Puzzle #9 Solution and Puzzle #10, “First Name Basis”

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Last week’s grid had the look of a themeless, but there was a theme if you could figure out what to look for.  The key was in the clues; the puzzle’s title was “Place Your Order,” and there were five across clues that contained words indicating an order:

18. First words of Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice” = YOU’RE AS
19. Unit of distance over 176 million times shorter than a light-second = SMOOT
40. Common third-person singular conjugation = HAS
48. A great tragedy happened there on April fourth, 1968 = TENNESSEE
62. It might come in a pint, a fifth, or a handle = WHISKEY 

Put these all in order, and make one small tweak to the parsing, and you get “You’re as smooth as Tennessee whiskey,” which is the first line of the chorus of a Country music standard. The prompt asked for a sweet (not smooth!) drink you might like to order after completing the puzzle, and the song’s next line provides the answer: “You’re as sweet as strawberry wine.”

As a little thematic bonus, and to make things more symmetrical, the grid also contained the names of the performers of the song’s two most popular versions (though clued differently): Chris STAPLETON, who recorded it for a 2015 album but also did it as a duet with, somehow, Justin Timberlake at that year’s Country Music Awards in a version that caused a sensation and made the previously-released single shoot to number one on the country chart within a couple of days; and George JONES, whose 1983 version hit number two without the need for any pop-star coattails or online virality. (Sadly I did not manage to work in the song’s original performer, David Allan Coe.)

Frank Sinatra is said to have called George Jones “the second best white singer in America.”
Here‘s a persuasive argument that Frank was underrating him, doubly so.

27 solvers submitted the right answer. But a number of folks just seemed to solve it with brute force, noticing Tennessee and Whiskey and scouring the grid to find the rest of the theme material, and the result was a bit of uncertainty about the answer. I think the intended mechanism (with the ordinal words in the clues) was a little too well hidden, and/or the stuff that appeared in the grid, including the two artist names, was not well hidden enough. Maybe the lyric should have been in random order, and the artist names left out, forcing you to find those “ordering” words in the clues.

Next up is something a little different – metapuzzle #10, entitled “First Name Basis,” which is not a single puzzle but a series of eight small crosswords. You can download one of two .pdf files below – “small” for the three-page version that eliminates white space, saves paper, but requires pretty good eyesight to read the resultant small-print clues; “large” for one puzzle per page – or click on the link below it, which is not for a single .puz file as usual but instead will get you a .zip folder containing eight individual .puz files.

Update, Thursday morning, in the wee hours: the original version of this puzzle contained a highly offensive entry. I knew about that, did it for a reason and warned solvers in the clue, but many found it unacceptable. You can read my thoughts in defense of the puzzle as originally conceived here, though doing so will spoil the puzzle – but after several discussions I’ve decided to take down the puzzle. It will be replaced Thursday in the less-wee hours with an alternative version.

Further update, Thursday morning, hours still kinda wee: here are the links to the new version. The only changes are a completely new minipuzzle six, correction of a couple minor errors in the clues of minipuzzle eight, and the font on the .pdfs is different for technical reasons that aren’t at all interesting.

010_firstnamebasis_v2 (link to .zip folder)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a heading you might see on an artist’s portfolio. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, May 20 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles:
Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #8 Solution and Puzzle #9, “Place Your Order”

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Meta Master Matt talked a while back about one of his favorite kinds of metapuzzle: “what I’m calling the SAD style of meta: ‘Simple And Difficult.'”  I also like the SAD style, but if I had to pick a favorite I think it might be the sort we had last week, the “non-linear solve.”  The NLS (not nearly as good an acronym) requires the solver to explore potential avenues toward the solution without necessarily seeing how what he or she is trying is going to help, and sometimes to work backward after discovering something that starts to solidify what’s going on.  I think we had a little bit of that in puzzle #8, whose title (“Try Another”) nudged in that direction:

The highlighted long entries were clued by giving examples:
– GETTING ON A TRAIN was clued with “Buying a ticket is one way of doing it …”
– COMPUTER COMPANY with “Toshiba is one …”
– SNACK WITH CHEESE with “An olive is one …”
– AUSSIE MARSUPIAL with “A koala is one …”
– COLLECTOR’S SWORD with “A cavalry sabre is one …”

