Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Significant Digits” — Conrad’s writeup.
Abbreviated writeup this week due to crazy travel and various work deadlines. That always seems to happen to me when the WSJ is tougher than usual. This week we’re looking for an 11-letter word. There were two entries that were clearly thematic:
- PERFECT: With 34-Across, significant numbers
in this puzzle
- SQUARES: See 32-Across
The perfect squares are 1, 4, 9, 16, 25, 36, 49. The highest numbered grid entry was 61, so I guessed that 64 wasn’t part of the meta. I got lost in a maze of dead rabbit holes. I did spot part of step one: look at the 1st, 4th, 9th, etc., entries. I also tried treating the one and six of sixteen (etc.) separately (noting the total number of digits in the perfect squares added up to 11). All correct ideas, but I was lost in noise. That’s as close as I got. My friend Gridmaster J hauled me across the finish line.
- 1a (M)ILLS – 1st letter
- 4a: LOM(A)N – 4th letter
- 9d: MELLOWOU(T) – 9th letter
- 16a: (H)OLDM(E) – 1st and 6th letters
- 25a: O(M)EG(A) – 2nd and 5th letters
- 36d: EA(T)ER(I)ES – 3rd and 6th letters
- 49a: CIR(C)ULAR(S)AW – 4th and 9th letters
The mapped letters of the clues spell MATHEMATICS, our contest solution. I whiffed on this one. Solvers: how’d you do? If you managed to solve solo: I’m curious, what unlocked the meta for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments. And, given my lack of time to write this, special thanks to Gridmaster J for kindly sharing his solution image (shown above and also featured on the Xword Muggles site).