MGWCC #151 -- Friday, April 22nd, 2011 -- "Size Matters"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 151 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.


Form followed function in last week's crossword: five letters of the alphabet served not only their standard function as letters, but also took the form of their own shape in the grid: T, O, X, I and C, each letter comprised of itself, snaked clockwise around the grid (see solution at right). This led 274 solvers to correctly peg the contest answer as Britney Spears' 2004 hit TOXIC.

Laura Dove thought the puzzle was:

v     v   eeeee   rrrr   y   y            ccc   ooo     ooo    l
v v e r r y y c o o o o l
v v eeeee rrrr y c o o o o l
v e r r y ccc ooo ooo llllll
eeeee r r y

(OK, I'm not sure this shows up properly formatted on all browsers, but Laura spelled out VERY COOL in the manner of the puzzle theme.)

I didn't pick this song title as the keyword because I especially like it or am especially interested in Britney (I swear!). Rather the choice of keyword was extremely limited: you can only get a good, clear shape for about 10 letters in a 3x3 box maximum, and a few of those can't fit into a grid. For instance, you can make a nice H with seven H's, but then you've got to come up with three entries that have three consecutive H's in them apiece.

At the end of the winnowing process the best letters available were C, D, I, L, O, T and X. I certainly wanted to use the X and five letters seemed like the maximum number of these to fit in a 15x15 grid, especially since I expected the X-section to be tricky.

Which it was, but the T turned out to be the real trouble spot. To my surprise the only triple-T entries I could come up with were SCOTT TUROW and MATT TURK, both of whom I used, plus a couple of other less-famous Matt T.'s (Taibbi, e.g.) and SCOTT T.'s (Thompson, e.g.). I also found British band MOTT THE HOOPLE, who are famous enough to use for sure, but at 13 letters prohibitively awkward to fit in the grid.

None of the few uncapitalized English words that end in -tt (butt, mitt, putt, watt) yielded a decent three-T phrase, but Joon Pahk at Crossword Fiend did find PITT THE ELDER and PITT THE YOUNGER.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 274 correct entries received, is David Howorth of Oxford, Miss. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, David will also receive an autographed copy of Patrick Jordan's new book Crafty Crosswords.


Just eight entries in the Hard Luck Contest, and the winner hands-down on points is Joel Berghoff of San Rafael, Calif. Joel writes that he's been eligible for about 75 weekly prizes and 12 monthly prizes but has yet to win anything at all. Quite tragic:

I'm generally a lucky person, which makes this even
more frustrating. I won an NCAA bracket contest last
year (believe me, it was luck) and I've won at least
100 call-in radio contests in my life.

There's my sob story. Waah waah.

For his pain, Joel will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set.

Here's another sad tale from M.M.:

If it weren't for bad luck I would have no luck at all. Statistics? People with my streak of luck don't believe in statistics, we believe what Homer Simpson said about them "Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. 14% of people know that." What I have is a relationship with the first correct answer I ever provided in your contest "Aesop" as I am the proverbial tortoise. Your A List of solvers don't know the pain of another 3 for 4 month or worse the 4 for 5 months. You see, my bad luck means that I have no shot to win a weekly contest. I lose to people who are simply known as P.G. from some random city or worse from whereabouts unknown. So I plod along each and every month hoping to be one of the few who qualify for that coveted pen and pencil...Statistics? Don't need 'em, save them for other folks. My luck knows no odds.

M.M. is our second-place winner, for which he will receive -- not a damn thing! When it rains, it pours.


The Third Annual Boston Crossword Tournament is tomorrow! That's Saturday, April 23rd from 1-5 PM at the Harvard University Science Center. Check it out if you're in the area, details here:



This week's contest answer is a major American corporation.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest corporation 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 (1,479 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here. [UPDATE, 4/22, 1:50 PM ET: Joshua Kosman points out that the clue for 23-across is incorrect. It should read {Carlo preceder}.]


Once again: in addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, next week's winner will receive an autographed copy of Patrick Jordan's new book Crafty Crosswords.

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

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