The title told you to “try another,” so the first step was to think of other examples of the theme ideas. With some, there were obvious choices: the classic snack with cheese is a CRACKER; the most iconic Aussie marsupial is a KANGAROO; and one of the world’s leading computer companies is also a common word with a lot of potential to lead in other directions – APPLE. If you got that far and paused to put these things in order, you’d see that the first letters spelled out _ACK_, and you might also notice that all three of those words makes a common two-word phrase, title/character, or compound word if followed by JACK. And you might realize that JACKS is (often) a solo pastime and think you must be on to something, and then confirm it by filling in the blanks, realizing that another way of getting on a train is JUMPING it, and another kind of collector’s sword is a SAMURAI sword, and both of those things also makes something that is a thing when followed by JACK, and now you’ve fully spelled out the metapuzzle’s answer. Maybe there’s not so much an “aha moment” as a slow reveal, but once you get it all it holds together, I think, even if it didn’t exactly “click” into place.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I went with “collector’s sword” to clue SAMURAI; while it’s very common to call the sword a “samurai sword,” the sword itself is called a katana while the Samurai is the warrior wielding it. A few successful solvers reported being unsure about this piece of it (though I don’t think that had much effect on their confidence level in the meta answer itself.) But I could definitely have done better – also 15 letters is the far superior “Japanese warrior,” which could have been clued as “A ninja is one …” I also could have gone with a different theme entry for JUMPING – “athletic ability,” clued as “Running is one …” comes to mind. In other words – I should have seen that the first and fifth theme entries were a tad inelegant, and tried another.

20 solvers submitted the right answer. Next up is puzzle #9, “Place Your Order.” As always, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz file which is shared from Google Drive.

009_placeyourorder (link to .puz file)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a sweet drink you might want to order after completing this puzzle. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, May 13 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles:
Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzles #7 and #7a Solutions and Puzzle #8, “Try Another”

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The main event last week featured kind of a weird grid – a central 15-letter entry, and highly contained areas in the NW and SE with triple-stacked tens. What was going on? It turns out, a whole lot of theme was going on.

TRANSLITERATION across the middle had the clue “Process that’s a bit like something you’ll do in solving the meta,” which is vague enough that maybe you were best off just ignoring it until you worked out the meta and saw what I meant, which was this: those triple-stacked tens all clue a word ending in -X which is not itself in the grid, but which has a homonym ending in -CKS elsewhere in the grid. For example, 11-across WOODCUTTER would be a fine clue for AX, and there’s ACKS at 22-across. So you’re kind of transliterating X into CKS – that’s not what transliterate means precisely, but it’s pretty close. (I couldn’t find a good word that describes what we’re doing here, whereas transliteration fit perfectly in the grid, which basically had to have that central 15-letter entry given all the rest of the constraints – and once I realized that I thought it would be weird if that entry weren’t somehow thematic.) The rest of the word pairs are highlighted in matching colors below:

Next, in grid order, take the first letters of the -CKS words (STICKS, TACKS, ACKS, COCKS, KICKS, SACKS) to spell out another such word, STACKS, which is of course how our main theme entries are arranged. But we’re not done, because we haven’t found a record label. To finish, we do the kinda-sorta-transliteration move again, but in reverse, to get the meta answer, the gospel/soul/funk/blues label STAX.

Looking at how much of the grid above is highlighted I’m still kind of shocked this puzzle worked. (The stats: 105 theme squares, 46 black blocks, 74 other.) What’s odd is it just kind of fell into place – the biggest struggle I had in the whole process was getting the six main theme entries to be the same length, which I only tried to do after choosing the meta answer almost by accident, and then thinking it would be kind of cool if I could make the themers appear in actual stacks. I don’t think I’d have ever tried this if I’d started with the “stack the themers” idea – it would have sounded too difficult to attempt.

