brain works.

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