"Under the Table" - July 9, 2021

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.
Locked
Ben B
Posts: 44
Joined: Sun Apr 25, 2021 11:50 pm
Location: Houston

#421

Post by Ben B »

I want to thank all the Muggles for sharing their solving (or not) journeys. As a new meta addict I am learning a great deal about different ways to think about these amazing puzzles!

This was my first week to have to solo solve without my constructor son. I was fortunate to immediately think of periodic table and saw the AG and AU quickly so actually got this one in record time. When I called out to my son he was impressed and said “oh yeah the metals are in the clues!” I had completely missed that! But he also discovered in By The Numbers that all the clues started with Roman Numerals.

The elegance and creativity of these puzzles is a source of admiration and joy. Have a great week everyone!
P1h3r1e3d13
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Jun 03, 2021 5:53 pm

#422

Post by P1h3r1e3d13 »

Ben B wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 10:07 am“oh yeah the metals are in the clues!” I had completely missed that!
Oh! That's why Al, W, Er, Na, & Na don't count. I couldn't figure out why the answer wasn't EFDISCREETINKS.
User avatar
Joe Ross
Moderator
Posts: 1962
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:46 am
Location: Cincinnati

#423

Post by Joe Ross »

Not to mention B, Ba, C, *H, *I, N, O, P, Pr, Re, U, & *W!

Image

* elements without a letter under their 'tables'
User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 2969
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#424

Post by Bob cruise director »

mntlblok wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 8:25 am This reminds me of the time management decided they needed to figure out how much time it took to write each line of code so they could better estimate projects. This might be possible when you’re writing a new program, not so much when you’re fixing old ones.

How long does it take to change > to>= ? Not long at all. How long to find that it needs to be changed? Totally depends on the rest of the program. Could be minutes; could be weeks.
>>>>>>>>>>

Found it fascinating back when my wife explained to me that she enjoyed programming because "it's like working puzzles". :-)
You forgot - how long does it take to test the code to make sure that you did not screw something else up?

As one of my friends said "mechanical things work until they don't. Software does not work until it does"
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director
User avatar
HeadinHome
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Apr 26, 2020 9:06 am
Location: Charlotte, NC

#425

Post by HeadinHome »

femullen wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 8:53 am I spent hours cogitating how 61D, "CASH," as in "cash...Under the Table," and appearing in the lower right corner, would reveal the mechanism. That was probably the deepest, most fruitless rabbit hole I've ever been down.
Pretty much my exact thought & stuckness for several days. Maybe ShenValley people think alike? (I am from that area… know about every acre and back road of the triangle formed by H-burg/Staunton/Waynesboro .. and BTW, Gaffney lives in that area too!)

The (false) path: CASH in bottom right, lots of money things in the grid & clues, AND the IRS was even there, watching for an ILLEGAL (ILL EAGLE) cash transaction … ILL and EAGLE being directly under the word GRID, which is a table!! I ran that by a couple early solvers who politely did not spew coffee and laugh at me (I knew it seemed unlikely, since it only used one area of the grid), but REALLY… coincidence? I think not.

A “no that’s not it” and a gentle nudge to look elsewhere finally got me to the chemistry theme. And yes, LEAD had eluded me because even when I read silently with my eyes, my ears still “perk up” because I love the *sound* of language — so I saw “LEAD” and strongly “heard” LEED not LED. (I think that is a reading/decoding phenomenon that some people just have more strongly.). But I say that’s a fair Shenk trick.. why not?

By the way… who agrees that using “lead” for the past tense of the verb “to lead” is a prevalent and extremely irritating misspelling?? Makes me go back and have to re-read, about every time. It’s L-E-D!!
The other Wendy. :roll:
User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 2969
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#426

Post by Bob cruise director »

woozy wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 11:47 pm
LadyBird wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:58 pm
woozy wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:42 am



(And I have no idea if that is what Al did.... but I can [barely, just barely] conceive someone doing it.)
That is a brilliant strategy, but I don't think that I could do it. I'm too OCD--I need to fill out the whole grid. So I may get the occasional page 1, but that will prevent me getting the #1 spot.
Me too. I don't even *try* to think about the meta until I have a full grid and then ... I don't *try* I just look and feel and feel... and then I start to think. And I'll never get anything above a page 12.... (then again that *isn't* my goal).