Unfortunately, I think the puzzle may have been a little too solvable with partial information, so that people may not have noticed everything that was going on. Oh well – this one, I think, was always going to be more interesting from the point of view of the constructor. (A few solvers also pointed out that 21-across SKATS, backwards, also “transliterates” to the meta answer, which was not intended; I wish I’d noticed, because I would have redone it if I had.)

Meanwhile last week’s smaller puzzle contained a simple set of three grid-spanning entries:


There wasn’t really anything complicated going on with this one, though a basic knowledge of blues music helped. The instructions asked for a song, and these three people, in order, make up a song title because Louis XV was a member of the house of Bourbon; Sean Connery is (if you don’t mind using an adjective that’s not usually applied to people) Scotch; and Samuel Adams is, in addition to an American founding father, a brand of Beer. Thus the answer:

This is the version you are looking for, if you prefer that George guy’s medley version
you should probably keep it to yourself …

Apparently this has been “cool old music” week on PGWCC. Each of the two puzzles was solved by 38 people, though not precisely the same set of 38. And now on to puzzle #8, “Try Another.” As always, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz file which is shared from Google Drive.

008_tryanother (link to .puz file)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a solo pastime other than solving crossword puzzles. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, May 6 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles:
Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #6 Solution; Puzzle #7, “Piling Up the Hits”; and Puzzle #7a, “What Do You Want?”

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Last week’s asymmetric grid had a familiar look once you realized what was scattered around the grid:

That’s the completed grid overlaying a Clue board. And around the grid we had:

Mr. GREEN up there in the STUDY;
Mrs. WHITE in the HALL, with the the WRENCH either also in there or lying in an adjacent corridor;
Split between two entries, the LEAD PIPE in the LOUNGE;
Col. MUSTARD and Miss SCARLET, somehow simultaneously occupying both the LIBRARY and the BILLIARD ROOM;
The CANDLESTICK, lying across both the BALLROOM and the KITCHEN;
The ROPE in the CONSERVATORY;
The KNIFE in, again, the ballroom;
Prof. PLUM, also in the kitchen; and
The BODY of Mr. Boddy, dead and hidden in the CELLAR, as usual.

Missing from the above list is Mrs. PEACOCK (a person), the empty DINING ROOM (a place), and the REVOLVER (a thing). Because, of course, endings A and C are wrong; it is always Mrs. Peacock.

Presumably she just left the dining room …

This one seems to have gotten mixed reactions. A few things going on. First, some people had never played Clue, or it had been a long time or just wasn’t their cup of tea, so the people and weapons all over the grid maybe just weren’t going to ring any bells.

Second, over the years Clue has been tinkered with a bunch. The KNIFE, which to me is “standard” because that’s what it was called in my set as a kid, is apparently only present in “some North American versions” and is more typically called the DAGGER, which a few solvers submitted because they overlooked the absence of any kind of handgun and didn’t have KNIFE embedded in their minds as part of the set of Clue weapons. As I told one solver who made this misstep: “Luckily there are no prizes riding on it so I judge this as ‘you grokked it but overlooked something, and that’s understandable because you’re used to the knife having a different name.'” Also, the board orientation is arbitrary; the rooms are always in the same place relative to one another, but sometimes the board is shown as the grid had it, and other times (like on the Wikipedia page) it’s rotated 180 degrees. Image searching yields mixed results, but for me the orientation as I constructed it seems to predominate. Your google-algorithmic mileage may vary, and some people had to rotate the board in their head to make sense of the board in this puzzle’s grid.

Finally, and more troubling from my point of view, quite a few solvers did not feel a strong “click” with respect to how to choose the “place” part of the meta answer. A few submitted CELLAR, which is not in keeping with the game at all – the cellar is always where the body is stashed, never the scene of the actual murder. A knowledge of the game’s workings was definitely an advantage here – the puzzle’s title “Elimination Game” refers both to the fact that Clue is a game about murder (i.e. eliminating someone), and also that the way you play Clue is that you eliminate all the suspects, weapons and rooms not involved in the murder and what’s left solves the case. Most solvers had no trouble figuring out that Peacock and Revolver, the only suspect and weapon not present in the grid, must be in the answer; but a fair number of folks either didn’t see, or weren’t sure about, the somewhat different way of “eliminating” the rooms – the one room that’s different from all the rest is the Dining Room, because it’s the only room that doesn’t have at least one of the innocent people or unused weapons in it.

