WSJ Contest — Thursday, December 31, 2020

Grid: 7; Meta: half that  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “The Party Starts at 10” — Laura’s review

For New Year’s Eve, Matt wanted us to find a four-word phrase you might hear tonight.

WSJ Contest - 12.31.20 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 12.31.20 – Solution

There are two entries that seem relevant to the meta:

  • [66a: “Three…two…___…” (last words of the year, often]: ONE
  • [67a: Some are ten letters long in this grid]: DOWNS

There are four ten-letter downs in the grid:


If you take the last three letters of those entries — namely, following the hint of the “Three … two … one” countdown, you get: RIN GIN THE NEW, or RING IN THE NEW, which is a four-word phrase you might hear [on New Year’s Eve], and our answer.

The phrase “ring in the new” is from the “Ring Out Wild Bells” section of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s extremely long 1850 requiem, In Memoriam A. H. H. Here’s a stunningly beautiful version by Canadian songwriter Alana Levandoski:

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.


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6 Responses to WSJ Contest — Thursday, December 31, 2020

  1. Joella D Hultgren says:

    The answer to 39A is ATOLL (A TOLL), leading to ringing a bell, and hence “Ring In The New”.

  2. Neal Racioppo says:

    It’s very thoughtful of Matt to welcome us very gently into the new year with a meta that doesn’t make us tear out our hair. Happy New Year!

  3. David Roll says:

    Seems to me that Bring in the New is a viable answer.

    • John M. Bennett says:

      David, Yeah, my brother came up with that as an answer.

      I really like that answer, too!

    • Jonesy says:

      The issue with “bring” is that it ignores the 3, 2, 1 countdown and is inconsistent with the other 3 triplets.

      I’d say it isn’t a legitimate answer because it means you missed something critical to the meta.

    • Jack Sullivan says:

      Some reasons that “bring in the new” might not be viable:

      * not symmetrical.

      * doesn’t relate to the title or the nudge in 66A.

      * misquote of Tennyson poem.

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