But if someone is going to accuse someone of lying and claim its impossible to do it in eight minutes.... Well, no, it's *not* impossible. It's not easy and its utterly remarkable but accusation of lying are... well... libelous.

And if the complaint is you can barely get the grid much less the meta in eight minutes.... well theoretically you don't need to get the grid...
I put Al and others (go to https://xwordcontest.com/ and check out some of those times) in the same category as someone who can throw a baseball 100 miles per hour or throw a football 80 yards in the air. Possible because I have seen it done but far beyond my ability so I watch in awe and admiration.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director
User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 2969
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#427

Post by Bob cruise director »

MikeMillerwsj wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:17 pm A tough puzzle, with a turnout slightly below the blockbuster level, but also an above-average rate of correct responses. We had 1172 entries, about 83% correct (75% is closer to typical). Incorrect answers seemed to be inspired by the title, with a few sniffing around the trail of elements: ILLEGAL (30), METALLIC (9), ICONIC (8), PERIODIC (7) and many others.

Congrats to this week's winner: Donald Sebo of Pocatello, Idaho!
In case anyone was wondering, from the beginning of written records (April 29, 2016), the solve percentages by constructor are:

Matt Gaffney - 72.4% for 132 metas
Mike Shenk - 78.0% for 109 metas
Peter Gordon - 82.1% for 6 metas
Patrick Berry - 85.6% for 16 metas

Overall average of metas is 74.8%
Weighted average (total solves/total entries) is 79.7% - A lot more submissions on the easier contests
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director
User avatar
HunterX
Posts: 365
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2020 9:17 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

#428

Post by HunterX »

Bob cruise director wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 11:38 am
MikeMillerwsj wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:17 pm A tough puzzle, with a turnout slightly below the blockbuster level, but also an above-average rate of correct responses. We had 1172 entries, about 83% correct (75% is closer to typical). Incorrect answers seemed to be inspired by the title, with a few sniffing around the trail of elements: ILLEGAL (30), METALLIC (9), ICONIC (8), PERIODIC (7) and many others.
In case anyone was wondering, from the beginning of written records (April 29, 2016), the solve percentages by constructor are:

Matt Gaffney - 72.4% for 132 metas
Mike Shenk - 78.0% for 109 metas
Peter Gordon - 82.1% for 6 metas
Patrick Berry - 85.6% for 16 metas

Overall average of metas is 74.8%
Weighted average (total solves/total entries) is 79.7% - A lot more submissions on the easier contests
Interesting. My percentages are close for Matt Gaffney, though slightly higher for the others.

Matt Gaffney - 75.8%
Mike Shenk - 90.0%
Peter Gordon - 100.0% (only 1, listed as PG "and Matt Gaffney")
Patrick Berry - 100.0% (only 4)
"And the rest" (a la Gilligan's Island cast listing) - 100.0%

Overall average of metas is 84.3%

My weighted average is about the same since my weight really hasn't fluctuated at all since I started these. (Regardless of the extra drinking, no less!)
User avatar
KayW
Posts: 899
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 12:10 am
Location: Chicago

#429

Post by KayW »

mntlblok wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 8:25 am
Found it fascinating back when my wife explained to me that she enjoyed programming because "it's like working puzzles". :-)
My sentiments exactly!! Back when I worked, I was mostly a maintenance coder because I knew :sauropod: languages - COBOL, FORTRAN, SAS... Modifying or debugging existing code is often just like solving a meta. And even more frustrating/rewarding (depending on which side of the solution I'm on). They paid me to solve puzzles!
User avatar
sharkicicles
Posts: 429
Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 12:03 pm
Location: Chicago

