MGWCC #129 -- Friday, Nov. 19th, 2010 -- "Our True Enemy Has Yet to Reveal Himself"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 129 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.


Another toughish meta: just 148 solvers found the missing TOFU in last week's grid, very low for a Week 2 puzzle. They'd noticed that the six theme entries consisted of three-word phrases with two-letter second words. Keeping those two-letter words intact but adding the first initial of words 1 and 3 led to the relevant four-letter words. Sounds complicated when I write it out like that, but here they are:

17-a HANG IN THERE --> hint
21-a TERMS OF USE --> tofu
33-a COME ON EILEEN --> cone
42-a TRICK OR TREAT --> tort
53-a LENDS AN EAR --> lane
61-a ALL MY LOVING --> amyl

Five of those four-letter words can be found in the fill. The missing one is TOFU, which made it our four-letter contest answer food.

Jeff Louie pays me a qualified compliment:

You are masterful, at times.

One entrant this week shed some light on a cruciverbal mystery for me. I'd received three e-mails from solvers during the week who, while submitting TOFU, suggested it should have been located at 15-across in place of UTAH:

Is it special tofu from Utah?

In fact, UTAH should be TOFU!

It would be even neater if putting TOFU in for UTAH made
checks that were words.

I figured there had to be some logic to this since three solvers had independently mentioned it, but the light bulb didn't go off until John Reid wrote in explaining:

TOFU should be at 15A in the grid to keep the symmetry of all the theme answers.

Aha! It may seem hard to believe at first, but that near-symmetrical pattern of those five four-letter words was not only unintentional but went completely unnoticed by me until John pointed it out. Maybe it's less hard to believe, though, when you consider how natural the placements of the LANE/HINT and AMYL/CONE pairs are; when you're trying to sneak five four-letter words into a grid with six theme entries in it, it's intuitive to stash them in those relatively unburdened corner areas.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 148 correct entries received, is Steve Smith of Winchester, Mass. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Steve will also receive a copy of Patrick Blindauer's new Puzzlefest.


I meant to publish this in October, but better late than never: remember the LOUIE ANDERSON puzzle, where theme entries contained all five vowels in consecutive spaces? Charles Montpetit sends in this clever amuse-bouche:

What two crosswordese triads would do this theme one better AND are synonyms of each other?

There are two valid solutions, both given at the end of today's post.


This week's contest answer is an eleven-letter phrase comprised of two fill entries in this grid. When combined they make an excellent fifth theme entry. E-mail these two grid entries to me (the actual entries in the grid, not their clue numbers) 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 (1,366 members now!) here.

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

WEEK 123 WORDPLAY ANSWER: the words are OUI and YEA (or AYE), which comprise all five main vowels plus Y -- and which are synonyms of each other (no one said they had to be in the same language!)

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