MGWCC #191 — Friday, January 27th, 2012 — “Depth Squad”

Good afternoon, crossword fans — welcome to Week 191 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.


238 solvers got last week’s meta, though a big chunk of them also got a little lucky. The five theme entries consisted of two five-letter words forming nonsense phrases:


Obviously the two words in each pair look strikingly similar — all but CAPED TAPES share four letters, and indeed 76 solvers wound up guessing ANTSY ANGST based on that similarity alone.

But there had to be something else going on, since a pair of five-letter words sharing four letters once anagrammed isn’t much to hang your hat on, and CAPED TAPES doesn’t even follow that pattern. So what was it?

Nudged perhaps by the title “Mix & Match,” successful metapuzzlers did a little mixing and realized that those five pairs each anagram to a set of homophones:


Instructions asked for two entries that would have made an excellent themer, so we’re on the lookout for two five-letter pieces of fill that anagram to homophones. And there they are at 21-a and 50-a, WRONG and ORGAN, which anagram to GROWN and GROAN. And I hope you’ve grown as a person by solving MGWCC, even if you occasionally groan at an answer.

Because no order was specified, I naturally accepted both WRONG ORGAN and ORGAN WRONG as correct, even though the syntax on the second one is a little lacking.

And what did I mean by solvers getting a little lucky? About 25% of those who sent in WRONG ORGAN didn’t fully grok the meta. Rather they guessed it using the same logic that ANTSY ANGST guessers did — a spidey-sense that the general similarity of the letters within each theme pair had to mean something. But luck counts in life, and it certainly counts in MGWCC!

Andrew Greene
finally got the meta this week, but only after a struggle:

I was only looking at the words, not listening to them, so I was solving with my eye, not my ear. You could say I was using the….

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 238 correct entries received, is Neal Hudders of Seattle, Wash. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Neal will also receive a 1-year subscription to Peter Gordon‘s extremely good Fireball Crosswords. Next week’s winner will receive the same.

Incidentally, Patrick Blindauer‘s Fireball from this week, “Little White Lie,” is going to be a strong contender for 2012’s puzzle of the year — so if you’re not yet a Fireball subscriber, consider becoming one.


I blanked last week on a picking a winner, so let’s do it now: the winner of MGWCC #189, whose name was chosen at random from the 442 entries received, is Judyth Stavans of Yorktown Heights, N.Y. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad set, Judyth will also receive a copy of Trip Payne’s forthcoming Kickstarter puzzle suite, which is still available for 4 more days only (and which has now been funded to the tune of almost $4,200!)


Today’s has an amusing theme. Check it out:


I have an intriguing little crossword piece at this afternoon, but I’m not sure exactly when it’s going up. I’ll post the link here when it does, or you can just keep refreshing at Slate’s site every 30 seconds like I am. UPDATE, 3:10 PM: here she is:


This week’s contest answer is a familiar Internet company. E-mail it to me at by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer company 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 (1,636 members now!) here.

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

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