#430

Post by sharkicicles »

Making new things is cool, but debugging is where the real fun is.
zach
Posts: 33
Joined: Tue May 25, 2021 1:55 pm

#431

Post by zach »

Bob cruise director wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 11:38 am
MikeMillerwsj wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:17 pm A tough puzzle, with a turnout slightly below the blockbuster level, but also an above-average rate of correct responses. We had 1172 entries, about 83% correct (75% is closer to typical). Incorrect answers seemed to be inspired by the title, with a few sniffing around the trail of elements: ILLEGAL (30), METALLIC (9), ICONIC (8), PERIODIC (7) and many others.

Congrats to this week's winner: Donald Sebo of Pocatello, Idaho!
In case anyone was wondering, from the beginning of written records (April 29, 2016), the solve percentages by constructor are:

Matt Gaffney - 72.4% for 132 metas
Mike Shenk - 78.0% for 109 metas
Peter Gordon - 82.1% for 6 metas
Patrick Berry - 85.6% for 16 metas

Overall average of metas is 74.8%
Weighted average (total solves/total entries) is 79.7% - A lot more submissions on the easier contests
Interesting data! Thanks for sharing.

I’d love to see the Gaffney puzzle success rate by “with parentheses in the clues” vs. “sans parentheses.” I bet those parentheses puzzles are what make his puzzles the most difficult.
hoover
Posts: 281
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2021 7:26 pm

#432

Post by hoover »

HeadinHome wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 11:27 am By the way… who agrees that using “lead” for the past tense of the verb “to lead” is a prevalent and extremely irritating misspelling?? Makes me go back and have to re-read, about every time. It’s L-E-D!!
Raising hand here. Apparently at some point we stopped teaching and grading spelling in school because it hurt the kids' feelings, so instead they internalized the lesson that spelling doesn't matter. The latest crop of "journalists" and "editors" putting out content on the websites of my local news stations and "newspaper" use the construction "X lead to Y" on a daily basis.
hoover
Posts: 281
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2021 7:26 pm

#433

Post by hoover »

Bob cruise director wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 11:30 am I put Al and others (go to https://xwordcontest.com/ and check out some of those times) in the same category as someone who can throw a baseball 100 miles per hour or throw a football 80 yards in the air. Possible because I have seen it done but far beyond my ability so I watch in awe and admiration.
Does it strike anyone else that there is a suspicious coincidental (???) resemblance, in certain fonts, of "Al" (big eh, little el) and "AI" (big eh, big ai)?

*Not to be confused with this guy:
Image
boharr
Posts: 1218
Joined: Fri Sep 06, 2019 8:57 am
Location: Westchester, NY

#434

Post by boharr »

hoover wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:32 pm
HeadinHome wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 11:27 am By the way… who agrees that using “lead” for the past tense of the verb “to lead” is a prevalent and extremely irritating misspelling?? Makes me go back and have to re-read, about every time. It’s L-E-D!!
Raising hand here. Apparently at some point we stopped teaching and grading spelling in school because it hurt the kids' feelings, so instead they internalized the lesson that spelling doesn't matter. The latest crop of "journalists" and "editors" putting out content on the websites of my local news stations and "newspaper" use the construction "X lead to Y" on a daily basis.
Siriusly?
User avatar
SReh26
Posts: 649
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2021 10:48 pm

