MGWCC #216 -- Friday, July 20th, 2012 -- GUEST CONSTRUCTOR MONTH PUZZLE #3 -- "One-Armed Bandit" by Patrick Blindauer

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 216 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.


This week's guest constructor is the Tim Burton of crosswords -- relentlessly creative, always interesting, and full of ideas I'm not sure anyone else could have come up with. I certainly wasn't going to let Guest Constructor Month pass without seeing what he had to say; more below.


201 solvers found HORSESHOES as the answer to Pete Muller's meta last week. They'd noticed that the first word of each of the six (!) theme entries could precede "horse" to form a familiar phrase, while the second word of each preceded "shoes" to form the same:

17-a. RACE SADDLE (racehorse, saddle shoes)
23-a. HIGH PLATFORM (high horse, platform shoes)
31-a. WILD OVER (wild horse, overshoes)
45-a. WAR COURT (warhorse, court shoes)
52-a. TROJAN TENNIS (Trojan horse, tennis shoes)
63-a. WORK SAFETY (workhorse, safety shoes)

A straightforward and uncontroversial meta, perfect for week 2 and my month off, right? Except not: 80 solvers sent in the basketball variant H-O-R-S-E as their answer. It's certainly a well-known game (I played it 100s of times during childhood), but is it good enough an answer to count as correct?

After consulting with some wise people I've decided to fall back on a Solomon-like tactic we've used before for very-close-but-maybe-not-quite alternative answers: those who submitted H-O-R-S-E this week were not eligible for the weekly prize, but will remain eligible for the monthly prizes.

The general feeling is that, while HORSESHOES is the better answer, H-O-R-S-E satisfies all the requirements of the meta (is a well-known game, comes from each theme entry, doesn't leave the title unexplained) well enough that it was reasonable to stop looking after you found it, which is what seemed to happen in most of these 80 cases.

These borderline decisions usually ruffle some feathers, but one last thing to consider: close only counts in two cases, and horseshoes is one of them.

Jim Curran says:

Looks like this Muller guy is a real ringer...

And Bob Klahn adds:

I saw this one right away, as should be the case this time of the month. Didn't even have to mull 'er over.

Quit sending me these lousy puns, OK? I mean, for Pete's sake...

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 201 correct entries received, is Carol S. Glasser of Mahopac Falls, N.Y. Carol has selected as her prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.


The Crucisphere is exploding these days, is it not? It feels like we're witnessing something novel and exciting being born every month or two.

The latest exciting addition debuted this morning: Neville Fogarty has a new blog up at http://nevillefogarty.wordpress.com/. He'll be posting a new puzzle there every Friday, the first of which, entitled "First Things First...and Second," took me 7:18 in Across Lite.

I'm stingy with bookmarks but I'm bookmarking this. Go Neville!


Speaking of the exploding Crucisphere, this week's guest constructor is one of its very brightest stars. Patrick Blindauer has been posting monthly puzzles at his site since 2010, the best of which are transcendent: try April 2011's puzzle ("Campfire Meeting") here to see what I mean (scroll down a bit; archive of puzzles is on the right-hand side).

For me personally, Patrick has the highest "I really wish I'd thought of that theme" quotient of any constructor. His Fireball puzzle from January 26th of this year, "Little White Lie," is the crossword I've most had this sentiment towards in recent memory (Can't link since it's subscription only, but the writeup -- with spoilers, take note -- is here).

Now, let's see what he does with a meta. Good luck...you might need it!


This week's contest answer is the answer to a trivia question. 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 (1,818 members now!) here.

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

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