WSJ Contest — Friday, April 20, 2023

Grid: 10 minutes; meta: 3 more 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “We Were Just Leaving” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for a well-known hotel chain. There were four long down entries, each containing two trees:

WSJ Contest – 04.20.23 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 04.20.23 – Solution

  • [Mutilate a protester’s dummy?]: DIS(FIG)UREEF(FIG)Y
  • [Hiking the hills while snacking on Swiss chocolate?]: AL(PINE)HAP(PINE)SS
  • [Rib-eyes steamed on the kitchen stove?]: (TEAK)ETTLES(TEAK)S
  • [“Sesame Street” resident with too much work to do?]: OVERWH(ELM)ED(ELM)O

The four doubled trees points to DOUBLETREE, our contest answer. It also ties nicely to the title (“Leaving”). Solvers: please let me know how you made out.


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25 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, April 20, 2023

  1. Barry says:

    To win, it should be written thus: DoubleTree

  2. EP says:

    Not many constructions feature vertical answers that span the entire grid, no mean feat. I’ll judge this one to be about Week #2 level of difficulty.

  3. Simon says:

    I got it but I had no idea DoubleTree was a hotel. I thought it was a bank.

  4. Neal says:

    Part of my meta crossword ritual (yes, it’s a ritual at this point, don’t judge me) is for my sainted wife to hear the machinations of the meta solution, all the rabbit holes I followed, and the ultimate solution which typically leaves her dazzled by the brilliance of her less-than-sainted husband (and the skill of the puzzle’s creator).
    This was the shortest Solution Story Time ever in our history of doing this ritual and my wife was supremely grateful. :)

    • Eric H says:

      Nice ritual. My husband doesn’t much care for crossword puzzles. (I had one published over a year ago that he still hasn’t tried to solve.) So I rarely inflict the cool crossword things I encounter almost every day. I did have to make him look at last week’s WSJ meta, the brilliant win, place, and show puzzle.

    • Larry+Baldauf says:

      I read this to my wife and she laughed and said “sounds pretty accurate”.

    • Amanda says:

      There should be a meta spouse support group!

  5. Eric H says:

    I hate to say this, but the meta was almost too easy. The grid-spanning Down answers were the obvious place to look and those phrases were so weird. The repeated letter strings had caught my attention in OVERWHELM ELMO and especially TEA KETTLE STEAKS as I was filling those in, such that I feel like I should have solved the meta before finishing the grid. (I liked the ELMO answer by itself, but that STEAK sounds so unappetizing! And I like steak.)

    But it wasn’t until I had the grid filled that I realized the strings were trees. And I completely missed the “leaves” pun in the title.

    I’m sure it helped that for almost 30 years, I worked two or three blocks from a Double Tree hotel. I’ve even been in there a few times.

    I was amused to see OMNI in the grid and loved that clue. When I read the note about what the answer word was, my first thought was OMNI.

    Fun puzzle, overall.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      I like to toss an easy one into the mix every 3 or 4 puzzles at the WSJ to get newer solvers hooked.

      • Eric H says:

        Fair enough.

        I’m pretty hooked. I’ve been solving crossword puzzles for decades, but it’s only in the last year or so that I have been trying to solve metas and cryptics. I’ve gotten to where I get a meta answer about half the time, maybe more. (OTOH, I have yet to successfully solve a complete cryptic puzzle.)

        Please don’t take my description of the spanners as “weird” as criticism. I doubt there are any “in the language” phrases that repeat tree names.

        I absolutely loved your passive voice puzzle from a few weeks ago. It was a clever idea of a sort I hadn’t seen before. It took me a while to get, but once I did, it was so obvious.

      • Seattle DB says:

        I consider Matt Gaffney to be at the top of the constructor’s list – along with Evan Birnholz – of course. Usually, Matt’s meta-puzzles are tri-fold, where you have to search the answers and the clues, and then come up with the solution. I’ve failed to solve his metas so many times that I gave up groping for the meta-solution months ago.

        But I wish I’d taken a longer look at the finished grid to see the solution staring me in the face, so I thank Matt for tossing a soft-lob at us newbies!

  6. Margaruf says:

    I’m with Kevin+Bryant! This is the first one I have ever solved, and I did it in about 25 minutes. Ha! I did, however, submit “DoubleTree by Hilton” as my answer, because “by Hilton” is part of the official name of that hotel chain. Do you get an email reply from WSJ if the answer is correct, or do you only get a reply if you’re the mug winner? It sure is fun following all you smarties!

    • Eric H says:

      Congratulations! (And ignore what I said about this one being easy. It was hard!)

      I’ve gotten several WSJ metas correct and never heard from them, so I expect they only notify the mug winner.

  7. Norm H says:

    Nice meta.

    My old Tanya Donelly crush just came back, 30 years later. What a great album.

  8. Brian says:

    Fun solve and meta. At first thought “Guinness record”ed frequently was a punny hint….alas no tree climbing record involved.

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