MGWCC #088 -- Friday, February 5, 2010 -- "Are You Ready for Some Football?"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 88 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.


WHAT AN ODD PUZZLE, proclaimed 3-down in last week's crossword -- and indeed it was. The black square pattern in the grid looked weird, and 119 solvers figured out why -- every entry in the grid ran an odd number of letters, with just four exceptions: 7-down, 29-across, 48-across and 49-down. Read those in order and you get the key to last week's contest: solvers needed only send in ANY OLD DULL EVEN NUMBER.

But are there any dull numbers? Many solvers claimed not, offering this as evidence. I remain agnostic on the issue, but here's the breakdown of what solvers sent in:

ZERO -- 9 entries (three of which were submitted by mathematicians)

2 -- 9 entries

4 -- 11 entries (three of which, again, were submitted by mathematicians)

6 -- 7 entries (one from a mathematician)

Answers grew more scattershot after that (personal telephone numbers, jersey numbers of famous athletes, random enormous even numbers, math jokes I don't get but that sounded pretty wry, etc.). For instance, one high school math teacher submitted NULL SET as his answer.

In lieu of an even number, 13 solvers submitted as their answer the actual words ANY OLD DULL EVEN NUMBER. It wasn't a particularly popular decision in comments here, but I went ahead and counted those as correct. My reasoning was that that answer satisfies both the conditions of the contest instructions in the grid (which were intentionally vague) and of the title, and that the final task remaining -- choosing any even number -- was not challenging.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 119 correct entries received, is Barbara Hartwell of Framingham, Mass. Barbara has chosen as her prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.


The following five winners, selected randomly from the 119 correct entries received, win $10 iTunes gift cards:

Joe Fendel -- Berkeley, Calif.

Tyler Hinman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Jeremy Horwitz -- San Francisco, Calif.

Julian Lim -- Philadelphia, Penna.

Scout Mitchell -- Bellingham, Wash.


It's that time again -- the following ten winners will receive MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad sets. Their names were selected at random from among the 21 solvers who correctly submitted each of January's five contest answers:

Howard Barkin -- Hillsborough, N.J.

Andrea Blumberg -- Philadelphia, Penna.

Peter Gordon -- Great Neck, N.Y.

Dave Howard -- Kansas City, Mo.

Pete Mitchell -- Bow, N.H.

Marcia Rose -- Delray Beach, Fla.

Tom Schneider -- Oakland, Calif.

Leo Stein -- Cambridge, Mass.

Dave Sullivan -- Boston, Mass.

Tim Tebbe -- Minneapolis, Minn.

This was a tough month of puzzles, so congratulations to all 21 who got them all.


Brendan Quigley has a prediction for this weekend! Solve the puzzle and find out...


This week's contest is explained in the grid. Send your answer 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 (1,067 members now!) here.

Solve well, pray for the Saints, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.

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