MGWCC #034 -- Friday, January 23, 2009 -- "Three Thirteen-Letter Phrases"

Ahoy, Fellow Cruciverbalists! Welcome to Week 34 of my crossword contest. If you're new to the contest and would like to enter, please see the site FAQ on the left sidebar for instructions.


Pain was promised, and pain was delivered! Wounded by accusations that the puzzles and meta-puzzles were getting too easy, I lashed out like a cornered wombat last week, declaring that 50 or fewer correct entries would land in my mailbox. I received a mere 36 right answers, thus restoring my cruciverbal alpha malehood. The human psyche is a delicate and often ridiculous thing.

Last week's puzzle featured no immediately obvious theme -- the only nudges the solver received were three asterisked clues, which yielded the entries MERIDIAN, MINISTER and RIB, plus mention in the instructions that the contest answer phrase was four words long and a total of seventeen letters.

Many solvers noticed that MERIDIAN, MINISTER and RIB total seventeen letters [UPDATE -- no they don't, but it worked anyway! -- see below] and theorized that the answer might be an anagram of them: among the answers submitted along these lines were MISTER, I'M NERD BRAIN; A BAD-BRAINED MASTER; and RIB DINNER MIME STAR. The entrant submitting the last one, having spent several hours on what he assumed had to be an anagram of the asterisked words, appended the following note with his entry:

If this isn't an anagram, I will track you down...

Just try it, buddy! Dude knows karate and isn't afraid to use it.

No, the seventeen letters in the asterisked entries was just a taste of that fish known as red herring, and it never tasted so nice as it did this week as I perused the lamentations of my anagramming solvers [UPDATE: wait a sec, those total 19 letters, or 18 with the crossing of MINISTER and MERIDIAN...what kind of a subpar trap was that, and how did so many of you fall for it?] Those who got past this trap realized that the word prime can precede all three of these asterisked words to make a common phrase...and another common phrase, READY FOR PRIME TIME, which last week's contest answer, conceals itself in the prime numbered grid squares. See solution grid at left (OK, for some reason Blogger isn't letting me upload the solution grid right now -- I'll post it when they do. If you'd like to see it now, it's downloadable at the Google Group page or at Joon Pahk's writeup here:


[UPDATE: OK, I figured it out, solution posted above left -- but read Joon's excellent writeup at the above link anyway.)

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 36 correct entries received, is Norm Chafetz of Austin, Tex. Norm has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.


1) I fell way behind on sending out prize books, but they're all in the mail as of about four hours ago. If your surname is Chafetz, Chodorow, Fineman, Fogarty, Gilbert, Kalustian, Kazmer, McVann, Sassouni or Tebbe, your book is now in the hypercompetent hands of the United States Postal Service.

I'm sorry these took so long -- I know it's annoying to win a prize and then wait up to eight weeks to receive it. I was good during the first six months of the contest in getting books out right when people had won, but then around the holidays things got busy and I kept deprioritizing it with the ol' "it's just one more week" rationale. So apologies to those who've been waiting a long time for their loot -- it's en route as we speak.

2) Having shown myself unable to reliably send out one prize per week, I now announce...NEW PRIZES! That's right -- those of you who wonder why MGWCC prizes aren't more merit-based, wonder no more. Beginning in February, I'll be sending out 10 MGWCC-emblazoned pen, pencil and notepad sets at the end of each month to lucky winners who've correctly deduced every contest answer word in that month's puzzles. Weekly book prizes will continue unaffected by the new loot. More details next week!


After last week's hellish solve, Jeffrey Krasnick submitted his answer -- I AM COMPLETELY LOST -- and wrote:

Bring back the easy ones!

OK, OK...

One of the grid entries in this week's puzzle anagrams into one of the eleven you didn't need. This grid entry is this week's contest answer word. E-mail it to me (the actual entry in the grid, not its clue number) at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer word 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, join the Google Group here:


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

1 comment:

cybergoober said...

Well, I saw the connection with prime numbers, just never hit with the correct phrase.
But the use of prime-numbered grid squares?! Aweseome!