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WSJ Contest — Friday, December 23, 2022 |

Grid: quarter-hour; meta: slept on it 


Mike Shenk’s Wall Street Journal contest crossword, “Jolly Old St. Nick” — Conrad’s writeup.

Merry Christmas! This week we’re on the lookout for a phrase related to Santa. There had been 5 starred theme entries:

  • 17A [*In a safe house, say]: HIDINGOUT
  • 21A [*Lifts]: RAISESUP
  • 39A [*One who’s kept]: CAPTIVE
  • 53A [*Souped-up car]: DRAGSTER
  • 62A [*Invites guests for celebrating]: HASAPARTY

I scanned the themers and their clues, and nothing jumped out at me. I re-scanned the grid and seen LAUGH at 9a (clued as “Sound from Saint Nick”), which needed to be thematic. I believed “HO” can be a greater reply, so I scanned the grid for HOs and didn’t discover something. I seen ISTS and STS (whereas working a Saint/St. angle) so I looked for different STs within the grid. It seems I had by accident stumbled into a part of the answer, however for the improper motive.

WSJ Contest – 12.23.22 – answer

I slept on it and revisited “HO.” I checked the theme entry clues once more and seen they had been all pretty obscure. That’s a standard meta mechanism that was just lately utilized by Matt Gaffney’s wonderful MGWCC meta final week. When you see constantly obscure clues for theme entries: attempt to apply them elsewhere. DRAGSTER (“Souped-up car”) was my entry to the rabbit gap: I believed HOTROD can be an excellent alternate reply. I searched the grid for for HOT, discovered nothing, after which looked for ROD. There is was TROD, which turned HOTROD as soon as I added a “HO.” The remainder of the meta fell shortly:


The first letter of the unique “HO” entries spell LISTS, our contest answer. Another enjoyable meta by Mike, with an amazing “aha” second. Readers: let me know the way you made out, and in the event you managed to seek out Saint Nick.

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