"Head Count" - June 12, 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.
Rate the difficulty of the meta
Locked
User avatar
Annabelle
Posts: 31
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2020 4:26 pm

Re: "Head Count" - June 12, 2020

#321

Post by Annabelle » Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:04 pm

Another forty answerer here. Forty-ers, we are on our own private island, eh? Mimosas for everyone!

User avatar
sanmilton
Posts: 71
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2020 11:44 pm
Location: New York, New York

#322

Post by sanmilton » Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:10 pm

Just for the record:

I tried posting this yesterday at about 10:30 p.m., and either I failed, or it was removed:
Liberty, biberty,
Down to wire and
Feeling as if I was
Out of the fight.

All of a sudden, and
Numerologically,
No longer floundering,
I see the light!


Or maybe I should say the lighthouse at this eleventh hour. Nothing unfair about this, but I certainly wish it hadn't taken me all weekend to figure it out! Needless to say, I didn't wait until I plodded ashore to start drinking! Rest well, everyone, on land and off!
If that was seen as a spoiler, I apologize!!

One rabbit I chased went down the hole of People Named in the Clues and Grid. I counted EIGHT, another five-letter number, of course. But that hardly felt like a meta solution, and then several of the comments here from shore denizens were discussing the mechanism and their Googling. By the time I realized that the Heads of the "theme" clues were numbers in various languages, I'd completely forgotten about the hint at 61D. I may have done a little more Googling than other successful solvers. My very late "Aha!" last evening was more like a "Duh!" Still and all, thank you, Mr. Shenk, for another barely (for me) gettable challenge!

User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 1862
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#323

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Jun 15, 2020 5:48 pm

BethA wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 4:47 pm
It turns out I was on Beach Forty on Thursday. While going through the mechanics, I wrote the translated numbers both as numerals and spelled out as words. When TFSES didn’t spell anything, the next thing I thought of was adding the numbers up to get Forty. I did check out grid square 40, to see if there was anything interesting there, just an S. Thought FORTY must be the answer, but did not get that resoundingly strong CLICK. Why 40? Other than it’s a number.

So Friday morning, I decided I’d better check out the letters in the individual numbers, too. And found TALLY, which all added up! Fortunately I almost always let my initial answer percolate for awhile, not in a rush to send it in. So I did make it to Tally Beach in time.

On a different topic, someone earlier in the thread wondered about solve success rates across different constructors. I don’t have that, but am interested, too! Just in reviewing my own WSJ history, Gaffney has stumped me almost twice as many times as Shenk. And for 2020, the only ones I’ve missed have all been by Gaffney. Wrong wavelength trouble at times!
If I get a chance and/or inspiration, I will add the constructors to the spreadsheet unless Barbara or someone else is more inspired and beats me to it.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

User avatar
joequavis
Posts: 222
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:29 pm
Location: Loveland, Colorado

#324

Post by joequavis » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:03 pm

BarbaraK wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 9:43 pm
joequavis wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 8:19 pm
Finally managed to drift ashore. I was convinced that Mr. Shenk forgot to include the meta part of the puzzle, or attached the instructions to the wrong grid. I had a good sense of which rabbit hole to pursue and, unlike other times I've been LAS, persistence was the key this time.

I will say this was certainly not my favorite puzzle, but then saw what I had been missing all along. I dislike it a lot less now.
I suspect you solved this much the same way I did. Noticed something that led toward a good answer (with a bit of backsolving) but had some inconsistencies and seemed to require too much assuming. Then took another look and saw something I’d gone right by at first and realized the inconsistencies were just my incorrect assumptions and there was in fact a nice clear path to a consistent solution.
"a bit" may be an understatement, but yes I got to the point where I had B_LLY or T_LLY (thought maybe the DOS was to be used phonetically which led to douze, translating to 12 in French). Figured it HAD to be TALLY. And I even guessed that GO was likely Japanese, but for whatever reason, my first google attempt was inconclusive, so I just set it aside for a bit. As I was discussing this with my mom (fellow Muggle NaluGirl), I was complaining about the completely arbitrary nature about which language to use when 61D jumped off the page at me.
Chaddog on MGWCC leaderboard
Matt in real life

User avatar
lacangah
Posts: 58
Joined: Tue May 28, 2019 12:58 am
Location: Claremont, CA

#325

Post by lacangah » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:44 pm

I don't know if anyone went with this approach, but I first tried to count the appearances of "h-e-a-d" in the clues. By my reckoning, there were 4 clues in which those letters appeared in order (and a fifth one where the letters appeared, but not in order). The first letters of the corresponding responses would've anagrammed to "BULLS." While that word could allude to 'head count' in a roundup sense, it didn't pass the 'elegance' test (two of the clues were 11-down and 11-across, if I recall correctly, and anagrams usually tell me I'm off the path).

Have a good week,

User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 1862
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#326

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:59 pm

Here is the results going back to April 12, 2019 (more to come later). I only counted Mike and Matt. And I used Mike Millers correct percentage numbers.

