2/25/10

MGWCC #091 -- Friday, February 26th, 2010 -- "Risk Analysis"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 91 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.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


The sport of BOXING was last week's contest answer. 282 solvers sent this meta to the canvas by noticing the 2x2 same-letter boxes scattered around the grid: B, G, N and X in the corners, plus O- and I-boxes in the center. Which summer Olympics sport do those six yield? BOXING, of course -- which solvers did a little of by boxing up those six sets of four letters. Solution at top left.

Anagrams take a minute to click sometimes. Before getting BOXING, Les & Sam Wagner thought the meta answer might be:

X-BOING -- extreme trampolining?


This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 282 correct entries received, is Tom Ames of Phoenix, Ariz. Tom has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

TWO THINGS:

1) Congratulations to Dan Feyer, Howard Barkin and Anne Erdmann for their 1-2-3 finish at the ACPT.

2) I'm not the only one who writes crosswords with metapuzzles -- Justin Smith wrote this puzzle for (and distributed it at) the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament:

http://justinspuzzles.com/metacross_puzzles/metacross_8.html



THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:


This week's contest answer is one of the 42 territories on a Risk board. If you don't have a Risk board, there's a nice picture of one here (click to enlarge photo).

E-mail your answer to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer 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 download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,095 members now!) here.



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

2/18/10

MGWCC #090 -- Thursday, February 18, 2010 -- "London Match"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 90 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.

NOTE: This week's crossword is going up a day early so people heading to the ACPT will have something to do on the plane/train. I'm also extending the deadline for this puzzle to Wednesday at noon ET to give tournament solvers a little elbow room.


LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:


Oh, yes -- OHNO was last week's contest crossword answer. 14-across wasn't just a cry of lament, it was also the surname of 5-time Olympic medalist Apolo Anton OHNO.

Well...he was a 5-timer when I wrote the puzzle, but he won a sixth on Sunday and goes for a seventh this weekend, so who knows. The main point is that he's won all three colors of Olympic medal, as stipulated in both the instructions and in the three theme puns, each of which riffs off a medal color. Solution at top left.

I specifically searched the grid for alternate answers, but didn't see any names that popped out as worth Wikipediaing. Surely some random word in my grid wouldn't also happen to be an Olympic gold, silver and bronze winner, right?

Right...but it was really close. Jim Kaye found this Swiss curler with two Olympic silvers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirjam_Ott

That's got to be one of the oddest pics on Wikipedia...Ott is the one on the left!

Several solvers mentioned Stephen Eaton, a discus thrower in recent Paralympics Games. I might have been inclined to accept this answer, except that Eaton has won "only" the gold and bronze, not silver.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 266 correct entries received, is Josh Shellman of Angier, N.C. Josh has selected as his prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

OHNO'S FIRST SILVER:

Now I have an excuse to post this great Olympics video, where Apolo Anton Ohno won his first silver. The race is more known for its surprise ending that gave Steven Bradbury Australia's first ever Winter Olympics gold:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfQMJtilOGg


HARD LUCK CONTEST RESULTS COMING TOMORROW:


A mere 14 entries to the Hard Luck Contest! So people don't feel as unlucky as I imagined. Winner and selected "I-can't-believe-I-still-haven't-won" rants coming tomorrow.

UPDATE: HARD LUCK CONTEST WINNER(S)!

This was interesting -- I received a total of 16 Hard Luck Contest entries (a couple of stragglers showed up in the past 24 hours). Of these, four were clearly jokes (one had only entered the contest twice). One of the remaining twelve was ineligible since he'd won a monthly prize. So I had 11 legitimate entries to work with.

Oddly enough, I couldn't find a single entrant who had really, truly had awful luck in MGWCC. It's easy for me to check entrants' numbers, and several had their hard luck stories skewered by my relentless statistical assault. Odds are often tough to calculate anyway, and winning a weekly prize ain't as easy as it used to be 15 or 18 months ago.

So without a clear statistical winner I decided to go for the funniest rant. I don't yet have permission from the sender of this to reproduce her name and city/state, but I'll go ahead and cite some of her words anonymously here:

I have been with you since puzzle #1 when no one knew about you and now, with more than now-89-puzzle-options-to-win-something increasing every week, I my win-to-submission odds are rapidly diminishing every week. How many solutions have I sent in? I don't know. A conservative estimate? I'm guessing there are at easily 40+ correct (*correct*) solution emails and what do I get from you?

