Fireball Contest July 17, 2024

Grid: untimed; Meta: 30 minutes

This month we are asked, What five-letter word (of more than one syllable) is hinted at by this puzzle? I didn’t see any obvious theme entries, but I noticed that the grid was asymmetric. That is normally relevant for a meta, but sometimes it’s not. Once in a while the constraints of the meta seem to lead to the constructor creating an asymmetric grid. I know there aren’t hard/fast rules in meta construction, but if there were: that should be one of them. Grid asymmetry should be meta-relevant.

FB Contest Solution – 07.22.2024

Happily: the asymmetry was relevant. There were five missing black squares. Fading them to black made the grid symmetric. The new grid entries matched the definition of another grid entry, here they are in mapped entry order:

• SPACE(K)/BAR(K) -> ENTER
• (C)HEAT/(C)RASH -> BURN
• EARTH(A)/(A)TONE -> OCHER
• (B)ALL/(B)OUT -> NET
• MORE(L)/(L)OVER -> YET

The first letters of the mapped entries spell our contest solution EBONY. A friend pointed out that the blackened squares anagram to BLACK, which I missed while solving, but is the cherry on top of this great meta by Alex. That also explains the “more than one syllable” caveat in the puzzle note: the anagrammed BLACK was part of step one, but the non-anagrammed EBONY was step two. Solvers: please share your thoughts.

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

3 Responses to Fireball Contest July 17, 2024

1. T Campbell says:

My position is that a grid’s form should be relevant when it’s interesting. A grid that would be symmetrical except for five or six squares? That’s interesting, what’s going on with the outliers? If a grid is just asymmetric with nothing else of note, then it’s no big deal. This feels like the pineapple pizza debate of the crossword world. (I’ve had pineapple pizza often! It’s fine!)

2. Garrett says:

I love the concept, I got the mechanism, I even got the new word pairs mapping to another clue and thus to another answer. Four out of five worked for me, but one did not, and that was MORE OVER through the clue for YET.

Moreover is an adverb that means in addition to what has been said.

• BarbaraK says:

I think it’s meant to work with the clue “Besides,” not necessarily the grid entry.