Matt Gaffney 76.5% correct answers
Mike Shenk 77.7% correct answers

Below is the week to week chart of correct vs time. The individual weeks are all over the place but a linear trend line over the past four years shows slight improvement

I will work on priors to that another time

And yes, we are a bunch of nerds.
Attachments
Correct vs time.jpg
Last edited by Bob cruise director on Tue Jun 16, 2020 8:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

BrianDavidson
Posts: 118
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:27 pm

#327

Post by BrianDavidson » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:09 pm

Bob cruise director wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:59 pm
Here is the results going back to April 12, 2019 (more to come later). I only counted Mike and Matt. And I used Mike Millers correct percentage numbers.

Matt Gaffney 61 contests with 76.5% correct answers
Mike Shenk 61 contests with 77.7% correct answers

Below is the week to week chart of correct vs time. The individual weeks are all over the place but a linear trend line over the past four years shows slight improvement

I will work on priors to that another time

And yes, we are a bunch of nerds.
Your own numbers would be more interesting because Mike only reports on answers submitted. You have the tally/head count of people who remained on the ship without submitting anything.

User avatar
yourpalsal
Posts: 132
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2020 2:28 am

#328

Post by yourpalsal » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:34 pm

REMINDER: Zoom meetup for members of the XWord Muggles Forum today at 5p PT/8pm ET. Hoping for a healthy TALLY!

YourPalSal’s Beach & Ship Zoom Cafe
Jun 15, 2020 05:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Join Zoom Meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86538717219

User avatar
Bird Lives
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:43 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

#329

Post by Bird Lives » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:40 pm

LadyBird wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 3:40 pm
Bird Lives wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 1:15 pm
Nlbil wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 11:34 am
Wondering how you determine which are the theme answers when 2 are clearly right due to being very long but several in the middle are the same length?? I have been confused about this in several puzzles.
Usually, they are symmetrically placed, so a word in the middle, even if it's short, will often be in the theme.
What gave me great difficulty was that there were two very long and symmetrical down answers: 11D and 29D. They were much longer than three of the across theme answers. So, how do you know when you should pay attention to long down answers--or are they not usually the answers in play? :?:
It's seems that these puzzles are almost always on the level -- theme words going across. The MGWCC a few weeks ago had theme words going down, but that was because the puzzle was meant to mimic a coin-op vending machine where the letters dropped down into the meta tray below. Very clever.

I'd imagine that sometimes it might be easier to construct the puzzle with two theme words across and two down, especially if they are long and do not intersect, but offhand I can't remember any like that.

User avatar
Thurman8er
Posts: 199
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:05 pm
Location: Fresno, CA

#330

Post by Thurman8er » Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:53 pm

KAS 5. Don't feel the least bit bad for not getting it. Just not part of my knowledge base.

User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 1862
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#331

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:09 pm

BrianDavidson wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 7:09 pm
Bob cruise director wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:59 pm
Here is the results going back to April 12, 2019 (more to come later). I only counted Mike and Matt. And I used Mike Millers correct percentage numbers.

Matt Gaffney 61 contests with 76.5% correct answers
Mike Shenk 61 contests with 77.7% correct answers

Below is the week to week chart of correct vs time. The individual weeks are all over the place but a linear trend line over the past four years shows slight improvement

I will work on priors to that another time

And yes, we are a bunch of nerds.
Your own numbers would be more interesting because Mike only reports on answers submitted. You have the tally/head count of people who remained on the ship without submitting anything.
Although our numbers are self reporting, we are consistently at 10% muggles on shore compared to the total number of correct entries. So this week we had 108 on the shore so I would expect somewhere around 1100 correct submissions.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

User avatar
DaveKennison
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:28 pm

#332

Post by DaveKennison » Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:13 pm

Am I the only person to notice that the Apache word “gosts’idi” (which looks a lot like “GO STEADY”) means “seven”, and that the letter in the square numbered 7 is indeed an “A”?

As I said in an earlier post, that really can’t be coincidence! A kindly red herring, perhaps?

User avatar
Al Sisti
Posts: 943
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 1:28 pm
Location: Whitesboro NY

#333

Post by Al Sisti » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:02 pm

Bob cruise director wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:59 pm
Here is the results going back to April 12, 2019 (more to come later). I only counted Mike and Matt. And I used Mike Millers correct percentage numbers.

Matt Gaffney 61 contests with 76.5% correct answers
Mike Shenk 61 contests with 77.7% correct answers

Below is the week to week chart of correct vs time. The individual weeks are all over the place but a linear trend line over the past four years shows slight improvement

I will work on priors to that another time

And yes, we are a bunch of nerds.
I see PAGEANT sticking out like a sore thumb!

