"Executive Search" - June 5, 2020

A place to discuss the weekly Wall Street Journal Crossword Puzzle Contest, starting every Thursday around 4:00 p.m. Eastern time. Please do not post any answers or hints before the contest deadline which is midnight Sunday Eastern time.
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Joe Ross
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Re: "Executive Search" - June 5, 2020

#421

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:13 am

The meta clue, "a U.S. president", was a clear indication that initials were involved.

Setting up the Excel spreadsheet form gave me a strong indication that there weren't traditional Theme Answers based on long across answers, symmetrical within the grid.

Clue 67A was a neon sign & gave twelve Theme Answers in an initial-friendly format.

Abandoning the initials for a minute, I found a few presidents within PUOHKQALDVXCIWYRSFEBNMGJ, but was frustrated with the amorphous mass, so I copied and sorted the list of U.S. presidents, then sorted PUOHKQALDVXCIWYRSFEBNMGJ. The missing T & Z made Zachary Taylor obvious.

My first thought was, "Pure Gaffney... Well done!"

20200605 WSJCC Executive Search JPR.gif
Last edited by Joe Ross on Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

MaineMarge
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#422

Post by MaineMarge » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:14 am

My apologies in advance for any upcoming punctuation errors. 🤣
I scored totally zero on my own. No, that’s not really really easy on the KAS scale.
That’s zilch on the chance to get the mug scale.
A kind nudge got me as far as a nearby coral reef late last night—(space?) the beach was under curfew by then.
Welch’s and Starbucks led me to search for CEO type executives whose letters could morph into the answer. No Z for Zuckerman or Bezos 😏
All those double letters (19A) went nowhere.
Then surely all the synonymous grid words
were the key:
Clone/Xerox copy
Calyx/pod
Unite/couple
Alee/Ang Lee
I won/strut
Ante/pay up
I played with the 12 two word toys every way except the right way.

Mega meta kudos to Matt and all you smart solving Muggles.
Zoom Time now 🙋‍♀️

Schmeel
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#423

Post by Schmeel » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:20 am

Kudos to all those that saw the mechanism!

I saw there was no Z in the grid but couldn't put 2 and 24 together.
I was stuck trying to make sense out of patterns similar to "Two-word" in the grid, where you could pair two letters at the end of one word with two at the beginning of another: chop-oper, needy-dyed, cohab-abides etc. It got tricky where there was more than one word for a match - hater/ulcer-eras/ere, and many others. I knew that couldn't be the correct path but had trouble turning around.

Now that I saw the answer I probably wouldn't have got it in a month of Sundays. Yet another thing to look out for when solving metas.

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MarkL
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#424

Post by MarkL » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:21 am

Long-time solvers, and/or anyone willing to go through the archives, may recall similar mechanisms in Non-Starter, 3.09.18, and Nothing Left to Prove, 01.18.19. Proving, once again, experience is one of the best tools to have in the solving toll box. The 24 available letters vs 26 in the alphabet got me on the correct path.
Cheers!
Last edited by MarkL on Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
'tis... A lovely day for a Guinness!

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TMart
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#425

Post by TMart » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:29 am

BarbaraK wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 12:13 am
So I said this one gave me deja vu. It was because of this MGWCC from two years ago.

https://crosswordfiend.com/2018/05/01/mgwcc-517/

They say great minds think alike. In this case, the other great mind was also Matt's, just two years younger.
Matt also used a similar mechanism a few months back on the MGWCC where the grid border contained the first letter of every state except one, and the border had 49 letters with an oddly missing corner.

In this one, the last across answer that referenced a dozen two-word answers made me think of 24 = almost the alphabet right away. I think MGWCC subscribers had a distinct advantage on this one.
Last edited by TMart on Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jackie88
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#426

Post by Jackie88 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:30 am

I so did not get this one. I was thinking it might be Ronald Reagan as he passed on June 5th, but I couldn’t make that work.
Then I noticed that there were twelve two-word across clues. They were distinct from the two-word answers but for the last: I WON. So I thought maybe I had to somehow find the loser of a particular election. Also, by considering I WON I knew the answer could not be Gerald Ford. So that left me with only 44 from which to pick. I think I was taking Executive Search to literally and thought I had to search out a pattern of letters or somehow use the answers to direct me. Path was much simpler than I imagined. Oh well, its only 4 days to the next meta!

