MGWCC #153 -- Friday, May 6th, 2011 -- "New York's Finest"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 153 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.


170 solvers found a SEVEN AND SEVEN waiting as the contest answer, though many of them -- perhaps half -- solved the meta without fully understanding the trick lurking beneath the surface (BTW, long story but no solution file today; I'll have it up next week, but click here for now).

The puzzle's four theme entries each contained a successive number from two to five:


What's the logic of these four phrases? In each case, the number is followed by the symbol sharing its key on a computer keyboard: 2 @ A TIME, 3 # ROAST, COST 4 $, and 5 % RULE.

What next? Contest instructions asked for an alcoholic drink with thirteen letters in its name. SIX CARET something seems like a good place to start, but no drink begins that way (maybe a six-carrot smoothie?). Besides, the clue for SIX at 66-across tells the solver to skip SIX.

Which means we're looking for a 13-letter alcoholic beverage beginning with SEVEN AND, since 7 shares its key with the ampersand. Drinky types and skilled Googlers alike quickly found our contest answer, the SEVEN AND SEVEN (or, if you prefer, 7 & 7).

Doug Peterson

You're a shifty one, Matt.

Jeffrey Harris writes:

You did one bang-up job on this puzzle...solid as a six-caret diamond. Eight stars!

Getting SEVEN AND SEVEN was easy for Jimmy Dale:

I had three of them last night!!

He wasn't alone. Jim Sempsrott:

Oddly enough, that is what I am drinking right now. You'll never catch me in a Starbucks!

Cory Oldweiler

I really hope this is right as I'm a bartender

And finally, three detailed solves. The first is Todd Dashoff:

I solved the grid and had no clue. “!@#$%^&*()”, I said. “That Gaffney, he’s done it to me again in the last week of the month! I stared @ the puzzle for a while, but still nothing came to mind. I decided to let my subconscious work on it. No success. I #ed my head against the wall – why can’t I get this meta?

I’d be better off spending my hard-earned $ on lottery tickets; I’d probably have a better chance of winning. Every month it’s the same. Get 75 % of the puzzles, and fail on the last week.

Then I had a paradigm SHIFT. I’d finally figured it out; time to reward myself with a well- deserved 7&7.

Eric Prestemon's entire solving log is worth a look:


And last but not least, Robert Hartford:

Took a break and said to my wife "Gaffney has me totally stumped, I can't even get a toehold". When I came back, I wrote 3lb, 4$ and 5% on my scratch pad. Lucky for me I was sitting at my computer, happened to glance down and finally saw it. OK skip 6, so where is the AND? Well, you can sorta get an AND starting at 43 across (4+3=7) by going NE then down, but that's pretty darned inelegant. Hmm. 7 and, 7 and, 7 and .... I don't know how many times I said "7 and" to myself before I heard what I was saying - but it was a lot.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 170 correct entries received, is Jim Silvestro of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J. Jim has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.


87 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of April's challenges (BALTIMORE ORIOLES, PORTUGAL, TOXIC, STARBUCKS, 7&7). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Jeffrey Harris -- Norwalk, Conn.

Brent Holman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Don Lloyd -- Point Reyes Station, Calif.

Mike Marcus -- New Haven, Conn.

Chip Prince -- New York City, N.Y.

Dean Scungio -- Johnston, R.I.

Josh Shellman -- Fuquay-Varina, N.C.

Dan & Sue White -- Manhattan Beach, Calif.

Larry Wasser -- Louisville, Ky.


Congratulations to our ten winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in April.


Last weekend's Crosswords L.A. tournament crowned Jordan Chodorow champion and Eric LeVasseur and Eric Maddy runners-up. If you'd like to solve the event's puzzles for the nominal fee of $5 (which goes to a charity called Reading to Kids), visit this link on Alex Boisvert's website:



This week's contest answer is the name of a well-known crossword constructor. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer constructor 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 (1,490 members now!) here. To solve with friends at Team Crossword, click here.

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

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