MGWCC #723

crossword 4:28
meta 10:00 


hello and welcome to episode #723 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Look for the Crook”. for this week 2 puzzle, the instructions ask us for a type of thief. what are the theme answers? there’s just the one (somewhat) obvious one, in the last across entry: {Body part with a crook} ARM. even that’s not super-duper obvious, but it does echo the title. combining the theme clue/answer with the title suggests that we look for ARMs in the grid. there are a handful of them, but even more when you realize that an ARM has a crook specifically when it is bent. so looking for the letters A-R-M making a 90° angle in the grid, we find a lot of them, including two each in the long across answers INFORMAL WEAR and TEMPORAL LOBE.

overall, there are thirteen, and if we select the letter “cradled” by the crook of the ARM in each case and read them off top to bottom in the grid, it spells out PURSE SNATCHER, which is a type of thief and the answer to the meta.

this mechanism is great—quite fresh and interesting, and i love how the final answer evokes a purse being cradled in the crook of somebody’s arm and some miscreant snatching them away and running off. so that’s to the good. the crossword itself was pretty sloggy to solve, though, with a super-high word count even for a 17×17 grid and just a mountain of very short answers. that’s a natural result of trying to squeeze thirteen bent ARMs into a grid, and everything is harder when you are trying to deal with theme entries that have to work in both directions instead of being politely confined to a single across or down answer. so it’s an impressive construction, but the crossword part was not especially fun to solve.

that said, i think the enjoyability of the meta more than made up for it, and it landed in a perfect week 2 difficulty for me—not so obvious that it jumped off the page at me while i was solving the crossword, but readily apparent once i was able to wrap my head around what the ARM clue was trying to tell me. so overall, a really fun experience.

that’s all i’ve got for this week. how’d this one treat you?

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11 Responses to MGWCC #723

  1. Jim S says:

    I was massively impressed by this. Not only 13 ARMs, but the letters in the crook were in order for PURSESNATCHER. And, the 2 places where he needed an R created 2 options for the “crook” but neither option put the letters out of order.

    Five stars from me.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      And, the 2 places where he needed an R created 2 options for the “crook” but neither option put the letters out of order.

      That’s not a stroke of artistry, but merely the way it works out: spelling ARMR clockwise spells it counterclockwise as well, and vice versa.

      • joon says:

        i think jim’s point is that in both cases, neither interpretation of which R gets extracted caused any ambiguity of the ordering of letters in PURSE SNATCHER.

      • Thomas says:

        But the R in the crook could be in either of two rows, which could affect its position within PURSE SNATCHER. It doesn’t, and that’s what Jim means.

      • C. Y. Hollander says:

        OK, I see. Thanks for explaining.

  2. John says:

    Brilliant week 2. Great mechanism and a really pleasing aha when getting the final piece of the path to purse snatcher. I was looking at the 13 ARMs for some time before looking at the title again and seeing the pointer to the answer.

    • Garrett says:

      I agree, John — just brilliant, and a whole lot of fun to solve. I loved this meta, and scored it five ⭐️s.


  3. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 516 right answers this week, so I’m declaring the recent resurgence of the Week 2 Curse to be over…

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