MGWCC #067 -- Friday, Sept. 11, 2009 -- "Different Drummer"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 67 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.


Life is full of paradoxes, and last week's MGWCC revealed one. Take a deep Zen breath and reflect upon this cruciverbal koan:

a) About half of all entrants opined that the puzzle was noticeably tougher than other first-of-the-monthers. Several compared it to a Saturday New York Times in terms of difficulty.

b) I received 239 correct entries, just 11 shy of the MGWCC record.

The puzzle did seem tough to me, maybe done in overcompensation for the previous week's last-of-the-monther not being tough enough for its cleanup spot. But most people still solved it, perhaps just with more of a struggle than is normal for the leadoff position. Answer at top left.

Last week's theme removed contest answer word LABOR from common phrases, like so:

BE THE POINT (belabor the point)
A TORY MOUSE (laboratory mouse)
SKILLED ERS (skilled laborers)
CAN YOU EAT E (can you elaborate?)
IOUS PROCESS (laborious process)
S OF HERCULES (Labors of Hercules)

Many solvers noted that deducing what's missing isn't so easy even when you have the six theme entries, a point unappreciated by me when I wrote the puzzle. I'd assumed that removing one five-letter word from six phrases equals a gimme meta, but there aren't any obvious giveaways among those six, and the (serendipitous) red herring "beside the point" instead of "belabor the point" sent some solvers down an errant path. But it was a Labor Day Weekend puzzle, after all, so eventually most people cracked the meta.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 239 correct entries submitted, is William Prevor of Holland, Penna. William has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

I also awarded four MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad sets to two first-time entrants and two veteran contest participants. These randomly-selected winners are:

First-time entrants (28 entries):

Marta Ruedas -- Beirut, Lebanon

Bob Weslosky -- Port Murray, N.J.

Veteran contest participants (211 entries):

J.O. -- whereabouts unknown

Karen von Haam -- Mashpee, Mass.

This MGWCC census attempt hit a few stumbling blocks. First, I made the puzzle too hard, which likely culled a few solvers from the pack. Second, I chose a major holiday weekend, which probably culled a few more. And finally, for technical reasons unclear to me, the normal Google Group e-mail I send out each Friday apparently didn't reach a non-trivial number of solvers, which probably culled even more...and yet we still came in just shy of the record, which means I'll do this again in the near future to get a better count. Thanks to all who entered in response to my request.


Last week's puzzle was a little too tough, so this week's is going to be the softball last week should have been. Then we'll resume our regularly scheduled difficulty levels for the third and fourth weeks' puzzles -- and wait until you see October's ghoulish quintet! No one will kvetch about softballs after that! I'm calling it "Hell Month" (no joke) and there will be many special prizes...

Anyway, back to today: This week's contest answer is the one grid entry whose clue is different from the others! E-mail it 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, then join the Google Group (836 members now!) here.

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

1 comment:

Joon said...

paradoxial indeed! however, i suspect that you could work out the theme from S OF HERCULES even if you couldn't finish the rest of the puzzle. that NE wasn't quite as tough as the rest of the puzzle.