MGWCC #818

crossword 2:57
meta DNF 3 days 


hello, and welcome to episode #818 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “One More Time”. i tried to solve this week 1 puzzle without the instructions, and struck out miserably. so i looked at the instructions, and i still don’t know how to do it. uh oh. anyway, the instructions say that we’re looking for a word that’s usually shouted. what are the theme answers?

  • {Goolagong, Rybakina, or Agassi, e.g.} WIMBLEDON WINNER.
  • {Oregon, Hawaii, or Indiana, e.g.} STATE OF THE US.
  • {Coolio, Halsey, or Eminem, e.g.} ONE-NAMED STAR.
  • {Crowe, Abraham, or Gable, e.g.} BEST ACTOR WINNER. i’m a little surprised to see WINNER duped here, but i guess there isn’t an obvious clean way of rephrasing either this one or WIMBLEDON WINNER to keep the lengths matched.

what to do with these? well, thing i thought of first was just to find one word or name that fit all these categories… but there really isn’t one. WASHINGTON is both a state and a best actor winner (denzel), but not a mononymous star or a wimbledon winner (though malivai washington did reach the final in 1996—so close!). SMITH is a wimbledon champ (stan) and best actor winner (will… though maybe we should all just pretend that never happened).

what about the title? i don’t really know what to make of it. my strongest instinct—which is probably too tricky for a week 1, but then again, this puzzle is quite evidently much harder than a usual week 1 for me—is to interpret it cryptically, as adding a T to something. so for example, if EVER were in the grid, you could add “one more time” to get EVERT who is a wimbledon winner. however, EVER isn’t in the grid, and more damningly, you can’t do this to get a state name.

i will say that although the instructions aren’t helping me find the answer, they do rather limit the scope of guesses. based on the fact that there are four themers, the thing i’ll guess if i don’t figure it out is FORE, since that’s a four-letter word that’s usually shouted.

oh, good grief. it actually is FORE. i’m not sure if saying the answer caused me to suddenly find the mechanism, but i was definitely overcomplicating things. the key is in the theme clues, each of which gives three examples. but in each case, you can add one more to spell out a four-letter instance of each one:

  • {Goolagong, Rybakina, or Agassi, e.g.} WIMBLEDON WINNER. you could add an F here (say, federer) to spell out GRAF.
  • {Oregon, Hawaii, or Indiana, e.g.} STATE OF THE US. adding an O (e.g. oklahoma) gives OHIO.
  • {Coolio, Halsey, or Eminem, e.g.} ONE-NAMED STAR. adding an R (rihanna) gives CHER.
  • {Crowe, Abraham, or Gable, e.g.} BEST ACTOR WINNER. adding an E (… okay, there’s no actual best actor winner whose surname starts with E. clint eastwood has two best director oscars, for unforgiven and million dollar baby, but never best actor—though he was nominated for best actor for both of those films) gives CAGE.

so yeah, the answer is indeed FORE, and i’m kicking myself for not seeing it earlier. it was indeed a week 1. i think it would have been more elegant if there had been an actual E among the best actor winners, but even matt can’t bend reality to his will. looking over the list of winners, i can’t see another option that would have worked—there are a few other four-letter names (penn, foxx, hurt, peck, muni, rush), but none of them can be spelled out using the names of other winners, because there’s no E, no U, and (least surprisingly) no X.

that’s all i’ve got this week. i hope you had an easier time of this than i did!

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

20 Responses to MGWCC #818

  1. cyco says:

    Clever but relatively straightforward week 1. I always have to remember to double-check the clues when nothing in the grid seems to point to a theme answer, especially since I assume clues are much more malleable than entries. In this case, the aha moment landed shortly after asking myself – why these three examples in particular, out of the dozens that could have been drawn on for each category?

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, joon — 462 right answers this week.

    I’ve made a few calls and Jesse Eisenberg will be winning the Best Actor Oscar next year. Don’t tell anyone since I plan to put some money on it.

    • EP says:

      Hey, Matt, did you accept all answers of ‘Fore’, or did you require, since you did specify that the word was usually shouted, that it had to be ‘Fore!’ ?

      And if you think I’m just trying to cause trouble…well, you’re right…

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        I accepted “Fore” no exclam and “Fore!!” with two exclams but NOT “Fore!” with one exclam. If someone’s about to get hit with a golf ball you should either announce it loudly but calmly (“Fore”) or really shout it from the rooftops (“Fore!!”).

  3. rjy says:

    Clever in its own right, and a fine and fair Week 1.

    But! this can’t be offered with a “downs-only, no-instructions” option, can it? Unless there’s some second path to the answer without the across clues, the meta answer is absolutely ungettable. I ultimately got it with no-instructions (ok, that was fair) but downs-only?? oof… quite the time wasted this weekend before relenting and peeking at the across clues.

