MGWCC #095 -- Friday, March 26th, 2010 -- "Silence Is Golden"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 95 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.


PUTZ or YUTZ? That was the dilemma facing solvers at 76-across in last week's MGWCC challenge.

The clue was no help -- simply {Moron} from 43-across, which could have been either. How about the crosser? No help there, either -- {Dreidel, e.g.} could have been either TOP or TOY. So how to decide?

Many solvers tossed a coin, or discerned shades of meaning favoring one or the other pair. Others sensed something suspicious going on -- an 82-word grid with no obvious theme entries and some awkward fill set their cruciverbal antennae atwitter.

And rightly so, because 13 words in the grid began and ended with alphabetically sequential pairs: ARAB at 1-across, COD at 5-across, ENGULF at 8-across, and so on. Solution at top left with the relevant baker's dozen shaded.

Which brings us back to the original question: PUTZ or YUTZ? And YUTZ it was, as only it completes the pattern.

Rollicking comments section here detailing solvers' battles with this meta.

Infamous mocker of Kaidoku Amanda Yesnowitz writes, having been told why her entry PUTZ is incorrect:

But my YZ last name qualifies!! Doesn't that count for anything?? I guess Yesnowitz is also a yutz.

If you enjoyed this puzzle's theme, there's a 2006 New York Sun puzzle by Trip Payne you'll like as well. Its Across Lite file is located in the MGWCC archives under the filename "Payne" (and thanks to Peter Gordon for allowing me to host it here).

I can't say more without ruining the theme, but Trip tells me it's one of his favorite puzzles from his own oeuvre. Indeed it sports an extremely clever trick.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 124 correct entries received, is Dean Scungio of Johnston, R.I. Dean has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.


I just moved (one apartment up from my old place) and found a piece of my crossword history buried in a box: the cover letter to my first crossword submission, received in the offices of Dell Champion Crossword Puzzles on March 4th, 1986. For years I thought I'd lost this for good, so you can imagine how stoked I am to have stumbled upon it (click image to enlarge).

On page 85 of Gridlock I described this letter (from memory, and slightly inaccurately):

The cover letter couldn't have helped since it was a stylistic monstrosity. Addressed to Wayne Robert Williams, editor of the once-great but now-defunct Dell Champion Crossword Puzzles, it radiated unprofessionalism since I'd typed it on college-rule paper. Picture the blue lines of rule ink bisecting entire lines of poorly-spaced text; not the way to make an impression on an editor.


This week's contest answer is a famous character from children's literature. 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 (1,144 members now!) here.

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

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