GRID from Sunday's contest puzzle

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Sunday Grid 

Grid is a maze. "You" move through the white (now full of letters) space starting in the NW, avoiding the seven hazards, getting the KEY, then going back to the LOCK (between ANTIC and WISE), inserting KEY, entering central chamber, and getting the GOLD


Anonymous 8:17 PM  

@Rex If you thought Slot was a good answer then I gather you missed antiLOCKwise? Asking because it seems some good puzzlers missed this which makes me wonder about the clue.

Anonymous 8:36 PM  

Is there an explanation online somewhere on what the "path" to the "vault" was? We found the words "key," "asp," "bear" etc. but don't understand what was meant by a path etc.

Anonymous 8:46 PM  

The grid "represents a sealed vault and its well-guarded surroundings" so if you treat it like a map, or an overhead view, you start in the upper left and have to take a route all the way around the grid to reach the KEY. Several of the shorter ways are blocked by the dangerous rebus squares.

Not essential for solving the puzzle or entering the contest, but it adds to the theme.

TimJim 8:52 PM  

I don't think there us a particular path, at least not one that's needed to get the ten words. I could be wrong. What I'm not getting is the "slot" stuff, or Rex's "big hint yesterday about looking at the clues and not the grid.

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

So I banged my head against the wall, table, and anything else hard just to learn that there are indeed only 9 multi-lettered answers, rather than 10? WTF?

Joe 8:53 PM  

Hopefully this answers your questions:

The path is the imprecise route one must take through white squares to reach the "key" without hitting an obstacle. In order to do this from the upper-left corner you must follow a clockwise path, or else you'll run into an obstacle in the form of one of the rebus squares. So the important item (a) is the "key." (b) is the trickiest answer to come by... where to use it... if you look at the clue to 71-across, it asks for a caper (ANTIC) or going around the wrong way, in Britain. The wrong way, in the case of this puzzle, is counter-clockwise or anticLOCKwise, as they would say in Britain. If you fill the black square between ANTIC and WISE (71 and 72 across) with the rebus "lock" you have the place the "key" should be used. (c) is the seven rebus squares that indicate the different obstacles. (d) is the "gold" rebus square in the center block.

Did that make sense?

Doofus 8:55 PM  

Once again I ask: @rex, why 99.99999 certain not SLOT? Was it a hint or not?

Rob 9:00 PM  

Puzzle was do so. Making it a contest was stupid and pointless. Hey, will, stick with a crossword puzzle and leave the silly games for something separate. This was wicked annoying.

geri 9:10 PM  

one had to think "outside the (inside) box" to get the LOCK one (in the black space between ANTIC and WISE). Very tricky business!

Rex Parker 9:15 PM  

I missed LOCK initially, but I figured out where the LOCK was some time Saturday night.

Geri 9:19 PM  

Yup. Finally got it after giving up and going back several times. Knew that LOCK had to be in there somewhere. Hadn't occurred to me to use the black area. very unconventional.

Anonymous 9:43 PM  

When has it ever occurred that squae is filled in with letters. bad form NYT!

Anonymous 9:53 PM  

@Anon 9:43 I believe just a few weeks ago it was used in an solar/lunar eclipse rhebus. But all the answers were blackened, unlike here.

Sandy 9:56 PM  

F'ing dumb. 99 percent of us were happy to slog thru the rebus... but seriously? Super silly and to base a contest for a 5 cent item around it, shameful.

treedweller 9:57 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 10:06 PM  

Annoyed at myself for wasting so much time...

Ulrich 10:11 PM  

ditto. Why was the 'path' thing thrown in as a red herring? I spent two days figuring out something more exciting that meandering around the grid w/o hitting the danger spots.

skua76 10:23 PM  

Well, it took a second and third look (and a look at this blog on Sunday) to figure it out. Whew. Wish I could do better on Matt Gaffney's puzzles.

Afterward I made a couple of copies of the grid and drew a couple of "routes" to the key, thinking that it might be a revealing image...a keyhole or?? Not.

I thought that the NYT Crosswords page would finally replace last year's contest links with the answer to this contest. Not. Yet.

Just a mention of the Across Lite solution key. Which is all that Deb Amlen reveals.

Thanks, Rex. Your daughter's swim meet was too important to miss, despite what certain other people might have thought.

