WSJ Contest — Friday, July 28, 2023

Grid: untimed; Meta: 15 minutes 


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

This week we’re looking for something you might say after you’ve gotten the contest answer. There were six long horizontal entries and the last one provided a hint for the solution: FRUITLESSLY, clued as “How I hope you don’t try to solve most contest crosswords…except this puzzle.”

The remaining long entries provided the rest of the theme entries. Each contained a FRUIT and formed a FRUITLESS word once it was removed:

  • [Group that includes the Cascade, Olympic and San Gabriel Mountains]: COASTRANGES -> ORANGE/CASTS
  • [Texas and Tennessee, for two]: REDSTATES -> DATE/RESTS
  • [7 a.m., noon and 5 p.m., often]: MEALTIMES -> LIME/MEATS
  • [Diane Chambers’s boss]: SAMMALONE -> SLOE/AMMAN
    [Appear intermittently]: COMEANDGO -> MANGO/COED
WSJ Contest – 07.30.23 – Solution

WSJ Contest – 07.30.23 – Solution

The first word of five matching clues matched our fruitless word:

  • Casts put them on -> SHOWS
  • Rests are needed for those who are this -> WEARY
  • Meats are often paired with them at breakfast -> EGGS
  • Amman holiday -> EID
  • Coed sport, when playing mixed doubles -> TENNIS

The first letters of the mapped entries spell SWEET, our contest solution. I enjoyed this meta and thought Matt’s construction was elegant. I initially wrote “LEMON/MELON?” in my notes for SAMMALONE and wondered how I was supposed to know which one to use. The answer was neither: the letters of both the fruit and fruitless word were in order, removing all ambiguity. I spotted SLOE last, but the fruits became easier to spot once I noticed that elegance. Solvers, please share your thoughts. Which fruit did you spot first?

This entry was posted in Contests and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, July 28, 2023

  1. Baroness Thatcher says:

    Fun puzzle! Good one, Matt. I appreciate your sense of humor!

    I found orange first. Had a harder time finding sloe.

  2. mistermahjongg says:

    Was the WSJ meta puzzle extra clever this week? There is a deeper solution than SWEET, found with common methodology.

    I had extra time after finding SWEET, so I dug around in the puzzle looking for a defensible alternate answer. I found something just as solid using common WSJ meta puzzle solution methods. Tell me what you think. Extra clever this week, or is what I found just an inconvenient coincidence?

    Progress to “SWEET”, then continue by using the same methodology of going back and forth between grid and clues …
    A. SWEET has a synonym, 39-Down clue DEEE-LISH, with its grid answer: MMM.
    B. There are only four clues starting with the letter M:
    11-Across May I help you?
    34-Across Meats are often paired with them at breakfast
    11-Down Marina behemoth
    43-Down Messi’s nat.
    C. The grid answers for these four clues are: Yes, Eggs, Yacht, Arg.
    D. The first letters of these four grid answers (in order) spell out YEYA, which is defined by to be a different form of the word ‘yes’: confirmation, approval, I like. IMO, ‘yeya’ is just as possible to be said after solving a meta puzzle as the word ‘sweet’.

    • Russ says:

      The hardest part of the crossword contest is always knowing which voice inside your head to listen to.

      • Chino Stewart says:

        I agree. It’s equally hard knowing when to stop and be satisfied with your answer because it seems that many of these metas have more than one acceptable answer to the puzzle’s extra word/phrase. Weekly, I’m impressed by puzzle solvers who found a valid final word/phrase that used a path or method that was just as challenging or logical as the path used for the “correct” answer. Some of these alternate answers have even been more involved and more clever than the “correct” answer, and have sometimes been words/phrases that are a better fit for the extra challenge posed to us by the puzzles’ creators. I think these meta puzzle creators try their best to come up with only one “correct” answer or at least carefully word the final challenge so that there can only be one plausible answer. Until the creators consistently do that I think there will often be more than one justifiable and equally valid answer every week. And some of us will continue to have less than 100% confidence that our found answer will match the creator’s “correct” answer.

    • David says:

      Falls apart at Step A

    • Iggystan says:

      To use a fairly common crossword entry, “um, no.”

    • Harry says:

      If it were YES or YEAH, I might buy it.

  3. Eric H says:

    As I solved the puzzle, I thought COAST RANGES sounded odd; I would call them “coastal ranges.” So once the huge hint of FRUITLESSLY told me what to do, ORANGE leaped right out.

    Then, I had a bit of a slowdown trying to decide which answers were part of the theme. I see now that four of the theme answers are nine letters, but when I was trying to figure out the meta, I thought two of those were shorter than the other two, and I wasn’t sure if they were part of the theme

    LIME and SLOE were the next fruits I found, with SLOE being a little hard to spot because it’s not really a fruit one thinks about that much. (I had struggled to get SAM MALONE, as it’s been so long since I’ve seen “Cheers” that “Diane Chambers” didn’t immediately ring any bells.)

    A year ago, maybe even six months ago, I would not have thought to see if the “fruitless” words like CASTS matched up with any clues. So maybe I am learning a bit about how to solve a meta.

    I didn’t time myself, but I probably spent 10 or 15 minutes figuring out the meta. I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was easy to get started, but the twist of matching the clues made it more interesting.

  4. Russ says:

    I enjoy puzzles like this where you can reverse engineer the words you are missing once you get the trick.

  5. Neal says:

    Jesse: Dude! You got a tattoo!
    Chester: So do you, dude! Dude, what does my tattoo say?
    Jesse: “Sweet!” What about mine?
    Chester: “Dude!” What does mine say?
    Jesse: “Sweet!” What about mine?
    Chester: “Dude!” What does mine say?
    Jesse: “Sweet!” What about mine?
    Chester: “Dude!” What does mine say?
    Jesse: “Sweet!” What about mine?
    Chester: “Dude!” But what does mine say?
    Jesse: “Sweet!” What about mine?
    Chester: “Dude!” What does mine say?
    Jesse: “S – wee – t!” What about mine?
    Chester: [angry] “Dude!” What does mine say?
    Jesse: [screaming] “Sweet!”

    – fin –

    (2004) Dude, Where’s My Car?

    • Tom Taylor says:

      Because of the Sam Malone reference:

      (after Cliff and Norm go on a blackout bender, they learn that they each got tattoos)

      Okay, Cliff, you want to tell me what’s tattooed forever on my butt.

      It’s a big American flag there, Norm. With the motto: “God Bless The U.S. Post Office.” What’s mine say?

      “I Love Vera.”

  6. Simon says:

    Rather a tart mix for a Sweet response. But great fun.

  7. E-Jay says:

    Had to go the long way to figure out SLOE after I found the rabbit.

    “Any clues that start with S with these letters in it? No, how about A? Okay, there’s Amman”

  8. Jeff says:

    I had the mechanism but couldn’t figure out Sam Malone. I then decided that SWE_T was leading me to NO SWEAT as the solution. I then looked at the clues for all answers that began with A to look for the fruitless part of Sam Malone. When that failed, I spotted sweet and then reversed engineered SLOE from reviewing the clues with answers starting with E. There is always a longer path to the answer!

  9. Garrett says:

    Sloe fell last for me, and I got it by seeing Amman first.

    ORANGE was the first I noticed, and the remaining CAST was fresh in my mind so the click was immediate.

    I filled this grid in 17 minutes instead of my usual 30, and had the meta in 15.

    I loved it.

Comments are closed.