MGWCC #714

crossword 2:49 
meta DNF/0:01* 


hello and welcome to episode #714 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Smooth Solving Ahead”. i attempted this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, and i must say, i don’t know for sure if i have it right. but let’s go ahead and look at the theme answers:

  • {1992 Alison Krauss song} GENTLE RIVER.
  • {Rachel Carson book whose title ambiguously references either a body of water or a season of the year} SILENT SPRING.
  • {With 35-Across, where Martians vacation (I’m guessing)} SEA OF/TRANQUILITY. not a great guess, i would think; the SEA OF TRANQUILITY is on the moon, so that would be a long way for martians to go on vacation.
  • {It stretches from Sydney to Santiago} PACIFIC OCEAN.
  • {They’re said to run deep} STILL WATERS.

this is a nice tight theme—five answers that are all peaceful bodies of water. on the other hand, it’s far from clear what the meta answer is. the only thing i can think of would be if matt had hidden a sixth theme answer in the fill. perhaps 24d {Apartment, in Adelaide} FLAT could be the first half of it, since that might refer to a smooth body of water like a lake or pond, but i don’t immediately see a plausible second half. uh, i guess {Inventor of the electric battery} VOLTA is an african river, which is at least … a body of water. but i don’t think FLAT VOLTA makes sense as a theme answer.

okay, i’m giving up and looking at the instructions: The 2022 Winter Olympics begin today in Beijing; this week’s contest answer is a previous Winter Olympics host city.

well, that makes it pretty obvious we’re talking about LAKE PLACID, which hosted the 1932 and 1980 winter olympics. now i feel kind of dumb for not thinking of it, since it’s a standout answer missing from the theme, and it is topical or at least topical-adjacent, with the winter games starting on friday. ah well.

i have a great deal of admiration for this meta. it’s no mean feat pulling off a theme like this where both parts of the answer are constrained by the theme, and then to put five themers in the grid and have one more (arguably the most famous and definitely the most topical) as the final meta answer is a masterstroke. i only wish i’d figured it out without peeking at the instructions!

how’d you all like this one?

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6 Responses to MGWCC #714

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 695 right answers this week.

    You think Martians want to vacation on Mars? Come on!

    (close call but I think I saved it)

  2. Jim Skinnell says:

    Lake Placid is one of our favorite places to visit, summer or winter. Swimming in or skating on Mirror Lake with the family is fantastic, not to mention the surrounding village and Olympic sites to see. Highly recommended especially if you’re into winter sports or the Miracle on Ice.

    Oh, perfect meta too!

  3. Scott says:

    Matt, did anyone submit Salt Lake City?

  4. Steve Manion says:

    I skied the men’s downhill run the year after the Olympics. The scariest part was chair 7 which is the chair you take to get to the top. Unlike most chairlifts, which go up the center of the mountain so you are rarely more than 100 feet above the ground, chair 7 goes up the side of Whiteface Mountain, so the skiers are looking out at a 2000+ ft. drop.

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