Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Urban Shift” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re looking for a major world city. Mike provided a nudge at 47A (CAPITAL, clued as “A hint to the contest answer”). I didn’t spot other obvious theme entries, so I focused on CAPITAL with two theories: capital cities and capital letters in the grid. The city angle fizzled out initially (but came into play later), but TYPEO and MIDDLEC indicated the right rabbit hole: capital letters. I made a few missteps compiling the list (I initially omitted proper nouns like LAVER, and tried to use both P and H in PHLEVEL until I Googled it and saw that only the “H” is capitalized), but everything came together fairly quickly:
- [14a: Noted noble libertine]: deSade
- [18a: Tenth chief justice]: Taft
- [19a: Universal donor’s designation]: typeO
- [25a: Reference point during piano lessons]: middleC
- [39a: Divided peninsula]: Korea
- [43a: It’s high for lye]: pHlevel
- [45a: Goddess of abundance]: Ops
- [51a: Top-ranked tennis player of the 1960s]: Laver
- [52a Computer now available in seven colors]: iMac
The theme entries are a combination of proper nouns (Taft, etc.), individual capital letters (typeO), nobiliary particles (deSade) and camel case words (iMac), etc. The letters spell Sweden’s capital city STOCKHOLM, our contest solution. This meta provided a nice amount of give-and-take as I sorted out the mechanism, and I enjoyed how the title tied the capital city/capital letters theme together. We’ll end with Camera Obscura covering ABBA‘s Super Trouper.
Nice touch in the clues: none of the clues have *any* capital letters aside from the very first. That was actually my entry — it got me thinking about capital letters.
I don’t see how the title relates to the theme. Can someone explain it?
Urban points to capital city, and shift points to capital letters (you press the shift key).
The shift refers to the shift one does to change from lowercase to capital letters
All in all a very nice puzzle, was loads of fun. Thanks Mike
I really got hung up on the fact that there are some state capitals whose letters are clustered together. Like Topeka clustered around 39D/45A, and Mobile clustered in the SW, and Denver in the SE. Even Charleston right in the middle. But then I couldn’t make anything further of it. Ended up being simpler than I thought.
I took a different tack (and got a different answer!). I saw CAPITAL and thought capital city. The last across in the grid (TEE) suggested that the answer might begin with T. That still left the question of what “SHIFT” referred to. As I looked at the answers in the grid, I spotted “TYPE O”. If you “shift” the O over one letter in the grid, you get “TYPE A”, or the answer, TAIPEI! (This seemed pretty simplistic, but once in awhile we get an easier one, so it seemed possible)
Exactly. me too!
Anyone else go down the Korea rabbit hole?
I wasn’t going to get this one but I do think it was a good meta. I simple was not on the right wavelength.
Dang it, I had a double brain fart on iMac. I noticed the non-initial caps first — S, O, C, H — and didn’t think of the initially capitalized words at all. Obviously iMac would’ve yielded SOCHM and I should’ve realized I needed to work a bit more, but once I got SOCH, I got trigger-happy and submitted SOCHI without looking back. *sigh*
I did exactly the same thing.
Where do we find out how many people submitted answers and how many got the right answer to the puzzle contest?
Mike Miller normally posts the stats on the Muggle forum on Monday (it sometimes takes a bit longer as he waits for a reply from the winner).