MGWCC #500 — Friday, December 29th, 2017 — A DECEMBER TO DISMEMBER, PUZZLE #5 — “Don’t Even Think About It”

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:


Guest constructor Nate Cardin asked us to find a pair of eight-letter words last week, and our theme entries were…what? By length or cluing, nothing really stuck out. But successful solvers followed this chain of insights:

1) The puzzle’s title, “The Sixth Element,” suggest carbon, whose abbreviation on the periodic table is C.
2) There are exactly eight C’s in the grid, suggesting that we’re on the right path, since instructions ask for a pair of eight-letter words.
3) How to logically extract two letters from each of these eight C’s? Since each letter in a crossword is part of both an across and a down word, check those sixteen starting letters of the words that cross at these eight C’s. And indeed they spell out two forms of carbon: GRAPHITE and DIAMONDS, found by 193 solvers. An elegant solve!

EliSelzer says:

Thanks, Nate, for stuffing a delightful lump of coal in our stockings!


Exactly the meta I would expect from a chemistry teacher.

Which Nate is, as you may recall from the bio of his Guest Constructor Month puzzle in June.

Jonesy found a wild red herring:

having exactly 8 capital ‘C’ letters in the clues was really cruel… also it’s amazing how many clues seem oddly worded or oddly specific when you can’t get a toehold anywhere in the grid…

This was Marty D‘s first time here but he got it (!):

First try at MGWCC and I managed to figure it out. Looking forward to more of the same in 2018

And finally, ASB writes:

Former chemistry major here! Tricky to have AU at 1 across/down. Plus LEAD and TIN scattered throughout the puzzle. Took me until Monday to figure out the carbon part. Then stuck on the adjacent C letters for way too long, thinking back to “Side-eye”. But I did figure it had to be a similar mechanism. Great puz, Nate!

This week’s winner, whose name was chosen at random from among the 193 correct entries received, is Liza of Bexley, O. In addition to a MGWCC pen, pencil, and notepad set, Liza will also receive a 1-year subscription to Andrew Ries’ new weekly subscription feature, Aries Freestyle. Next week we return to normal prizes.


We’re at the midpoint of Matt Gaffney’s Weekly Crossword Contest, which will end on August 13th, 2027, with puzzle #1000. I’ll have some reminiscences and thank yous to share next week (not this week since people will think they’re part of the meta!).


This week’s contest answer is a twelve-letter phrase.

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

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