MGWCC #718

crossword 4:42 
meta 3 min 


hello and welcome to episode #718 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “One Fluid Motion”. i solved this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, and that worked out fine. what are the theme answers? there’s only one overt themer in the grid, and it’s right at 1-across: {Fluid whose motion starts here; it is influenced by gravity, momentum, and barriers} WATER.

from there, though, the clue tells you everything you need: follow the course of the water down through the extra-tall (11 by 27!) grid, going straight down when you can. when you hit a barrier (a black square), remember the part about momentum—if your previous horizontal movement had been to the right, keep going to the right if possible; if it had been to the left, keep going to the left if possible. and if there’s only one way you can go because of barriers, go that way.

following this course starting from the R of WATER, you can spell out the names of several famous rivers: the RHONE, AMAZON, POTOMAC, ISERE (okay, crossword-famous, anyway), DELAWARE, LOIRE, and YELLOWSTONE (okay, the park is more famous than the river, but still). i enjoyed how AMAZON is the sole interloper in an otherwise perfect alternation of french and u.s. rivers.

and the meta answer? just take the first letters of those rivers in order to get RAPIDLY, which i must admit when i started out i thought was going to be RAPIDS, since the whole puzzle is essentially a waterfall, and the way the rivers wind their way around obstacles put me in mind of shooting whitewater rapids. but no, it’s RAPIDLY. a quick check of the instructions: This week’s contest answer is how a lot of solvers will figure out this meta. fair enough.

this puzzle was great. probably a monster to construct, not only because it’s quite big but also because of the unruliness of the theme constraints going every which way. but it was a joy to solve, really. it was easy enough for a week 1, but nevertheless utterly original—none of it was the typical “what do the long answers have in common?”. i liked it even when i thought finding the river names was essentially a game of boggle with an overall downward direction, but when i realized that the course of the water is strictly determined by gravity, momentum, and barriers—just as the first clue promised—the puzzle became that much more elegant. about the only thing i would have preferred was if the answer had indeed been RAPIDS (and perhaps matt would have been able to save some time by making a somewhat shorter grid, like 11×23 or something).

how’d you all like this one?

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16 Responses to MGWCC #718

  1. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 505 right answers this week. So it turns out I can *write* a Week 2, I just can’t *schedule* a Week 2 (recently, at least).

  2. Mutman says:

    Great week 1! I did struggle though. I had the concept correct, but I was starting on square 1 instead of 5 and couldn’t see it. Fortunately, I found YELLOWSTONE and worked my way up.

  3. MountainManZach says:

    I guess for the S you’d have to do SAINTLAWRENCE? I’m thinking a big constraint was a river that ended in an actual word for the final across.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      I guess for the S you’d have to do SAINTLAWRENCE?

      Even after taking into account the constraint you point out, a number of rivers whose names begin with S could have worked.

      • joon says:

        yeah, i was thinking maybe just SEINE outright, clued as the fishing net. but there are also plenty of possibilities where the end of the river isn’t the entirety of the last across entry, if it spills into the middle of the word. so for SEINE, maybe …SE is the last down and the across is HEINE or REINE.

  4. Andrew Bradburn says:

    What I love about this puzzle is that the last river could also be YELLOW, arguably a more famous river than YELLOWSTONE, that stops when it hits the STONE floor!

    • Paul J Coulter says:

      I did see it as YELLOW, with the whole answer going from WATER to STONE, as in squeezing water from a stone. That’s what we often have to do with late month metas (and I actually had to do with this one, although it was Week One.)

  5. Mikie says:

    Agree with Joon that the word for this construction is “elegant.” Mr. Meta has done it yet again. Also like the possibility of looking at it with “Yellow” being the last river, with the water splashing off the “Stone” at the bottom of its fall.

  6. Wayne says:

    At first I zigged instead of zagging. Saw the H’s and O’s flowing from WATER. When that path ran dry (swidt?), it took me a while to unsee it and get on the right path.

    If there’s a red herring, I’ll find it!

  7. Laura E-D says:

    Oops. I got the rivers and submitted GO WITH THE FLOW. Should have thought harder.

  8. ===dan says:

    I was a bit thrown by the two H2Os near the top, (EGO/SHONE and HOLA/OXEN)
    but they got me nothing.

  9. Susie says:

    Although I did not solve this one rapidly, I enjoyed it and am very impressed with the construction.

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