Tag Archives: WSJ

WSJ Crossword Contest 4-9-21 Answer

I initially had some struggles with this one, but it all worked out in the end. And I got to do the same pen-on-paper thing I like doing. Only a couple overwrites this time, which is better than other times. But the main thing is getting the answer and the hope at that coffee mug. It’s something that eludes me, and I never have my hopes up anymore.

As is always the case, I had to make it legible and highlightable.

With the title THE PLAY’S THE THING and a clue of “word from Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy.

My knowledge of Shakespeare is complete. I am fully aware of Bill Shakespeare. Dude is so famous that he was among the first to get the covid vaccine in England.

But my knowledge in Shakespeare appears to be shakier.

That is so say there was no way to do this from my memory. Which meant: To the googles!

I found the soliloquy on Wikipedia, but there are many versions, so that was a dead end. I only learned it was doomed a little while into it, but I’ll save you that experience.

I shifted to the approach I use for the puzzles when I don’t know the subject matter. It’s definitely a good idea because, you know, I don’t know the subject matter.

I began with highlighting the answers to the clues that used quotation marks. It wasn’t working out.

I followed that up with the standard: going off the longest answers.

With those identified, I saw some characters I recognized from Bill’s plays. I fumbled around and found others.

But it’s not the characters–THE PLAY’S THE THING. So it’s about which play the characters are in.

DUNCAN: Macbeth
IAGO: Othello
ROMEO: Romeo and Juliet
VIOLA: Twelfth Night
PUCK: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
BEROWNE: Love’s Labour’s Lost

MORTAL is the answer. No way I get there just from the soliloquy.

WSJ Crossword Contest 3-12-21 Answer

Whoo! This was one that took many steps for me to get.

The title of the puzzle is Pre-Order Your Copy Now, and the clue is classic American company.

Really, always fun to make the crossouts in a crossword by pen.

Clearer is better for analysis.

I highlighted the long answers that I was sure would play into the contest.

Then I noticed that the letter H started the second words.

I started looking at the Pre-Order part of the clue and thought that it had something to do with E-O.

I realized it did not, but maybe it had something to do with a SHOE?

But then there was the U.

HOUSE! In random order!

WSJ Crossword Contest 3-5-21 Answer

This puzzle wasn’t too bad, and the theme was easy to follow.

When I started with the WSJ Crossword Contest, I thought the way to solve the puzzles was absurd. But I’ve learned that they follow a logic that repeats. I don’t think I’m robbing myself of a mug by pointing out that the answers generally have to do with the longest answers, themed answers, starred clues, or weird patterns.

I’m used to not winning contests anyway or having my name in print in association with puzzles from when I got snubbed by Will Shortz.

That’s not to say that that formula will give the answer always, and sometimes it’s just an early step in getting to the answer, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not as scary.

The title of this one is Overlaps, and the theme clues were repeats. They overlapped that way.

And the answer to this week’s contest crossword is an eight-letter word.

Easier to read now.

As usual I highlighted the answers I thought were applicable to the meta puzzle.

And very quickly I saw the shingles as the overlaps of the theme answers.

WSJ Contest Crossword 2-19-21 Answer

This is the fastest I’ve ever gotten the meta puzzle answer. Also likely the fastest I’ve ever gotten the Friday crossword completed. That is to say that I sent in the answer at 3:02pm on Thursday, and I didn’t even print out the puzzle as soon as it was released.

I’ve said this before, but there’s something that’s just fun about doing the crossword with pen and paper that isn’t there on the screen. I don’t know if it’s the risk of crossouts or the illegibility or sometimes misread of which clue goes with which box, but I’m going to keep on doing this for the WSJ crossword contest.

The title of this puzzle is IN CHARACTER.

The answer to this week’s contest crossword is a famous novel.

For my analysis, I still have to put it into a different format, so there’s no real time saving to do it all onscreen.

I’ve learned from the past that the starred clues are important for the meta puzzle answer.

