Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Fall Classic” — Conrad’s writeup.
This week we’re looking for a World-Series Winning Team. The two central entries (FOUROUT OFSEVEN, collectively clued as “Games required to win the World Series”) were thematic. I had the grid 1/4 filled, scanned the other seven-letter entries, spotted BAL as the fourth letter of the first three, and was off to the races. The grid had sixteen (!) theme entries:
- ZAM(B)IAN: [From Lusaka, say]
- LAG(A)SSE: [“Bam!” man]
- ANA(L)OGY: [IQ test challenge]
- IGA(T)HER: [“Presumably…”]
- CAP(I)TOL: [Mall structure]
- VER(M)EER: [“View of Delft” painter]
- PAR(O)LES: [Frees, in a way]
- FOU(R)OUT: [With 38-Across, games required to win the World Series]
- OFS(E)VEN: [See 36-Across]
- YES(O)RNO: [“Just answer the question”]
- INE(R)ROR: [Mistakenly]
- ATE(I)TUP: [Loved the attention]
- PAL(O)OKA: [Uncultured type]
- TAL(L)ONE: [Bar order on a hot day]
- SNE(E)ZES: [Elicits a blessing]
- ILL(S)TOP: [“Didn’t realize how annoying that was, sorry”]
The fourth letter of each seven-letter themer spells BALTIMORE ORIOLES, our contest solution. This was a beautiful meta by Matt: the majority of the characters in the grid are thematic: 112 out of 180 by my count. Both the theme entries and the solution letters are symmetric. And it didn’t feel forced. Amazing. Solvers: please let me know what you think. I’ll end with Baltimore’s Beach House.
I tried to make this meta much more difficult than it was. I saw all the seven letter answers, and in addition, I noticed there were also quite a few four letter answers. I wondered if the four letters in those words could be found within the seven letter words. I saw that the letters of IOTA were in CAPITOL, AGES in LAGASSE, ET TU in ATE IT UP, OILS in I’LL STOP, NELL in TALL ONE, etc. But not all of the words worked, and even if I used just the ones that did, I couldn’t see what could be done with the three letters remaining after taking the four out of each seven. I thought that it must have an additional step I couldn’t figure out. But then, as I was on the brink of giving up, it occurred to me that there might actually be a simple solution. I began looking at the fourth letters of each seven letter answer, and quickly the solution became apparent. Phew!
Very enjoyable meta with an impressive construction. Loved it!
Totally agree with Conrad, this is a work of (meta) art, clean and elegant. I also appreciated that there were no Down answers with exactly 7 letters, eliminating the need to consider how they might fit into the solution.
One of the rare puzzles where I solved the meta before completing the grid.
The elegance of the construction is too impressive not to marvel at.
To quote a young Indiana Jones: “It belongs in a museum!”
Geez, for once I didn’t have to fire up my Enigma machine to solve a Meta…the lads at Benchley Park missed my weekly phone call and were very concerned.
As Conrad did, when I got to the FOUROUT and OFSEVEN I figured out the mechanism and looked above at the seven letter words and it popped out. I didn’t even finish the puzzle but did 57 and 59 down to confirm the rest of the 4ths.
I too was impressed by the construction. My first instinct was to take four “out” of seven which gave me three and I noticed there were a lot of three-letter words in the grid. That led nowhere. I put the puzzle aside for a few hours and when I came back to it, the pile of seven-letter words at the top jumped out at me. “Could it be the fourth letter of each?” I thought. I saw the B A L too and it was a quick dash to the finish.
I totally flubbed this one, and I should have known the answer because I’ve been an Orioles fan since 1978. I also know that Matt is as well. He’s the only constructor I’ve ever seen use Elrod Hendricks in a puzzle.
I was trying to take four out of seven. The problem was, there were seven 7-letter words at the top, and again at the bottom, plus the meddle row (which — except as a hint, I was ignoring).
Out of PAROLES at 19A I got OLES, which sounded hopeful, so I was looking for three more fours to make Balt imor eOri.
Of course, never found that, set it aside, and never got back to it (was distracted by the MGWCC Saturday, busy Sunday).