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.
First off, it is not weird that I spent hours yesterday listening to Kate Bush music and you reference her here. Not weird. I’ve learned to normalize coincidences.
Secondly, this puzzle was elegance personified. Just the right amount of bread crumbs to follow. Very satisfying.
I looked the thing over and had no initial ideas, so I switched to the MGWCC.
Looking at it again, VINEGAR caught my eye. After a while, I had one side of the swaps, which wasn’t getting me anywhere, so I went looking for more, found them — and done!
I felt really good after finishing. A very satisfying meta.
Since CUTANDRUN is in that order (cut/run), I put PASTE and HIT in that order too, and came up with gibberish using numbers. What led you to transpose them? I mean, I see that HIT comes before its mate, and PASTE come after its mate, but I would think that you’d list them in the order of the partner in the theme answers. Anyone else have this final glitch stump you?
I did the same thing and had the pairs in the other order. But when the numbers led to gibberish, the next thing I tried was using them the other way around, and there it was.