17A *Lightly fruity wine: BEAUJOLAIS.
25A *Faultfinding situation: BLAMEGAME.
50A *Meditation-while-asleep practice: DREAMYOGA.
58A *1970 chart-topping hit for the Jackson 5: ILLBETHERE.

Then there was the hint clue:

36A George Eliot novel that’s not the contest answer, but provides a hint to it: MIDDLEMARCH.

BTW, What’s that comma doing in the clue?

Whatever this thing is must be in the middle of these long answers!

As to what links JO, MEG, AMY, and BETH, Calah immediately blurted, “Little Women!” And there you have it.

WSJ Crossword Contest 2-12-21 Answer

I definitely made tons of assumptions on this one but can’t imagine I’m wrong.

Always fun to do the printed crossword in pen!
It’s unlikely that the it’s actually the reason that that’s how you get FIRE, but I don’t know!

I took the long answers and reverse-engineered the 39A FIRE. I haven’t figured out how it’s supposed to work.

I thought there was a chance that there was a Double R concept somehow.

Then I reconsidered and saw that there was Harry Belafonte and Sally Struthers.

Additionally Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom.

I couldn’t find a second Sally.

I submitted When Harry Met Sally.

WSJ Contest Answer 1-29-21

Solving by pen is pretty fun. But it doesn’t really help with the crossword contest solving.

But I solve the crossword contest by entering the grid into a spreadsheet anyway, so I enjoy the one puzzle I do on paper.

The title is MAKE HIM FROM THEM, and the clue is ONE-NAMED SINGER.

The long answers include PRONOUN, which goes with MAKE HIM FROM THEM.

Also the singer must be a him, right?

USHER it is!

WSJ Contest 1-23-21

This puzzle was easy to get to but hard to solve.

With six word and a six-letter meta puzzle, I had to be on the right track.

That the puzzle is in the key of C gave me more confidence. And that it was a C meant it was probably a DO RE MI type of thing.

I looked for things at the end. HEEL probably went with SOL because heel and sole. That became obviously wrong the more I went along.

What if I tried to find notes everywhere? Would that help?


Back to the original.

OK way more sense. The letters at the end of each long word.


CMaj scale:

DO – C
RE – D
MI – E
FA – F
LA – A
TI – B



There you have it! DEGBAC

I submitted CHORDS, but I know that’s not right.

WSJ Crossword 1-14-21 Complete

It’s Thursday and the first full day of the Biden presidency. A reminder that I’m writing this on Sunday, January 17. It’s the end of my first week of doing last week’s puzzles on Sunday and timing them to post throughout the week.

I pulled out 57A Is for two: ARE because I got a chuckle out of it. Is is for one. Are is for two. What a world!

The title of this puzzle is Victory Parade. Biden won, the inauguration was yesterday, and even Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal has long turned to dunking on Trump.

17A Like an active surfer?: INMANYWAVES.
24A Message left for each of Henry VIII’s spouses?: AWORDTOTHEWIVES.
36A Suffers from a fear of icicles? FEELSILLATEAVES.
49A Motivations for midnight snacking?: THELATESTCRAVES.
58A Cat’s nine-pat allotment?: PACKOFLIVES.

It was all gratuitous these:

Dean Windass.


WSJ Crossword 1-13-21 Complete

Happy Inauguration Day! Hooray for Biden.

This is the ides of January puzzle. Too many people don’t know that the ides of a month is more infrequently than not on the 15th. It’s on the 13th day of every month that isn’t one of March, May, July, and October. Also I’m writing this on Sunday, January 17, and the deeper into the week I get, the more I don’t know what has happened. If the tone of this blog post is incongruous with how the world looks, my bad. But hi from the past!

I pulled out 23A Plymouth Reliant, e.g.: KCAR because I had only heard of the K-Car in the Barenaked Ladies song If I Had $1,000,000:

If I had $1,000,000 I would buy you a K-Car (a nice reliant automobile).

It makes more sense now that I know that a Reliant is a K-Car, so it’s a good play on words as both a reliant automobile and a Reliant automobile. Nice job, BNL. Also in the news is that Chrysler has merged with PSA, the company that made Peugeot and Citröen. The joint company is called Stellantis. Is it a dumb name? Yes. But is it a good name? No.

