Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Swap Meet” — Conrad’s review
Hey everybody, this is Conrad. You know it's a good week when you have two Patrick Berry metas to solve: here's the second. This week we're told, The answer to this week's contest crossword is something you might say at a swap meet. There are four long themers:
- [16a: Leave hastily to avoid trouble (2/4)]: CUTANDRUN
- [20a: Revealing private secrets, as a memoir (1/2)]: KISSANDTELL
- [56a: Descriptor for an incompatible pair (5/4)]: OILANDWATER
- [65a: Everybody (2/3)]: ONEANDALL
Does your left eyelid start twitching when you see parenthetical numbers in clues, or is it just me? I have died after running up many parenthetically-numbered meta hills (as well as others).
I was fortunate and spotted VINEGAR when I had the grilled partially filled, which lead to OILAND... VINEGAR, and I was racing down the right rabbit hole before my grid was complete. Based on VINEGAR, I initially assumed the meta required the 2nd part of the "this AND that" pattern, but then I spotted HIT (HIT... ANDRUN), and I realized both sides of the AND needed to be swapped with other grid entries. That lead to eight (!) more themers:
- HITANDRUN/CUTANDPASTE (2/4)
- SHOWANDTELL/KISSANDMAKEUP (1/2)
- BREADANDWATER/OILANDVINEGAR (5/4)
- WARTSANDALL/ONEANDONLY (2/3)
The parenthetical numbers map to the letter of the before AND after entries, respectively:
That leads to our meta solution, ITS A DEAL.
Many crossword solvers have used the term "elegant" and "classic Patrick Berry" to describe Patrick's puzzles. I second that emotion. How in the world does a constructor work twelve (!) themers into a 15x15 grid, while keeping the fill clean? And while including delightful entries like SKIRL?
I hope you managed to run up this parenthetically-numbered meta hill.