Fireball Contest — February 01, 2023

Grid: 45 minutes; Meta: got a nudge 


Patrick Berry’s Fireball contest, “Misstate Capitals” — Conrad’s writeup

This month, we are asked, What thing that you might need while solving is hinted at by this puzzle? There were six long theme entries:

  • [European capital that hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics (but the answer is misstated)]: BONNGERMANY
  • [European capital that’s home to the Museo del Prado (but the answer is misstated)]: VALENCIASPAIN
  • [African capital where Verdi’s “Aida” premiered (but the answer is misstated)]: GIZAEGYPT
  • [African capital known as the “Green City in the Sun” (but the answer is misstated)]: MERUKENYA
  • [European capital where chess champion Mikhail Tal was born (but the answer is misstated)]: LIEPAJALATVIA
  • [Asian capital supposedly founded by King Midas (but the answer is misstated)]: IZMIRTURKEY
FB Contest – 02.01.2023

FB Contest – 02.01.2023

Those cities were (intentionally) incorrect. I saw step one of the meta once I filled in the actual cities in my notes. They each contained another grid entry:


I found step one quickly, and whiffed on step two. I tried too many rabbit holes to count. Patrick’s metas are famously well-constructed, so I knew that I was missing something logical. With the Fiend deadline looming: I asked my solving pal Wendy for a nudge. She encouraged me to focus on “Capitals” and the clues for the mapped entries. I saw it fairly quickly then: use the capital letters in the mapped clues to form a location:

  • LINGER: [Continue to hang around] -> C
  • RIDS: [Unburdens] -> U
  • ROE: [1973 Supreme Court decision, familiarly]: SC
  • BIKE: [Order from Peloton]: OP
  • GALA [Event attended by Rihanna, perhaps]: ER
  • KARAT: [Unit of purity]: U

The mapped letters spell the city of CUSCO PERU. The actual capital is LIMAPERU, which contains the meta-relevant word MAP, our contest solution. Yet another amazing meta by Patrick. This one played harder than most of his metas (to me and my solving friends), but I thought it was entirely fair and quite well constructed. Solvers: please share your thoughts.

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3 Responses to Fireball Contest — February 01, 2023

  1. Amanda says:

    Amazing! I was excited to find step one but I don’t think I ever would have found step two.

  2. Paul+Coulter says:

    I got this by taking a shortcut around the capital letters step. Nothing I tried was working after Linger, etc, so I went to a list of national capitals and found MAP in Lima, Peru. It seemed too apt to be coincidence. BTW, a few others I found are leg in Libreville, Gabon; lie in Dili, East Timor; dune in Katmandu, Nepal; met in Lome, Toga, and my favorite – taco in Bogota, Columbia.

    • Simon says:

      I followed the same route as Paul mentions in this comment: I got step one, then noticed all the hidden words around the grid, and then tried to think of another national capital with a hidden word in it before hitting on LIMAPERU –> MAP. I wish I’d thought of looking at the capital letters in the clues, that’s so clever! Bravo, Patrick Berry!

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