WSJ Contest — Friday, December 17, 2021

Grid: 15 minutes; meta: 20 more 


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

Happy holidays, everyone! Matt gave us a winter-themed meta this week, where we’re looking for a nine-letter word. There were no clear theme entries, but Matt provided a hint with 69d (ICE), clued as: It may hang perilously from rooftops in winter…or from some crossword answers. That indicated that the down entries were probably important. MAL (43d) was my entry to the meta, becoming MAL(ICE) after “hanging” ICE from it. That matched SPITE’s clue “Vengefulness.” The rest of the themers fell fairly quickly:

WSJ Contest – 12.17.21 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 12.17.21 – Solution

  • 5d: JUST(ICE) -> [36a: One of the cabinet departments]: EDUCATION
  • 18d: NOT(ICE) -> [45a:General awareness]: ATTENTION
  • 23d: BOD(ICE) -> [14a: Clothing worn on the top on the body]: VEST
  • 28d: POL(ICE) -> [39d: They respond to life-threatening situations]: EMTS
  • 43d: MAL(ICE) -> [9d: Vengefulness]: SPITE
  • 61d: CORN(ICE) -> [4d: Architectural feature on top of a building]: DOME
  • 63d: NOV(ICE) -> [30a: Newb]: ROOKIE
  • 64d: CHO(ICE) ->[50d: Possibility]: OPTION
  • 65d: OFF(ICE) -> [15a: Part of P.O.]: POST

The mapped grid entries spell EAVESDROP, our contest solution. Fun meta! I’m impressed by the amount of meta-related content that Matt managed to cram into the grid. Solvers: let me know what you thought of it, and please share your entry point to the theme. We’ll end with Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing their classic holiday duet Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy.

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10 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, December 17, 2021

  1. jps says:

    Excellent puzzle. Not too difficult but well-conceived and well-executed. My entry was NOV next to CHO (Margaret Who?). I can’t agree more about how Matt placed so much material in the grid. The top middle was a bit tough to fill (HUS, SUI, VUDU, USETA) but the fill was otherwise fine. Thanks Matt for a fun puzzle.

  2. Seth says:

    No one word was my entry point, I just eventually thought to look for down answers that could take -ICE. Took me a while to find the connected entries though. I got 7 of them, looked up 9-letter possibilities with two blanks on a Scrabble website, saw EAVESDROP, and backsolved the last two.

  3. Barry says:

    Great fun and doable.

  4. Sheik Yerbouti says:

    I appreciate that the answer itself has a double meaning since ice drops from eaves. Well done.

  5. Barney says:

    Finally a puzzle getting close (4.5) to the rating it deserves (5.0).

    Not just the pathways, but the double delights of the answer.

  6. Neal R says:

    I typically solve the meta on paper, but I’m traveling and solved via my lap top for the first time. Grid fill is fun. I learned HUS. (HUS knew?) and was able to suss out the meta before fully completing the grid. Without pen/paper it took a bit to figure out the order of the answers, and ended up solving it backwards, feeling good when I got to ????SDROP. Very satisfying aha moments!

  7. Alex says:

    WSJ meta entry point

    63D Fall mo. = NOV, because it echoed the word ‘Fall’ in the puzzle name (Winter Fall)

    69D led me to add suffix -ICE to NOV, resulting in NOVICE

    Recalled 30A Newb = ROOKIE, which also = NOVICE

    Smiled at 8D STALAG, which made me incorrectly think of STALAGTITE (with a ‘G’), then immediately realized that that is a common misspelling. The mnemonic is STALACTITE (with a ‘C’ as in CEILING and ‘TITE’ as in TIGHTROPE WALKER) and STALAGMITE (with a ‘G’ as in GROUND and an ‘M’ as in MOUSE.) So, avoided going down a wabbit hole.

  8. Garrett says:

    By the way, I just wanted to point out that the answer is formed using the linkage from the first words in grid order. If you tried column order from left to right you’d get REDOVASPE

  9. Scott says:

    One of the best puzzles in recent memory. Thanks Matt!

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