Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Trade-Ins” — Conrad’s review.
This week we’re looking a four-letter word. I looked for theme entries: VICARAGES and STRUCKOUT seemed like good candidates but I wasn’t sure about the others. I checked the title and spotted CAR and TRUCK in those two and I found the rest of the themers:
- [Some parish properties]: VI(CAR)AGES
- [Melt away]: (VAN)ISH
- [Fail financially]: GO(BUS)T
- [Failed completely]: S(TRUCK)OUT
I identified four vehicles, now: find step two. I tried to “trade in” the letters of each entry for other letters, but the only word that matches V…AGES is VICINAGES, and that seemed… unlikely. I set the puzzle down, picked it up, and tried another trade-in program: I backsolved the solution by trading one letter for each vehicle. The answer appeared quickly.
- VI(CAR)AGES -> VI(S)AGES
- (VAN)ISH -> (W)ISH
- GO(BUS)T -> GO(A)T
- S(TRUCK)OUT -> S(P)OUT
Some entries had multiple options such as DISH/FISH, SCOUT/SHOUT/SNOUT, etc. But SWAP fit the title, and had to be the answer.
I raced past step two and circled back to find it. There it was: each theme entry was paired with an adjacent grid entry that served as an alternate definition:
- VI(S)AGES: FACES
- (W)ISH: LONGING
- GO(A)T: FALLGUY
- S(P)OUT: ERUPT
The full solve confirmed SWAP as our contest solution. Another no-doubter by Mike. I’ll end with a cover of Kate Bush‘s Running Up That Hill by Meg Myers in a music video hand-colored by 2130 children.