User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 1862
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#334

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:04 pm

Historical count

First a big thanks to Joe Ross and Steve B for putting the past crosswords in the blog. Next Thanks to Barbara Koehler for generating the spreadsheet and populating it that I built off of. And thanks to Brian Mac for setting up the blog

Prior to April 29, 2016 we don't have the data of number of entries and percentage correct so all the data below is subsequent to that date

From Easiest to hardest we have (just a week to week average and not any kind of weighted average)

Patrick Berry with 13 contests and 86.4% correct percentage
Peter Gordon with 6 contests and 82.1% correct percentage
Mike Shenk/Marie Kelly with 87 contests and 76.9% correct percentage
and Matt Gaffney with 105 contests and 71.2% correct percentage
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 1862
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#335

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:38 pm

Al Sisti wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:02 pm
Bob cruise director wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 6:59 pm
Here is the results going back to April 12, 2019 (more to come later). I only counted Mike and Matt. And I used Mike Millers correct percentage numbers.

Matt Gaffney 61 contests with 76.5% correct answers
Mike Shenk 61 contests with 77.7% correct answers

Below is the week to week chart of correct vs time. The individual weeks are all over the place but a linear trend line over the past four years shows slight improvement

I will work on priors to that another time

And yes, we are a bunch of nerds.
I see PAGEANT sticking out like a sore thumb!
More like a stick in the eye of the muggles and everyone else :lol:
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director

User avatar
Jeremy Smith
Posts: 200
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 5:45 pm
Location: Tampa Bay area

#336

Post by Jeremy Smith » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:39 pm

Bob cruise director wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 2:59 pm
TPS wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:36 pm
norrin2 wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 12:24 pm
Do you happen to have a link to that article?
https://slate.com/human-interest/2016/ ... sword.html
Great article. I wonder who caught it? The publisher, other constructors or who. It seems that someone must have a database of all puzzle themes to be able to catch something like this 10 years apart in different publications.
Another article on the database analysis that also mentions the identity of the software engineer.

https://www.thestar.com/entertainment/2 ... ditor.html

steveb
Posts: 154
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 5:25 pm
Location: Menlo Park, CA

#337

Post by steveb » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:39 pm

Did someone mention statistics nerds? My personal results, going back to mid-2016 when I started doing these: on Gaffney puzzles, I am 80/103, or 77.67%. On Shenk puzzles, I am 66/85, or 77.65%. So not much of a difference there.

User avatar
DrTom
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:46 pm
Location: Jacksonville, FL

#338

Post by DrTom » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:41 pm

DaveKennison wrote:
Mon Jun 15, 2020 8:13 pm
Am I the only person to notice that the Apache word “gosts’idi” (which looks a lot like “GO STEADY”) means “seven”, and that the letter in the square numbered 7 is indeed an “A”?

As I said in an earlier post, that really can’t be coincidence! A kindly red herring, perhaps?
Dave, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'll bet everyone's Apache is a little rusty and if that WAS a red herring it was one that only a very few of us would get. Now if it was an Apache dance, well then maybe I'd seize the opportunity!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg6XbP9ioV0

User avatar
Eric Porter
Posts: 176
Joined: Sun May 05, 2019 2:19 am
Location: Bellevue, WA

#339

Post by Eric Porter » Mon Jun 15, 2020 9:48 pm

For this puzzle, I saw COUNT in the title, then DOS in 17A & SIEZE in 64A, then remembered 61D. Taking French in high school helped.I thought that with 5 theme answers, a 5 letter word, and 5 languages that people would have an easier time with it. I didn't even think to sum the numbers and went directly to TALLY. The hardest Shenk puzzle for me this year was Variety Show, which I did get, but slowly. If I subscribed to MGWCC, I think I'd do much better on Gaffney's WSJ puzzles.

Bob, have you run any statistics on how many people correctly solve the puzzles from the different creators?

User avatar
DrTom
Posts: 762
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2019 6:46 pm
Location: Jacksonville, FL

#340

Post by DrTom » Mon Jun 15, 2020 10:00 pm

Well I got lost waiting in the HEAD (LOO, WC, ?) line, the TAPE HEAD, HEAD OUT, etc. dome-acile and the one dam thing after another (I mean really, TWO dams and another type, SAND) bottleneck. It NEVER clicked that the HEAD of each theme was a number (and darn it I solved the one where Spanish numbers were the mechanism and I speak passable French - though my Japanese amounts to movie Japanese and Finish, well it is not very finished). I also missed the flashing neon light that told me what to do. So I am humbled even more than usual because it was eminently solveable except for a loose nut on the keyboard.

So I am now going to embarrass myself and take another crack at the MGWCC, I haven't looked to see how may have solved it and how fast but if there is another 2 minutes solve I am just going to pour myself a cocktail and watch some TV realizing that I just am not in that league. Still its worth the price of admission if for no other reason to have something to talk to fellow Muggles/Penguins (if you win the MGWCC you get a pen, so what else might they be called!) and enjoy the cleverness. We are all going to have to step it up a notch to match Joe' Ross's diagram though, I cannot look at it without chuckling

Locked