MGWCC #195 -- Friday, February 24th, 2012 -- "Treasure Hunt"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 195 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.


What well-known mountain served as last week's contest answer? Solvers had five theme entries to work with, starred for clarity since there was fill longer than one of the themers:

{He was executed on May 23, 1701*} = CAPTAIN KIDD

{"Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" actor*} = KAL PENN

{"Gladiator" director*} = RIDLEY SCOTT

{Glamorous comics reporter, 1940-2011*} = BRENDA STARR

{"Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe" author*} = FANNIE FLAGG

The first thing to notice is that each of these five people's surname ends in a double letter. The second thing to notice is that if you remove one of those double letters you're left with a word (kid, pen, Scot, star, flag).

Most solvers got that far, but the third thing to notice was much trickier: four of the five cross one of their own type, minus that double letter. So FANNIE FLAG(G) crosses the UNION JACK, which is a flag; RIDLEY SCOT(T) crosses Alexander Graham BELL, who was a Scot; BRENDA STAR(R) crosses DENEB, which is a star; and CAPTAIN KIDD crosses OLIVER (Twist, on whom the musical is based), who is a kid.

So what's missing? KAL PENN has no pen crossing him, so as joon pahk put it in his Crossword Fiend writeup on Tuesday, "my working hypothesis right now is that there is a well-known mountain whose name is also a kind of pen. the existence of such a thing would, for me, solve the meta."

There is such a pen, as joon Googled his way to: MONT BLANC, which was our contest answer mountain, and which completes the puzzle's theme pattern.

Just 53 solvers sent in the correct answer, which is far lower than I had predicted (my fault, not yours; maybe shoulda made it Week 4 instead of Week 3). I had figured that UNION JACK crossing FLAG(G) and DENEB crossing STAR(R) would jump out for more people than it did; but it was tricky, since none of the four crossing entries interesects the theme entry on the keyword itself (DENEB really crosses BRENDA, for example, and UNION JACK crosses FANNIE).

A few notes on the puzzle and meta:

*** A number of entrants didn't like the title, "Mis Universe," since they felt it implied that the mountain was not located on Earth. I was going for "a universe of words that end in a double letter that becomes a word when you remove one of the double letters." Commenter (and Fiend blogger) pannonica suggested "Snow Cap" in comments here, and I agree that that's an elegant and superior title (playing on the surname Capp, plus describing Mont Blanc itself).

*** The most popular incorrect answer was K2, which 57 entrants submitted using the logic that each of the five themers ends in a double consonant. Most K2 entrants didn't seem convinced that their answer was correct, however.

*** Here are some other guesses solvers submitted:

GRAND TETON -- 16 entries. The five double letters that end the theme entries are GRNDT, which suggest GRAND TETON, though too tenuously to be accepted as an alternate entry.

MONS WOLFF -- 8 entries. This is on the moon. The logic is that it's a mountain ending with a double letter, and the "Universe" part of the title might suggest outer space. But there are lots of mountains that end in a double letter (on Earth, at least) and Mons Wolff isn't really "well-known" (it doesn't have its own Wikipedia page, for example).

Other double letter-ending mountains submitted were Mt. Mitchell (6 entries), the volcano Mt. Pelee (3 entries), and Iceland's famous Eyjafjallajökull (3 entries).

Tom Viscelli writes:

I'm guessing you're not looking for the MATTerhorn.

Alan Neely submitted MONT BLANC and asked:

Is this also the prize for this week?

Sure thing, Alan -- will this one suffice?

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 53 correct entries received, is Ana de Mahomar of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Ana has selected as her prize an autographed copy of 20 Minute On-the-Road Crossword Puzzles.


There is a treasure hidden somewhere nearby, and this puzzle is your map! This week's contest answer is your four-letter treasure, and where you found it.
E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer treasure/location 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 (1,654 members now!) here.

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

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