MGWCC #840

crossword 3:31
meta uh… 



hello, and welcome to episode #840 of matt gaffney’s weekly crossword contest, “Court Number”. for this week 1 puzzle, i tried to solve the meta without the instructions, but i did not succeed. what are the theme answers? four long answers in the grid began with a word meaning “zero” in either slang usage or tennis usage:

  • {They’re closed for lunch} ZIPLOC BAGS. that’s a very clever clue.
  • {Adverse possession, less formally} SQUATTERS’ RIGHTS.
  • {Major cradle of civilization} NILE RIVER VALLEY.
  • {Publicly affectionate with each other} LOVEY-DOVEY. this one seems most appropriate, since “court” in the title suggests a tennis context—and there’s also the matter of…
  • {Tennis star Björn who has nothing to do with this meta; he’s just the only thing that fit at 1-Across} BORG. this confirms that the meta is tennis-related.

without the instructions, i thought the answer was just going to be the number zero. but that would not have been a very satisfying meta, and it wouldn’t really explain why matt felt he needed to specify that BORG wasn’t meta-related in that 1A clue. but before submitting, i did check the instructions and found that no, it’s not asking for a number: This puzzle’s contest answer is the surname of a 21st-century Wimbledon champion in either Ladies’ or Gentlemen’s Singles. okay, that makes way more sense, and it’s also very timely, as the wimbledon championships are being contested this very fortnight.

what’s the answer, then? why, none other than 2008 and 2010 men’s champion rafael NADAL, which begins with NADA. in retrospect, this was a challenging but definitely gettable week 1 sans instructions.

if you’re a tennis fan, treat yourself to the extended highlights of nadal’s 2008 final against roger federer, considered by many the greatest tennis match ever played. and enjoy the rest of the championships this week!

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6 Responses to MGWCC #840

  1. Hector says:

    Solving downs-only, no-instructions, “Court Number” seemed adequately explained as referring, in Wimbledon season, to expressions for a score of zero points. The title obviously clearly refers to a “number,” namely the number zero. Had the instructions been “This week’s contest answer is a number,” it would have been a perfectly good week 1 meta with the answer ZERO. It’s also a perfectly good meta with the actual instructions.
    No complaint; that’s a risk you take solving this way.

  2. Matt Gaffney says:

    Thanks, joon — 493 right answers this week.

    Medvedev serving to eliminate Sinner as I type this. Gotta go!

  3. Daniel Barkalow says:

    I didn’t get this one while I was solving the grid, and then I went into the kitchen, and commented, “It’s odd, for a week 1, that nothing’s jumping out at me.” Then I reviewed the long answers and realized the irony.

  4. Pancho says:

    See, I knew ZERO was not a satisfying meta answer, but I could not find the instructions anywhere in the files sent to me. I would have gotten NADAL in a heartbeat, and even wrote to Matt about his easy metas that don’t provide the specifics of what he’s looking for. Where did you find the instructions?

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