# Fireball Contest — October 11, 2023

Grid: untimed; Meta: DNF

### Alex Eaton-Salners contest, “First Acts” — Conrad’s writeup

This month, we are asked, What single letter of the alphabet is hinted at by this puzzle? Peter also provided this note: [NOTE: Since you have a 1-in-26 shot of guessing the letter, you have to include an explanation of how you got the answer. The simplest explanation is the step before the final answer and consists of two words with a total of six letters.]

There were six theme entries:

• Monologuist’s spot: CENTERSTAGE
• Teams acting in concert?: SOUNDCREWS
• Cord wranglers: TWISTTIES
• Spiral galaxy parts: OUTERARMS
• Grappler’s grip: HALFNELSON
• Deceptive court technique: REVERSESPIN

I got stuck on this one, so my friend Gideon mentioned cryptics. That helped me unlock step one. Each theme entry acted as a cryptic clue that pointed to the first word of another entry’s clue:

FB Contest – 10.11.2023

• TWIST (TIES): Site for bobbin and weavin’ – LOOM
• OUTER (A)RM(S): As an alternative – ELSE
• REVERSE(SPIN): Nips in the bud – FOILS
• SOUND (CREWS): Cruise around Hollywood – TOM
• HALF NEL(SON): Son of, in Arabic – IBN
• CENTER S(TAG)E: Tag line? – NAME

The first letter of the mapped entries spell LEFT IN, which is six letters as referenced by Peter’s note. And.. then I got stuck. I see a lot of clues and grid entries containing IN, and inspecting what’s LEFT of them yields noise. PINE looks promising (leading to P), but there are two other across entries with letters to the left of IN. I’m probably missing something obvious for finding step two. Solvers: please clue me in.

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### 2 Responses to Fireball Contest — October 11, 2023

1. PJ says:

Would LEFT IN point to ‘I,’ the left letter of IN?

• Tim Mitchell says:

I is the correct answer. When I emailed my answer, I asked if K or P would be accepted since there are words in the grid with K and P to the left of IN, but Peter replied that you’re using the first word to modify the second word, so that wouldn’t follow the theme. He hadn’t received any Ks or Ps, anyway.