"You're Surrounded" - September 25, 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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Gman
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Re: "You're Surrounded" - September 25, 2020

#461

Post by Gman » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:27 pm

hcbirker wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:18 pm
Gman wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:35 pm
I looked this up in wikipedia to find the odds for a poisson distribution, and if I keep batting ~80% for metas, and they average ~1075 winners per week (like this week), I have a ~50/50 chance to win one or more mugs if I compete each week for the next 20 years. Those aren't great odds.

I think I may need to order a custom mug. Anyone have any good ideas for where to order such a coveted heirloom?
My husband had one made for me for my birthday a few years ago. Try Cafe Press.
For $8.44 I can buy a mug titled "Crossword Puzzle King!" Nice suggestion. Now I can have my weekends back. Of course, metas are an addiction, so I will still fritter away my time, but maybe this way I won't spend hours on KAS 3.5 to KAS 5 puzzles, and instead I can submit the easy ones and let the "just not seeing it right away" ones go unsolved.

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Eric Porter
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#462

Post by Eric Porter » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:44 pm

MikeMillerwsj wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:03 pm
We thought this was an unusually hard contest! (Translation: We were stumped.) But we heard from 1,706 of you and 63% were correct (a lower percentage than usual, to be sure, but we're still impressed with the cleverness of our solvers).

The wrong answers were literally all over the map. We didn't do a careful count but it seemed that most of the states were represented, especially INDIANA (60, why?) and MISSOURI (34) plus VERMONT (12), MISSISSIPPI (10) and many others.

Congrats to this week's winner: Skip Perry of San Francisco!
I assume the lower percentage is due to people making more hail marys when you can narrow it down to states which are surrounded by other states.
Missouri, interestingly enough, is surrounded by 8 states just like Tennessee.

I'd seen the spoilers that mentioned looking at a map. It didn't really help me because I knew that probably I needed to find state abbreviations somehow. I should have realized earlier the reason for the unusual grid.

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whimsy
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#463

Post by whimsy » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:49 pm

I've been liking everyone's Monday explanations, clicking left and right on whatever sounds familiar, and it's all so much of what I was thinking and attempting. (I mainly explored the US Tate as a lark, and under the influence of I book I was reading for my history group about the Navy in the Pacific in WWII.) The state codes were there of course, way too much there! But I focused on horizontal. It seems there have been lots of times before when I would want to go tripping down a fanciful path led on by vertical grid entries and I would have to pull myself back. So now that I'd successfully drummed it into my head to concentrate on keeping an even horizontal keel, this one comes along! It felt like story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. :)
Hometown contribution ---- where you'll find me on the 3rd Monday in April most years :roll:
Capturemarathon.JPG

steveb
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#464

Post by steveb » Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:54 pm

I managed to tip myself off inadvertently in solving the grid (in ink, on paper). Before I had 1A, my first guess for 6D was AYE VOTES. When it became clear that it had to be YES VOTES, I had to change my inked A to a Y. That made it stand out enough that I couldn't help but notice the KY in KLUDGY, since by then I was keyed into looking for states. It was a quick solve from there.

otlaolap
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#465

Post by otlaolap » Mon Sep 28, 2020 8:43 pm

Gman wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:27 pm
Of course, metas are an addiction . . . .
Is it Thursday yet? Is it Thursday yet? Is it Thursday yet?

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Tripod
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#466

Post by Tripod » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:00 pm

As a still new solver who was fortunate to get to shore early this week, can I ask what kind of nudges some of you more experienced solvers would use on this puzzle?

I was reluctant to stick my nose into that part of the game for fear of being wrong on one hand, or "too" helpful on the other.

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BarbaraK
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#467

Post by BarbaraK » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:17 pm

Tripod wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:00 pm
As a still new solver who was fortunate to get to shore early this week, can I ask what kind of nudges some of you more experienced solvers would use on this puzzle?

I was reluctant to stick my nose into that part of the game for fear of being wrong on one hand, or "too" helpful on the other.
Yeah, coming up with good nudges is an art unto itself. For WSJ, I told a couple people to look at the edges.

I'm never really sure what's too much and what's not enough. I try to err on the side of not enough since they can always ask for more but can't un-see if I send too much. And sometimes (like with the current MGWCC) I can't think of any good nudge, so I don't reply. There are enough people here that for any given puzzle someone probably has a good nudge to give.

