MGWCC #031 -- "The Inversion Version" -- Friday, January 2, 2009

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 31 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.


Storylines intertwined at MGWCC last week, but 94 solvers nevertheless puzzled out the correct contest answer word, OXTAIL. Judging by the e-mails, about a quarter of all solvers got OXTAIL but weren't quite sure it was correct, or why.

The puzzle's three theme entries consisted of phrases where the letters R-A-T had been replaced by the letters O-X. This was, of course, in reference to the Chinese lunar calendar, where 2008 and 2009 correspond roughly to the Year of the Rat and the Year of the Ox. So "spoiled brat" became SPOILED BOX, "milk crates" morphed to MILK COXES, and "frat brother" turned into FOX BROTHER. Solution grid at left.

Besides the obvious OX part, how precisely did OXTAIL flow from that? Well, switch from China to Germany and check out the puzzle title: the Pied Piper of Hamelin rid that town of rats, and solvers had similarly rid the grid of three of its four RATs via the OX-idized theme entries. "Play the Piper" -- i.e., give the same treatment to the fourth rodent at 11-down, RATTAIL -- and you finally arrive at last week's contest answer word. Phew!

This week's contest winner, whose name will be randomly chosen from the 94 correct entries received thus far plus any I get by noon, will be posted later today [UPDATE, 11:15 AM: Did I really just post the answer to a contest an hour before the entry deadline passed? Eric Maddy informs me that I did...whoops.][UPDATE #2, 1/3/09: This week's winner is Victoria Gilbert of Portland, Ore. Victoria has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Movie Crosswords.]

Scott Clay writes in with his entry:

This answer is coming to you direct from somewhere off the coast of Guatemala. We are on a cruise and coincidentally Oxtail Soup is on the menu!


1) A bevy of solvers wrote in that BORGS at 5-across in last week's puzzle isn't an acceptable pluralization: One of them was Ron Byron, who points out that:

Borg is singular and plural, so you can't refer to them as BORGS.

2) Justin Smith writes to mention that he's got a special "Twelve Days of Puzzles" feature going on at his site. The contest is currently on Day Four, so there's plenty of time for newcomers to catch up:



This week's puzzle revolves around eight letters. Anagram them into a common unit of measurement to get this week's contest answer word. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer word in the subject line of your e-mail.

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Didn't need my google this time around!
Ellen G