#435

Post by SReh26 »

boharr wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:58 pm
hoover wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:32 pm
HeadinHome wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 11:27 am By the way… who agrees that using “lead” for the past tense of the verb “to lead” is a prevalent and extremely irritating misspelling?? Makes me go back and have to re-read, about every time. It’s L-E-D!!
Raising hand here. Apparently at some point we stopped teaching and grading spelling in school because it hurt the kids' feelings, so instead they internalized the lesson that spelling doesn't matter. The latest crop of "journalists" and "editors" putting out content on the websites of my local news stations and "newspaper" use the construction "X lead to Y" on a daily basis.
Siriusly?
I laugh every time I see someone (often a WSJ commenter) write boogieman when they mean bogeyman. But I can use a laugh so it’s okay.
User avatar
Bob cruise director
Cruise Director
Posts: 2969
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2019 2:38 pm
Location: any golf course that will take my money

#436

Post by Bob cruise director »

zach wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 3:22 pm
Bob cruise director wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 11:38 am
MikeMillerwsj wrote: Mon Jul 12, 2021 2:17 pm A tough puzzle, with a turnout slightly below the blockbuster level, but also an above-average rate of correct responses. We had 1172 entries, about 83% correct (75% is closer to typical). Incorrect answers seemed to be inspired by the title, with a few sniffing around the trail of elements: ILLEGAL (30), METALLIC (9), ICONIC (8), PERIODIC (7) and many others.

Congrats to this week's winner: Donald Sebo of Pocatello, Idaho!
In case anyone was wondering, from the beginning of written records (April 29, 2016), the solve percentages by constructor are:

Matt Gaffney - 72.4% for 132 metas
Mike Shenk - 78.0% for 109 metas
Peter Gordon - 82.1% for 6 metas
Patrick Berry - 85.6% for 16 metas

Overall average of metas is 74.8%
Weighted average (total solves/total entries) is 79.7% - A lot more submissions on the easier contests
Interesting data! Thanks for sharing.

I’d love to see the Gaffney puzzle success rate by “with parentheses in the clues” vs. “sans parentheses.” I bet those parentheses puzzles are what make his puzzles the most difficult.
If you go back through the puzzles the Joe Ross has posted and tell me which ones had parentheses vs sans parentheses, I can give you those statistics.
Bob Stevens
Cruise Director
User avatar
Joe Ross
Moderator
Posts: 1962
Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2019 4:46 am
Location: Cincinnati

#437

Post by Joe Ross »

Bob cruise director wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 4:28 pm If you go back through the puzzles the Joe Ross has posted and tell me which ones had parentheses vs sans parentheses, I can give you those statistics.
Betcha @BarbaraK has that number at her fingertips.
hoover
Posts: 281
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2021 7:26 pm

#438

Post by hoover »

P.S. Speaking of speed-solvers, someone (in this thread, I think) posted a link to a video from the 2017 crossword championships. It's worth watching. I won't spoil it except to say that the folks doing the color commentary didn't get a chance to finish their chitchat before the winner laid down his headphones. Also, having watched an interview with MS and MG that someone linked in the "how to solve these !@#$ things???" thread, I think that looks like Mike Shenk in the bottom left of the 2017 video.
User avatar
mntlblok
Posts: 258
Joined: Tue Jun 15, 2021 6:13 am
Location: Pompano Beach, FL
Contact:

#439

Post by mntlblok »

hoover wrote: Tue Jul 13, 2021 8:42 pm P.S. Speaking of speed-solvers, someone (in this thread, I think) posted a link to a video from the 2017 crossword championships. It's worth watching. I won't spoil it except to say that the folks doing the color commentary didn't get a chance to finish their chitchat before the winner laid down his headphones. Also, having watched an interview with MS and MG that someone linked in the "how to solve these !@#$ things???" thread, I think that looks like Mike Shenk in the bottom left of the 2017 video.
User avatar
BrianMac
Site Admin
Posts: 722
Joined: Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:45 pm
Location: Connecticut

#440

Post by BrianMac »

That video is from the 2018 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. That is Mike Shenk sitting next to the commentators.

93611728-DA47-47D2-B1BC-5A6C3D310FC7.jpeg

The following year (2019), he was awarded the Merl Reagle award for lifetime achievement in crosswords. This video was shown in his honor that weekend:

Locked