WSJ Contest — Friday, July 15, 2022

Grid: 20 minutes; meta: a day 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Power Trips” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for a famous musical trio. I figured that three was important (trips/trio) and I was correct. Nine grid entries contain three repeated letters:

WSJ Contest – 07.15.22 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 07.15.22 – Solution

  • 16a: TAMARA (AAA)
  • 18a: HUBBUB (BBB)
  • 24d: POWWOW (WWW)
  • 25d: OHHUSH (HHH)
  • 32a: LOOPHOLE (OOO)
  • 65a: CHEESE (EEE)
  • 66a: ECLECTIC (CCC)

The first letter of each entry spells THEPOLICE, our contest solution.

This is a straightforward meta that took me a day+ to solve, leading to a classic “Aha!/Duh!” moment. I had the above entries in my notes but I kept looking at AFISHOUTOFWATER for the next step, thinking it had to be thematic. I guess that was a red herring, but I could certainly be missing something (solvers: please let me know in the notes). I tried to make something of ABIWHOMEC, leading nowhere. I initially thought Power Trips was a redundant title (I got the three theme from “trio” in the clue), but the Police are a classic power trio (confirming the answer) and changing “trio” to trips connects the tripled letter theme. It was a 100%-er either way. Solvers: let me know how you fared.

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28 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, July 15, 2022

  1. Seth says:

    This must have been such a bear to construct. The grid is so segmented — basically three separate horizontal mini puzzles. I’m guessing it was really hard to find longer non-theme answers that didn’t have three or more letters repeated. FISH OUT OF WATER must have just been one of the 15 letter entries that worked.

  2. Steve says:

    “Trips” is poker slang for three of a kind, so that’s how the title ties into the solution. I didn’t pick up on that myself until after I had solved it.

  3. Alex says:

    I had always enjoyed attempting to solve the WSJ meta; regretfully, I decided to completely cease all patronage of the WSJ, even its crossword, after its “Too Good to Confirm” editorial followed by its non-apology. Such despicable rhetoric will further dissuade girls and women from reporting rape because they won’t be believed and because they (along with their physicians) will become targets for surveillance and harassment.

  4. Dave+Bromsey says:

    How does A Fish Out of Water connect to the theme??? If it doesn’t, then that is a flaw with this puzzle

  5. Charles Wagoneer says:

    OK, these aren’t even fun to attempt to solve anymore.

  6. Mister G. says:

    I noticed all the doubled letters in the words, but unfortunately not the third letters, and I was thinking this can’t possibly be a “ZZ Top redux” puzzle, so I tried to unscramble the repeated letters into something sensible. Unfortunately, there are additional words with doubled letters without a third in the puzzle, so my set of theme answers was incorrect, making it that much harder to get back on track.

  7. David L says:

    I haven’t attempted the WSJ meta for a while, and this one reinforced my reluctance. I stared at the grid and got no toehold whatsoever. I noticed TRIP/POW in the solution and wondered if that might tie in somehow with the title, but evidently not.

    The fact that the solution is a trio did not in the least make me think of looking for answers with three repeated letters. Instead, I fixated on the three long acrosses and imagined I was supposed to extract the answer from them. Also a blind alley.

    The title of the puzzle was no help at all. Do constructors assume that crossword solvers are also familiar with poker slang, per Steve’s comment above?

    I guess this one falls into the category of ‘if you see it, you see it.’ But I saw nothing.

  8. Barney says:

    I loved this puzzle.

    The triples jumped out, and the construction was classic.

  9. Barney says:

    Conrad, the Xword Muggles Forum discourages, in fact disallows, political commentary on its boards. There’s no shortage of room for it elsewhere.

    I strongly recommend the same policy here. Joe Ross might have a comment about it.

    • Conrad says:

      What political discourse? Do you mean the song?

      • Barney says:

        The comment to “cease all patronage of the WSJ” including puzzles because of editorials. Do crossword fora need this sort of political commentary? I think it will ruin them. Not everything need be everywhere.

    • Alex B. says:

      I have bad news for you if you ever expect a “no politics” rule here

      • Barney says:

        I’m requesting it, as was done and respected on the XWord Muggles Forum. If it needs to be stated, this has absolutely nothing to do with any personal opinion of mine about the editorial cited.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Is this your first time at Crossword Fiend? Because pretending politics don’t exist is decidedly NOT the vibe here.

          As the proprietor of this blog, I have to say I appreciated Alex’s comment. I hadn’t known the WSJ published that editorial, and it is indeed sleazy. I appreciate Alex’s defense of sexual assault victims.

          Barney, I do not understand why you think that defending rape victims is “political.” Does one political party oppose that or something?

          • Barney says:

            Been coming here for years, occasionally commenting, and usually rating the puzzles.

            Also, Matt Gaffney remarks.

            I addressed my comment to Conrad as I’m used to seeing his name & he guest-hosted on the Muggles forum.

            It’s clearly your site, so I’ll leave you to do as you like.

            To reiterate, though, it wasn’t a view on the specific issue, only the political encroachment on what I took to be a crossword forum.

            • pannonica says:

              Crosswords are all about words. Words have semiotic import. If you want your puzzles to exist in a purely abstract for(u)m, might I suggest Sudoku?

        • pannonica says:

          You’re free to patronize the WSJ forum as much as you please, Barney.

          Also, it would be nice if they retired the ‘Muggles’ appellation—always rather juvenile anyway—especially in light of Rowling’s decidedly ugly latter-day stance.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            @pannonica, thanks for that point. Rowling’s transphobia is tiresome and disappointing.

            • Mark says:

              amy gets extra points for rapid Wokeness Display! Lets make it ALL about politics! How about that Harvey Weinstein?

            • Amy Reynaldo says:

              You can biff right off, @Mark. It isn’t “wokeness” to care about the humanity of our trans friends, it is KINDNESS and RESPECT.

              Remind me, how is Harvey Weinstein a political issue?

  10. Marga says:

    Fish Out of Water is a song by Tears For Fears, a “power duo.” Ha!

  11. DAVID HANSON says:

    I got down a rabbit hole on this and never saw the solution. Noticed the title was a pair or 5 letter words. Splitting each word between the third and fourth letters gives POW/ER TRI/PS. There are four down answers that begin with these strings, and in each case the string is at least half the letters:


    But of course WOWICSA went nowhere. I couldn’t let go of that, even though ER/AGON and TRI/PE were screaming at me. I ignored them because they were acrosses rather than downs.

  12. Larry+Baldauf says:

    I was distracted by 54 down, where the clue was “give power to” and the answer was “elect” given that the puzzle title was “Power Trips”. I kept looking for something relating to well-known elected officials. It seems like a red herring that could have been avoided with a different clue, since it did not figure into the solution at all.

  13. Garrett says:

    > I had the above entries in my notes but I
    > kept looking at AFISHOUTOFWATER for
    > the next step, thinking it had to be
    > thematic. I guess that was a red herring,
    > but I could certainly be missing something > (solvers: please let me know in the notes).

    I spent a lot of time trying to figure-out what to do with this, including googling it, seeing it has been a song title, who sang it, and so on. I was never able to tie it to anything, and finally, reluctantly, concluded it was safe to ignore and look somewhere else for help with the meta.

    The weird sectioning of the grid also kept me busy for a while, trying to figure-out why that was, for there is almost always a reason.

    I also tried to understand how Power Trips was a hint to anything, and if that was a veiled hint to “trios” it was right over my head. I finally just set the puzzle aside. Usually if I have nothing after two hours of looking at it, I will gain nothing by looking at it further.

  14. Kevin+Bryant says:

    Finally noticed that trips had similarities to trio and suddenly recalled the “jacks or better” thing. After that, it was easy enough that even *I* could eventually get there. Rarely progress more quickly than my wife on these, but suspected that this use of “trips” might be beyond her experience. Turned out that she had to finally be hit over the head with it to get such a use. Maybe not a universal use of “trips”. AAMOF, googling gets me here, first :-):

    plural noun: trips

    a flock or group of goats, sheep, or other animals.
    “she exchanged her cows for a trip of goats”
    a small flock of wildfowl.
    “a small trip of dotterel alighted on the cricket field”

    (Only my second experience with “dotterel”. – my pic, BTW. :-) )

  15. Dean S. says:

    How about this: A fish out of water cannot what? BREATHE.
    And who sang “Every Breath You Take”
    The Police
    I just threw that in for a little ha ha moment

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