2018 Crossword Puzzle Contest

Nov 13, 2018 · 30 comments
Deb Amlen (Wordplay, the Road Tour)
Hi everyone, The answers, explanation and winners' names are now up at https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/crosswords/escape-room-contest.html *Deb gets trampled to death*
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Deb, I don't think you'll even have a toe stepped on. (At least I hope not!)
JF (San Diego)
I can’t open this link. I’m am subscribed to both he NYT and the crossword puzzles.
Allan (Washington, DC)
Apologies if this point has already been made, but did anyone notice that when the letters in the four corners are replaced, the revised down words yield the contest result, but the across answers remain valid words. Thus, Lear becomes Year, Chino becomes China, Roast becomes Toast and Sled becomes Slew. A nice additional piece of craftsmanship.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Allan, I don't recall it being specifically mentioned (not that an apology would be needed if it had), and while it did was artful, I don't consider it additional: the crossword would not have been a crossword if the changed letters had not resulted in words in both directions.
Etaoin Shrdlu (Forgotten Borough )
By examining the four "down" corners, one can solve without actually needing the keys. Some apparently did just that and figured out the gimmick after the fact. Successful decryption often depends on making an educated guess and testing the hypothesis. The puzzle was fun no matter how you approached it.
Etaoin Shrdlu (Forgotten Borough )
As to "entry count" and "number of correct answers", this figure could be skewed by having read that other blog and robo-submitting correct answers under various noms de crossword. As in real life, it's not winning or losing, it's how you play the game.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
P.S. to Deb (and Will): I understand not providing the names of the winners until later (it will take a bit of time), but what's up with not sharing an entry count, and what NYT XWP deems the correct answer(s), immediately after closing the contest to entries (i.e., now)?
Mike M (Lake Charles, LA)
I am curious as to how many people got it right, but I guess we'll have to wait a little for that. Anyone venture to guess how many correct submissions? We could have our own mini-contest to see who guesses the closest. Put me down for 500. That's just a swag on my part. Do you think they'd count both YOU ARE OUT NOW and NOW YOU ARE OUT as correct? I wouldn't see why not. Mike
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Tried to post this twice last night as a reply, but no go. Let's try this morning as a thread-start. Re: order of the answer Any valid order of the four words *should* be accepted, but I'm thinking *crossword protocol* calls for clue number order (lowest to highest): YOU ARE OUT NOW.
Aaron (Ohio)
@Barry Ancona I thought about this for a while and isn't You are out now the proper grammar also?
Candyman (Earth)
@Aaron YOU ARE OUT NOW! NOW YOU ARE OUT! YOU ARE NOW OUT! ARE YOU OUT NOW? ARE YOU NOW OUT? NOW ARE YOU OUT? Yoda: OUT NOT ARE YOU? etc. etc. etc.
Wen (Brookline, MA)
I didn't understand why some people said my post on that day was a spoiler and gave away half of the contest portion of the puzzle. The main thing I said was that theme squares contained a rebus of KEY and a letter such that it made sense to use KEY in one direction and a letter in the other direction. After that, the instruction clearly stated what to do. I didn't give away the letters, but it wouldn't matter. Upon solving the rebuses were placed with the letters. I discussed the puzzle like it was the regular puzzle with the rebus. I didn't reveal the instructions which, everyone who solved the puzzle would have seen. I didn't explain the substitution of the letters with the corner squares like some other people did. I just didn't understand! Nevertheless that was fun anyway. My version of the solution was YOU ARE OUT NOW, i.e. left to right, top to down. Not clockwise. But as many have pointed out, even if a little awkward, almost any order of the 4 words will come out meaning roughly the same.
SUYoung (Durham, NC)
I’m glad I didn’t see your post. Figuring out there was a rebus using KEY was 99% of the challenge!
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Wen, We were asked to not discuss solution of the puzzle, not merely solution of the contest entry. Since most people having trouble with the puzzle were hung up on one or more of the rebuses, even mentioning them was (therefore) improper. I reiterate my suggestion for next time that there be no comments section until after the entry deadline (for a "real" contest) ... or that all comments are welcome (to encourage as many correct entries as possible).
Wen (Brookline, MA)
Thanks, Barry. Fair point. I didn't read carefully enough - I thought the request was not to give away the solution of the contest. I should have realized when I later saw the answer key and at xwordinfo, the solution to the puzzle wasn't posted.
John Schuch (Martinsburg, WV)
My submission ran clockwise from the NW: “You Are Now Out.”
CJ (Arizona)
Come on, spill it, people! I solved the puzzle in 30 minutes and found all the keys, but could not crack the escape room code. Dying of curiosity.
Candyman (Earth)
@CJ The 4 keys were "Y", "A", "T" and "W". Replace the corner boxes with those letters and then read the new down words. YOU ARE OUT NOW.
Dr W (New York NY)
@Candyman Or any semantically acceptable permutation, I would presume -- e.g. NOW YOU ARE OUT.
Candyman (Earth)
@Dr W Very good. I just read it from left to right. Is there going to be a controversy? How would Yoda say it?
Candyman (Earth)
You are out now???
Landon (Mongolia)
I solved with only 3 keys, so where was the last one? must have been under a 'T'? could NOT locate it.
Ruxe (Chicago)
@Landon I also could only find three keys. I was frustrated to say the least.
KKrause (California)
@Landon HAWTE (15D) becomes HAWKEYE (the name of a city in Iowa and of the University of Iowa football team).
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
KKrause, Re: Native Iowan (1) All University of Iowa teams (and students and alumni, for that matter) are Hawkeyes. (2) The "city" has a population under 500.
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Contest? What contest?
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
But seriously, haven't we already talked the puzzle to death, without, of course, any spoilers (cough cough)? Are you going to announce the winners, let us know how many entries (correct and otherwise) were received, and formally report the correct answer?
Deb Amlen (Wordplay, the Road Tour)
@Barry Ancona As the note and Caitlin's Sunday column said, the answer and contest solution will appear in the Magazine next week. The winners’ names will appear in the issue of Dec. 2, and we are hoping to have a write up from Will Shortz on that day as well, discussing the entries. So stay tuned!
Barry Ancona (New York NY)
Thanks, Deb. Saturday afternoon was so long ago I'd forgotten. But what are we supposed to discuss here? And that will be the Wednesday grid (and column) you'll have for us shortly?
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