WSJ Contest — Friday, September 16, 2022

Grid: 15 minutes; meta: needed a nudge 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Chit Chat” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking a five-letter word. There were five starred theme entries:

  • 17A [*Fit to be tied]: APOPLECTIC
  • 22A [*Hardly solemn]: FLIPPANT
  • 35A [*Likely to be damaging]: HARMFUL
  • 51A [*Crafty]: SCHEMING
  • 55A [*Counterfeit]: FRAUDULENT

I had the right idea pretty quickly: vague clues often lead to synonyms or alternate answers. I spotted IOUS (connecting to “Chit”), and I figured we had a check or IOU-themed meta. I spent a *lot* of time Googling synonyms for each themer. Then… I got stuck. Juggling three metas didn’t help (that’s on me), but I have to say: this was an impressive meta by Mike. My friend Gideon bailed me out and nudged me in the right direction, and I finally saw that grid entries plus IOUS formed the synonyms that had eluded me:

WSJ Contest – 09.16.22

WSJ Contest – 09.16.22

  • Fit to be tied: FUR(IOUS)
  • Hardly solemn: UNSER(IOUS)
  • Likely to be damaging: NOX(IOUS)
  • Crafty: DEV(IOUS)
  • Counterfeit: SPUR(IOUS)

The mapped -IOUS entries spell FUNDS, our contest solution. In hindsight: NOX was my obvious entry into the rabbit hole (it’s odd fill that I don’t remember seeing before). If you didn’t solve it (like me): let please let me know how close you got. Solvers: let me know how you found your entry into the rabbit hole. I got nudged and didn’t submit for the mug, so everyone’s chances of winning are roughly 0.1% higher. Good luck!

I ran out of time to find a thematic song, and The CardigansYou’re The Storm has been playing rent-free in my head since I heard it on Radio Paradise recently, so I thought I’d share.

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12 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, September 16, 2022

  1. Jon says:

    Not close. Wasn’t familiar with “chit” being an IOU and the placement of IOUS in the grid isn’t the “normal” grid placement for a hint – those being the middle entry, 1A or 1D, or the SE corner of the grid. I did feel like NOX was unusual, but didn’t follow up on that gut feeling.

  2. jefe says:

    I forgot to look at the puzzle earlier and did it just now. I don’t think I would’ve gotten there. My initial thoughts were FLIPPANT -> FLIP FLOP (a la Chit Chat), or to make synonyms of the themers that were similar reduplications (obviously, neither of these panned out). Clever puzzle though!

  3. Paul M says:

    Kept coming back to the IOUS, the only thing I could connect to the title, and saw SPUR about two hours before the deadline… then it was off to the races.

  4. Richard K says:

    Noticed that SPUR and then FUR fit with IOUS, so the others fell into place. Didn’t actually twig to the Chit connection until after having solved the puzzle, but it then provided a nice confirmation.

  5. Dave B says:

    I never saw the 5 short “nudge” answers but still got FUNDS anyway. I just listed out all the synonyms for the themers and saw the word

  6. Neal says:

    I was sure the puzzle’s title was encouraging us to find alternative answers like DILLY DALLY or TICK TOCK but that rabbit hole hit a dead end quickly. Turned to my daughter for help who questioned NOX. (“Isn’t it NYX?” Smart kid.) Focusing on NOX led me see NOX-IOUS and we were off to the races. Great puzzle!

  7. Mister G. says:

    It was the physical proximity of NOX and IOUS that gave me the start I needed. And I hadn’t noticed NOX as being an “unusual” word, because it appeared in my completed grid by my having solved the crossing words. The thing about these contest puzzles is that YMMV depending on which clues you solved to fill in the grid. That said, one does often need to go back and read through all the clues to solve the contest, but the impact of a particular clue/answer may not jump out at you as much when you haven’t actually solved a particular clue.

  8. Dan+Seidman says:

    After a couple of false starts I thought CHIT in the title and IOUS in the grid could point to synonyms for the theme entries, and once I thought of that it was easy to come up with FURIOUS for the first one and it went from there. It took me a long time to find UNSERIOUS though.

  9. Robin says:

    Picked up on IOU, and circled all the “I”s, “O”s, and “U”s in the 5 theme answers. Thought “SIGMA”, which is the symbol for addition, was important. So I added together the numerical position of the circled I, O, and U’s (3+9+3+6+6+4+6) to get 37. The answer to 37D is LATER, a five-letter word which seemed appropriate. Oh, well.

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