WSJ Contest — Friday, April 23, 2021

Grid: 7 minutes; meta: samesies  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “This, That and the Other Thing” — [36-Down]’s review

Full disclosure — solved this with my friends while waiting for the ACPT final puzzle to post!

WSJ Contest - 4.23.21 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 4.23.21 – Solution

We’re looking for a four-word phrase. Five themers have asterisks:

  • [17a: “Blowin’ in the Wind” performer]: BOB DYLAN
  • [25a: Available at a moment’s notice]: ON STANDBY
  • [40a: Unstinting effort, in a bodily metaphor]: HEART
  • [55a: Showing grace under fire]: UNRATTLED
  • [67a: Average guy]: JOE SCHMO

Turns out, each one of those clues has an alternate answer that follows the pattern of the title:

  • [17a: “Blowin’ in the Wind” performer]: PETER PAUL AND MARY
  • [25a: Available at a moment’s notice]: READY WILLING AND ABLE
  • [40a: Unstinting effort, in a bodily metaphor]: BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS
  • [55a: Showing grace under fire]: COOL CALM AND COLLECTED
  • [67a: Average guy]: TOM DICK AND HARRY

Of those alternate answers, each of the first two — the “this” and the “that” — can also be found in the grid, but the “other thing” cannot. The first letters of the “other things” spell out M A T C H — suggesting that if we follow the pattern, our answer is the four-word phrase GAME SET AND MATCH.




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18 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, April 23, 2021

  1. Mister G says:

    Great puzzle with another “treasure hunt” similar to last week in some ways. Only minor nit is that the term appears to be more commonly expressed as “game, set, match”, without the “and”.

  2. Shalaka says:

    While I had my doubts because the ‘and’ isn’t commonly part of the expression, I think including it adds some emphasis as 55 down suggests “Complete and total” or a definitive win. Game, set AND match!

  3. Paul J Coulter says:

    This was very good, and I did follow the right path to the answer, but once I got to MATCH and didn’t find GAME and SET in the grid, I considered the alternate answer “Three on a Match.”

  4. John Lampkin says:

    I’m with Paul J Coulter on that.
    “Three on a Match” is a much more appropriate answer, not just for the no-no dupe of AND, but because “Game, Set and Match” is just another example of the trio pattern. “Three on a match” points to the answer in a more subtle and elegant way.
    And FWIW, does not include Game, Set and Match in a * * * MATCH search, but “Three on a Match” is.
    For sure, either Paul or I deserve the mug.

    • Why is AND a no-no dupe in this case? I didn’t think there was any way the final answer would *not* include AND since each of the theme answers hinted at an “A, B AND C” phrase.

      I get why you’d consider THREE ON A MATCH, and fine, I also often hear the phrase as GAME, SET, MATCH without the AND … but finding another example of the pattern is a classic method in metas. Doesn’t seem inelegant to me, certainly not to the point of considering it a busted puzzle.

  5. Joella D Hultgren says:

    Solved the meta after determining MATCH from the 5 starred answers.
    Decided on GAME, SET, AND MATCH, but never saw that GAME was an alternative answer for 20A, and SET was an alternative answer for 33A, or recalled that LOBBER 8A was a tennis reference.

  6. JohnH says:

    As most often, I didn’t come close, but if it’s helpful I do say the expression with an AND.

    Must admit I was surprised to see the asterisks. The challenge was not in locating the long entries, after all, and it wasn’t that big a leap to pick out the central across from symmetry. It was spotting the alternative answers here and there (and counting it as pointed rather than a sign that spotting the alternatives wasn’t the way to go that the Z’s in XYandZ are NOT to be found).

  7. John Yu says:

    My friend predicted there would be grumbling and consternation nit picking about “three on a match” versus “game set and match.” One clearly follows the title pattern of “this that and the other” while the other clearly does not. Add to that GAME as alternative answer for 20A, and SET was an alternative answer for 33A and there is simply no argument to be had.
    Understandable but undeniable.

  8. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Laura. In retrospect I should probably have titled this one “You Win” to make the click a little stronger, which sounds like it was needed for many solvers. I decided not to use that title since I thought that “game, set, and match” being a triumphant cry, like something you’d say when you solve a meta, would be clicky enough. But that may not have panned out as I’d thought.

    I considered putting GAME and SET into the grid but thought it would make the answer too guessable. If I’d noticed the THREE ON A MATCH possibility, which is unfortunately apt, I would have most likely gone for either including GAME and SET or titling it “You Win” to disambiguate.

    Metas are, like football, a game of inches.

    • Paul A Sand says:

      [also mentioned this at the WSJ]

      I thought (arguably) that there was an overall alternate-answer theme. GAME was an alternate answer for WILLING. And SET was an alternate to DOUP. This raised my meta-confidence.

  9. Carolyn says:

    We, too, thought the answer should be “three on a match”. We considered “game, set, match” but rejected it in favor of the much more appropriate answer. We was robbed! ;)

  10. Neal says:

    I guess I just will never understand the nitpickers.

    This puzzle is a thing of beauty. I love the puzzles where so much of the fill is incorporated into the solution. The title of the puzzle is a clear indicator for me of which final answer rings the most true.

    And as an aside, when is the last time someone sincerely used the expression “Three on a match” in reference to anything? I mean, it’s pretty archaic now, no? Or have all the smokers forced out of bars and restaurants taken up refuge in foxholes?

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I appreciate you sticking up for the puzzle, Neal, but I have to side with the critics here. It shouldn’t happen that so many solvers either a) find an answer that seems so on-point that they don’t doubt that it’s correct, or b) find the correct answer but still aren’t sure whether they’re missing something.

    • JohnH says:

      You know, now that you mention it, I had no idea what “three on a match” refers to or how to use it. Just looked online.

  11. Barry says:

    This is off the wall, but someone looking for answers in the grid could have come up with the phrase “or else that is,” as in “it is Bob Dylan or else that is Peter, Paul and Mary.” Game, set and match is better, but not found in the grid, plus it’s generally said without the word and. In any event, great puzzle and nice meta.

  12. Richard says:

    Couldn’t get beyond MATCH on this one. Knew the phrase GAME, SET, MATCH but personally never said the AND when using it.
    Oh well. Until next week, anyone up for a game of ROCK PAPER SCISSORS MATCH?

  13. jefe says:

    When I got to MATCH, my first thought was GAME, SET, AND MATCH (which is ultimately what I submitted), but it didn’t have the “this is definitely the right answer” click, especially since GAME and SET were not in the grid. I considered for a long time that MATCH could be a clue for another this/that/other thing trio.

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