Fireball Contest — September 13, 2023

Grid: untimed; Meta: two hours 


Emma Oxford and Will Pfadenhauer contest, “Mind the Gap” — Conrad’s writeup

This month, we are asked, What #1 song of the past 20 years is hinted at by this puzzle? There were five long theme entries containing the word GAP:

  • [Stretchy athleisure]: YO(GAP)ANTS
  • [Roman-themed event during Greek Week]: TO(GAP)ARTY
  • [Throwing a fit]: GOIN(GAP)E
  • [Makeshift use for a traffic cone]: ME(GAP)HONE
  • [Where much of “Crazy Rich Asians” takes place]: SIN(GAP)ORE

I spun my wheels for a while on this one before I locked onto the signal. I tried connecting each half of the GAP-separated words (YO -> ANTS, for example). I tried to turn the GAPs into black squares. I didn’t make any headway until I spotted HONE, which matched the clue for SHARPEN (Whet). I found the rabbit: treat each GAP-separated word independently and find a matching clue:

FB Contest – 09.13.2023 - Solution

FB Contest – 09.13.2023 – Solution

  • BRAVO -> E (Channel owned by NBCUniversal)
  • LEAN -> ME (Word in the title of Bill Withers’s biggest hit)
  • ACTOUT -> SIN (Misbehave)
  • NOSEEUMS -> ANTS (Irritating insects)
  • KRONA -> ORE (Unit of Swedish currency)
  • SHARPEN -> HONE (Whet)
  • POSH -> ARTY (Like the cultural elite)
  • ADRIAN -> YO (Word shouted by Rocky)
  • COME -> TO (Part of the publishing abbreviation TK)
  • ENTER -> GOIN (Step over the threshold)

The first letter of the mapped entries, in grid order, spell the Taylor Swift #1 hit Blank SPACE, our contest solution. I enjoyed this meta. I thought YO/ADRIAN was clever. I had to grind to find all the mapped entries. Sometimes that’s tedious, but this meta made it fun. Solvers: please share your thoughts.

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3 Responses to Fireball Contest — September 13, 2023

  1. Paul+J+Coulter says:

    This was the sort of meta I thoroughly enjoy. Far from obvious, you have to work it for a while, but each step is logical, and the answer’s very apt. Well done, Emma and Will.

  2. S says:

    Wow. Impressive!

  3. damefox says:

    Thanks for the write-up, Conrad! And huge thanks to Peter Gordon for working with me and Will on this. I’m happy to say I can take credit for the YO/ADRIAN pairing, but ORE/KRONA and TO/COME were both Peter and are both so much cleaner than anything we were coming up with. Glad people enjoyed this one. :) –Emma

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