    Happy to extend the benefit of the doubt on this – it’s richly deserved – but unless there’s some other path, I wish Matt had rethought offering this with that option.

    • sharkicicles says:

      I thought about this as well, and came to the conclusion that not offering downs-only would have been a hint in itself that the across clues were the key.

      • Matt Gaffney says:

        I will keep an eye on this in the future. I don’t believe it’s come up before.

        • rjy says:

          Thanks, Matt. I do look forward to the extra challenge on Week 1s, and often submit without ever peeking at the prompt – no guts, no glory – but this was a rare off-note. However – given where this fits in Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, I think we’re ok!

  4. Mike says:

    I liked this one….almost a week 2 in that it wasn’t an immediate gimme.

    But…I wonder if anyone, while doing the Acrosses, saw OHI in the state clue and was able to get FORE without doing anymore of the grid?

    • Abide says:

      Yes, I only had the first theme entry filled in when I saw the states clue. With Hawaii in the middle the order couldn’t be based on year of admission. I saw the OHI, confirmed that GRAF and CAGE fit the pattern, and backsolved for CHER. With less than 1/4 the grid filled in, I would have contended for #1 spot. (Unfortunately I didn’t start until Friday night 😞)

  5. HoldThatThought says:

    That’s all well and good, because I agree that expressing any equivalent of “this can’t be solved with just the down clues” would call undesired attention to the across clues – but the opposite is more true, and resulted in an unsatisfying, fruitless time sink.

    It would have been far better to just omit the down only option this week, and either obliquely answer, or ignore any posted questions or emails as to why.

    Someone (not me) wasted way too much time trying to solve this with the impossible down only clueset.

    There were two ways to present this, and my personal opinion is that trivial puzzles are far more defensible than impossible ones.

    • Matt Gaffney says:

      OK, well that would work exactly one time, after which everyone would know that if there is no downs-only option then it’s an Across-clues meta.

      So what do people want? Stop doing all the Week 1 options altogether? I’ll do whatever you prefer.

      • rjy says:

        Speaking for myself – I relish the additional challenge, especially in a Week 1 that might otherwise be a quick solve.

        I’d suggest that if there is no conceivable path to the answer in the downs-only, no instructions option – as was obvious this week – that you simply present without those options and without any explanation. It’s a Week 1 after all… if someone takes their absence as a clue, well good on ’em!

  6. Garrett says:

    I think this is a bit more difficult than most week 1 metas, where you see some pattern in the grid, which is where I spent a lot of my initial time.

    Finally I turned to the clues. For the first time I noticed that the themers had A or B or C, which I had not paid much attention to when I was solving.

    So now I’m wondering what do these have in common with each other.
    Goolagong, Rybakina, or Agassi have at least a pair of one letter, as do Oregon, Hawaii, or Indiana, but it breaks down with the 2nd one in Coolio, Halsey, or Eminem.

    What I had been thinking of — because of the title, is that we needed a fourth name in each one, and without some kind of a pattern, that’d be unlikely to be able to figure out.

    So then I started looking at the grid again to see if anything tied back to the four clues. Not really!

    I literally gave up. As I was doing something else, I suddenly realized I could be looking for a fourth letter.

    Just like that (30 seconds or so) I had the meta.

    So, easy to solve, if you get your head in the right place. It’s getting your head in the right place that makes this one initially hard.

    Oh, and I should mention that I liked this meta a lot.

  7. Steve Thurman says:

    Been a while since I’ve missed a Week 1. I got fixated on ****tofferson and was looking for four-letter sets that went with the entries.

  8. Alice Schubach says:

    I enjoyed this one, but one thing bothers me. It is entirely possible to get the meta, without solving the grid!

  9. Margaret says:

    The first thing I did was write the first initial of the theme clue examples to get GRA etc but that triggered nothing for me, so I went back to the grid. After following the instructions to add a letter (per the title) I added a K to PIN to get Pink, a one-named star, and I added an L to LEND to get Lendl, a Wimbledon winner, and there I was stuck. I knew there weren’t any states that followed that pattern but I couldn’t believe this was a red herring. My co-solver finally had to kick me back to the clues.

    • joon says:

      i tried to do that with LEND—but i stopped myself because i knew that ivan lendl never won wimbledon. but he got even closer than mal washington, because he reached the final twice (1986 and 87). but he lost in straight sets both times, to boris becker and then pat cash.

      • Margaret says:

        Oh haha I don’t know anything about tennis, I only know Lendl from the crosswords! So I didn’t even look it up, I just assumed Lendl = tennis = Wimbledon winner (which I spell Wimbleton EVERY SINGLE TIME) so thanks for the reminder to look things up! Still not sure it would have knocked me out of my red herring rabbit hole.

Comments are closed.