WSJ Contest — Friday, August 13, 2021

Grid: 10 minutes; meta: slept on it  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Jewel Case” — Conrad’s review.

This week we’re told: The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a five-letter adjective. There were five (apparent) horizontal theme entries, including the central across entry:

  • [17a: Like Japan’s Shinkansen trains]: HIGHSPEED
  • [21a: Bygone computer input device]: LIGHTPEN
  • [40a: Hope ___ (famed jewel)]: DIAMOND
  • [57a: Pope for 33 days in 1978]: JOHNPAUL
  • [61a: Less interesting than claimed]: OVERHYPED

I had the right idea immediately: form DIAMONDs on the grid that encased five letters. The piece I was missing: where? I made a few attempts to draw diamonds on the grid, made no progress, and punted to the next morning.

WSJ Contest – 08.13.21 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 08.13.21 – Solution

My brain subconsciously chews on unsolved metas (as I’m guessing yours does as well). I found the concept popping into my mind now and again, which sometimes yields an “aha” moment in the shower or while sipping coffee. In this case, all signs indicated that I had the right rabbit hole, and simply needed to pursue it further. I re-scanned the grid and noticed the letters HOPE arranged in a diamond around HIGHSPEED (anchored by the letters “H” and “P”). The same was true for the other themers, but not DIAMOND. The encased letters spelled ST.NY, so I clearly needed an “O”. I found the missing letter in HOPS, forming STONY, our meta solution.

I thought it was a well-constructed meta with a 100% click. I suppose one could quibble that the “O” wasn’t symmetric, but that would have kicked DIAMOND out of the center entry, so I understand Matt’s construction decision. We’ll close with this fun acoustic cover of Paul Simon‘s Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes by Joshua Lee Turner, Gordon Neidlinger, Jake Howard, Grant Flick, Wilhelmina Frankzerda, Sam Armstrong-Zickefoose, and Mike Gaisbacher.

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, August 13, 2021

  1. Seth says:

    I first noticed there were lots of consecutive consonants in the middle of each themer. Then I noticed they all had H*P. Then it clicked.

  2. Jonesy says:

    Wow. I feel dumb.

    I got the right answer, but I never noticed the actual diamonds etched into the grid.

    I saw the H?PE string in the four long answers. The ? letters spell ST.NY from top to bottom. The missing letter is from the central DIAMOND with it’s implied HOPE, so the answer is STONY which is quite appropriate and needed no more searching. Count me lucky.

    I missed that JOHNPAUL doesn’t actually follow that path (with an A instead of an E). I never saw HOPS. The actual answer path is much better and elegant, but I still quite liked the puzzle as I saw it.

  3. alan askins says:

    I was nowhere close on this one. I made it as far as id’g the 5 long themers but did not pick up on the HPE. Even if I had, JOHNPAUL would have lost me, and grabbing an O from HOPS or DIAMOND feels like an illogical hope in the dark. Im still lost on the JOHNPAUL themer and the O. I guess I’ll continue playing with it.

    • alan askins says:

      OK, I get it now. Its more an H-P pattern than H-P-E with the O-E above/below the letter in between H-P forming the HOPE diamond. Now JOHNPAUL makes sense as well as the rationale for deriving the O from HOPS.

  4. Price says:

    Anyone else notice GEM backwards right on top of Diamond

Comments are closed.