On the other hand, this experience wasn’t universal – one solver commented “very clever way to get the room elimination,” and there were clearly others who had no uncertainty. So while I regret giving you a puzzle that didn’t fully click for everyone – another solver called this part of the solve “infuriating and opaque” – there were definitely some folks on my wavelength.

42 solvers submitted the right answer, though several of those people expressed uncertainty about the room choice. 13 more clearly got the main idea but submitted a different room. And 2 made the knife/dagger mistake.

As penance for a puzzle that didn’t sit well with everyone, this week I’m giving you one normal-sized puzzle and one smaller one. Puzzle #7 is a 15×15 puzzle called “Piling Up the Hits.” Puzzle #7a is an 11×11 called “What Do You Want?” Totally coincidentally, one of the puzzles has a record label as its answer, and the other one a song.

As always, you can either download the .pdf files below, or click on the links for the .puz files shared from Google Drive.

007_pilinguphits.puz

The answer to metapuzzle #7 is a record label.

007a_whatdoyouwant.puz

The answer to metapuzzle #7a is a song.

Submit your answers using the contact form by Monday, April 29 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. Please specify which answer goes with which puzzle, and feel free to submit separately if you’ve solved one but not the other. I’ll post the solutions, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles:
Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed if you’re set up for that.

Puzzle #5 Solution and Puzzle #6, “Elimination Game”

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Last week I gave you an 18×17 grid with only one obvious theme entry, INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS running across the center. With the instructions referencing road trips in unfamiliar territory, surely that was important … now what? Well, you may have also noticed the grid was very heavy on four-letter entries, and that turned out to be no accident. Several of these (ten, matching the number of letters the meta prompt says is in the solution) consisted of the postal codes for adjacent states, highlighted in blue and green below:

The key here was that one can travel between each pair of states on an interstate highway – and not just any interstate highway, but the one whose number matches the entry. That is, you can take Interstate 5 from Oregon to California, corresponding with 5-across ORCA. And so on.

Next, with a nudge from the puzzle title, solvers were to give me directions, specifically the direction of travel from the first state to the second, along the specified Interstate, as designated for that highway (so, north/south for odd-numbered highways, east/west for even). Like this:

  • To get from OR to CA, take I-5 S
  • To get from LA to MS, take I-10 E
  • To get from AL to GA, take I-20 E
  • To get from CO to WY, take I-25 N
  • To get from IN to KY, take I-64 E
  • To get from IL to IA, take I-80 W
  • To get from PA to NY, take I-81 N
  • To get from OR to ID, take I-84 E
  • To get from VA to NC, take I-85 S
  • To get from MA to RI, take I-95 S

… spelling out our contest answer, the (stilted, as indicated) phrase “SEE NEWNESS.”

A vague notion of this puzzle came to me late one night – I think it started with the observation that ORCA is a word made from the abbreviations for consecutive states, and the idea that you could stick that at 5-across or 5-down to correspond to the interstate number, and then the question “could I find more such pairs?” I’m not entirely sure when or how the “extract the direction of travel” idea came about. Anyway, after a hunt through the Wikipedia pages for damn near every Interstate in America, I had my list of ten border crossings on ten distinct highways, in numerical order, the directions spelling out this odd phrase that I could make thematic … and then I started trying to make the grid, and it took days. Every time I thought I had it, something would have shifted by one clue number and wrecked it. Finally, with the help of some cheater squares making those weird black areas on the sides, I had it, and I filled the grid and was feeling very satisfied … until I did a final check for accuracy and realized I had blown it, thinking the Illinois/Iowa crossing was on I-70, not I-80! I was about to start tearing hair out when I realized that somehow, miraculously, fixing it wouldn’t change the order of the theme entries – I hadn’t found any good candidates in the 70s – nor did I have to alter my grid – 80-down was already 4 letters and didn’t cross any other themers. A few minor edits to the fill and I was back in business.