I prefer if people ask specific questions or send me a list of ideas they're working on so I can tell them which to pursue and which to drop. If someone asks, "Are any of these ideas right or should I start over," I feel safe replying, "You should start over," and it's amazing how often that's all it takes.

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Al Sisti
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#468

Post by Al Sisti » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:27 pm

BarbaraK wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:17 pm
I feel safe replying, "You should start over," and it's amazing how often that's all it takes.
and more often than not, that's all a solver wants...

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OGuyDave
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#469

Post by OGuyDave » Mon Sep 28, 2020 9:36 pm

oldjudge wrote:
Thu Sep 24, 2020 8:08 pm
If I had to pick a NY beer my first choice would be Genesee Cream Ale
This reply Thursday evening sure got my attention. Talk about a word so close to the solution. On purpose? Coincidence?

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oldjudge
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#470

Post by oldjudge » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:20 pm

Just a coincidence

hrb
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#471

Post by hrb » Mon Sep 28, 2020 10:25 pm

Svend wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 11:54 am
Not sure if anyone else said this, but I solved this differently than the posted method. I used the answers surrounding the center "USSTATE". These were "OPENTOES, INASEC, AMOEBA, and ALIGNING". Using these letters, you can spell the states: ALABAMA, TENNESSEE, MAINE, MINNESOTA, MISSISSIPPI, and MONTANA. The only one surrounded by other states is TENNESSEE.
This was the first contest puzzle my wife and I have done. We used exactly the same method, and of course it fortuitously worked!

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Dplass
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#472

Post by Dplass » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:05 am

flyingMoose wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:23 am
This one was interesting for me on several levels.

First, I decided to apply myself and not give up so easily. That and use the advice offered within the past few weeks after WSJ+ #2: Ignore the stuff that is not useful. :)

Second, I quickly understood how to use the title, a rare occurrence. Along with 36A, I understood that the meta was a state completely surrounded by other states - no oceans, gulfs, lakes, or countries invited. It was also evident to me that the USPS state abbreviations would likely be used in some manner.

67A and 68A quickly gave me MEsses and AZrael. Maine and Arizona? That did not look particularly promising. Coming back to the puzzle a bit later, I realized I should be seeing MesseS and AzraeL - the state letters *surrounding* the rest of the letters in the grid answer. Soon, I saw that the eight theme answers *surrounding* the grid yielded the *surrounding* states in their proper geographical location and led to the meta.

And at the time, the Rating was a 3! No way - I don't solve anything higher than 2.5. The Rating later dropped to that number. I feel much better now.

Oh well, an example of a puzzle hitting one of little talent in the face, while others far more skilled took a little longer.
I also really got messed up due to 67A and 68A. AZRAEL was SCREAMING "ARIZONA" (AZ) but alas, it was a red herring.

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BethA
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#473

Post by BethA » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:06 am

CPJohnson wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 2:35 pm
BethA wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:47 pm

Once I solved it, had the feeling that it was very similar to another meta, where the keys were way out at the edge. But the only thing I came up with on a quick search was an MMMM one, The Wanderer was the answer, and you had to go way out to the edge of the grid and use N, E, S, W compass points to navigate to the answer letters. If anyone knows of another meta that’s closer to this week’s WSJ, I’d love to hear it!
The only one I can think of is 12-13-19, Out of Bounds. We had to make other words outside the grid; answer was Phil Simms (eleven from the New York Giants).
Thanks for the suggestion. That one certainly had a lot going on at the edges! I was thinking there was one with an identical grid layout though. Not sure.

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Dplass
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#474

Post by Dplass » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:06 am

otlaolap wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 8:43 pm
Gman wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:27 pm
Of course, metas are an addiction . . . .
Is it Thursday yet? Is it Thursday yet? Is it Thursday yet?
There are other metas available too - almost every day of the week! Sunday is Pandora's Blocks, Monday is MMM, Tuesday is PGWCC, Friday is MGWCC, etc.

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Dplass
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#475

Post by Dplass » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:08 am

jskalitz wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:59 pm
This marks the second time I've been 100% sure of my answer only to be wrong (the first being PAGEANT as one might expect). Here's my logic for VERMONT:

The 8 entries on the edges of the grid are "surrounded" in that they're bookended by a state's postal abbreviation. I interpreted 36A to mean we're looking for the name of a state that, if it were entered as the answer for 36A, would fit the pattern as well. That means we're looking for a 7 letter state whose first and last letter spells its postal code -- only Vermont and Georgia fit. Since GA was already used in the grid, it had to be Vermont!