The title of this puzzle is You’re All Wet.

17A Unofficial means of communication: BACKCHANNEL. We no longer have to worry about the current president advising that a foreign government “talk to Rudy.” Hooray!
25A Floor routine component: HANDSPRING. This is an interesting clue to me because 10D Bestselling PDAs: PALMPILOTS while Handspring did not and does not get that title.

It WAS palm-powered, but it was no Pilot.
This newer palm model is so much sleeker than the older Handspring above.

36A Penny Lane Locale: LIVERPOOL. Also in my ears and in my eyes.
50A Seneca, e.g.: FINGERLAKE. I hadn’t heard of the Finger Lakes until recently when one of the late-night hosts mentioned them, I think. I don’t remember which one it was, and it’s all a blur.

58A Geographic feature, and a hint to four answers in this puzzle: BODYOFWATER.


Finished this one in 13:50. Not bad for a Wednesday.

WSJ Crossword 1-12-21 Complete and a story about baseball!

This blog post ended up mostly being about the clue and answer I pulled out, so it may be more entertaining to read than most of the WSJXW blog posts are. I did struggle with this one a little, but I made my way through. This doing-them-all-on-Sunday thing is fine so far. We’ll see how it continues.

I pulled out 8A Ballpark official: SCORER because it reminds me of when I was a baseball broadcaster in college. I read the entire NCAA rulebook for baseball and always brought the book with me to games because I had no one around me to let me know what had just happened when there was a crazy event in the game. There was one game I called with my often-broadcast partner Mitchell Clements where this rulebook came in handy. A guy got to first base, and the next batter was power hitter. I saw that the third baseman was playing almost on the outfield grass, and although this batter had the speed to turn a close triple into a long single, he decided to drop down a bunt down the third baseline. To the casual baseball fan, it seems like a standard sacrifice bunt play: He was thrown out easily, and the runner moved over from first to second. However, it didn’t look to me like that’s what he had wanted to do. I saw that the third baseman was playing deep. I figured he saw the same thing. Rather than give himself up, it sure seemed like he had gone rogue and decided to drop down a bunt into no-man’s land in an attempt to make it to first safely.

Per the rules:

SECTION 8. A sacrifice bunt is credited to the batter when, with fewer than
two outs, his bunt enables a runner to advance, provided no other runner is put
out attempting to advance. A sacrifice fly is credited when, with fewer than two
outs, his fly, fair or foul, enables a runner to score. In either case, the sacrifice
ruling applies when the batter is put out before he reaches first base or would
have been put out if the ball had been fielded without error.
This is is what everyone knows.

HOWEVER, then there’s this:

Exception—If, in the judgment of the official scorer, the batter is bunting primarily for a base hit, do not score a sacrifice. Instead, charge the batter with a time at bat.

I knew it had to be the latter. I knew there was no chance he had been instructed to play smallball in that situation.

Announcement from the official scorer: “Sacrifice.”

After that game, the head coach was unfazed by my question about that play. He shrugged it off and said that sometimes they ask this batter to drop down a bunt to move a guy over and that the plan had worked. I was unconvinced and asked the guy later what had really happened. He seemed kind of excited to tell me that my analysis in real time had been entirely correct.

Since I wasn’t the official scorer, it went down as a sacrifice. But I knew the rule.

That was true a decade ago, and it remains in the most recently published rulebook.

Major League Baseball unsurprisingly has a similar rule:


But there’s an interpretation that the NCAA rulebook does not have:


So there you go.

The title of this puzzle is A Few Brief Words.

20A Secret compartments in some desks: HIDDENDRAWERS. Also what is often found under a pair of pants on the bedroom only after the rest of the laundry is done.
33A Some Pixar works: ANIMATEDSHORTS.
40A Long proboscises: ELEPHANTTRUNKS.
57A Golden Gloves competitors: AMATEURBOXERS.


Finished this one in 18:15.