Now – I realize this theme stretched things a bit with the fill. I was surprised I couldn’t find a more well-known MARI; LAMS isn’t often seen in the plural; COWY is a very silly word; VANC as an abbreviation for Vancomycin is probably not super well known; Irma PANY, even less so; and while it’s gettable enough, I basically made up 84-down, which also suffers from the inelegance of having OR stand for Oregon in the entry itself. But once this idea had hold of me I just couldn’t let it go.

A couple of other incidentals: you may have noticed that the grid is split by that long string of diagonally-placed black squares into two separate, uh, territories, connected only by the central entry. I liked that extra bit of themeyness very much, but believe it or not it happened totally by accident (or at least, entirely subconsciously.) Second, something I didn’t like as much – the grid ended up having three other 4-letter entries consisting of two state postal codes: UTIL, FLAK and NEHI, which muddies things up a little bit. I didn’t even notice UTIL until some solvers commented on it, though I knew about the other two. I wish I’d spotted UTIL myself because I’d have tried to remove it – unlike the other two pairs, Utah and Illinois are – while not adjacent – linked by an interstate.

36 solvers submitted the right answer. And now on to puzzle #6, “Elimination Game.” This one is a full-on collaboration with my sister, who this time didn’t just write clues but had the original idea, which I quite liked. I hope you do as well. As always, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz file which is shared from Google Drive.

006_eliminationgame (link to .puz file)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a person, a place, and a thing. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, April 22 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles:
Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed for people old enough to know what that is.

Puzzle #4 Solution and Puzzle #5, “Can You Give Me Directions?”

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(It has been suggested that the site maybe shouldn’t have the most recent solution as the first thing you see, so that new solvers can try their hand at older puzzles. I’m trying out a simple solution to that problem above; I will see if I can put together some kind of archive page as well, with links to the puzzles in chronological order for newbies who want to play catch-up.)

Last week’s puzzle didn’t have any obvious theme entries but it had a conspicuous row of nine black squares in the middle, referenced in one of the clues; the puzzle itself was called “Blackout;” and we were looking for a nine-letter word. This all suggested that that row of nine squares was important, and that the idea (not uncommon in metapuzzles) might be that the black squares were hiding letters somehow. Et voila:

25-D Green edible = PEA(R); 42-D Amazon or Overstock for example = (R)ETAILER
43-D Half of an iconic TV duo = (E)BERT
22-D You can do it with your teeth = GRIN(D)
6-D Sort of nerve pain = SCIATIC(A); 44-D Reborn = (A)NEW
26-D Possibly legendary 10th-century king = ERI(C); 45-D Carefully crafted lines = (C)ODE
27-D IGO based in the Hague = ICC(T); 46-D Phrase used in describing a bullshitter = (T)ALL TALK
47-D Handheld items you can take notes on = (I)PADS
24-D Man’s name from the Greek for “love” = PHIL(O)
10-D Term in a science textbook = ELECTRO(N); 48-D Where to hear a whisper = (N)EAR
39-A Something a bishop might do = SAC(RED ACTION)
and, finally, spelling out the meta answer,
40-A What you might call the nine black squares to the left of this entry = (REDACTION) BAR

I had fun making this puzzle and was especially fond of finding the Bert/Ebert and all talk/tall talk pairings, as well as the clue for code/ode. I know some of these are a tad forced (Eri/Eric is the worst, but the clues for ear/near and grin/grind are … meh), but I think there was enough to get you started and allow these relative clunkers to be backsolved, and solver comments suggest this one was both enjoyable and pretty accessible to most of you.

Finally I seem to have made it a week without embarrassing myself with a wrong or unfinished clue or something like that! But, in retrospect that northwest corner of the grid could be filled better. I was a Q short of a pangram and wanted to work one in for no particular reason, and I talked myself into entries like AASE and CMO that you probably could have done without.

83 solvers submitted the right answer. And now on to puzzle #5, “Can You Give Me Directions?” As always, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz file which is shared from Google Drive.

