"Just A Step More" - October 23, 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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KscX
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Re: "Just A Step More" - October 23, 2020

#321

Post by KscX » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:45 am

And 50D - “SNIFF”

boharr
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#322

Post by boharr » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:50 am

Meg wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 8:25 am
I thought the title was odd. Now I see why. Totally missed TASTE.
I missed TASTE too until I spoke with another solver who had submitted it and had to point out it was incorrect (but clever).

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#323

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:52 am

KayW wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:05 am
I saw the first step to this Thursday evening. inDOChine jumped out at me, I think in part because not too long ago another muggle commented that Matt had used DOC in at least 3 recent puzzles.

The second step didn't come until Sunday, and I must thank TPS and Bird Lives posts for this. They both commented that Matt/Mike used the mechanism fairly recently, so I went to the list of past puzzles and starting with the most recent, I looked carefully at each one to see if I could apply the mechanism. Struck paydirt with COCO (We're in this together).

A few of my notable rabbit holes:
- LAGOS -> lakes -> Erie, ETUDE -> study/schools -> Penn, PETRI- -> rock -> Earth and tried to find foreign language groupings for the five.
- 36D clue "the PENNy dropped!" contained one of the step 1 theme entries, was in the center of the grid and AHA to boot. But no other clues seemed to include the step 1 results.
- I also noticed that if you ignore the theme clue at 38A, there are a total of 5 clues that are quoted exclamations (e.g "The guy over there!"). Nada
- There are six sets of two black squares in the middle of the grid that look like steps. I tried every possibility using the letters around those.

I never did see TASTE in jusT A STEp more, nor SMELL hidden in MILLES. But such a relief to solve at all. I'm not sure why this one was so difficult for me and others, especially since it is a mechanism that was used before. Perhaps because there were so many choices of other set members to hunt for? (Tho let's be honest, it's got to be much easier to hide YALE in the grid than DARTMOUTH)

Beautiful puzzle!
Yale was easy but the dwarfs after DOC took a little while to find. And I had to look up the seven deadly sins - is there anyone here who knew what they are without a bit of googling? I did know the Ivies since they are all in the Northeast.
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#324

Post by hcbirker » Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:56 am

Well, I don't feel bad missing this one. I saw all the things that I should have seen, just didn't put it all together. Was quite fixated on the chess clue, and some other oddly worded clues. On to next week!
Heidi

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#325

Post by boharr » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:21 pm

TPS wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:26 am
Janet P wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:00 am
Also, the refrain of "if you are trying to anagram, you're probably on the wrong track" always echoes in my mind and makes that a last resort in my toolbox.
I agree with this refrain but it might need to be amended to something more like, "If you need to anagram to get the answer itself then you are probably on the wrong track." Because in the past 8-10 puzzles searching anagrams to find excess letters that will ultimately spell out the answer in sequence has occurred 3 times.
Isn't there an actual name for the anagram + 1 device? I thought I read about it somewhere? Maybe on CrosswordFiend.

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#326

Post by John77 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:33 pm

HeadinHome wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:01 am
Giggled at imagining Pluto getting “defrocked”. Somebody needs to do a Disney spoof cartoon with Mickey telling Pluto he can no longer be a bona fide ‘toon.
Not possible to defrock Pluto. Goofy wears clothes, but not Pluto.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. —H. L. Mencken

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#327

Post by Joe Ross » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:37 pm

Janet P wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 11:00 am
Also, the refrain of "if you are trying to anagram, you're probably on the wrong track" always echoes in my mind and makes that a last resort in my toolbox.
Anagramming made for great camouflage in this puzzle.

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#328

Post by John77 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:38 pm

Notbitter wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:38 am
A bit of a whine (and sorry if someone already posted this, I did not read all sixteen pages of comments here). I did the puzzle on the WSJ app on my iPad. Unless I am missing something, the app version did not include a clue for 59 across or list the number 59 in the puzzle (per my attached screenshot). Since the answer was “nil,” to me it was OBVIOUSLY important to the meta. It had me looking for empty sets, etc. I chase enough rabbits on my own without help from the app.
Thanks for posting that. I'll be printing the downloadable pdf and using pencil and paper from now on.
For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. —H. L. Mencken

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#329

Post by boharr » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:39 pm

So I was just gathering up what must be the REAMS of paper I accumulated while trying to solve this one, and the thought occurred to me if Matt used as much paper to construct it. Then I decided, nah, he probably did it in his head.

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#330

Post by Jackie88 » Mon Oct 26, 2020 12:50 pm

I had no hope of getting this one. I was fixated on OREM (more with the m moved to the back) and thought this was somehow meant to give me a clue. Hah! Not so much

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#331

Post by BethA » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:03 pm

Kas 5 for me. Did not get step 1.

Curious what “week” this would be rated in terms of Matt Gaffney’s contest?

Also wonder if it isn’t considered foul play by the constructor to use title words in clues, making them seem important?

Mainly, MORE in 35A grabbed me, and I thought 20A went along in support. It screamed to me that state abbreviations were important, both the USPS 2-letter postal codes (like RI, OH, FL), PLUS the older, longer abbreviations, like IND and PENN. There were lots of others around, too, NEBR and CALIF in steps, ORE and ARI.

The other thing was all the musical references, and why would donBASS and OUD be in a puzzle? The numerous musical references plus the title STEP led me towards percussion. So, what percussion instrument can be formed from state abbreviations?

The contest answer is CONGA. (Connecticut PLUS Georgia)
Conga is a drum that is usually in a set of 2. It ties to the title as used in the conga line dance STEP.

