WSJ Contest — Friday, June 28, 2024

Grid: untimed; Meta 10 minutes  


Matt Gaffney’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “1 + 1 = 5” — Conrad’s writeup.

This week we’re looking for a four-letter word. There were four theme entries, each in a “this and that” format. I realized “AND” was playing the role of “+”, and looked for two more characters to make five. I saw HANDY in HITHERANDYON and I was off to the races. Take the first letter of each word separated by the AND:

  • [To many different places]: (H)ITHER AND (Y)ON -> HANDY
  • [Governmental function]: (L)AW AND (O)RDER -> LANDO
  • [Not holding anything back, as a biography]: (W)ARTS AND (A)LL -> WANDA
  • [What Smithers is known to do on “The Simpsons”]: (B)OW AND (S)CRAPE -> BANDS
WSJ Contest Solution – 06.30.24

WSJ Contest Solution – 06.30.24

What next? I noticed the clue for OBIWAN (First part of a name in the “Star Wars” universe), matching LANDO. Vague clues are a classic meta mechanism. The rest fell quickly:

  • BRAINY (One of the Smurfs): HANDY
  • OBIWAN (First part of a name in the “Star Wars” universe): LANDO
  • NEMO (Movie title fish): WANDA
  • DUOS (The White Stripes and the Black Keys, e.g.): BANDS

The first letters of the mapped entries spell BOND, our contest solution. I thought this meta was lightweight fun. I also enjoyed that BOND was in grid order. That wasn’t required for the meta (the mapped BOND entries followed the themers in order), but it was an elegant touch.  Solvers: Please share your thoughts.


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13 Responses to WSJ Contest — Friday, June 28, 2024

  1. Eric H. says:

    I never made any sense of the title + consequently got nowhere. My WSJ meta slump continues.

    But I was overly amused to see STRAP-ON in the grid. Pretty racy for the WSJ!

  2. It’s an eerie coincidence that there are exactly four five-letter entries in the grid (IDAHO, ELLEN, RELIC, TRADE) and their fifth letters in order spell out ONCE.

  3. EP says:

    This is a real gem of a meta, simple, but tricky and elegant. The whole challenge is correctly deciphering the title (which I, of course, failed to do): one letter preceding + the ‘AND’ present in all the obvious theme clues + 1 letter following = 5 letters. I consider this one of Matt’s best.

  4. damefox says:

    I liked this meta, but like many solvers I was only 95% sure of my answer because BOND doesn’t seem to click with the title or the mechanism as neatly as I usually expect. Having an answer like “plus” or “math” would’ve made it a 100%-er. What am I missing? Why BOND?

  5. Neal says:

    BOND, Meta BOND.
    Anyone quibbling over such a lovely combination of simple + tricky = elegant, is just revealing themselves to be a Dr. No.

    Great puzzle, Matt!

  6. Simon says:

    I got it. But had a little trouble with HANDY because I’ve never heard of any of the Smurfs. I was thinking, perhaps WC Handy, the composer, but I didn’t think he had done a mass in B minor, but Bach would have given a B too.

    Enjoyed doing this puzzle but my OCD side kept me looking for a D answer that was also a name.

    As for BOND, my guess was it meant the stuff that keeps things together rather than the famous secret agent. But anyone else notice that 1+1+5 equals seven? As in 007. Touché!

  7. Zach says:

    I think this is my favorite meta that I didn’t get. Nice job, Matt!

  8. DB says:

    I had HANDY equivalent to “Nearby”, which led to ABUT, yet AOND didn’t make any sense. I then also thought of W.C. Handy, and found the composer clue gave me a fitting BOND answer. More than happy BONDing the first letter of the first and last words of the themers with AND to get the four words of step 1.

    Was close enough for me, and submitted. Right answer, wrong reason.

  9. Baroness Thatcher says:

    I spotted Handy but not for the right reason. To make matters worse I spotted Andor in Law and Order. I never put one and one together.

    Thus I remained lost at sea.

    Pretty easy in hindsight. Another learning opportunity.

    Plus puzzle Matt. Great job!

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