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#427

Post by Dplass » Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:38 am

This is a "never in a million years" for me. Why just the first letters? Shrug. What do they have to do with presidents? Nuthin. All's fair in metas. I wonder what the numbers are on this one.

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Bird Lives
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#428

Post by Bird Lives » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:05 am

Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:13 am
The meta clue, "a U.S. president", was a clear indication that initials were involved.

Clue 67A was a neon sign & gave twelve Theme Answers in an initial-friendly format.
To again quote one of my favorite book titles, Everything is Obvious . . . Once You Know the Answer. Even with MGWCC Weeks 4 or 5 that I can't solve, when I see the solution, I kick myself because it was obvious. But it was obvious to the 129 (or whatever) who got it, just not to the thousand that didn't.
Last edited by Bird Lives on Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Scott Medvetz
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#429

Post by Scott Medvetz » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:07 am

These are the kind of metas I never get. I'm just not good at seeing what's not there. After getting nowhere looking at the 24 words, I ended up going with our only two-word president, Martin VAN BUREN.
Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Mark Twain

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Joe Ross
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#430

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:15 am

Bird Lives wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:05 am
Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:13 am
The meta clue, "a U.S. president", was a clear indication that initials were involved.

Clue 67A was a neon sign & gave twelve Theme Answers in an initial-friendly format.
To again quote one of my favorite book titles, Everything is Obvious . . . Once You Know the Answer. Even with MCWCC Weeks 4 or 5 that couldn't solve, when I see the solution, I kick myself because it was obvious. But it was obvious only to the 129 (or whatever) who got it, not to the thousand that didn't.
True & acknowledged in a previous post. However, both follow crossword conventions & Contest Crossword conventions.

I felt lucky to solve & quickly. I'm not used to it!

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camandsampowercouple
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#431

Post by camandsampowercouple » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:16 am

Dang I was nowhere near this answer. A whole bunch of the two word answers had clues that also worked for them:

Make a twin of - XEROX COPY
Get out of the house, say - SELL FOR
Prior to, poetically - NO MORE
Starbucks feature - GRAPE JUICE
"Let me think" - KEEP QUIET

I was having trouble finding a clue for every single one, but I was unable to look at this puzzle in any other way to get an answer.

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femullen
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#432

Post by femullen » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:28 am

How can Gaffney be so wrong? Taylor, piff! The answer was obviously U.S. Grant, the only "U.S." president.

More proof:

14A: "Oh, hi" (and 15A, "Oona," providing the final O), which gives you Ohio.
And its clue: "What a PLEASANT surprise to see you here"

11D: "You're right," indicating that here was to be found the rest of the answer, after which you would indeed be. Right, that is.
And its clue: "I concede the POINT."

Point Pleasant, Ohio, birthplace of U.S. Grant.

You're welcome.
Last edited by femullen on Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#433

Post by eagle1279 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:34 am

Count me as on the Love Boat all weekend. The closest I got was writing out the 12 two-word answers (incorrectly at first, I guess CO-HAB is one word) then chasing variants of the CLONE XEROXCOPY DEJAVU strategy. Also tried to use the title to find the letters of EXECUTIVE in the grid. Kudos to those who saw Z and T missing.

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BethA
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#434

Post by BethA » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:46 am

Nope. Kas 5 for me. I had written Zachary Taylor on one of my scribble sheets because he was the 12th president, but I felt too strongly that the answer should have 12 letters. Sent in Harry S Truman as my wild guess because I saw bits and pieces of his name in the grid. That’s strike 3 for 2020.

I’ve been Gaffneyed!

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ChrisKochmanski
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#435

Post by ChrisKochmanski » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:49 am

I had to be led by the nose, via nudges, to the correct answer. (So I didn't submit for a chance at the mug.) Though if I had been forced to answer, without the nudges, I'd probably have guessed ZACHARY TAYLOR, because he was the 12th U.S. president. Though I also noticed that NOMORE anagrams to MONROE, and I'd found that by "searching" through the two-word entries, so it's possible I'd have guessed that instead.

