Matt here with a quick self-blog since Joon is on a 7-day alpaca trek in Idaho (I’ve been told).
Title: “Don’t Look Up”
Prompt: This week’s contest answer is a 15-letter phrase.
Answer: DOWN FOR THE COUNT (151 correct, of which 31 were solo solves)
Insight #1: Grid is slightly asymmetric, with 14-15-13 long entries of REASONABLENESS, ANTEPENULTIMATE, and TRICENTENNIAL. Must be a reason for that, but what is it?
Insight #2: There are only three one-word clues in the grid, and they are also those same lengths: 29-D [Superannuated], 36-D [Groundbreaking] and 52-D [Whatchamacallit]. Must be on the right track, since one-word 13-, 14- and 15-letter entries are rare, and we have three of them here corresponding to the long entries. Plus they’re all on the downs, and the title hints at looking down.
Insight #3: Map each of those three long one-word clues to its same-length grid entry, then take the one clue in the puzzle that has the same word-lengths as the other 12 columns in the grid. For example, the first column’s entry lengths are 5-3-4 (FAVOR-NEW-ALEC), so take the one clue in the grid with three words of that length: [Stuff for tees] for DYE at 69-D, yielding the first letter D. Second column is 6-3-4 (ACACIA-APE-LAVA), corresponding to [Watery big area] for OCEAN at 20-A, yielding the O.
Do all 15 of these to get contest answer DOWN FOR THE COUNT. Thanks to Gridmaster T for these grids.