I'd been hoping to make it a full 52 weeks without an incorrect answer. Maybe 2021 will be my year!
That's a problem I had with this puzzle - all the states around the edges are DOING the surrounding, but the state in the middle is BEING surrounded.

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BethA
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#476

Post by BethA » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:09 am

BarbaraK wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 5:53 pm
BethA wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 1:47 pm
nce I solved it, had the feeling that it was very similar to another meta, where the keys were way out at the edge. But the only thing I came up with on a quick search was an MMMM one, The Wanderer was the answer, and you had to go way out to the edge of the grid and use N, E, S, W compass points to navigate to the answer letters. If anyone knows of another meta that’s closer to this week’s WSJ, I’d love to hear it!
How about this one:

https://crosswordfiend.com/2019/10/15/mgwcc-593/
Thanks for the thought! I couldn’t remember that one though. I do the WSJ and MMMM metas, but haven’t subscribed to the MGWCC...yet.

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TPS
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#477

Post by TPS » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:25 am

Dplass wrote:
Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:08 am
jskalitz wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:59 pm
This marks the second time I've been 100% sure of my answer only to be wrong (the first being PAGEANT as one might expect). Here's my logic for VERMONT:

The 8 entries on the edges of the grid are "surrounded" in that they're bookended by a state's postal abbreviation. I interpreted 36A to mean we're looking for the name of a state that, if it were entered as the answer for 36A, would fit the pattern as well. That means we're looking for a 7 letter state whose first and last letter spells its postal code -- only Vermont and Georgia fit. Since GA was already used in the grid, it had to be Vermont!

I'd been hoping to make it a full 52 weeks without an incorrect answer. Maybe 2021 will be my year!
That's a problem I had with this puzzle - all the states around the edges are DOING the surrounding, but the state in the middle is BEING surrounded.
Sometimes find something I don’t like with a puzzle in the grid but then I feel like well it’s not easy to make the grid so that was probably done out of necessity (I appreciate this even more now after trying to make even a simple puzzle). But I feel like better prompts or titles are a relatively easy fix and I thought this puzzle could have had a better title like maybe “They’ve got you surrounded” or “They’ve got it surrounded” - I probably wouldn’t have solved it anyway but at least I would have had a better chance of looking at the right direction.

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Joe Ross
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#478

Post by Joe Ross » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:26 am

Grover wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 6:30 pm
Joe Ross wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:02 am
Image

[EDIT: I left WI out as a "surrounded" U.S. state in my notes, when solving.]
Pretty good except you have Michigan as one of the states surrounding Iowa.
Plus, I reversed Michigan's clockwise order with Wisconsin.

What happened: The crush of the letters within the cell didn't allow for the center-diagonal & right-vertical strokes of the "N", in "MN". What our minds' eyes are tricked to see as "MI" is, in fact, this part - ""MI " - of "MN".

I'll do better.

Fishoutowater
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#479

Post by Fishoutowater » Tue Sep 29, 2020 9:28 am

Colin wrote:
Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:29 am
Darn - I missed a sitter! Totally stuck on two-letter state abbreviations but couldn’t make anything work - not even highlighting the many instances in expectation that a beautiful map of a state would appear, but alas.... nada! Knowing I was on the wrong track but not seeing the obvious, in a sudden fit of tangential thinking I went with MISSISSIPPI. Why?...
USS TATE (with space) is an alternative way to read the answer to 36A. USS Tate was a Tolland-Class Attack Cargo Ship in WWII, and was named after Tate County, MISSISSIPPI. USS Tate, like all ships are surrounded by water.
PS - Yes, I did use Google during my dying throes to learn about USS Tate.
PPS - Thank you Joe Ross for the Excel template (post #2). When stuck, it helps to refill the grid clearly and see different perspectives.
I went WAY down the battleship rabbit hole - the grid even kind of looks like a Battleship game board. If it had been a 4 letter clue in the middle (the size of a battleship in the game), I would have felt more certain. But clearly a time where I assumed that the meta was trickier than it actually was.

Nice puzzle. Still learning here....!

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BrianMac
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#480

Post by BrianMac » Tue Sep 29, 2020 10:17 am

yourpalsal wrote:
Tue Sep 22, 2020 6:37 pm
I can't make it this week, but the zoom muggle meetup is on as always! https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89184367093
I had to miss last week because we had "virtual" back to school night for 2 of our kids. Tonight they have it for the other kid, so I'll probably have to miss it again.

Mean wifey sez kids edgecation more important then crosswords. :x

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