Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 60 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.
[IMPORTANT SOLVING UPDATE -- 7/24, 5:15 PM ET: a solver has mentioned that his printout of today's puzzle has heavy black bars running along several lines in the middle rows and columns of the puzzle grid. Not sure if everyone is getting these, but this is NOT part of the puzzle or the meta, it's just a printing issue.]
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:
148 solvers added a single penstroke to five everyday phrases last week, coming up with goofy new phrases. They were:
EPIC FAILURE became ERIC FAILURE (add a stroke to the P in EPIC)
KOSHER DELI became KOSHER DELT (add a stroke to the I in DELI)
CRACKLIN' OAT BRAN became CRACKLIN' QAT BRAN (add a stroke to the O in OAT)
PRAY FOR A MIRACLE became BRAY FOR A MIRACLE (add a stroke to the P in PRAY)
MY LEFT FOOT became MY LEET FOOT (add a stroke to the F in LEFT -- by far the favorite theme entry, judging by e-mails)
Take those five replacement letters, and you get RTQBE, which anagrams to Q*BERT, which was last week's contest answer. Answers were accepted as correct with or without the asterisk. Puzzle solution at top left.
Several solvers had never heard of QAT -- but Scrabble players have! In addition to being a stimulant chewed in several Arabic-speaking countries, it's also one of the handiest words allowed in Scrabble.
This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 148 correct entries submitted, is Spencer Thomas of Ann Arbor, Mich. Spencer has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Gridlock.
E-MAIL OF THE WEEK:
Gavin Glenn Harris writes:
Here's a funny story. I am [in my mid-30s] and of course my younger brothers and I played the Atari 2600 like crazy. My mum was always yelling at us to turn it off and go play outside.
One day we all came home from school, and I guess Mum had lost track of what time it was because we caught her playing Q*bert like a madwoman. The look on her face was like a cornered animal: scared, surprised and angry. But after she was outed, the four of us bonded quite a bit with Q*bert, Pitfall (her favourite), Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Burgertime.
It was so cool to see my mother getting into video games as intensely as we did. By the way, she still plays games, albeit on her laptop.
Interesting things going on over at Alex Boisvert's Kaidoku blog (new puzzles by Alex every Thursday and by me every Monday).
"You always hurt the one you love," says the old song -- and could it be that Alex, a fan of Kaidoku, has unintentionally killed the game by creating a snazzy new solving applet? One of the finer points of solving Kaidoku with pencil and paper is that it's very difficult to brute-force your way to a solution in a well-made puzzle. Keeping track of what guesses you've made, plus the physical logistics of the amount of erasing required, made playing Kaidoku hunches a risky game.
No more. Alex's beautiful solving applet now fills in all letters for a given number once the solver inputs a single letter as their guess. As commenters on the blog have noted, this now makes brute force a much more potent solving strategy.
Are Alex and I abandoning ship? Quite the opposite -- we're upping the ante. Starting with next Thursday's post the puzzles are going to get tougher. So head on over and enjoy the applet while the puzzles are still (relatively) easy -- pretty soon it's no more Mr. Nice Guys in Kaidokuland.
THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:
This week's contest answer is of no specific length. Note: There is no Across Lite version of MGWCC available this week (I'll tell you why in next week's post). To make up for the inconvenience of having to print the puzzle out, I'm extending the contest entry deadline one full day. E-mail your entry to me at firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer in the subject line of your e-mail. [UPDATE, 7/24, 2:25 PM ET -- only one correct entry so far, two hours after posting. And that entrant wrote that this week's meta was "Far easier than I'd expect for the fourth week of the month"!!][IMPORTANT SOLVING UPDATE -- 7/24, 5:15 PM ET: a solver has mentioned that his printout of this week's puzzle has heavy black bars running along several lines in the middle rows and columns of the puzzle grid. Not sure if everyone is getting these, but this is NOT part of the puzzle or the meta, it's just a printing issue.]
SPECIAL PRIZE THIS WEEK:
Instead of receiving a book written by me, next week's winner will receive a copy of The New York Sun Crosswords #21, which hasn't yet hit bookstore shelves. Peter Gordon, editor of the series (and of the late great New York Sun crossword) will autograph the winner's prize.
To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite (not this week, but in future weeks) download the free software here, then join the burgeoning Google Group (708 members!) here.
If you have trouble printing out the image below, check the archives in the Google Group for more options. If that doesn't work, e-mail me.
Solve well, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.
Posted by Matt Gaffney at 10:21 AM