MGWCC #777

crossword 16 hours to write  


Matt here filling in for joon, who’s paragliding in the Faeroe Islands this week, on my recommendation (been 17 times over the past 5 years).

Tough one this week. Convert six clue numbers to Roman numerals, then prepend those letters to their clue to clue a different grid entry. Gridmaster T’s grid and table explains it all.

This week’s will be easier, I promise. How did JanglerNPL and e.a. each get it in 12 minutes? I have no idea. 164 right answer, just 38 of which were solo solves.


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25 Responses to MGWCC #777

  1. John says:

    Wow. Not in a thousand years. 12 minutes?? Better check for viruses on your computer, Matt. ;v)

    5 stars!

  2. Mikey G says:

    We’re in the “fourth quarter” of MGWCC after I “turned on the game” about halfway through the third. So excited to see this wild gem (I wish “Ory’s frequent musical partner” set off bells in retrospect, but hindsight’s 20/20!) and many others!

    Thanks in advance for the slight reprieve, haha. Keep on puzzling! You make my week so much brighter.

  3. Seth Cohen says:

    Someone PLEASE explain how you solve something like this. I just cannot for the life of me understand how anyone figures this out. To be clear, it’s a beautiful meta, and I’m really impressed by the idea and the solvers. I just…how? The title only tells you to look at the clues, but how do you know what to look for? There are so many clues, and so many possibilities to check. How in the world do you, as a solver, think of this mechanism?

    • David Benbow says:

      The word ‘integral’ in the title is relating to integers, meaning the clue numbers. It helped that I have a math degree. It also helped that ‘Van of note’ and ‘Ory’s frequent musical partner’ were both odd clues and very close together. That was my way into solving it. Roman numerals are a frequent device in these puzzles.

      It still took me much longer than 12 minutes!

      • JanglerNPL says:

        Yeah, basically this. The title had me on alert for suspicious clues, and the one starting with “Ory” stood out. It didn’t take me too long to think of “Ivory” as a possibility.

      • Steve Thurman says:

        My math degree was no help at all. I was looking for numbers, but it never occurred to me that they were Roman numerals.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      I can imagine some potential ways a really good solver might be tipped off to this. For instance, as Mikey G. [Edit: and David Benbow] point out, “Ory’s frequent musical partner” stands out as a strangely weak clue for ARMSTRONG (it was on my list of suspicious clues, along with “Ely in music” and several others that turned out to be unrelated), and EBONY has a strong enough association with IVORY that it could have triggered a closer look at “Ory”, already on the suspicious-persons list. The title of the puzzle also provided a potentially rather useful clue, as “integral” can be interpreted as “relating to integers (i.e. numbers)”.

      With that said, I’ll admit that I was not good enough to spot any of these shortcuts in prospect. On the contrary, even when I briefly considered the Roman numeral possibility, I dismissed it without thinking. I only returned to it after a lot of trial-and-error. Noticing that the approach actually spelled something sensible with clue LI: MIT, for Harvard, was enough for me to consider it more than I had at first blush, which was enough to notice the possible significance of the title, which was enough to take it more seriously yet and go looking for other examples (helped by only a handful of possibilities being really plausible places to look, as it’s hard to spell much with double X’s and I’s). Finding three of them convinced me that I was on the right path, and a little further along it I finally got to the solution.

  4. C. Y. Hollander says:

    One of the things that made this particularly devilish is that every clue number could be read as a Roman numeral, and in most cases—including even some of the handful of straightforward ones, like 5 and 50 (“Evil” and ‘”Of course”‘)—that yields nothing but gibberish, so finding the path this time wasn’t as simple as glancing in the right direction. Direct quotation from my notes on this one:

    “Clues as Roman numerals? Nah.”

  5. John says:

    I was looking at EVAN and INAN as possible paths to IVAN REITMAN but got nowhere and then noticed VAN in the clues, which is as close as i got to sussing this. Roman numerals never entered the picture.

  6. C. Y. Hollander says:

    This week’s will be easier, I promise.