Well... Oh, okay... you always reply. So thanks for that. Really.

But, hey, come on. I advertised you and spread the word, and LJed about you and FBed about you and emailed links to you to all my fantastically talented crossword buddies and THEY HAVE ALL WON AT LEAST ONCE. And while my undying loyalty to you continues, unabated, including but not limited to my financial support for you...I have won what? I'll tell you what: Nothing. That's right. Nothing. Bupkis. Nada. Goose egg. Null. Void. Nothing. Not one damn thing.

You know, come to think of it, I haven't even seen one of my clever emails, sent with my solutions EVERY TIME, chosen for quoting purposes. But winning a pen or a measly pad of paper? Not me.

So, Matt Gaffney, I don't want your stinking HARD LUCK award. I don't need no stinkin' award just for being pathetic. Give it to some newcomer who got on the bandwagon last month, all full of hope and brains and, oh, I don't know, skill. Go ahead. I don't care. Really. They deserve it.

Humph.


A runner-up pen will also go to Jeffrey Krasnick, who submitted a Top 10 list of Reasons He Should Win the Hard Luck Prize. Highlights:

7) I've been in every province and I still didn't win the freakin' Canadian postal abbreviation contest.

6) Four other Jeffreys have won; what's one more?

5) The Olympics are here in BC and three other BC readers have already won.

3) I am thinking of donating to your site.

2) I spent a whole weekend looking at freakin' quarters for nothing.

1) I told my wife that I won all those puzzle books that keep arriving in the mail.


THE BEAST (CROSSWORD) IS DEAD:

After a nice little six-month run, The Daily Beast has decided to axe the weekly crossword I'd been writing for them. It was fun while it lasted, and I'd like to thank the magazine for running the feature and in particular my editor there, Michael Solomon, for his contributions to the puzzle.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

February has somehow become Sports Month here at MGWCC! I'm pretty sick of looking at snow, so this week's contest answer is a sport featured in the Summer Olympics -- a sport you'll need to do a little of for this meta. E-mail it to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Wednesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer in the subject line of your e-mail. [UPDATE, 2/18, 7:00 PM ET -- several solvers have noted that there is no clue for 72-across. I left no clue at 72-across on purpose, but in the exporting process the clue number was cut off. There's a new clue there now, and the printable file on the site and in the archives have both been changed.]

To print the puzzle out, click on the image below and hit "print" on your browser. To solve using Across Lite download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,081 members now!) here.



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

2/11/10

MGWCC#089 -- Friday, February 12, 2010 -- "The Crossword Olympics"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 89 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.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

My spam filter got quite a workout recently. 323 solvers (four shy of the record) sent me an e-mail titled SEX LIVES, which was last week's contest answer. Unsurprisingly, Gmail made me fish about three dozen of those out of the spam box. Solution at left.

The puzzle's contest answer came from a four-part riddle in the grid:

WHICH ENTRY / CONCEALS NEXT / SUNDAY'S SUPER / BOWL NUMBER?

The Saints beat the Colts (!) on Sunday in Super Bowl XLIV, and solvers noticed that number hidden in SEX LIVES at 21-across. Both SEX LIVES and 21-across were accepted as correct answers.

TOO MUCH SEX IS BAD FOR YOU:

Many solvers pointed out the ugly (and utterly unnecessary) dupe with SEX LIVES and SEXO (40-across), which I completely missed. If this puzzle makes it into the book I'll certainly remove SEXO.

SUPER BOWL MEMORIES:

Several solvers sent along interesting Super Bowl memories. Stewart Levine writes:

I attended Super Bowl IV played on Jan. 11, 1970 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans where the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-7. Tickets were only $15, I seem to recall that was the only price. My wife's uncle, a Saints season ticket owner, gave us two tickets. Unfortunately my wife had a major league cold and I wound up taking her best friend from college to the game.

While Dan White goes back even further:

My wife's parents went to the first game here in LA at the Coliseum. It was the NFL/AFL Championship Game. There were no Roman numerals and no “Super Bowl”...the top ticket price in 1967 was $12 and the game was not sold out!

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 323 correct entries received, is G.E. of Atlanta, Ga.

ERRATUM:

Forgot to mention this last week, but a handful of solvers pointed out that the clue to 69-across in MGWCC #087 is inaccurate: Rip Torn won an Emmy for The Larry Sanders Show in 1996, not 1997. Whoops -- that's one of my favorite shows, too.

