"Less and Less" - August 21, 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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Andrew Bradburn
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Re: "Less and Less" - August 21, 2020

#281

Post by Andrew Bradburn » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:07 am

Before I got my small nudge (which was just the word LESS) and solved the puzzle, I had actually looked up antonyms of the six nine-letter words, thinking that LESS might be used as something that means 'less innocuous', 'less cutthroat', etc. So close without knowing it! Generally I do not like puzzle that require synonyms, for some reason. Probably because there can be many of them for any single word, and only the right one will do, which seems kind of messy. But in this case, the right one had a key - the word LESS at the end.

Before that I had tried indexing the number of letters of the clue into the nine-letter word (strange how all the clues for the long answers were one-word clues, all LESS than nine letters!) I tried reading the title as L ESS AND L ESS, looking at all the L/S combos in the grid. The two words in the same row ending in ESS was not helpful.

Did anyone notice that the first letters of the first six Across clues spelled out SHIRTS? A six-letter word (!), just not a verb. An accidental meaningful acrostic of six letters is very rare, I would think.

boharr
Posts: 529
Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:57 am

#282

Post by boharr » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:16 am

Wendy Walker wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 10:09 am
I forgot to mention that I had a meta pre-dream on Wednesday night. In the dream I foolishly announced that I'd solved the meta -- then realized there was a part 2 to the puzzle, all in Spanish. One part even involved filling in letters on stepping stones across a creek.
Were you required to sing as well?

MikeMillerwsj
Posts: 87
Joined: Tue Apr 09, 2019 2:46 pm

#283

Post by MikeMillerwsj » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:17 am

This was an incredibly brilliant puzzle! And challenging (your correspondent had to admit defeat, and is in awe of all the solvers who cracked it). We had 857 entries, about 80% correct. A large showing for near-miss REDUCE (52), plus some guesses: SHRINK (15), LESSEN (5), ERODED/ERODES (5) and sundry others.

Congrats to this week's winner: Eva Marostica of Boise, Idaho!

SewYoung
Posts: 258
Joined: Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:25 pm
Location: Meridian, MS

#284

Post by SewYoung » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:23 am

TPS wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 9:20 am
EVJ wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 9:18 am
I won the mug!
Wow! Congratulations!!!
So glad a Muggle won one!

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Wendy Walker
Posts: 351
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 7:44 pm
Location: Unionville, PA

#285

Post by Wendy Walker » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:33 am

boharr wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:16 am
Wendy Walker wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 10:09 am
I forgot to mention that I had a meta pre-dream on Wednesday night. In the dream I foolishly announced that I'd solved the meta -- then realized there was a part 2 to the puzzle, all in Spanish. One part even involved filling in letters on stepping stones across a creek.
Were you required to sing as well?
Fortunately for all involved, no singing was required. I still cringe when I think about an audition I had 40 years ago where I had to sing my college's alma mater ("Noble Dickinsonia"). To no-one's surprise, I was cast in a non-singing role.
Good luck, fellow Muggles!

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sharkicicles
Posts: 179
Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 12:03 pm
Location: Chicago

#286

Post by sharkicicles » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:45 am

IMG_0158.jpeg
I went down the rabbit hole of one-word clues on this one and didn't solve it, but at least the colors are pretty.

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cbarbee002
Posts: 66
Joined: Fri Apr 24, 2020 6:02 pm
Location: Philly Area

#287

Post by cbarbee002 » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:50 am

I did the exact same thing - - looked at all the one-word clues, which were conveniently 6 for the theme clues, and 6 others. Had to work! (Not). Even with nudges regarding Less as a suffix, I couldn’t pull it through. Searched the grid for words that could be made synonyms by adding “less”, looking right over the obvious ones that just required removal of a letter. After seeing the word “Dreck” (new one for me), that should have clued me in.

MatthewB
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat May 04, 2019 7:37 pm

#288

Post by MatthewB » Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:54 am

Same here. It's amazing how often I make the meta more complicated than it is..... A terrific meta...

KscX
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat May 02, 2020 12:09 pm

#289

Post by KscX » Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:14 pm

4 1/2 months in I feel like I’m almost there for this type of “definition” and “relationship” mechanism - just need to push myself there as I tend to be more pattern-oriented.

ALSO- maybe I was late to the game but I think the star rating is an average of all the self-ratings, so make sure you rate it every week. At first I thought it was determined by the creator - maybe someone puts in a starting point? This was a four-star voyage for me, only to return to my departure point with my trip cancelled until Thursday.

