MGWCC #201 -- Friday, April 6th, 2012 -- "Chain Letters"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 201 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.


"Who's on first?" was the question last week, just in time for baseball season. The answers to the rebus-style puzzle revealed four famous baseball surnames with suggestive grid placements:

Those players are:

Nolan RYAN (a pitcher) in the center (BRYANT and BIRYANIS)
Jackie ROBINSON (a 2nd baseman) in the NW (ROBINSON CRUSOE and ROBINSON FAMILY)
Mike SCHMIDT (a 3rd baseman) in the SW (ERIC SCHMIDT and SCHMIDT BEER)
Johnny BENCH (a catcher) in the SE (WEIGHT BENCH and CHURCH BENCH)

So tilt the puzzle (or your head) 45 degrees and you see that everyone's in their correct position on the field. The rebus word FIRST is in the NE, where CAME FIRST and indeed FIRST BASE cross.

So who's on first? As the title hinted towards, the four rebus players were all the top vote-getters at their respective positions on Major League Baseball's All-Century Team. By an enormous margin the top pick for 1st base was the Iron Horse himself, LOU GEHRIG, who therefore also served as last week's contest answer.


366 solvers got this one (one for each day of 2012), which is of course much higher than you'd expect from a Week 5. I didn't think it'd be a total brainbuster, but I liked the theme idea and felt it had to run this week to coincide with baseball season starting. I certainly didn't expect nearly that many people to knock it out of the park, either.

Many solvers, while generally appreciating the theme concept, felt the difficulty level was much too low for a Week 5. They therefore found the puzzle to be a bit disappointing in that regard, especially since Week 4 had also seen a much higher number of correct entries than normal.

My response to that understandable sentiment consists of two parts: first, I'm pleased that Weeks 4 and 5 have gained such a fierce reputation among solvers here; and second, know that I'll enjoy reading your e-mails of anguish when the last Friday of April rolls around. Let's just say that I'm extremely motivated by some of the e-mails I got...you know how Babe Ruth pointed to center field in the World Series and then hit a home run there on the next pitch? That's what I'm doing now!

Rick Gearardo writes:

Puzzle done by Eric Schmidt's company and me.

Regarding the "Traveling mathematician" at 11-down, Bruce Bundy shares this:

when I was a grad student in math back in the 70s, we had
a special year in Number Theory, and Paul Erdos came and stayed there
for a while, he was incredibly entertaining and quirky, and I remember
his cash prizes ( I did not earn any of them ;-) for several number
theory problems...

And Katahdin Withnall says:

Thanks for including my name in 10-down!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 366 correct entries received, is Grant Dossetto of Livonia, Mich. Grant has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.


A record 187 solvers submitted the correct contest answer to all five of March's challenges (CUCUMBER, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY..., CANDLE IN THE WIND, THE BRADY BUNCH, LOU GEHRIG). The following twelve (two more than normal, since the total number of entrants was so high) lucky and skillful winners, chosen randomly from that group, will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set:

David Bardolph -- Grand Rapids, Mich.

Bruce Bundy -- Santa Cruz, Calif.

Zach Burns -- Chicago, Ill.

Jeff Gellner -- Westerville, O.

Lenore Jones -- Palo Alto, Calif.

Brian Kulman -- Los Gatos, Calif.

Cory Oldweiler -- Leland, Mich.

Bob Petitto -- Carol Stream, Ill.

Eli Selzer -- North Hollywood, Calif.

Larry Wasser -- Louisville, Ky.

Bob Willoughby -- Spring Green, Wisc.

Matt Zinno -- Sharon, Mass.

Congratulations to our dozen winners, and to everyone who went 5-for-5 in March.


My first YouTube video is up! It's titled "Where Should I Start on a Crossword Puzzle?" and you can watch it here:


I'll be putting another one up this weekend, and every week or two thereafter.


This is exciting: beginning May 1st, Pete Muller will start publishing a monthly music-based meta-crossword at http://pmxwords.com/. You can sign up for it now (I already have) at the site, and there are prizes to win, too. All free.

In addition to being a musician, Pete is also an imaginative crossword constructor -- see this week's Fireball for proof -- so you'll definitely want to bookmark this baby.


This week's contest answer is a fast-food chain. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer 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 (1,687 members now!) here (oops -- sorry, but the links aren't working for these at the moment. Please use last week's for now).

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

No comments: