WSJ Contest — Friday, November 10, 2023

Grid: Untimed; Meta: DNF 


Patrick Berry’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Play With Matches” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for a six-letter word. There were six horizontal theme entries:

WSJ Contest – 11.12.23

WSJ Contest – 11.12.23

  • [Friend from way back, often]: SCHOOLCHUM
  • [Guy high up in the family tree]: FOREFATHER
  • [Liquor in a Kentucky Mule]: BOURBON
  • [Added lanes to]: WIDENED
  • [Sways with honeyed words]: SWEETTALKS
  • [Institution with many names?]: HALLOFFAME

Step one: each themer contained two of the same letters (SCHOOLCHUM contains C, H, and O twice for example). Deleting the duplicate letters revealed six new words:


Step two: I have no idea. It’s a Patrick Berry meta, so I know it’s surgical in its construction and supplies a beautiful “aha” moment. But I don’t see it. Solvers: please let me know what I missed. I’ve been traveling for over a month and am posting this from Gibraltar. I haven’t found the time to post a meta-relevant song so I’ll end with this (mostly) forgotten classic from 1982.



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

24 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, November 10, 2023

  1. Sharkicicles says:

    Take all the answers you got and then remove the duplicate letters from that…

  2. JD Hultgren says:

    We were just in Gibraltar in October. Wonderful place with tons of history.

  3. Martin says:

    Take those words together and eliminate letters that appear twice (do it again). You’re left with STRIKE.

  4. Beth says:

    It IS beautiful! Take your pile of 4-letter words, and cross out any duplicate letters, e.g., the Ls in SLUM and WALK, the Us in SLUM and URN, etc. The 6 letters that remain are the contest answer.

  5. Jerry Graff says:

    Impressive construction and terrible meta.

  6. carolynchey says:

    It’s a brilliant meta! We were stumped after the first section and then wondered if we could repeat the process we used to find the six resulting words. It was a great AHA moment when STRIKE appeared – we had to “Play with Matches” – strike the matching letters – to get the answer.

  7. Bob H says:

    Terrific wordplay here. The title is PLAY WITH MATCHES. When one plays with matches, they STRIKE them. Here we instead STRIKE the matching letters.

    Figuring out that the striking process continued in round two was the challenge. Well done Patrick!

    A very satisfying solve.

  8. David Benbow says:

    I really liked this puzzle and I solved it as described. However, it would have been possible to skip straight to the end if you took the 6 themers and kept striking the matches.

  9. Dusty Gunning says:

    Clever meta, but not my fave.
    Pet peeve- once you had the fill, the metanism was entirely non-linguistic. The 1st step words meant nothing other than letter placeholders for the next step.
    And the rest of the grid went untouched.

  10. Eric H says:

    I saw some duplicated letters in the long across answers, but couldn’t do anything with them. Then, I read Conrad’s review Sunday night and saw how to get SLUM, OATH, etc.

    I spent the week trying to figure out what to do with those six words. But since tomorrow brings a new WSJ meta puzzle, I decided it’s time to give up.

    Biggest rabbit hole: Deciding that because the oddball clue for 9D HELL referred to a theatrical play, the “play” in the puzzle title was that sort of play. I don’t think STRIKE relates to “No Exit,” but I know very little about that play. (Update: Striking matches. Duh.)

    It’s a clever meta, but I don’t think I ever would have figured it out myself.

  11. Silver says:

    Is anybody else experiencing a problem with WSJ crosswords where the solving software no longer lets you know if you got the puzzle correct or not? Also, if I get desperate and ask for a letter, it always comes up “X.”

  12. Jeff says:

    Funny…I thought I saw the Kentucky Mule clue on this other site I am currently obsessed with.

    Reason for obsession is I love crosswords, trivia, wordle and this site does all 3 along with keeping track of your score.

    • Eric H says:

      I spent about a minute on that site. The game might be fun, but the interface seems pretty bad. Years of typing with a QWERTY keyboard make an alphabetical keyboard practically useless.

      • Jeff says:

        yep…completely agree…I have posted a feedback to the site owner and he has responded by saying he is working on it.
        While it bothers me, I can’t stop playing…just love some of the clues in there like, ___ Luwak is one of the most expensive coffees in the world and it is made from poop.

        • Eric H says:

          I’ve heard of that stuff! But I can’t remember what it’s called or even what animal eats it and poops it out.

Comments are closed.