MGWCC #720

crossword 3:48
meta DNF 1 day 


hello and welcome to episode #720 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, a guest puzzle by Andrew Linzer called “Get It Together!”. for this week 3 puzzle, the instructions tell us that the answer is a four-letter word you’ll need to use twice to solve this puzzle. okay. what are the theme answers? there’s only one obvious themer in this very striking 31×7 grid, and it’s the central down answer at 14d: {Pictogram on some perforated packaging} IIIIII✂️, which looks like nonsense in this paragraph but resembles a dotted line and scissors in the grid. the ✂️ crosses 65a, {“Edward ___” (1990 movie)} [SCISSOR]HANDS. so the pictogram is representing “cut along the dotted line”. (in my character set, the scissor emoji has blades pointing down rather than up, but let’s use our imaginations.)

what do we make of this? well, if we do indeed cut the grid along the dotted line, we get two half-grids, each 15 by 7. (or 15.5, if you include the remaining half-width column resulting from 14-down itself being cut.) there are various things you could do from here, i suppose. one is you could rotate one half 180° and overlay on the other half so that the black squares line up, because the original grid does have crossword symmetry despite its very weird dimensions. that was the first thing i thought of, but i didn’t see anything interesting resulting from it.

the other thing i just thought of, having written the previous paragraph, is that two 15×7 halves are what you’d get if you cut along the middle row of a normal 15×15 crossword. so perhaps we’re supposed to just stack these two halves on top of each other to make the grid back into a 15×15.

ooh, that’s definitely just it. look what happens:

there’s a pair of four-letter spaces in the middle that are needed to connect the top half to the bottom half, and in both places you need to use GLUE to turn the downs into valid answers: TIN + LED becomes TINGLED, PAU + INA becomes PAULINA, ANG + LAR becomes ANGULAR, OUR + ORD becomes OUR LORD, SEC + RED becomes SECURED, IT’S + EMS becomes IT SEEMS, and most spectacularly, RISINGS + A-LEVELS becomes RISING SEA LEVELS and UNDERDO + STORIES becomes UNDERDOG STORIES.

all i can say is: wow! this is an extraordinary meta. start with a wildly creative idea—taking the top and bottom of a square grid and turning them into the left and right halves of a really short wide grid—and turning into this puzzle is a work of sheer genius. the “cut along the dotted line” pictogram is delightful. not only that, as an added layer of elegance, once we cut that column out and put the pieces back together, all of the across entries that intersect that answer become different (sometimes not that different) valid entries when they lose their I: PRIORI -> PRIOR, SENSEI -> SENSE, PIUS II -> PIUS I, RADIANT -> RAD and ANT, I RAISE -> RAISE, ICLOUD -> CLOUD, and ✂️HANDS -> HANDS. in the reconstructed grid image, there are no bogus entries. it’s a totally legit 15×15 grid (okay, yeah, there are a lot of black squares, but still) with eight entries of 7 or 15 letters connecting the top and bottom halves. it’s absolutely jaw-dropping.

five stars for sure from me, and thank you to andrew for sharing this masterpiece with us. how’d you all like this one?

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21 Responses to MGWCC #720

  1. Scott says:

    Wow…I didn’t get the meta but nevertheless I am impressed!

  2. Gideon says:

    I only regret that I have but five stars to give for this masterpiece *****

  3. Mike W says:

    Brilliant puzzle!!

  4. Garrett says:

    I was bemused by the apparent swapping of the clues for LED/LILA, ALEVELS/SORE, and EMS/WAXY.

    The puzzles concept is dynamite.

  5. Kevin Bryant says:

    Most cool. But, I screwed up and found two sets of the word “snip” that could be outlined in such a manner as to have those “shapes” sorta look like the two halves of the scissors – that could then be “gotten together” to “snip, snip” up that dotted line. :-(

      • Paul Coulter says:

        I actually submitted snip as my Hail Mary, too. During my many tries to line up the two halves, I noticed that if you use rotational symmetry to overlap NUGS and SORE , their letters combine to make SURGEONS. They certainly are people who might do a snip snip procedure on you. NUGS had to be involved somehow, otherwise NUTS/ANT would be better fill for this slot. I didn’t have much hope for this technique, since I didn’t find others like it, but at the end, snip was the best answer I had.

        The actual answer and technique are brilliant. This was a great meta in every respect. Well done, Andrew. I look forward to many more great puzzles from you.

  6. Matt Gaffney says:

    Not too bad, right? 424 right answers.

    As I told Andrew: if this is your first meta, there should be probably be a second.

  7. Jim S. says:

    This was just a phenomenal puzzle – first meta for Andrew, too! Fitting 6 answers that start or end in I that are also valid without the I, along with the scissors rebus?!?!? Just amazing.

  8. LuckyGuest says:

    I cut where I was supposed to and tried every permutation of putting the halves together… but when nothing panned out, I spent way too much time trying to match up cut-up chunks to “get *IT* together,” since some of the black squares did form an upper case T. Still, no sour grapes here: an absolutely incredible meta. And a debut?? Look out, world.

  9. Laura E-D says:

    Surprised no one else has commented on the missing UP in 6-Down. I took that to mean “THIS SIDE UP.”

  10. Pete Muller says:


  11. Adam Rosenfield says:

    The solvers have spoken: 42 five-star ratings so far, and two lone 4.5-star ratings dragging down the average to 4.98. I look forward to seeing this in next year’s Orcas!

  12. Mikie says:

    Awesome puzzle. 11 on the originality scale.

  13. Dave says:

    I didn’t even notice that the entries were still valid without the I’s. Amazing!

  14. Tom says:

    Well as another “how bout that” the answer RISING SEA LEVELS was a perfectly good entry for the clue for RISINGS, Furthermore, it should not be lost on all of the solvers that the mechanism was “cut and paste”.

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