MGWCC #057 -- Friday, July 3, 2009 -- "ABC"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 57 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.


You may find this hard to believe, but I spent about five hours writing last week's Kaidoku. 103 solvers correctly puzzled it out to find the contest answer, which was KEYWORD. Solution at top left.

What did I spend all that time on? Setting a dastardly trap, of course -- a trap which, it appears, only a handful of solvers had the good manners to fall into.

My idea was to send solvers on a "false Q hunt," wherein a certain number would appear to clearly and obviously represent the letter Q, when in fact the real Q was tucked away inconspicuously elsewhere in the grid.

I pondered for a while on which letter should play the role of Q-decoy, and finally settled on G as the best choice. As any good politician can tell you, lies are more readily believed when some truth is thrown into the mix, and I realized that the Q-decoy would be more convincingly masked if the letter following it were, in fact, not a U-decoy, but the actual U itself.

G was suited magnificently for this role of Q-decoy. Everyone knows that Q is always followed by U, but not everyone realizes that the U after a Q is always followed by a vowel (yes, even in COLLOQUY, OBLOQUY and SOLILOQUY). So I needed a consonant that began many words beginning with [that consonant] + U + a vowel. G yielded GUAVA, GUESS, GUITAR, and many others, and so was called up for service as a false Q.

Having settled on the G, my next step was to come up with a GU + vowel word with a distinctive letter pattern, a letter pattern that also fit for a QU + vowel word. After some trial and error, I came up with the twins GUESSWORK and QUARRYMEN. The only other QU word that fit this pattern was QUIBBLERS, but solvers would reject that one after noticing two other QU words in the grid, QUARK and QUOTA, which fit perfectly with QUARRYMEN. LULU in the southeast corner would cement the idea in solvers' minds (I hoped) that the U and therefore the Q were correct -- the latter of which was not, of course, the incorrect QUARRYMEN / QUARK / QUOTA red herring yielding to the correct GUESSWORK / GUEST / GUIDE.

I'd taken many precautions to keep solvers from breaking in elsewhere in the grid, such as using only one O in the entire puzzle (it had to mask the incorrect M in QUARRYMEN, and vowels don't mask consonants well in Kaidoku). But one bit of incaution on my part -- using the too-distinctively patterned MILLIPEDE -- allowed many solvers to bypass my best-laid plans entirely. I hope everyone who broke through with MILLIPEDE is rightfully ashamed of themselves.

Still, a few solvers did fall right into my trap, as this comment from Jimmy D on Joon Pahk's write-up shows:

I had QUARRYMEN/QUARK/QUOTA for a while too...but I knew the 7 was an E, and once I finally(!) got MILLIPEDE, it was a breeze from there...

At the same place, commenter Wobbith added:

I fell for the QU trap hook, line, and sinker. QUARRYMEN was a gimme. Man, my eraser got a workout. Be honest now... does anybody actually do these things in ink?

So that's the story of this Kaidoku. OK, one other thing...do you know how many times I had to re-export this puzzle until it gave me the evil final touch I wanted: the G represented by the number 1?

Jed Scott writes:

Does solving this puzzle place me among the "dorky we?"

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 103 correct entries received, is Thom Diment of Glenside, Australia. By my count the international score of MGWCC winners is now Canada 4, Australia 2. Come on Brits and Kiwis, time to step up your efforts!


The long-awaited Kaidoku revolution is beginning! Alex Boisvert has started a new Kaidoku blog that will feature a new puzzle by him on Thursdays and by me on Mondays. Wayne Gould, eat your heart out (and Happy Birthday).


A record 48 solvers correctly submitted all four contest answers this month. I will be notifying the ten winners over the weekend and will post their names and locations here on Monday (apologies for the delay -- extremely busy workweek here and I just now realized I hadn't picked the lucky ten yet).

UPDATE, Monday 7/6, 4:20 PM ET:

All ten June winners have now been notified. I'll give their initials here and fill them in once I get OK's from them.

Anne Erdmann -- Champaign, Ill.

Cheryl Faba -- Detroit, Mich.

David Graham -- Portland, Ore.

Seth Grossinger -- Minneapolis, Minn.

Garrett Hildebrand (Irvine Crossword Mafia member) -- Irvine, Calif.

Nick Meyer

Al Sanders -- Fort Collins, Colo.

Robin Schulte -- Portland, Me.

Justin Smith -- Germantown, Md.

Leslie & Sam Wagner -- Brooklyn, N.Y.


This week's contest answer phrase is a famous person whose first and last names total 14 letters. E-mail this person's name to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer 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 (download the free software here), join the burgeoning Google Group (678 members!) here:



The winner of this week's contest will receive an autographed copy of Dean Olsher's new book, From Square One [Amazon] [B&N]. I haven't read it yet but it's getting some good buzz.

Solve well, Happy 4th, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.


Joon said...

not always, my friend. QURSH says hello.

Matt Gaffney said...

Qurshes! Foiled again.

Brendan Emmett Quigley said...

I have begun competing in these contests. Heaven help me.

treedweller said...

This Kaidoku thing is just not my thing, but I had three correct solutions this month and wanted to try for the fourth. I was sure at least one of the double letters would be a vowel. It didn't take me long to give up. I hope the new blog will keep these things over there. Of course, I accept that you can do whatever you want here.