WSJ Contest — Friday, July 22, 2022

Grid: 30 minutes; meta: five more 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “How Hard Can It Be?” — Conrad’s writeup.

Mohs Hardness Scale

Mohs Hardness Scale

This week we’re looking for a five-letter adjective. There were five long theme entries. I spotted GYPSUM in CLINGYPSUMASCOT, and I had step one: each themer contained a mineral:


I tried to make sense of ATGDT, which lead nowhere. I checked the title and remembered that a DIAMOND is the hardest mineral, so Googled “mineral hardness scale,” and found this post describing the Mohs hardness scale. I mapped the numbers back to the grid and had the solution:

WSJ Contest – 07.22.22 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 07.22.22 – Solution

  • APATITE: 5 -> R
  • TALC: 1 -> O
  • GYPSUM: 2 -> C
  • DIAMOND: 10 -> K
  • TOPAZ: 8 -> Y

The mapped letters spell ROCKY, our contest answer.  I thought it was a straightforward two-step meta, constructed with signature precision by Mike. Solvers: let me know what you think. There aren’t many Beatles covers that surpass the original, but Richie Havens‘ version of Rocky Raccoon gives the original a run for its money.

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18 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, July 22, 2022

  1. Tom Wojciechowski says:

    Mike left a big clue at 57D:
    Geologist Friedrich _____.

  2. Neal says:

    Nifty little meta. While Diamond and Talc are forever etched in my brain from high school geology as the far ends of the hardness scale, I definitely had to google the others to complete the meta. (BTW, CLINGYPSUMASCOT is just inspired.)

    Words I learned this week: KAMA, ANURAN, CESTI

    • EP says:

      ‘Nifty’ is a fair description of this one. The main negative was a few too many ‘words you need to learn’…the grid was actually tougher than the meta, especially with that big hint at 57D

  3. Robin says:

    How would you possibly know to map the hardness numbers to the top line of the grid?

    • John+F.+Ervin says:

      When nothing else was working.

    • Harry says:

      They come from the Mohs scale (which I am sure we all had to google)

    • Charles Wagoneer says:

      ….and, as usual, not even fun to attempt to solve.

      • “These solutions are just getting more and more random by the week.” –you, about the July 8 WSJ contest

        “OK, these aren’t even fun to attempt to solve anymore.” –you, about the July 15 WSJ contest

        “….and, as usual, not even fun to attempt to solve.” –you, about the July 22 WSJ contest

        At a certain point, my guy, you either need to find some new material or just accept that the WSJ contest isn’t for you and stop complaining about it.

  4. Dan says:

    Also, Mohs, the originator of the first hardness scale, was the answer to 57 down.

  5. Mia James says:

    I had a version of the MOhs scale using 1, 2, 48, 200, 1500. Needless to say, I got nowhere.

  6. Billy Boy says:

    Thanks for the Richie Havens

    Greenday’s Working Class Hero and Fiona Apple’s Across the Universe are pretty special

    Jimi covered Sgt Pepper 48 hours after release, but Jimi was an alien

    Thanks for the tangent from a fine if simple meta

  7. Mary K. says:

    The grid was tough, but the meta was thoroughly enjoyable. Gypsum was my first clue, the rest fell into place quickly.

    • Garrett says:

      What fell out first for me was TOPAZ, as I marveled at the odd Stop A Zombie phrase. Next was DIAMOND, then GYPSUM, then TALC. To get the last one I had to actually refer to the Moh’s Scale.

  8. JML says:

    This geologist approves! How fun

  9. Mike says:

    So those that tell the critics of Shenk to shut up or go away are somehow certain that he is simply perfect? No need to seek improvement from user comments when you have no flaws, I guess. Whatever is this blog for if not open, constructive dialogue? Demagogue rule is unworthy.

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