IMPORTANT NOTE: As of January 2015 MGWCC is a subscribers-only crossword. The cost is $26 per year, and you can subscribe (or get a free trial month first) here:
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS:
Cryptic prompt last week: This week’s contest answer is what you need to do to solve the meta. Three grid-spanners looked to comprise the theme:
16-A [Its strategies include the Vertical Stack and the Clam Defense] = ULTIMATE FRISBEE. I always get a bit peeved when someone clues a chess-related entry with the most intriguing-sounding opening(s) they can find, like [Game where you might play the Budapest Gambit] or whatever. But then I totally did it here with this entry. The Clam Defense! I wouldn’t know the Clam Defense if it walked up to me on the street, but it sounds cool.
35-A [Rio event of August 21st, 2016] = CLOSING CEREMONY. I missed it, but man, what a medal count for the USA.
56-A [HBO show since 2014] = LAST WEEK TONIGHT with John Oliver. Do Americans host as many shows over there as Brits do over here? I have no idea.
So from ULTIMATE, CLOSING, and LAST, plus the title “Finishing Touches,” it looks like we’re looking for ends of things — and, as some solvers noticed, the word “end” is noticeably missing from the fun. Curious.
One more hint at 24-A: [How many times to do what you need to do] = TWELVE.
So a number of nudges, but still far from obvious. Turns out the title was the biggest push, since the key was to find the twelve letters in the grid that end two words. They spell out MAKE ENDS MEET, found by 112 solvers. Where finishes of words touch, get it?
Tyler Hinman got it Monday night:
HOLY !@#$ I DID IT Stay tuned for my Week 4 chokejob!
And Evan brute-forced it to save his streak:
Classic back-door solve for me. Nothing for days, then I just wrote down the last letters of all Across answers not in rows 3, 8, and 13. I saw a rough outline of MAKE ENDS MEET in there, and figured that had to be it, but didn’t know how it all worked. I even started folding the printed PDF together like some super-crazy Mad Magazine fold-in. Then I saw the corner letters. I have not met the end of my streak yet!
This week’s winner, whose name was chosen at random from among the 112 correct entries, is A.S. of New York City, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil, and notepad set, A.S. will also receive…
SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK AND NEXT:
In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, winners this week and next will also receive a 1-year subscription to Joon Pahk’s Outside the Box Puzzles. Rows Gardens, Marching Bands, other variety puzzles; highly recommended.
THIS WEEK’S INSTRUCTIONS:
This week’s contest answer is an eight-letter proper noun.
Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.