MGWCC #173 -- Friday, September 23rd, 2011 -- "State Lines"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 173 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.


OK, that was a lot tougher than I'd intended! After 410 and then 376 correct answers arrived for weeks 1 and 2, just 93 solvers found ROME as last week's contest answer capital, which means I severely underestimated the difficulty of this meta. That's a number I'd aim for on the fourth or fifth week of a month, not the third.

Solvers were asked to find "a European capital I've never laid eyes on." That and the title hinted at eyesight, and the puzzle's one obvious theme entry hinted at lack of eyesight: {Unfair puzzle square} at 36-across led to BLIND CROSSING, that horrible situation where the band you've never heard of and an Icelandic river cross in your crossword grid, leaving you guessing at the letter.

With BRAILLE at 12-down, some suspicious-looking clumps of black squares, and three entries clued identically as {Dot follower}, many solvers reported spending a long time looking for a Braille message hidden in the grid. That was an evil (and mostly unintentional) red herring, as the meta's secret lay in the literal "blind crossings" of eight famous blind people:

In the NE, Louis BRAILLE and Greek poet HOMER crossed at the R;
In the NW, John MILTON and Stevie WONDER crossed at the O;
In the SW, jazzman Art TATUM and Biblical figure SAMSON crossed at the M;
And in the SE, Ray CHARLES and Helen KELLER crossed at the E.

Put those four blind crossings together and you get ROME, which I do hope to lay eyes on someday.

Like so many solvers this week, John L. Wilson had to take a random stab (his was VATICAN CITY):

After ruling out Lisbon, that left only ~45 others to consider...

Debbie Keller did, too (her stab was REYKJAVIK):

ARRGGHH! I just can't see it! I was so excited to find my last name in the puzzle! I even raised a guide dog (puppy) last year for Leader Dogs for the Blind here in Rochester Hills. So you'd think I could solve this meta! But my answer is a total shot in the dark...

While Jeff Davidson almost sent in a city in Utah before coming to his senses:

I was all ready to submit "OREM" because I knew it was a place *somewhere* before I decided to check to make sure it was in Europe. Whoops. Then I figured you must have made that mistake, too. Then I figured I should check a list of capitals somewhere, starting with O... nothing. What about R?

Oh... duh.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 93 correct entries received, is Todd Etter of Alexandria, Va. Todd has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.


Several solvers have reported printing difficulties with the new .pdf printable format. If you're one of them, note that you can also print directly from the Across Lite file; either join the Google Group to get it by e-mail each Friday, or just click "Download Crossword for Across Lite" under the AL applet on the blog.


I've just started a new daily crossword feature which I've creatively labeled "Matt Gaffney's Daily Crossword" (MGDC). Wednesday was puzzle #0001, and there'll be a new one up at 6 AM each weekday from now until the end of time.

MGDC puzzles are 11x13 in size, lightly themed, and on the easy side; a Monday MGDC will be significantly less difficult than a Monday New York Times puzzle, while a Friday MGDC will be about as tough as a Tuesday Times. No contest or meta, either, so if you have friends who like crosswords but find MGWCC a little rough, send them on over to MGDC.

The site's still bare-bones but I'll spruce it up over the coming week. Here it is:



This week's contest answer is a U.S. state.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer state 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 (1,570 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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