005_givedirections (link to .puz file)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a (somewhat stilted) ten-letter phrase describing something you’re likely to do on a road trip in unfamiliar territory. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, April 15 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles:
Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; rss feed for connoisseurs of ye olde internette.

Puzzle #3 and #3a Solutions and Puzzle #4, “Blackout”

The title of last week’s puzzle was “Do the Math,” but it wasn’t obvious what math you were supposed to do. There were six theme entries, identified by starred clues:

13-D *Defensive score in football = SAFETY
17-A *Mess in a delivery room = PLACENTA
37-A *Kill, as a project = CANCEL
39-A *Corkscrew shape = SPIRAL
47-D *Part of the female reproductive system = UTERUS
62-A *Cartoon cat = GARFIELD

The (difficult, I think) first insight is to see that for each of these, there’s another grid entry that can satisfy the clue if you tack a certain two letters onto the end:

Another defensive score in football is a PICK S(IX)
Another delivery room mess is VERN(IX)
Another term meaning to kill a project is DEEP-S(IX)
Another word for a corkscrew’s shape is HEL(IX)
Another female reproductive part is the CERV(IX)
Another cartoon cat is FEL(IX)

This already hints strongly at the answer, APPENDIX. The extra confirming step (which it appears from the comments some successful solvers did not see) relates back to the puzzle’s title. Notice that each of these pairs sits nine grid numbers apart – e.g. PICKS is at 4-down; add nine to its clue number and you’re at the clue number for SAFETY. And you can parse the meta answer as APPEND IX, which taken literally might mean to tack those two letters onto the end of another word, but also can be interpreted as “add nine.”

This Week’s Evidence That I Should Have An Editor: not one but two inaccurate clues, and one that wasn’t even finished! 9-down ELU Thingol is a major character in the legendarium of Middle-Earth but I don’t believe he’s mentioned in 42-down LOTR, as the clue said. Whoops. 69-across CLUE has 21 cards, not 15. Whoops again. And somehow the clue for 44-down BEER GUT was missing the punch line, which I can only assume happened because I started writing the clue but never got around to deciding whom to victimize … . Triple whoops. (I just re-reviewed this week’s puzzle and didn’t see any glaring errors … but I’m obviously good at missing them, so who knows?)

As for the bonus puzzle – the grid (not pictured) had five made-up phrases, clued via all-caps ranting:

  • {“WE’RE SCOURING THE PICK ‘N’ PULL FOR JEEP ACCESSORIES!”}: IT’S A WINCH HUNT
  • {“WE NEED TO SECURE HUGH’S GRAVE BEFORE SOMEONE STEALS THE BODY!”}: LOCK HEF UP
  • {“I DID NOT RUN INTO YOUR CAR! FAKE NEWS!”}: NO COLLISION
  • {“YOU CAN TRUST ONE OF AMERICA’S OLDEST COMPANIES!”}: BELIEVE GE
  • {“TIRE THAT GURU OUT!”}: DRAIN THE SWAMI

Of course, these halfsensical entries are all one letter off from some familiar ranting from a certain someone who turns out to be the meta answer. In order, the letters that will make the phrases above make, uh, sense, are T-R-U-M-P.

16 solvers entered the correct answer to the main puzzle, and 44 to the bonus. Since the bonus puzzle was quite easy, I hope the drop in solver count from last week just represents people who, discouraged by the difficulty of the main puzzle, didn’t bother to submit for the bonus – but who will come back for future puzzles. Anyhow, several of you have given very encouraging feedback – if you still like these, tell others you think might as well!

Next up is puzzle #4, “Blackout.” As always, you can either download the .pdf below, or click on the link for the .puz file which is shared from Google Drive.

004_blackout (.puz file Google Drive link)

The answer to the metapuzzle is a nine-letter word. Submit your answer using the contact form by Monday, April 8 at 11 p.m. Pacific Time. I’ll post the solution, and a new puzzle, next Tuesday.

To keep up with the puzzles, follow me on Twitter @pgwcc1; follow the blog for email reminders; or, for those who remember good ol’ usenet, dust off your rss reader.