I was really happy with this as my guess answer. At least it didn’t SMELL! 😀

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#332

Post by zacmoretz » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:08 pm

TPS wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 10:01 am
So someone asked me for tips on solving this puzzle so I thought I'd repost it here in case anyone else cares.

Now I didn't solve this in the traditional way I would but maybe some of these things have just become so ingrained over the past few months I just .....
And make sure you know where Matt and Mike went to college! 😀

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#333

Post by flyingMoose » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:26 pm

BethA wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:03 pm
Kas 5 for me. Did not get step 1.
Same here. With a weekend filled with previous commitments, I barely had time to fill out the grid and not enough time to seriously search for the meta and even claim I was on the boat. I may have found KT Oslin given the time available, but not this one.

Matt has some interesting responses to remarks at CrosswordFiend.

https://crosswordfiend.com/2020/10/25/w ... ore-118908

And Mike attended Penn State, not Penn. Just sayin'.
Last edited by flyingMoose on Tue Oct 27, 2020 10:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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#334

Post by MikeMillerwsj » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:37 pm

Greetings--this was an unusually difficult contest! We had 602 entries, only about 40% correct--both figures significantly less than usual. The puzzle gods raise the bar once in a while, and this was one of those times. Several wrong answers drew multiple responses, for reasons we'd love to understand: RISER (44), TASTE (ok that one we understand, 42), QUEEN (18), SEINE (14), MAINE (5), and many more.

Congrats to this week's winner: Gideon Fostick of Bergenfield, NJ.

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#335

Post by JAQT » Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:51 pm

flyingMoose wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:26 pm

Matt has some interesting responses to remarks on CrosswordFiend.

https://crosswordfiend.com/2020/10/25/w ... ore-118908
There are those at that site that argue that TASTE should be accepted as an alternate answer, based on the title of the grid "jusT A STEp more".

FWIW, I do not agree, since if TASTE were an answer then there would be no point in even filling the grid -- i.e., the answer could be gleaned with a grid that's completely blank. That's not a meta in the sense that it's not a puzzle within a puzzle. And it's certainly not Gaffney-esque.

Disclaimer: I did not solve this and did not even get close (absent help from TPS/Todd).

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#336

Post by Bob cruise director » Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:05 pm

MikeMillerwsj wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:37 pm
Greetings--this was an unusually difficult contest! We had 602 entries, only about 40% correct--both figures significantly less than usual. The puzzle gods raise the bar once in a while, and this was one of those times. Several wrong answers drew multiple responses, for reasons we'd love to understand: RISER (44), TASTE (ok that one we understand, 42), QUEEN (18), SEINE (14), MAINE (5), and many more.

Congrats to this week's winner: Gideon Fostick of Bergenfield, NJ.
That means that there were 241 correct answers which gave me 0.4% chance of winning. Best odds in a long time but alas and alack.....
Bob Stevens
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#337

Post by TPS » Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:47 pm

flyingMoose wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:26 pm

Matt has some interesting responses to remarks on CrosswordFiend.

https://crosswordfiend.com/2020/10/25/w ... ore-118908
Am I the only one at least slightly bothered that Matt chooses to post there rather frequently and here not so much. I could understand it at first but this forum now probably represents 40-50% of the solvers either by actual registered members and lurkers.

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#338

Post by JAQT » Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:53 pm

TPS wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:47 pm
flyingMoose wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:26 pm

Matt has some interesting responses to remarks on CrosswordFiend.

https://crosswordfiend.com/2020/10/25/w ... ore-118908
Am I the only one at least slightly bothered that Matt chooses to post there rather frequently and here not so much. I could understand it at first but this forum now probably represents 40-50% of the solvers either by actual registered members and lurkers.
I am not so much bothered by it, but rather a bit confused by it. The posts over there often tend to be very critical of the puzzle/construction, whereas the posts here tend to be complimentary, "stand in awe" type of posts.
JustAQuickThought

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#339

Post by Jeremy Smith » Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:57 pm

Thanks to a nudge from TPS, I had 80% of the first step. I extracted RED from FLUSTERED, and took that to represent one of the 7 colors of the rainbow. I then tried to relate the second step to mnemonic devices (HOMES for the Great Lakes and ROYGBIV for the colors of the rainbow). There is an acceptable one for the planets, but finding acceptable ones for the dwarfs and the Ivies was not possible. I then went A STEP MORE with the acronyms I had (S from HOMES, ORANGE from ROYGBIV, and M from MVEMJSUN), and tried to backsolve using Onelook. Of course, that went nowhere.

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#340

Post by TPS » Mon Oct 26, 2020 3:01 pm

JAQT wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:53 pm
TPS wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:47 pm
flyingMoose wrote:
Mon Oct 26, 2020 1:26 pm

Matt has some interesting responses to remarks on CrosswordFiend.

https://crosswordfiend.com/2020/10/25/w ... ore-118908
Am I the only one at least slightly bothered that Matt chooses to post there rather frequently and here not so much. I could understand it at first but this forum now probably represents 40-50% of the solvers either by actual registered members and lurkers.
I am not so much bothered by it, but rather a bit confused by it. The posts over there often tend to be very critical of the puzzle/construction, whereas the posts here tend to be complimentary, "stand in awe" type of posts.
I was going to mention that as well but I am not the best person to say that because I often post about things I don’t like about puzzles here.

But this was probably my favorite MG puzzle this year because of ENZYMES/SNEEZY - it probably would have been easier to have used another dwarf for the first part and then to hide DOC in the second part as an anagram +1 with something like CODE - so it was clearly Matt just showing off - like adding a tomahawk to your 360 dunk just because you can.

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