MGWCC #012 -- Friday, August 22, 2008 -- "Another Nine-Letter Word for a Stupid Waste of Time"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 12 of my crossword contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


37 solvers bravely tackled the crossword variant called "kaidoku" last week. The contest answer word, comprised of six letters whose numbers were given in the contest instructions, was CIPHER.

A milestone's been reached this week: our first non-American winner of MGWCC. We're international, baby! That winner is Simon Brault of Ottawa, Ont., whose name was randomly chosen from those 37 correct entries. Simon has selected as his prize an autographed copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crossword Puzzles & Word Games (which he clarifies is for his wife, not for him -- the second time, intriguingly, that a MGWCC winner has chosen this book and given it to their spouse).

Last week's kaidoku contained a nasty trap, which about half of all solvers appear to have fallen into: the letter patterns of the words at 1-across and 1-down were 3-9-16-16-2 and 3-9-16-16-2-16-16. That down entry was pure wordbait, a highly unusual complex of letters -- the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th letters are the same -- which many solvers quickly theorized might be POSSESS. They tested their theory with 1-across, whose five letters are identical to the first five letters of 1-down, and saw that POSSE works there, too, which meant both words almost certainly had to be correct. Right?

Wrong -- and the trap sprang shut! PIZZAZZ and PIZZA work too, it turns out. And just look at all them Z's.

Like Genghis Khan did, I revel in the screams of my victims -- so let's survey their lamentations:

Howard Barkin writes:

I won't kid you on this one - this puzzle beat the living kaidoku out of me. Spent an hour at the beach this weekend at it, a little bit of my lunch break today, and another hour on and off while paying the bills and watching the Olympics tonight stubbornly writing and erasing. Finally, a satisfying breakthrough. Lesson learned - never be too certain of an answer (Just because POSSESS/POSSE fits a nice encryption doesn't mean it's the only solution - At least the P was right).

Amy Reynaldo says:

You know, I suppose, that POSSE/POSSESS looks much more plausible in that corner. And that the average person's list of likely doubled letters excludes WW and KK. Sneaky bastard!

While Tyler Hinman asks:

So am I the only [humorous expletive deleted] who wouldn't let go of POSSESS/POSSE?


Before solving this week's crossword, make sure you've read this recent piece from Slate Magazine, which appeared on the front page under the headline "A Nine-Letter Word for a Stupid Waste of Time":


There is no contest answer word this week. Instead, this week's contest winner will be the entrant who composes the best 59-across about 22-across. Send your entry to me at crosswordcontest@gmail by Tuesday at noon ET. Tone and content are up to you -- but I suggest you take your lead from 22-across's own example. Multiple entries both permitted and encouraged.

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite, join the Google Group here:


Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.