MGWCC #744

crossword 3:03
meta 0:15 


hello and welcome to episode #744 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Quartet for Strings”. this week 1 puzzle was perfectly solvable without the instructions. what are the theme answers?

  • {Clean someone’s teeth with a sci-fi weapon?} LASER ENAMEL.
  • {Result of the new Disney CEO disliking the word “Mickey”?} MOUSE RENAMED.
  • {Response to “Hey troubadour, what’re you doing beneath that balcony”?} I’M SERENADING.
  • {Coffee shop freebie in a French department?} ISÈRE NAPKIN.

these made-up phrases all include the hidden string SERENA, and indeed serena williams is the meta answer. the greatest player in the history of women’s tennis has announced her retirement, and this week played her last US open, losing to australian ajla tomljanovic in the third round of singles and also losing in the first round of women’s doubles with her sister venus. so farewell and happy trails to serena.

as for the meta itself, it couldn’t really be easier, but i have to tip my hat to the wordplay in the puzzle title, referring not to a musical string quartet but to the four theme answers and the strings on serena’s racket. that’s a lovely touch.

i’m a bit of a zombie today because i stayed up to watch carlos alcaraz vs marin cilic last night, and the match ended at 2:24 am. (what a match, though!) so i don’t have a great deal to add to this writeup, but here’s a couple of quick hits:

  • {Facebook’s parent company} META. always a bit funny when this fill answer shows up in a mgwcc. last week in the WSJ (not the friday WSJ meta though), michael schlossberg and/or editor mike shenk clued this as {Like a crossword clue about crossword clues}, which … *head explodes*
  • {Leave} PART WITH. okay, matt got me here. i certainly put in PART WAYS, but this is the transitive leave, meaning to give up possession of something.
  • {Word ultimately from the Sanskrit “dhyana,” meaning “meditation”} ZEN. did not know this etymology, but now i’m glad i do. although ZEN buddhism is now strongly associated with japan (as ZEN itself is a japanese word), all buddhism is ultimately subcontinental in origin.

that’s all for me this week. how’d you like this one?

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to MGWCC #744

  1. e.a. says:

    🐐 recognizing 🐐, love to see it

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, Joon — 641 correct and 0 incorrect, as a Week 1/5 should be

  3. Mutman says:

    One could argue Martina Navratilova is the GOAT: Different era, different competition.

    • Mikey G says:

      I’m pretty sure this was the answer to the very first Gaffney meta I cracked on my own!

      One thing that I think is pretty cool is when there is intersectionality of puzzle content and the creator’s loves; I think there have been multiple tennis references before, and Matt has likely said that he loves tennis in one way or another – but even if not explicitly, you can see that through some of the metas, which is cool.

      In a way, that reminds me of the late, great Bob Lodge, who constructed these wild puzzle-based scavenger hunts for “GAMES” magazine in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Frequent loves of his – stamp collecting, chess, chamber music – came through often in the material, which was neat to see.

      • Jay Miller says:

        Really a fun puzzle, but I fear that Matt has created a rival to the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Just to check it out, could the answer to the next puzzle be the Houston Astros.

Comments are closed.