Ry 10:29 PM  

This was absolutely not that difficult. What did people think the clue for 71-Across meant. That whole going backwards in Britain thing should have been pretty transparent. I got ANTIC off of that clue trying to figure out how ANTICLOCKWISE might fit.

Earlward 10:55 PM  

The whole thing was just a little bit of a stretch.Not Times quality.Glad its over.

Bird 11:23 PM  


Did I win? Huh? Huh? Did you pick my name out of the hat? Didja?


Anonymous 12:04 AM  

I like inventiveness and don't want to discourage it.

That said, for me this one sucked. I got it, but it wasn't an AHA payoff - just felt like I'd wasted my time.

Evan 12:25 AM  

I first wanted a CHEST -- that's where I thought the gold would be located. When that didn't work, I went looking for a DOOR, first by a rebus square like the rest of the answers, and then by spelling out nearby letters. I wondered if the D of THAD and the R of RAH were separated by a black square for that reason -- but that seemed way too complex of a solution. I figured if it wasn't a CHEST, and it wasn't a DOOR, it had to be a LOCK, but I had no idea where it was.

When I was down to one square left (the L of the OLAND/AVERELL crossing), I gave up looking for additional rebus squares altogether. That's when I went back and looked at that strange clue for 71-Across. Then it hit me. What an a-ha moment that was!

Thank goodness I didn't see SLOT as a possibility, otherwise I would have just gone with that.

Anonymous 1:35 AM  

"Safe path" and "clockwise" tell us not to go through the mine. But I think it was also intended to get us to list the 7 hazards in the correct order: Mine, Trap, Asp, etc.

We'll see. Most fun in a long time for me.

David G 2:14 AM  

Meh. I know from weekend NPR, and from what's happened to the Times's Sunday "variety puzzle" page, that Will's sense of puzzle fun doesn't click with me. So be it.

For a few years the Times op-ed page (outside of Will's jurisdiction, I assume) would occasionally be given over to a big interlocking set of puzzles, generally themed around a holiday or the like. They seemed to have given that up, but I always enjoyed doing them and thought they were a lot more fun than anything going on in the official puzzle pages.

Rob 8:19 AM  

Perhaps it's because I'm a Colorado guy that I don't think of a mine as a hazard. A mine is a place where you find gold. A landmine is a hazard, and what threw me was that I saw mine not as a blockage but rather as a passage. Didn't matter, because I got anti clockwise and key first, but I spent two days after submitting my entry trying to figure out if I had missed the point-that the mine entrance bypassed security, the lock, and came up inside the vault. That solution would have made all the puzzle rules and title makes sense.

Ed 8:55 AM  

I think the maze part (the "safe path") is irrelevant, because I got all the right answers, knew straight away that KEY was the important item, and found the correct place to "put" the key, without doing any of that. Maybe a nice touch, but completely unnecessary.

What gave the "lock" away to me was the notion of "anti-clockwise" -- i.e., the actual answer to the "going around the wrong way, in Britain?" part of 71A. Tried to squeeze a rebus into that last square, but that screwed up GRACE (57D); then I realized (oops, realised) that 72A had the word WISE in it, so the "LOCK" of "CLOCKWISE" would be in the black square in between 71A and 72A.

I think I would have been more impressed if the grid somehow resembled the Atari game Pitfall.

Pikachu 8:58 AM  

I connected the path points and the resulting figure looked like Pokémon.

I initially figured LOCK from 51a. Blackberry Keyboard lock. Well, so do others, but it was my Lock at the time.

JC66 9:04 AM  

The only hazard that forces one to go clockwise is MINE.

The other 6 are just decoration and their placement arbitrary.

Maze Rat 10:19 AM  

To JC66: True, some of the hazards are placed randomly. But the point of the hazards in not only that they force you to go clockwise but they create a unique path you must take. TRAP and PIT are also strategically positioned to prevent taking a shortcut path.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

In a word "crapola"!

Sandy K 11:19 AM  

Submitted my answers just for the heck of it...and truthfully, long before I actually found where LOCK belonged.

Had the right idea trying to rebus it into one of the black squares around the 'vault', due to eclipse puzzle.

But ANTICLOCKWISE didn't hit me for a looooooooong time- as I didn't see that as a word- counterCLOCKWISE yes.

@Rex, I got it by staring at the grid, not the clues...

rjbrunner 12:14 PM  

I thought the "key" was to type in counter-clockwise (the password)onto the keyboard to access the vault. More hitech than a key in a lock and just as silly as this puzzle turned out to be.

