Patrick Berry’s Fireball contest, “Three in One” — Conrad’s review
This month, we are asked, “What two-word phrase of six letters is hinted at by this puzzle?”
There are six themers:
- [18a: Bad choice of play with two outs]: SACRIFICE
- [20a: Bonnet worn in battle]: HEADDRESS
- [30a: Women whose spouses fight]: WARBRIDES
- [38a: Open to question]: DEBATABLE
- [49a: Boldly colored neckwear]: POWERTIES
- [54a: Time on a ticket]: DEPARTURE
Step one: there are six three-letter entries in the grid, and each is a substring of a themer:
- [8d: It’s expected from a pro] PAR
- [21d: Relieve]: RID
- [29d: Belatedly mention]: ADD
- [34d: Anatomical container]: SAC
- [42d: Have more debits than credits]: OWE
- [55d: Browser window feature]: TAB
Then: I got stuck. Very stuck. It’s a Patrick Berry meta, so I knew it was going to be a clean solve, with surgical construction. Meaning: I was missing something, So, with the deadline looming: I asked my friend Al Sisti for a nudge. He pointed out that I had most of the meta, and hinted that I simply had to erase the rest.
Armed with that: I deleted the 3-letter entries from the themers. Each can form a new word with one letter added
I find it interesting how one person’s easy meta solve is another person’s (like me!) multi-day slog. And how it all seems so obvious in hindsight. For me: that’s part of the joy (and mystery) of solving metas, along with all the friends I’ve made along the way (and wouldn’t know otherwise), like Al, Laura, and many, many others.
We were blessed with two Patrick Berry metas this week: this Fireball, plus the upcoming WSJ (due by midnight). I’ll be blogging that one as well later on tonight. Wondering if I got stuck on that one? You’ll have to tune in to find out. In the meantime, back to three: it’s the magic number.