WSJ Contest — Friday, April 27, 2023

Grid: 10 minutes; meta: 5 more 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Stuck in the Middle” — Conrad’s writeup.

Fundraiser News!!!

Contest Crosswords Combating Cancer (CCCC) is a bundle of 16 contest-style (meta) crosswords that we’ve created to help raise money for cancer-related organizations. The puzzles are easy-to-medium in difficulty (for both the grids and the metas). It was our goal to create puzzles that we thought most folks would be able to solve, regardless of previous experience. We’re asking that folks forward their emailed receipts from their online donations to us (any amount is accepted, suggested donation is $13), and in exchange we’ll respond with the puzzles (provided in .puz and PDF formats). More details are available on our website, or by emailing us at

I donated this morning and spent a lazy Sunday solving a handful of these. They’re great: favorites so far include Take a Letter, Maria by Al Sisti, Table Setting by Evan Birnholz, and Getting in Shape by Pete Muller & Mack Meller. I solve on my computer and appreciate that .puz format is included.

Back to the WSJ: this week we’re looking for a four-letter word. There were four long acrosses, each beginning and ending with the same letters:

  • [Firmly implanting, as a behavior]: (ING)RAIN(ING)
  • [Revealing word, perhaps]: (ABRA)CAD(ABRA)
  • [Its screen is coated with aluminum powder]: (ETCH)ASK(ETCH)
  • [Sought, as sustenance]: (FOR)AGED(FOR)
WSJ Contest – 04.27.23 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 04.27.23 – Solution

Four other grid entries had clues that began with the themer middle words:

  • [15a: Cad]: RO(G)UE
  • [22a: Aged]: O(L)D 
  • [52a: Rain byproduct]: M(U)D
  • [67a: Ask a question about something]: QU(E)RY

The middle letter of each mapped entry spells GLUE, our contest solution. Another precise meta by Mike: I enjoyed it. Solvers: Please share your thoughts. When faced with a clear-cut choice for ending with a song: I normally avoid the obvious and try to use an amazing cover. I watched a half-dozen videos. Some were great, but nothing came close to surpassing the original:

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15 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, April 27, 2023

  1. Bob H says:

    Another great puzzle! We weren’t fooled by Mike’s possible misdirection of including flASK and CADre. Also what we learned from the win-place-show puzzle helped get us in the right mindset to look in the middle of the words to get to the solution. Fun!

  2. Barry says:

    The four words embedded in the answers were also exactly in the middle. Elegant construction.

  3. JC says:

    Not so easy, not so hard…gets my vote. Nice puzzle…

  4. Simon says:

    Firmly in the thumbs-up camp. Fun puzzle.

    QUERY: Do you guys also include a message when sending in the puzzle answer, or only use the subject line?

  5. Scott says:

    Really enjoyable solve!

  6. Eric H says:

    This was a fun and not-to-hard meta that required the solver to apply a variety of meta-solving skills, which is perfect for me.

    In trying to solve meta puzzles, I’ve found that a lot of the grids were easy to solve — Wednesday-level NYT, mostly. So I’ve often sped through them, but been unable to solve the meta.

    This time, I tried slowing down while solving the grid. Ironically, I misread the clue for INGRAINING and originally put INGRAINed. It took me a few minutes to notice that my answer was a letter short.

    But maybe that worked out, because I was really aware of putting the second ING in that answer.

    Or maybe it didn’t make much difference. The repeated letter strings in the theme answers are so obvious now that it’s hard to imagine that I would have missed them.

    I solved this in AcrossLite and didn’t have the words whose middle letters spell GLUE in the correct order. I came up with UGEL, which easily anagrammed to GLUE. I thought unsticking them was just another step. (I did the same thing with Sunday’s WaPo meta; my correct answer involved an unnecessary unscrambling of the letters.)

    • Eric H says:

      I should add that in the last month or so, I’ve really started looking forward to the WSJ contest puzzles. Keep ‘em coming!

  7. Simon says:

    Thanks for the replies to my question. I guess I’m okay then. :)

Comments are closed.