MGWCC #711

crossword 3:55 
meta 1:00 


hello and welcome to episode #711 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Eating in Bed”. this puzzle comes to us from guest constructor Ben Chenoweth, and the instructions tell us we’re looking for something you might eat in bed. the theme is indicated at the central across entry: {Fairy tale about a very sensitive girl, and the inspiration for this meta} PRINCESS AND THE P. that’s certainly not usually how it’s spelled, of course, as the P is merely a homophonic stand-in for PEA. in five other places in the grid, a type of bed sits atop a P that is part of an across answer but needs to be removed from its down answer:

  • {Bed that you hit when you’re really tired} clues SACK, with the S crossing {“I must go down…to the lonely ___ and the sky”} S(P)EA. that answer ought to be SEA to fit the clue.
  • {Foldable Japanese mattress that can make a bed of the floor} FUTON, with the N crossing {Egg layers} HEN(P)S.
  • {Possible bed for a couch-surfer} SOFA, with the A crossing {Org. with many meetings} A(P)A. i actually think the clue works fine—albeit in a not very pinned sense—for the APA (american psychological association), but i infer from the rest of the meta that it’s supposed to be alcoholics anonymous here.
  • {Vertical bed} BUNK, with the K crossing {Sharp} K(P)EEN.
  • {Beds for babies (in Australia) or unexpected guests (in America)} COTS, with the S crossing {Computer game that just involves flying an aeroplane, for example} S(P)IM. very australian pair of clues here.

there’s one more P in the grid in addition to those five and the two in PRINCESS AND THE P itself, and it sits just under the C of PRINCESS. it, too, must be removed in order for the down clue {Hailable vehicle} C(P)AB to make sense. reading off the letters sitting on those six P’s gives SNACKS, which are indeed foods you might eat in bed.

i liked some aspects of this meta and am a little baffled by others (though i readily acknowledge that my bafflement may be partly or wholly due to sleep deprivation from mystery hunt). having the letter P stand for a pea underneath a bunch of different beds is brilliant. having another one underneath the PRINCESS herself is … well, also appropriate to the fairy tale, but not consistent with the other ones. and having the two P’s in PRINCESS AND THE P not participate in the meta extraction felt unsatisfying. the puzzle made it clear that they were not like the other P’s because the down answers that used them actually clued the word with the P in it: {Mini CDs} EPS and {4th mon.} APR. but it still felt a little loose. i realize it would have been much more constrained to stack two of the beds on top of either end of PRINCESS AND THE P, but doing so (and having the meta mechanic use every P in the grid) would have felt cleaner to me.

that said, i enjoyed this puzzle and i’m also grateful i could solve and blog it in half an hour, since that’s all the time i left myself to work on it after hunt.

how’d you all like it?

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16 Responses to MGWCC #711

  1. Jason Feng says:

    Grr. I was stuck in the hole that the answer had something to do with a food with a P-sound; pizza, peanuts and never got out of it.

  2. Dave says:

    One piece you missed in your rush: The across clues with the P’s are all foods. Between that and the fact that the P’s didn’t belong in the downs, it felt clean to me. It didn’t occur to me to be bothered by the two extra P’s.

    I do wonder, though, if anyone submitted “Peas.” Maybe the instructions should have mentioned that the answer was 6 letters.

  3. Laura E-D says:

    I didn’t notice the beds, just the foods. Taking the first letter of each interrupted down entry spells SHACKS, which was clearly wrong but also unlikely to be a coincidence. I put the puzzle down and when I came back to it I saw SNACKS.

    • Margaret says:

      I did exactly this, noticed the foods but not the beds and got SHACKS. Took a strong nudge from a friend to get me past it.

    • BrainBoggler says:

      I did the same thing originally and tried looking up synonyms of SHACKS with P’s in them, like CAMPS (didn’t think CAMS was a food), and at some point was tickled by thinking of CANOPIES (since it sounded much like “can of peas”). I, too, put the puzzle down and got some sleep before making the bed connection at the next look and arriving at the more justifiable answer of SNACKS. Fun stuff!

  4. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon and Ben! 598 right correct answers this week, along with 29 incorrect.

    • BarbaraK says:

      Any rhyme or reason to the wrong answers?

      • Mac says:

        My wrong answer was “take-out” since you had to take out the ps and one frequently eats take-out in bed. Didn’t love it but it was a week 2 so I thought it was just a simple week 2.

    • benchen71 says:

      Thanks, Matt, for running my puzzle. I’m glad people enjoyed it, although it has been interesting to hear that not everyone noticed the bed/food pairings. The idea was that you had to be like the Princess in the story. The down entries completely ignore the Ps. But you have to be sensitive to their presence, which should then draw your attention to what is directly above them (given the bed/food pairs).

      If you enjoyed the puzzle – and the occasional Australianism! – then please check out my weekly MOAT puzzle. This week, we’re exploring the art world of the 20th century:

      • C. Y. Hollander says:

        It doesn’t take the sensitivity of a princess to notice a letter that one has personally typed into the grid, nor that six of the grid entries are nonsensical—several of them not even phonetically valid in English, let alone actual words. And for any solver who might be so obtuse as to overlook all this, you helpfully splashed a revealer across the center of the grid, complete with the substitution P for “pea” so that no detail of the ‘hidden peas’ is left to be discovered by the solver’s sensitivity.

        With such flagrant want of subtlety in the core mechanism, is it such a surprise that not everyone noticed the grace notes of beds and foods? I didn’t notice them myself, and, when this blog called my attention to them, was pleasantly surprised. Had the P’s been hidden with equal subtlety, I would have enjoyed this puzzle much more than I did.

        For instance, instead of using down entries that became nonsense with P’s inserted, you might have used entries that were valid with or without the P, cluing them carefully such that the clue might fit the entry with the P at a stretch, but would fit the entry sans P much better. To alter 1D by way of example, to SPEAR: a clue like, “Inflict burning pain on”, might be acceptable to a relatively insensitive ear, while making a more fastidious solver uncomfortable.

        I would have liked something like that, though I don’t know whether it would have suited your vision for this.

  5. Sam says:

    Anyone else besides me notice ESCARGOT in the middle column? Not that that’s a food to eat in bed (or anywhere, IMO).

  6. John says:

    I too saw SHACKS first and immediately back-solved to SNACKS noticing the adjacent, not first letter, was key. This also meant i missed the fact the Ps were a “bed” for our letters of note. Still a fun puzzle and clever meta idea. I hope we get to see more of Ben’s work in the future.

  7. Tom says:

    I originally thought that the peas belonged to the Princess so the answer must have been “herpes.”

    I moved on from that theory pretty fast.


  8. wordsmix says:

    The Ps split the down answers and were sitting beneath the answers for the “sofa/bed” clues.
    I put “split peas” as my answer , as the central entry hinted towards P=peas.

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