WSJ Contest — Friday, March 18th, 2022

Grid: 8 minutes; meta: 20 more 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Deal Breaker” — Conrad’s review.

This week we’re looking an anagram of a grid answer. I spotted four theme entries:

  • [16a: Long loaf with a crispy crust]: CUBANBREAD
  • [28a: Top 40 deejay’s collection]: POPRECORDS
  • [46a: Withdrew]: PULLEDAWAY
  • [63a: Millennium Falcon feature]: HYPERDRIVE

I initially marked the center horizontal entry SKIPTWO (clued as ‘One of the new additions in UNO’s “All Wild!” deck’) as a themer in my notes (it was a long-ish two-word horizontal entry), which delayed my solve a bit. I worked the two-word angle for a while, noting the initials CB, PR, PA, and HD. That felt like a signal… but it wasn’t. I realized SKIPTWO wasn’t a theme entry, but a meta hint: skip two letters in each themer:

WSJ Contest – 03.20.22 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 03.20.22 – Solution


Next step: find an anagram in the grid of a place where card pros play. I tried CASINO, TOURNAMENT, TABLE, CAESAR’S, etc., before finding the (obvious in hindsight) grid entry SALVAGES, an anagram of LAS VEGAS, our contest solution.

Another impressive meta by Mike, constructed with surgical precision. We’ll end with my favorite song by Las Vegas’ The Killers: Read My Mind.

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9 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, March 18th, 2022

  1. bergie says:

    Geez I thought for sure (break) BREAD, (break) RECORDS, and (break) AWAY would mean something given the title, but alas no.

    • Seth says:

      Yup, right there with ya. Remarkable coincidence, and devastating rabbit hole, that all of those are common phrases.

  2. Dave Bromsey says:

    Another “Oh that was so easy!” after seeing the solution… but “This is impossible!” when trying to figure it out. Nice work Mike.

  3. Bob says:

    I found several places in the grid where an anagram of the word deal appeared with the exception of one letter. I figured the missing letters that were deal breakers would lead to something.

    • Michael in Chelsea says:

      I went down a similar rabbit hole. DEAL anagrammed intersects with every themer, forming various Tetris shapes. I never recovered from this broken strategy.

      Can anyone explain how the puzzle title applies to the meta?

      • Dan Seidman says:

        It all relates to dealing cards (including the Uno clue) and you have to break up the theme entries to get the right letters. The title isn’t meant to be helpful, but it’s related.

  4. Barney says:

    Cool song.

  5. Neal R says:

    I found ALL the rabbit holes on this one. Then my wife, who generally is not a fan of the metas, said, “does it make sense to skip every two letters in the bigger answers?” She’s so smart. :)
    Great puzzle!

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