  7. BrainBoggler says:

    I didn’t solve and weirdly enough hadn’t even considered Roman Numerals. From “integral” in the title, I spent too much time looking for spelled out integers in the clues and probably should have known that things like “of(ten)”, which appeared in several clues, would be too easy for this week. Other clues like 73A. 1979 Flee(two)od Mac seemed more promising, but I still didn’t get anywhere. Oh, well. Kudos (two) all of you who solved this (one).

  8. Wendy W says:

    Before I grokked the Roman numeral strategy, I added D to EVIL in 50-Down — what a perfect match with “Paragon of slipperiness”! I really hated to give that up.

  9. Steve Thurman says:

    A degree in mathematics and 35 years of teaching math is often a limitation on me in number puzzles. In this case, I was focused on what I personally think of as integers.

    This also happens to me when Matt clues “INFINITY” as a number. I dismiss the answer because infinity is not a number. I suppose I get too specific.

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      Infinity may not be a number, but the clue numbers are surely integers by anyone’s mathematical definition! Could you go into more detail about what you focused on?

  10. Jeff M says:

    Sorry all, I don’t quite understand. What do the left-hand roman numerals mean (51, 6, 4, 10, 54, 1)? Other than the first letter of the alternative answers leading to CAESAR?

    • C. Y. Hollander says:

      They represent the majority of the intersection of the set of Roman numerals for numbers below 100 and the set of strings that can begin a word (hence, a clue) in English.

    • Amanda says:

      The clue numbers.

  11. Jon says:

    I was thrown off the trail by “Crossword writers, to the Brits” and SETTER. I thought we had to look for groups or SETS of categories, as sets can be used in Calculus and “integral” is a Calculus term. When I solving partner noticed all the different pairs of similarly written clues very near each other: __ instant (very quickly) & __ grudge (won’t forgive); Southern Missourian, often & Cross-country traveler, often; Pair often “dynamic” & Step after “rinse”; Head of cattle & Haggard of country. Why would Matt put such similarly phrased clues so near each other if not for a reason? I thought.

    How we were to think of Roman numerals, I have no idea.

    Though it has pushed me to write my solving group & get us to create a list of mechanics Matt has used in the past so that I can paste that list at the top of my MGWCC notepad app folder; a list I should have started to compile years ago.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant new usage of a familiar mechanic, and once we saw it the meta answer was clear, but the journey to that aha moment felt disguised by a lot of stuff. I know Matt says he doesn’t purposely put in red herrings, but I think this puzzle could have used just one entry hint. At least for a week 3 puzzle. Had this ran as a week 4 or a week 5 meta, the lack of a hint would have felt apt. Just 38 solo solves makes this feel like a week 5 meta.

  12. Susie says:

    I was stuck on “IT” because IT’S Integral to the Clue. There were several clues with it in them. They spelled nothing, but that’s all I spent my time on. Nice meta, wish I could’ve solved it. Now I’m only thinking about paragliding in the North Atlantic.

    • Margaret says:

      I also have all the instances of IT in the clues circled, to no avail… but there were so many of them! And they matched the title! I also followed the red herring of finding some answers “being integral” to the clues, like 48A OWL being inside 24A “It didn’t bOWL me over” and 6A RAM being inside 67D “Like a RAMbling sentence” but that didn’t work out obviously. There were all the Simpsons references too, but I decided that was just coincidence. Great meta but I wouldn’t have gotten there in a million years.

    • EP says:

      I did the same thing with the IT’S.

      And, I don’t think that Matt’s promise of ‘easier next week’ is really necessary…I doubt that he has any interest in dealing with anything like this thrice-delayed little monster again any time soon.

  13. milobela says:

    Well, it was fun while it lasted. My 6th week participating in the festivities and I am no longer undefeated! Not even close this time. Golf clap to those who got it.

  14. Richard K says:

    Did anybody else notice that “It’s Integral to the” is a nice cryptic “clue” for the entry TITHE ?

  15. jefe says:

    Ah, clever. I did notice the clues for 1- and 4- Down were very strange but couldn’t make the leap from there.

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