MGWCC #138 -- Friday, January 21st, 2011 -- "Three-Piece Suite"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 138 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.


162 entrants successfully negotiated last week's rather problematic meta. The contest answer was a number from 1 to 10, and the puzzle's four theme entries -- all related to sports, for no real reason -- contained a total of ten words. They were:

17-a SCORE A RUN (4, 1)
61-a/69-a HEAVEN CAN / WAIT (7, 10, 8)
11-d LINE DRIVE (9, 5)
34-d FREE KICKS (3, 6)

The parenthetical numbers above show that, with the exception of the word "a" in SCORE A RUN, nine of the ten numbers between 1-10 are rhymed by words in the puzzle's theme. The only unrhymed number was 2, which made it last week's contest answer number.

Does TEN rhyme with CAN? I got massive pushback from solvers -- especially those with roots in New England or New York -- who adamantly insisted that they don't rhyme, even with CAN unstressed as in "Can I help you?" or (most importantly) "Heaven Can Wait." Most of these solvers submitted 10 as their answer, finding COUP at 35-a as the rhyme for 2.

There were many arguments on both sides, expressed passionately and intelligently in comments here:


So, what to do as MGWCC referee? On the one hand, it's a bit random to hunt for the 2 rhyme in fill when the other rhymes are all in theme entries. Besides, Merriam-Webster backs me up on the rhyme:



On the other hand, WAIT is placed asymmetrically in the grid, which may be construed as a license to look beyond the four longest entries. The "a" in SCORE A RUN was also viewed as weird by solvers; I'd intended it to be the tenth theme entry word unrhymed with "two," but in retrospect it would have been far more elegant if the four theme entries contained just nine words, each with a number rhyme.

Besides, MGWCC metas should click immediately, not be subject to various pros and cons of two competing meta possibilities -- and even many solvers who submitted 2 as their answer said they had a hard time choosing between it and 10.

Since both the meta and the alternative answer 10 each have their issues, I'm going to impose the Solomon-like solution of commenters Mark and Norm C at the above Crossword Fiend link: those who submitted 10 as their answer were not eligible for the weekly prize on MGWCC #137, but remain eligible for January's monthly prizes. And you can also keep intact any personal streaks you had going (several solvers mentioned they didn't want an imperfect meta like this to snap their streaks!).

Chris Shaw writes:

As an actual professional mathlete, it would be really embarrassing if
I got this week wrong. Hopefully all those MIT puzzlers are too busy
this weekend and I'll have better odds for a drawing this week.

David Stein -- and no other solver -- found an Easter Egg in the grid:

So when I started this one, I really wanted the answer to be pi. Then the directions said 1-10 inclusive, so I looked at the letters in squares 1 and 10 and voila! They were P and I. Meta solved, pi it is!

But then I did the puzzle and there was this rhyming issue. Darn, maybe it's not pi...I so want it to be pi, but I sadly submit 2.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 162 correct entries received, is Jason Shapiro of New York City, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Jason will also receive a one-year subscription to Peter Gordon's outstanding Fireball Crosswords. Next week's winner will receive the same.


Guda Venkatesh writes to point out that the Across Lite file for MGWCC puzzles can be downloaded on the AL application below, underneath the grid where it says "Download Crossword for Across Lite." That simple, eh?


In the past I've been lenient about accepting correct second answers from entrants who've submitted incorrect first answers. This has gotten a little out of hand lately (it's tricky to track, for one), so beginning this week at MGWCC, each entrant is allowed exactly one answer per puzzle. So please think twice before submitting your answer!


This week's contest answer is the two grid entries which, when combined, would complete this puzzle's theme pattern. E-mail them 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 either solve on the applet below or download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,412 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

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

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'Tis 2011, Matt. First thought that might be part of the meta, since I know there's been at least one time you had clues here on this page to the final meta answer.