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KayW
Posts: 410
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:10 am
Location: Chicago

#290

Post by KayW » Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:22 pm

Wendy Walker wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 10:09 am
I forgot to mention that I had a meta pre-dream on Wednesday night. In the dream I foolishly announced that I'd solved the meta -- then realized there was a part 2 to the puzzle, all in Spanish. One part even involved filling in letters on stepping stones across a creek.
Good going, Wendy - giving Matt & Mike even more nefarious ideas. :roll:

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Dplass
Posts: 307
Joined: Sat Dec 28, 2019 10:09 am
Location: New York

#291

Post by Dplass » Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:27 pm

Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 9:34 am
mitchel674 wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 8:42 am
Frustrated by how bad I am at these Meta puzzles!

I can fill in the grid in just a few minutes but then spend the rest of my weekend staring. Sure I looked at the six long clues, but I simply could not make the next leap. If I get 10% of these, I'm lucky.

Wallowing!
Keep at it! Experience is necessary.

Review several excellent solving techniques offered: Hints for Solving Meta Contests

Review past puzzles & solutions.

Understand that these WSJ Contest Crosswords are in their last month of their 5th year. Recent puzzles & their mechanisms are much more difficult than the first couple of years', including recent "easy" puzzles.

Share your progress & request verification & nudges from generous veterans. Pay attention to their techniques rather than each puzzle's final answer. Soon, you won't need verifications & nudges.

Further improve your skill by offering help to others. You'll be amazed at how this will improve your ability by having to explain the process - without giving away outright spoilers. This will force you to review logical steps to take in approaching all meta puzzles.

[EDIT1 following]

Dplass's Post #114 was an excellent gentle nudge, IMH&HO:

"...this mechanism [...] was used a LOT in 2019"


My nudge to the very few muggles who requested it of me via PM & to one who had immediately previously posted their need of one:

"review theme clues for awkwardness versus what is within grid"
I'm sorry if my comment was a spoiler. Not intentional. The mechanism I was referencing was, "find other words in the grid related to the theme and do something with them". I started metas in late 2019 and it seemed to be used every other week...

Hidden in 3D
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:42 pm

#292

Post by Hidden in 3D » Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:37 pm

EVJ wrote:
Sun Aug 23, 2020 10:09 pm
I am on shore with S-I-L. It’s a good thing she came to my rescue. I couldn’t have done it without her. Two heads are better than one indeed! She reports she was drinking a Sangria while we texted back and forth across state lines to double-team this 100%er
Good luck to anyone still trying to come in under the wire!
So who gets the mug? You or your SIL? :lol:
Sara

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Jacksull
Posts: 144
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 1:23 pm
Location: Scottsdale AZ

#293

Post by Jacksull » Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:44 pm

Two things I loved about this week's meta:

The five letter words with the xtra letters were symmetrically located in the grid.

The answer was a verb that described the action that was was required --DEDUCT (one extra letter).

Note to self: If you see an entry that may be relevant to the answer or mechanism, check the symmetrical entry. And parse the title again.
Jack Sullivan

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joequavis
Posts: 213
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:29 pm
Location: Loveland, Colorado

#294

Post by joequavis » Mon Aug 24, 2020 12:49 pm

tonyrobots wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:46 am
Yeah, I was never going to get this.
Same here. Funny (annoying?) how some objectively more difficult metas come to me a lot easier. I received an unsolicited nudge, and that didn't help - I was doing exactly what the nudge suggested, and had been for 3 days. Just was never going to see it.
Chaddog on MGWCC leaderboard
Matt in real life

Hidden in 3D
Posts: 71
Joined: Sun Nov 17, 2019 11:42 pm

#295

Post by Hidden in 3D » Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:23 pm

It never ceases to amaze me how we Muggles can see some metas as easy and some as "I would never have gotten that one, no matter how long I stared at the grid/clues, etc." (And I seem to find myself in the latter camp most of the time.) This meta was one of those rare ones that came easily to me and I absolutely cannot explain why. The first thing I did this morning, as I do almost every Monday, was to check out LauraB’s comments on Crossword Fiend. I have to admit that a smug little smile came over my face when I read that she had to break down and ask for a nudge. ;)
Sara

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C=64
Posts: 146
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2020 8:29 pm
Location: PDX, via NH/VT

#296

Post by C=64 » Mon Aug 24, 2020 1:39 pm

Andrew Bradburn wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:07 am
Before I got my small nudge (which was just the word LESS) and solved the puzzle, I had actually looked up antonyms of the six nine-letter words, thinking that LESS might be used as something that means 'less innocuous', 'less cutthroat', etc. So close without knowing it! Generally I do not like puzzle that require synonyms, for some reason. Probably because there can be many of them for any single word, and only the right one will do, which seems kind of messy. But in this case, the right one had a key - the word LESS at the end.

