Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Interior Design” — Conrad’s writeup.
This week we’re looking for a five-letter word. There were five long numbered theme entries, here they are in numeric order:
- [Game of pool? (1)]: MARCOPOLO
- [“It Happened One Night” Oscar winner (2)]: CLARKGABLE
- [Some hold pickles (3)]: GLASSJARS
- [Lowland between mountain ranges (4)]: RIFTVALLEY
- [Prime minister until his death in 1964 (5)]: JAWAHARLALNEHRU
I spun my wheels on this one, with too many rabbit holes to mention. OK, I’ll mention a few. I worked a ROOM/house theme for a while, looking at AROOM and BATH (room). Then GLASS (houses). And house of seven GABLEs. Also: RIFTVALLEY/RV (mobile home), etc., etc. With the Fiend deadline looming: I asked for nudge from a solving friend. He encouraged me to focus on the first letter of each two-word theme entry. Then I saw it: Those letters were close in the alphabet, and the in between letters mapped to another grid entry:
- (M)ARCO(P)OLO: M[NO]P -> HARDLY (“That’s a false statement!”)
- (C)LARK(G)ABLE: C[DEF]G -> ETYM (Dict. information)
- (G)LASS(J)ARS: G[HI]J -> AHOY (Casual greeting)
- (R)IFT(V)ALLEY R[STU]V -> RINGO (First name in the Beatles)
- (J)AWAHARLAL(N)EHRU J[KLM]N -> TWA (Letters seen on thousands of aircraft over the decades)
The first letter of mapped entries spell HEART, our contest solution. I thought it was a great meta by Matt: clean, difficult (for me, but it’s all relative), and very gettable in hindsight. Solvers: please let me know if and how you found the rabbit for this one, and describe any other rabbits you chased.