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#436

Post by Big Mac » Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:52 am

I think if you solved MGWCC “Now you sea it, now you don’t” just a couple weeks ago you had a huge advantage here. It would have led you directly to the instructions in the last across clue (there were 13 entries of note that week). Also, Matt had been promoting a daily pangram puzzle by a Peter Gordon around that time on the contest website so pangrams were absolutely in my head when I got to that point in the puzzle. Funny how context, even as it relates to the constructor, can point you the right direction.

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Bird Lives
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#437

Post by Bird Lives » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:25 am

Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:15 am
Bird Lives wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:05 am
Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:13 am
The meta clue, "a U.S. president", was a clear indication that initials were involved.

Clue 67A was a neon sign & gave twelve Theme Answers in an initial-friendly format.
To again quote one of my favorite book titles, Everything is Obvious . . . Once You Know the Answer. Even with MCWCC Weeks 4 or 5 that couldn't solve, when I see the solution, I kick myself because it was obvious. But it was obvious only to the 129 (or whatever) who got it, not to the thousand that didn't.
True & acknowledged in a previous post. However, both follow crossword conventions & Contest Crossword conventions.

I felt lucky to solve & quickly. I'm not used to it!
The trouble is that there are so many of these conventions. A year or so ago, Tina posted a list of strategies. There were dozens of them.

I'm not sure why I decided early on to look for missing letters, though I did remember a previous puzzle that used that mechanism. Even then my first try was a search of the entire grid (Q and Z were the two absentees). Only then did I focus on the initial letters of the two-word answers.

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#438

Post by tim1217 » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:32 am

MaineMarge wrote:
Mon Jun 08, 2020 7:14 am
My apologies in advance for any upcoming punctuation errors. 🤣
I scored totally zero on my own. No, that’s not really really easy on the KAS scale.
That’s zilch on the chance to get the mug scale.
A kind nudge got me as far as a nearby coral reef late last night—(space?) the beach was under curfew by then.
Welch’s and Starbucks led me to search for CEO type executives whose letters could morph into the answer. No Z for Zuckerman or Bezos 😏
All those double letters (19A) went nowhere.
Then surely all the synonymous grid words
were the key:
Clone/Xerox copy
Calyx/pod
Unite/couple
Alee/Ang Lee
I won/strut
Ante/pay up
I played with the 12 two word toys every way except the right way.

Mega meta kudos to Matt and all you smart solving Muggles.
Zoom Time now 🙋‍♀️
I also went down both the CEO (including looking for the word 'executive' in the grid) and the synonym (SELL FOR/RUN) rabbit holes.
"GET OFF MY LAWN!".
Walt Kowalski, Gran Torino

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#439

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Jun 08, 2020 9:35 am

GAAGH!!!!

I got the 12 two word answers but then got hung up on similar pairs
The 9A could pair with 48D
17A could pair with 2D
29A could pair with 64A
59A could pair with 24D
31D could pair with 24A

So I banged my head trying to pair up others plus the pairing did not result in anything

And I did look at the first letters of the first words then the last words but they did not spell anything

And I looked at the large number of clues with quotation marks

GGGGGGGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

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ReB
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#440

Post by ReB » Mon Jun 08, 2020 10:02 am

The author with 67A pointed me to the twelve two-letter words as key. And when I translated "executive search" to "head hunt", I focused initially on the starting letters of those words.

But in looking at the twelve words and the starting letters for each word, but it just never occurred to me to look for missing letters - or to connect these letters that with Presidents' initials. While I saw some unusual letters involved (e.g. Q,X, J), that just added to frustration; I just didn't see that all the letters were unique, even though I had written them all down.

I then got lost in the swelter of letters and couldn't untangle anything but just kept tightening knots heading down fruitless paths. Veteran solvers I suspect had a big leg up knowing that "missing letters" had been used before. I suspect I could have had a week and would never have come close.

Overall, this is the most brute-force-solution meta that I've encountered to date.

It is interesting that the hardest metas seem to be a piece of cake for others, and others struggle over what pops out at me quickly. I guess the sea looks very different to some versus others.

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