MGWCC #729

crossword 3:24
meta DNF 


hello and welcome to episode #729 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Count to J”. for this week 3 puzzle, we were told that the contest answer was a five-letter word that appears in one of this puzzle’s clues. okay. what are the theme answers? very probably the four long across answers:

  • {Take a good idea too far} GO OVERBOARD ON IT.
  • {No less than} AT A BARE MINIMUM.
  • {“Is it even worth me bringing it up?”} DO I SAY ANYTHING.
  • {First in a line of Persian kings} DARIUS I THE GREAT. this is a bit awkward—usually it’d be either DARIUS I or DARIUS THE GREAT, rather than the redundant inclusion of both his regnal number and moniker. so i suspect that the I is important, but maybe it’s just to make the length match that of GO OVERBOARD ON IT.

so, what’s the theme? well, i don’t know, but it’s interesting that all of these answers have some quite short (1- and 2-letter) words. i don’t know how that relates to the title, which is a version of “count to 10” with an alphanumeric substitution (A=1, B=2, etc. up to J=10). i’m a little uncertain about these being the only four themers, too, since we are looking for a 5-letter word, but perhaps the mechanism isn’t quite 1-to-1.

i do think there is some weird fill, like the hideous abbreviation {Subj. for Darwin} EVOL in a spot that could have easily been IDOL or AWOL with some minor tweaks. so that suggests that maybe there is extra theme here somewhere. there’s another awkward V abbreviation {A, C, or K, e.g. (abbr.)} VIT, so maybe the V’s are relevant somehow. combined with the I’s in DO I SAY ANYTHING and DARIUS I THE GREAT, maybe we’re supposed to be looking at roman numerals, but i don’t see what that has to do with J.

getting back to the A=1 idea, maybe we’re just supposed to count letters in the grid (up to J, i guess). there are 26 A’s, which is something. we can keep counting to get 8, 4, 9, 18, 3, 5, 5, 14, and 0 for BCDEFGHIJ. i don’t know what to do other than perhaps convert these back into letters: ZHDIRCEEN. hmm. that’s not hugely relevant-looking although it almost kinda sorta suggests THIRTEEN. but they’re all fairly typical letter counts for a crossword—nothing out of the ordinary in the distribution.

well, i dunno. i’m going to send in a wild guess 5-letter word from the clues, but i don’t have any idea what’s actually going on. somebody enlighten me in the comments, okay?

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10 Responses to MGWCC #729

  1. anonymous says:

    Each of the 4 theme answers are 4 words long. Take the length of each of those individual words, convert them to letters and you get the first 4 letters of other 5-letter entries in the grid. Take the last letter of each of those new entries to spell YEESH.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 217 right answers, of which 112 were solo solves.

    You had the right idea — with a nudge from the title, count the number of letters in each of the four words in the theme entries and assign their alphabetical letter: 2-9-2-2 is B-I-B-B, 2-1-4-7 is BADG, 2-1-3-8 is BACH, and 6-1-3-5 is FACE.

    Then find the five-letter grid entry those start: BIBB(Y), BADG(E), BACH(E), and FACE(S), yielding YEES, Do the trick once more to get contest answer YEESH in 8-Down.

  3. Tyler Hinman says:

    I was stuck on Saturday, didn’t look at it for 72 hours, and solved it last night. Decided that at that point I might as well try for the Buzzer Beater cheevo, and I got it, so I’m glad I never have to think about that again.

  4. Richard K says:

    Yeah, I got nowhere near the right path on this one. There were two interesting detours for me. The clue for BADGE sent me to look at the MGWCC badges, and sure enough, #10 (J) is group-solve. So I thought maybe SOLVE was the meta, but then saw that almost all the badges have “solve” in them. The title also made me think about “Count to J-Lo,” since there were several occurrences of LO in the grid, each one preceded by a letter in the A-J range: A-Lo (ALOE), C-Lo (CLOY), F-lo (FLO), and H-Lo (CHLOE). When I saw “Blood” in the clues as part of “Bloodline,” I was almost sold, but it just didn’t seem like the kind of answer Matt would use for a meta.

  5. Tom Bassett/ MajordomoTom says:

    grid fill for 31D bothered me and I kept coming back to that answer as being something pointing to the path …

    In Pen?

    no, In Ink.



  6. Wendy Walker says:

    I misinterpreted the title. I counted the number of letters in each themer that precede J in the alphabet. Hey … that might be a future meta idea … !

  7. Shalaka says:

    Did you notice there were exactly 5 J’s in the clues? And none in the grid? That had to mean something since the answer is in the clues. I counted characters in those clues up to the J but that led nowhere. Yeesh was going to be my Hail Mary but I don’t like doing that.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      Did you notice there were exactly 5 J’s in the clues? … That had to mean something since the answer is in the clues.

      I went down that path, too. Two of those 5 J clues corresponded to the two central entries of the grid (MOMOA/WIMPY), which seemed to add to the potential significance of these clues; fortunately, the other three were not symmetrically placed. (The lack of J’s in the grid never seemed significant to me, however, as I daresay most crossword grids lack J’s.)

      I share your distaste for “Hail Mary” guesses. The one that crossed my mind at one point was “match”, incidentally (from the clue numbered THIRTEEN, the ‘significance’ of which Joon points out).

  8. Alex Bourzutschky says:

    I also got basically nowhere until the night before. I had also noticed the preponderance of letters A-I, and I wanted 9 to be significant given that this is MGWCC #9^3. This sort of mechanism seems more powerful for clue lengths than answers, as you can sprinkle in longer words more easily (e.g. “international”).

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