WSJ Contest — Friday, June 2, 2023

Meta: five minutes 


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Couples Only” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for a four-letter word. There were four long theme entries, each containing three sets of doubled letters that formed a three-letter word:

WSJ Contest – 06.02.23 - Solution

WSJ Contest – 06.02.23 – Solution

  • [“Desperately Seeking Susan” star]: ROSA(NN)(AA)RQUE(TT)E -> NAT
  • [Collection of funny outtakes]: BL(OO)PE(RR)(EE)L -> ORE
  • [Help a child find a lost puppy, e.g.]: DOAG(OO)(DD)(EE)D -> ODE
  • [The Army-Navy game, e.g.]: CO(LL)EGEF(OO)TBA(LL) -> LOL

The three-letter words mapped to other grid entries:

  • TED [44a, Turner of note] -> NAT
  • ROCK [16a, Mined material] -> ORE 
  • IDYLL [43a, Kind of Poem] -> ODE
  • OMG [58d, Common three-letter text]: LOL

The mapped entries spell TRIO, our contest solution. This one played easier for me than last week’s WSJ. Solvers, please let me know what you think.

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16 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, June 2, 2023

  1. Simon says:

    Yes, much easier than last week’s. I made a slight detour by looking for words in the grid with an extra letter. AUNT for NAT, CORE for ORE, REDO for ODE but the only LOL was OLE OLE and that didn’t match. Then it hit me to look for similar clues instead. Et voila!

  2. MichelleQ+(onaquest) says:

    I pondered for a while whether TRIO could be the answer to Couples Only. I decided it could when I couldn’t find anything else.

  3. Jeff M says:

    Shout if you confidently and quickly typed, “RIOT” and submitted (…observing eerie silence…)

    • Eric H says:

      When I got the obviously incorrect RITO, RIOT was the first anagram that popped out. I quickly realized that couldn’t be right, and then I saw those letters also spelled TRIO. I decided that arguably had something to do with “Couples Only,” so that was what I submitted.

  4. Mister G. says:

    I saw the clue “Starbucks option” with the answer TEA and thought that was an odd choice, not the first thing I’d associate with Starbucks, and screaming for a substitute answer. While that turned out not to be one of the substations used to get the answer, I wonder if it was an intentional nudge to solvers to use the technique?

  5. Homer says:

    I had the same question as MichellQ and finally concluded that TRIO worked because there were a trio of couples in each theme answer.

    • Eric H says:

      I hadn’t thought of it that way. I submitted TRIO only because RIOT seemed definitely wrong.

    • Garrett says:

      Yes. Couples Only is a hint to what we are looking for in each theme entry, and TRIO is the number of couples in each.

  6. Eric H says:

    Definitely easier than last week’s tarot cards, but odd in its own way.

    I got the triple doubles almost immediately and then noticed the three-letter words they spelled. LOL was the first one I mapped onto the grid, because I remembered having entered OMG a few minutes before. (I don’t ever use those kinds of initialisms unless I’m trying to be ironic.)

    Of course, the first letters of the mapped answers spell RITO when read from top to bottom. The first anagram I saw was RIOT, which made no sense. TRIO made some kind a sense (“Two’s company, three’s a crowd’?), so that was what I submitted. But I wasn’t 100% sure I had the correct answer, even though my method of reaching it seemed sound.

    I’m lucky there was no hint of donut shapes (TORI) or Indian flatbread (ROTI).

  7. Jeff says:

    I, too, found RITO (and wanted RIOT) but then when I mapped them in the order of the long clues, it was TRIO. A good, straightforward puzzle.

  8. Paul M says:

    I was briefly diverted by the fact that AUNT crossed UNCLE, but when I couldn’t find any more “couples” among the answers, I looked at the long words and was on my way. Once again, something that couldn’t possibly be a coincidence was, in fact, a coincidence.

    • Eric H says:

      I saw that crossing, too, but the triple doubles in the long across answers seemed the obvious things to be looking at.

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