Before that I had tried indexing the number of letters of the clue into the nine-letter word (strange how all the clues for the long answers were one-word clues, all LESS than nine letters!) I tried reading the title as L ESS AND L ESS, looking at all the L/S combos in the grid. The two words in the same row ending in ESS was not helpful.

Did anyone notice that the first letters of the first six Across clues spelled out SHIRTS? A six-letter word (!), just not a verb. An accidental meaningful acrostic of six letters is very rare, I would think.
I got hung up on all of these (wrong) things as well. I *really* got hung up on seeing OR and ORE in the grid. (And the ORE IDA fries mentioned in another post.) I think I saw the SHIRTS but I can't remember for sure because my brain got toasted by this puzzle.

I just remembered that I thought I saw sandals in (LES)SANDLES(S) until I stopped and really thought about the spelling. :D
Last edited by C=64 on Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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LadyBird
Posts: 138
Joined: Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:20 pm
Location: Chicagoland

#297

Post by LadyBird » Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:10 pm

Andrew Bradburn wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 11:07 am
Before I got my small nudge (which was just the word LESS) and solved the puzzle, I had actually looked up antonyms of the six nine-letter words, thinking that LESS might be used as something that means 'less innocuous', 'less cutthroat', etc. So close without knowing it! Generally I do not like puzzle that require synonyms, for some reason. Probably because there can be many of them for any single word, and only the right one will do, which seems kind of messy. But in this case, the right one had a key - the word LESS at the end.

Before that I had tried indexing the number of letters of the clue into the nine-letter word (strange how all the clues for the long answers were one-word clues, all LESS than nine letters!) I tried reading the title as L ESS AND L ESS, looking at all the L/S combos in the grid. The two words in the same row ending in ESS was not helpful.

Did anyone notice that the first letters of the first six Across clues spelled out SHIRTS? A six-letter word (!), just not a verb. An accidental meaningful acrostic of six letters is very rare, I would think.
You must have been the one that I was bumping into in all those rabbit holes!

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whimsy
Posts: 113
Joined: Sun Jun 21, 2020 9:51 am
Location: Hopkinton MA

#298

Post by whimsy » Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:19 pm

While I did get this one the quickest ever for me, it was not until after I saw amorphous blots, a foolish guru, an ENT looking down someone's throat, and a vision of Trafalgar Square with Nelson up on his "plinth" (such a fun word to say!) Kicking myself for not having seen the fries sizzling in the oil --fun one! These puzzles are so entertaining in so many ways!

I guess Mike must believe that we'll be SMUG if we win the mug --- (hearty Congrats, BTW, EVJ!!) --- because he could have gone with slightly different entries in that area, using the ever-popular SMUT instead, thus requiring the do-it-in-your-sleep "JFK anticipation" for 65A, thereby giving him the chance to use the really nifty clue "Bawhston whirlybird" for 48D --- just sayin'! :D

LaceyK
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2019 5:10 pm
Location: San Diego

#299

Post by LaceyK » Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:51 pm

Just like others in the dictionary camp, after noticing the clean grid of 6 longer adjectives clued by a short word, I looked up negligent on my phone. Careless was listed as a similar word. I looked across and saw CADRE. Care-LESS D. I had already tried to LOSE some letters in some of my other rabbit holes, knowing it's a Shenk mechanism. But this was the winner and it was so fun to go collect the rest of the 6 and form the clever verb 100% answer. Interestingly, when I then looked up the other 5 theme adjectives, the majority of them contained the -LESS word as synonyms.

boharr
Posts: 529
Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:57 am

#300

Post by boharr » Mon Aug 24, 2020 3:12 pm

LaceyK wrote:
Mon Aug 24, 2020 2:51 pm
Interestingly, when I then looked up the other 5 theme adjectives, the majority of them contained the -LESS word as synonyms.
Yup. That was a convincing pointer.

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