Grid: 25 minutes; meta: 10 more
Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Double Trouble” — Conrad’s writeup.
This week we’re looking for a two-word phrase that’s a good thing to do when solving contest crosswords. There were four two-word theme entries:
- [Relax ship rules requiring agreement with the captain?]: EASEAYES
- [Make fun of trees with pliable wood?]: TEASEYEWS
- [Grab a dish of legumes before anyone else can?]: SEIZEPEAS
- [Must repay both Arthur and Benaderet?]: OWESBEAS
I spotted a lot of entries with doubled letters while solving the grid, and the themers were comprised of two-word gramograms that mapped back to the grid:
- EASEAYES: Es Is -> (T)EEN (A)LII
- TEASEYEWS: Ts Us -> (K)ITT (E)QUUS
- SEIZEPEAS: Cs Ps -> (C)OCCYX (U)PPERCUT
- OWESBEAS: Os Bs -> (E)BOOKS (S)UBBED
The first letter of each mapped entry spell TAKE CUES, our contest solution.
I was afraid Take Q’s was another step to lead to the real answer, but I couldn’t make it go anywhere.
I submitted “USE CUES”, although I thought that was a bit too simple, but certainly fit the format of all the themers. Should have paid more (i.e., any) attention to the title of the puzzle.
USE CUES would certainly have been a great endpoint for a slightly different meta.
I got the solution fairly easily, but didn’t get that slam-dunk feeling. I looked up “take cues” as a two-word phrase and only got hits for “take a cue” or “take your cues” — so I kept going a bit longer, looking for another possibility. But eventually sent it in.
Enjoyed the meta. I’m curious how others feel about the (not meta-related) clue for 19A: [Sun-saving plan, briefly] cluing DST. The S in DST stands for “saving.” I always thought it was bad form to have a word in the abbreviation as a word in the clue. Is that just me?
I can’t say that I have seen that specific clue before, but I know the NYT often uses a clue like “Part of MPH” for “per” or “hours.”
My bigger objection to the Daylight Saving Time clue and answer is that DST saves absolutely nothing.
You are absolutely correct! It’s a misnomer. Some folks actually believe they gain an extra hour of daylight.
I’m always in awe of metas that require the entire puzzle to solve. And then certain answers have to be in a sequence. Who knows, maybe that makes them easier to create. All I know is whatever glee I feel at solving the puzzle is magnified by the thought of “How did he do that?” I think this puzzle is beautiful.
I’ve done some puzzle construction. Having to put theme answers in a specific sequence must make it harder to get a fillable grid, because (at least for me), it can be hard to get a fillable grid when you have more flexibility in placing your theme answers.
I spotted everything that Conrad highlighted in his grid, but that’s as far as I got. I think I understand the “grid mapping” and the order in which you need to read those answers, but it would never have occurred to me to do that.
Might this meta be easier to solve on paper? I use AcrossLite for WSJ puzzles, and there’s no way to highlight answers in the grid. Constantly jumping between AcrossLite and the note of the “could be important” answers doesn’t seem to be too efficient sometimes.
You can add circles by pressing the asterisk key.
I’ll try to remember that next time.
There are three-letter answers in the grid that somewhat corresponded to the theme answers plus a letter: EASESAYES (E+I+R=REI), TEASESYEWS (T+U+A=UTA), SEIZEPEAS (C+P+U=CUP), OWESBEAS (O+B+R=BRO and O+B+A=BAO). I could never let that go. In fact, at one point mid-finish (and without reading the prompt ala joon), I figured TRU and CPR would be in the grid, leading to the extra Rs (for ARES or OURS as the answer), but they never showed up.
These connections to the three-letter words are astonishing!! Up until the double occurrence of the O-B entries, you’d have to think it was on the right path. Neat thing to notice!
I found the double letters in the grid pretty quickly, and then spent about 30 minutes over-complicating things by looking at letters around the double letters. Then with about five minutes to go I tried looking just at the first letter of the grid answers, came up with a jumble of letters, then anagrammed them and ran to the computer to submit without about 2 minutes to spare. I wasn’t super confident, but figured TAKE CUES was a good possibility with time expiring. I got lucky this time.
I thought it must be something to do with Wise (Y’s) but I pluralized all the unused letters and of course got nowhere. G’s.