April 07, 2009


crossword 3:59
puzzle 0:05

bonjour! joon here to report on episode XLIV of matt gaffney's weekly crossword contest. this week's puzzle, "Passionate About Puzzles," features a quip theme, a first for the MGWCC. the quip is clued as [PART 1 OF BUMPER STICKER], etc., and reads:


cute, i guess, although really, ALL DAY FRIDAY would be a bit more accurate, at least for me. all four of the every-day puzzles, plus the BEQ, CHE, WSJ, and of course, the MGWCC. that's a lot of puzzles!

anyway, what's the metapuzzle? the instructions this week were rather lengthy: The top theme entry (17-across) consists of two words that form a fairly familiar two-word phrase. To get this week's contest answer phrase, anagram the second word in 17-across (while leaving the first word the same) to get a very familiar two-word phrase. This very familiar phrase, which is (of course) fifteen letters long, is this week's contest answer phrase.

so where does that get us? LOVERS anagrams to exactly one other word: SOLVER. and yes, CROSSWORD SOLVER is a very familiar two-word phrase (at least in this crowd), and it's the answer to this week's MGWCC.

the rest of the puzzle wasn't too tough either, as befitting its start-of-the-month status. let's take a look:

  • [Former South African prime minister P.W.] BOTHA makes an appearance in the grid. i knew this, but i'm not sure i've seen it in a puzzle before. i guess you could try to clue this as a very awkward partial.
  • the weekly chess clue is an easy one: [Like most Kasparov-Karpov games] is DRAWN. darn right—the 1984 world championship lasted 48 games before being adjourned, of which only 8 were victories for either player.
  • [Make more interesting, as a sporting event] is BET ON. i guess so. i don't BET ON sports, but they're interesting enough already. i do fill out a bracket every year for fun. sports entries in this puzzle included 2008 french open champ ANA ivanovic, SKIER clued as [Jean-Claude Killy or Picabo Street, notably], and a pitcher's MOUND.
  • KVASS, a [Russian alcoholic beverage], is a great word, isn't it? it starts with KV, and not like K-MART or K-SWISS start with K and then an unlikely consonant. i mean it really starts with KV.
  • [Like this entry] at 35-across is, well, ACROSS. i suppose it's okay to have this in the same puzzle where CROSSWORD is part of a theme answer as well as the clue for REINER, [Rob who cast Michelle Pfeiffer as a crossword puzzle constructor in the 1999 movie "The Story of Us"]. the more meta, the more merry, as they say. (i'm pretty sure nobody's ever said that, but bear with me.) i will dock some points for repetition, though; i didn't like seeing both BAD DREAM and BAD AT.
  • i liked most of the long fill answers in the grid: STOOD TRIAL, TASMAN SEA, and PRINT MEDIA were particularly nice. and TREE TRUNK! that was the fifth theme entry that i tried to work into the puzzle that ended up being today's NYT... but i didn't try very hard before realizing it would work better with only the other four. a central 9 is a pretty tall order if you also have 12s and 14s running around.
  • two names i didn't know, both from TV: KARI [Byron of "Mythbusters"] and ["The United States of ___" (Toni Collette show)], which is apparently TARA. maybe somebody can explain what this.

that's all for me today. but you'll get lots more of me this week while orange is away.