ACPT:

The big tournament is next weekend in Brooklyn. I won't be there, unfortunately -- but good luck, watch out for the snow, use an extra minute to check your work in each round, get your picture taken with Shortz (he's friendly), and I'll hope to see you there in 2011.

SPECIAL "HARD LUCK" MINI-CONTEST THIS WEEK:

I receive occasional e-mail from solvers lamenting that they've never won a weekly or monthly prize at MGWCC despite being eligible many times. Lately this e-mail has increased in volume, so this week I have a special mini-contest only open to people who've never won any kind of prize here!

It's simple to enter: just send me an e-mail explaining how many weeks/months you've been eligible without winning anything. Statistics carry a lot of weight, but also be sure to mention personal details that might sway the jury -- how not winning MGWCC has affected your personal relationships, your barely-contained rage against those who've won multiple times, etc.

Please put HARD LUCK in the subject line of your e-mail. One winner with the hardest luck tale will receive a MGWCC pen, pencil & notepad set.

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

One grid entry this week doubles as the surname of an Olympian who has won all three. This athlete's surname is this week's contest answer. E-mail to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer 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 download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,075 members now!) here.



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

2/5/10

MGWCC #088 -- Friday, February 5, 2010 -- "Are You Ready for Some Football?"

Good afternoon, crossword fans -- welcome to Week 88 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.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS:

WHAT AN ODD PUZZLE, proclaimed 3-down in last week's crossword -- and indeed it was. The black square pattern in the grid looked weird, and 119 solvers figured out why -- every entry in the grid ran an odd number of letters, with just four exceptions: 7-down, 29-across, 48-across and 49-down. Read those in order and you get the key to last week's contest: solvers needed only send in ANY OLD DULL EVEN NUMBER.

But are there any dull numbers? Many solvers claimed not, offering this as evidence. I remain agnostic on the issue, but here's the breakdown of what solvers sent in:

ZERO -- 9 entries (three of which were submitted by mathematicians)

2 -- 9 entries

4 -- 11 entries (three of which, again, were submitted by mathematicians)

6 -- 7 entries (one from a mathematician)

Answers grew more scattershot after that (personal telephone numbers, jersey numbers of famous athletes, random enormous even numbers, math jokes I don't get but that sounded pretty wry, etc.). For instance, one high school math teacher submitted NULL SET as his answer.

In lieu of an even number, 13 solvers submitted as their answer the actual words ANY OLD DULL EVEN NUMBER. It wasn't a particularly popular decision in comments here, but I went ahead and counted those as correct. My reasoning was that that answer satisfies both the conditions of the contest instructions in the grid (which were intentionally vague) and of the title, and that the final task remaining -- choosing any even number -- was not challenging.

This week's winner, whose name was chosen at random from the 119 correct entries received, is Barbara Hartwell of Framingham, Mass. Barbara has chosen as her prize an autographed copy of Sip & Solve Hard Crosswords.

GIFT CARD PRIZES:

The following five winners, selected randomly from the 119 correct entries received, win $10 iTunes gift cards:

Joe Fendel -- Berkeley, Calif.

Tyler Hinman -- San Francisco, Calif.

Jeremy Horwitz -- San Francisco, Calif.

Julian Lim -- Philadelphia, Penna.

Scout Mitchell -- Bellingham, Wash.



MONTHLY PRIZES:


It's that time again -- the following ten winners will receive MGWCC pen, pencil and notepad sets. Their names were selected at random from among the 21 solvers who correctly submitted each of January's five contest answers:

Howard Barkin -- Hillsborough, N.J.

Andrea Blumberg -- Philadelphia, Penna.

Peter Gordon -- Great Neck, N.Y.

Dave Howard -- Kansas City, Mo.

Pete Mitchell -- Bow, N.H.

Marcia Rose -- Delray Beach, Fla.

Tom Schneider -- Oakland, Calif.

Leo Stein -- Cambridge, Mass.

Dave Sullivan -- Boston, Mass.

Tim Tebbe -- Minneapolis, Minn.


This was a tough month of puzzles, so congratulations to all 21 who got them all.

ONE THING:

Brendan Quigley has a prediction for this weekend! Solve the puzzle and find out...

THIS WEEK'S INSTRUCTIONS:

This week's contest is explained in the grid. Send your answer to me at crosswordcontest@gmail.com by Tuesday at noon ET. Please put the contest answer 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 download the free software here, then join the Google Group (1,067 members now!) here.



Solve well, pray for the Saints, and be not led astray by words intended to deceive.