MGWCC #188 -- Friday, January 6th, 2012 -- "Just Desserts"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 188 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.


Fifth Friday last week, so it had to be tough. Instructions asked for a famous athlete, but there were no obvious theme entries in the grid. So where and how to begin?

You may have noticed the crossword term CHEATER SQUARES crossing in the middle of the grid. These are black squares that don't add to the word count of a puzzle (they're termed "cheater squares" since they indicate that the constructor couldn't fill the grid without their help).

There aren't any cheater squares in the grid -- but meta solvers noticed that you could add eight black squares around the edge of the grid without affecting their crossing clues. See red squares in the grid at right.

For example, the M at the intersection of HAREM and MADAM can be blacked out while still leaving the viable answers HARE and ADAM for {It's designed for speedy breeding} and {Part of a palindrome in paradise} -- that's the famous "Madam, I'm Adam."

Similarly, moving clockwise:

Black out the A in SENHORA and SOYA and you get SENHOR and SOY {Nice address in Rio de Janeiro} and {___ sauce}

Black out the R in REELS and RANDY and you get EELS and ANDY {They may be found near a fisherman} and {One of Miss Piggy's two nephews}.

Black out the A in RAJA and ALITTLE and you get RAJ and LITTLE for {Erstwhile holder of dominion in India} and {Not much}

Black out the D in HEARD and DRIFT and you get HEAR and RIFT {Put in one's ears, as music} and {Gradual movement apart}

Black out the O in OOHS and OPOSSUM and you get OHS and POSSUM {Utterances often elicited by massage therapists} and {Frequent roadkill victim}

Black out the N in RICAN and MAYAN and you get RICA and MAYA {Costa ___} and {Word before calendar or hieroglyphs}

Black out the A in TAVERNA and AEON and you get TAVERN and EON {Business that may serve ouzo} and {A billion years}

Take those eight blacked-out letters in order, starting from M, and you get one of the very greatest -- perhaps the greatest -- soccer players of all time, Diego MARADONA -- who also, fittingly for our theme, committed one of the most infamous acts of cheating of all time in sports, 1986's infamous "Hand of God" goal. (watch it here; Maradona punches the ball into the net with his hand, leading Argentina past England and eventually to becoming World Cup champions. Watch Maradona explain how he'd scored goals similar to that in Argentina; the interviewer is Gary Lineker, who was on the English World Cup squad that year. Maradona doesn't even really seem to view what he did as cheating!).

Meg Duvall laments, while submitting Troy POLAMALU:

Because Samoa lost a day and he has great hair. Killed again at the end of the month. But it was fun!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 135 correct entries received, is Christian Parker of Vancouver, B.C. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Christian will also receive a copy of Brendan Quigley's new 21x21 freestyle crossword, still available at the link.

Next week we switch over to a different special prize -- see below.


67 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of December's challenges (QUITO, DICK VAN DYKE, NEW DELHI or N'DJAMENA, EMANUEL, MARADONA). The following ten lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

Erik Agard -- Gaithersburg, Md.

Neal Carey -- Maple Glen, Penna.

Paul Coulter -- Glassboro, N.J.

Peter Gwinn -- Brooklyn, N.Y.

Dan Katz -- Greensboro, N. Car.

Alan Neely -- Hermitage, Tenn.

Rich Novo -- Andover, Mass.

Amy Reynaldo -- Chicago, Ill.

David Schooler -- Washington, D.C.

Matt Soule -- Duluth, Minn.

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


In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, contest winners this week and next will receive a copy of Trip Payne's forthcoming Kickstarter puzzle suite ($20 level). I'm extremely interested in seeing what Trip conjures up for this project -- get your copy at the link for as little as ten bucks.


This week's contest answer is a familiar dessert.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer dessert 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 (1,624 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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