Unknown 1:39 PM  

I didn't get anticlockwise for at least one reason: I was unfamiliar with the term. But thanks to all those who say it was not difficult and how could anyone possibly miss it.

In my desperation after Rex revealed that slot was wrong, I half-convinced myself that "Reader direction/SEE NOTE" was a pun on C-note, and since Franklin's on the $100 bill the reader was thus directed to go in through the almanac.

It surprises me that people love crosswords and hate puzzles. I thought this was brilliant and I love the idea of a rebus crossword with so many thematic answers. More please.

DigitalDan 2:13 PM  

I just figgered the Brits referred to counterclockwise as Anti C. Sort of like Low T in the male enhancement commercials. That prevented any out of grid thinking. Luck of the draw, but then it was anyway.

Sparky 3:44 PM  

Thanks @Joe (8:53PM); @Rob (9PM) Me Too. I was thinking widdershins. Didn't help. Peggy Lee song.

Lindsay 5:55 PM  

Filled out the grid & the 9 rebus squares fine. Figured that the key must go into a lock, but couldn't find one, so I wrote "lock" in the margin to remind me what I was looking for if I ever got back to the puzzle. Which I didn't.

Have just now learned the trick from Crossword Fiend, and never ever would have gotten it having never once, not ever, heard of ANTI-CLOCKWISE.

Then gave myself a concussive headslap however as I realized that knowing the location of the lock was completely immaterial to entering the contest (which I didn't, obviously). All the entry instructions ask for is the 10 words. Which I had. Aaaaarrrgggh.

Is it a DNF if you actually effed, but aren't smart enough to know it?

mmpo 6:06 PM  

Because rebus puzzles often repeat the same (or two or three thematically-related) words in the rebus squares, because I found KEY before finding any other rebus answers, and because I still don't understand 83A (Warren site -- BRIER) and was missing the B as well as the rebus square on 83D, [KEY]LAMPS seemed like a plausible solution for 119A (and KEY seemed like a plausible ending for a "Central European capital"). Then I looked a the note for probably the third time and realized that there was probably just one KEY, found LAVA from BRATIS[LAVA], and the rest was fairly straightforward and fun...except that the way into the vault eluded me. What did I think "going around the wrong way , in Britain" meant?" ANTIC seemed plausible (e.g. going around a roundabout in the wrong way might be a zany antic in a 1960s slapstick Brit com) and, having filled the square, that satisfied me...until another contributor's broad hint prompted me to take another look, leading to my own "aha (at last)!" moment.

calicooper 6:35 PM  

there is an alternative solution. The word 'Safe' appears in between Ceasars and Strafe.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Wow, I was way off! Rejected KEY as too obvious. Thought it pointed to the second half of that answer: BOARDS. Noticed there were a lot of compound words, and then discovered that many of them (plus a couple of multiple-word phrases) had parts that could relate to boards: shoeTREE (where boards come from); noseDIVE (diving boards); seeNOTE (noteboards); rainWATER (waterboarding); IRONore (ironing boards); hangNAIL (nail boards AKA emery boards); aces a TEST (boards are a kind of test). Taken in order, those words provided a safe path from the upper left to 79A: tarPIT. Thought one could use a board to span the pit and access the gold in the vault. Completely missed LOCK in the black square; thought anti-c was an abbreviation for anti-clockwise. Still not sure I am comfortable with antic being the full answer for caper while anti-clockwise bleeds across the black square into the next answer. Fun workout, though!

Anonymous 4:01 AM  

Tricky - for those of us who grew up with "counterclockwise", how could we ever even consider that "anticlockwise" is a word??

lobsterkatie 5:09 PM  

I, too, thought that anti-c must be shorthand for anti-clockwise. But am I the only one who had LOCK as the last square of 10A? Never heard of the chess guy, and Tel isn't a name I know, so Telock seemed as good an answer as any, which then made 12D (what a handcuffed person may be) LOCKedaway. Anyone with me?

Don 2:14 PM  

No one else noticed that it is possible to travel from the upper left corner to the KEY by stepping only on contiguous squares that contain vowels or 'S's? I kept looking for something that would explain the need for the three 'S' steps but to no avail. Probably means nothing.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Yet another reason why I rarely visit this site anymore. It's COUNTERCLOCKWISE, not a bullshit made-up word made for crosswords. At least "most" of the answers were based on the language most of use all the time.

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