WSJ Contest — Friday, January 26, 2024

Grid: untimed; Meta: 10 minutes  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “We’ll Be Back Shortly” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for the pair of grid answers that, taken together, would complete the theme. There were five long theme entries, each containing two backwards abbreviated months (in order):

WSJ Contest Solution – 01.28.24

WSJ Contest Solution – 01.28.24


NOV and DEC were missing, so I scanned the grid and found DEVON CEDED, our contest solution. Fun meta, I liked that the ten theme months were in grid order. Solvers: please share your thoughts.

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12 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, January 26, 2024

  1. Tim H. says:

    Lightweight one for me- short & sweet.

    Note that “ERP” is wrongly highlighted in the accompanying graphic.

  2. Eric H. says:

    I knew where to look for the first step in solving the meta, and I figured that it might involve reading some part of those five goofy answers backwards. But I could have used a bigger hint than the title’s “shortly” to notice the abbreviations of the 10 months.

    I have often enjoyed metas that involve finding another theme answer. But when you can’t tell what the theme is, it’s hard to find another theme answer.

    It’s a well-constructed meta. I just wasn’t up to the task.

  3. Big Cheese says:

    So, I found an alternative mechanism and answer to this one. Clues 31D and 62D both end in ? The answers are LAD EID. These short answers, when taken together in reverse order, yield: Died Al? = Passed Gore.

    • Thomas says:

      In what sense does that “complete the theme”?

      • Big Cheese says:

        The 5 long grid answers were responses to clues of fictional questions. So, if the clue was Al Died or Died Al? then 2 grid answers that fit that theme would be Gore Passed or Passed Gore.

        • Thomas says:

          You have to start from the assumption that the theme is more than just “two arbitrary words put together.” That will literally never be the theme. There’s a reason Matt picked those words, and not (say) MANIACAL POLYGON.

          • Big Cheese says:

            Look, I’m not looking for a fight. But the title was “We’ll be back shortly” and the answers to the only 2 clues with question mark were 3 letter answers, much like the month abbr., that when put together backwards, spelled 2 words. These 2 words were synonyms to words in the Grid. Seemed logical. I get that the month mechanism was clear, but if you didn’t see this, then this seemed reasonable.


  4. Neal says:

    This was a rare puzzle where I spotted the mechanism while before I’d finished half the puzzle (JAN and FEB just leapt out at me) which greatly aided my completing the bigger answers. A lovely construction and I thought the title was very clever. I sometimes wonder when the title of the puzzle is created in the creative process… does the title ever come first?

  5. Simon says:

    This felt like a New Year’s Day puzzle. Since we wouldn’t be seeing Nov and Dec again for a long while. I enjoyed it. Nicely done!

    frankly I have no idea who MINAJ is but BEFRIENDED was such a peculiar entry that I studied it carefully and FEB just leapt out at me. I was set after that. Sure, JAN. :)

  6. Scott says:

    I got it but I wanted the solution to also have 15 letters…like three 5-letter words that included NOV and DEC.

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