MGWCC #049 -- Friday, May 8, 2009 -- "[To Be Determined]"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 49 of my contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


As a first-of-the-month puzzle, last week's "Quite Quaint Quintet" was fairly easy, although there was a small (unintentional) trap in the meta. Solution at top left.

216 solvers correctly sent in the contest answer word, which was WATCH. They found it by noticing that each of the five theme entries consisted of three-word phrases wherein each of the three words began with the same letter. They were:


Take each of those first letters reading downward, and you've got WATCH. The contest instructions indicated that the contest answer word could be found somewhere in that day's blog post, and there it was in the first sentence ("I got to WATCH an...")

Keith Oppenheim writes:

Whew, four words into the blog, and yet I still used the "Find" tool to look for it... Makes me feel kinda dopey.

And then there was that aforementioned little trap in the meta. The great Bob Klahn writes:

Matt, while WATCH certainly ties your five theme entries together, I suppose a much lesser case -- but still a case -- could be made for THREE as well, since the LCD of the five theme entries is that they're all a sequence of three alliterative words.

Indeed, eight entrants did submit THREE as their answer. Occasionally there are reasonable cases to be made for alternative answers to the metapuzzles, though in the 11 months of MGWCC I've only accepted an alternative answer one time (the remarkable confluence of factors that led to a correct alternative answer in MGWCC #006; puzzle is here, explanation of answer here).

In this case I decided I couldn't allow THREE to be counted as correct, since the fact that there are three words in each theme entry isn't the most salient feature of them; the fact that they all start with the same letter is. WATCH speaks to this feature, while THREE doesn't.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 216 correct entries received, is Jeremy Bronheim of Silver Spring, Md. Jeremy has selected as his prize an autographed copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Crossword Puzzles & Word Games.


1) We hit 600 Google Group members this week -- nice! The inexorable march to 1,000,000 members rolls forward. Don't try to stop it.

2) Congratulations to Alex Boisvert, winner of last week's mini-contest, in which I challenged solvers to find a legit 15-letter phrase in which the only vowel used is U. Alex will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set.

Alex's winning entry is the 2007 Paramore song CRUSHCRUSHCRUSH, but it was a close call -- so close that I enlisted the help of three ACPT champs to decide between that and Diane Rhodes' entry, BUCKBRUSH SHRUBS.

The pros and cons for each:

On the plus side, CRUSHCRUSHCRUSH is a legitimate song title by a fairly well-known band (the song reached #54 on the Billboard charts). On the minus side, it repeats words -- and, this shouldn't matter, but it's a horrible song (a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set to anyone who can listen to the entire thing without clawing their own ears off).

BUCKBRUSH SHRUBS gets points for being intuitive even if you haven't heard of it, but a Google search reveals its fatal flaw: "buckbrush" is a common term for the plant, and it is a shrub, but it's only rarely referred to as a "buckbrush shrub." For this reason the three champs (independently of each other) voted 3-0 in favor of CRUSHCRUSHCRUSH. Diane will receive a MGWCC pen, though, for her runner-up effort.


This week's contest answer consists of two entries in the puzzle grid which total eleven letters. Together, they form a phrase which is a perfect title for this week's puzzle. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer phrase 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 burgeoning Google Group here:


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

No comments: