MGWCC #837

crossword 2:02
meta DNF 2 days 



hello, and welcome to episode #837 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “The Week 2 Curse”. for this week 2 (obviously) puzzle, the instructions informed us that we were looking for a two-word, eleven letter lament that you may utter if you miss this meta. okay. here’s the thing: i haven’t figured out the meta. and i don’t have much time to work on it because i’m traveling this week with my family (we’re hiking acadia national park). but… i think the answer is going to be FOILED AGAIN. it just seems so right.

okay, back to blogging the actual meta (which, again, i haven’t figured out). this is an undersized grid, only 12×13. none of the answers are explicitly marked as thematic, but there is one that is implicitly thematic, the omega across: {Numerical prefix that’s also a curse} HEX. what to do with that? i don’t know. my first thought was to look for other numerical prefixes. and, look, i’m not going to lie, i really want the answer to be FOILED AGAIN, and i’m looking at 1-across UFO which is just that F changed from UNO, a numerical prefix. so that’s where i want to start.

the problem is, i don’t know how to continue. there aren’t all that many numerical prefixes, and some of them are not terribly well defined. MANO -> MONO is another possibility (oddly, for the same numerical value), but i really don’t think there are 11 of these in a small grid.

time to change tack—HEX is the prefix for six. should we look at six-letter words? … oh, well, okay. yes. yes we should. there are 11 of them and their first letters spell out FOILED AGAIN:

  • {Shout from a hider} FIND ME.
  • {Rice paddy crew} OX TEAM.
  • {By design, not everyone will get it} IN JOKE. like, say, the week 2 curse?
  • {Horseshoes result, sometimes} LEANER.
  • {Come out of the fog, say} EMERGE.
  • {They run to hearts} AORTAE.
  • {Pac-Man quartet} GHOSTS.
  • {Pain pill} ANACIN.
  • {Prophet on the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling} ISAIAH.
  • {Like ballerinas} NIMBLE.

well, that’s a relief. but it’s also a relief to know i would’ve guessed it right anyway!

i have no idea how easy or hard this will play. (the week 2 curse is real, yo.) on the one hand it just seems like you should be able to guess the answer, and the actual mechanism isn’t all that hard. on the other hand, it is not that obvious a thing to do while solving, let alone constructing. is this whole puzzle built around the coincidence that HEX is both a curse and the prefix for six? i guess it is. and while that’s a cool idea, for sure, i’m not sure something like “look at all the 6-letter entries” has been the main meta mechanism before.

i can understand why matt went small on the grid—there are, in some sense, only 14 letters of theme material in the grid (the 11 letters of FOILED AGAIN plus the three letters of HEX itself).

okay, that’s all i’ve got this week. how’d this week 2 curse treat you?

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14 Responses to MGWCC #837

  1. Barnyard says:

    Clever. Like Joon I wanted answer to be “foiled again”. Unlike Joon, I could not figure out how to get there and I did not submit a guess. Boo me.

  2. Adam Rosenfield says:

    My first thought was trying to do something with all of the 2-letter words in some of the answers, to fit with the “week 2” theme:

    ET TU (2x)
    OH wow
    find ME
    OX team
    IN joke
    L.A. woman (?)

    but of course there weren’t 11 of these and this didn’t go anywhere.

  3. David Benbow says:

    I agree that Foiled Again seemed so right, so I submitted it. I think it’s the first time I’ve ever guessed without solving the puzzle. I kept trying to solve the puzzle after I was on the leaderboard and tried every hexadecimal trick I could think of. So I won, but I also lost.

  4. Garrett says:

    I was just stuck on hexadecimal until I was told to refocus by a friend who had solved it, and then I highlighted on all the six-letter fill, and there it was!

    I was unable to make a guess.

  5. Seth Cohen says:

    I think this nailed the week 2 difficulty! Nice logical sequence to follow that isn’t many steps. Before finding the 6-letter words, I checked to see if every 6th letter in the grid in reading order spelled anything.

  6. Steve Thurman says:

    First time I’ve ever submitted a guess, but yeah, FOILED AGAIN seemed like a good one. I didn’t see the six-letter words angle, but I’ve been preoccupied. Nice one though.

  7. EP says:

    Yes, in retrospect this was pretty straightforward…but then, in retrospect many things are, but ONLY in retrospect. I take it that the ‘curse’ in 49A completes the classic phrase (classic, but found only in cartoons or spoofs) ‘curses, foiled again!’. When it comes to metas, simple and straightforward does not necessarily translate into ‘easy’, I was in fact a victim of the said curse this week.

  8. Pete R says:

    Did anyone else see ELBA and WASI in the grid and try to figure out something palndromic?

  9. Todd Dashoff says:

    I got this one almost immediately – my only pause was which letter in the six-letter answers to use. Like Joon, I saw the F and O in one across, confirmed the I and L in 4-across, and that was all I needed. To me it felt like a Week 1,5.

  10. Margaret says:

    Count me in as another Curses, Foiled Again! person who was trying to backsolve to get there. Notwithstanding that I was sure of the answer and also sure the FO came from UFO, that the IL came from ILK, and AGAIN came from AGO/ANACIN somehow, my frequent co-solver had to hold me by the hand to get me to the mechanism. I kept trying other versions of HEX = 6, like picking out the letters in 6, 12, 18 etc, trying to make boxes like a rows garden bloom, looking for VI, trying to use NIX for six, etc.

  11. jefe says:

    I did not have the wherewithal to guess Foiled Again ahead of time. I put the puzzle away for a while and came back to it, and was inspired to use Hex = 6, though I tried various wrong ways before coming up with 6-letter words.

  12. Mike says:

    While I did come around to the right solving method after an hour or so, I did spend a fair amount of time with the letters in numbered squares that either were a multiple of 6 or had a 6 in them. With the small grid, there (naturally) were 11 of them (6-12-16-18-24-26-30-36-42-46-48) but I couldn’t get the letters to spell anything…..

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