First of all, I hope you enjoy this week’s puzzle. I thoroughly enjoyed making it, and I hope you’ll get a kick out of it. There is a nice visual element to it, so be sure to check out the PDF, even if you solve the PUZ version.
All right, the meta puzzle.
The instructions from last week as follows: For this seventh meta crossword, we’re coming to you mid-contest from Ana and Bob, who are playing against each other. Ana’s puzzle begins with the 1-Across clue “Hallmark buy”, and Bob’s puzzle begins with the 1-Across clue “Quail and deer”. The rest of the clues are listed alphabetically, so the clue that corresponds to a certain puzzle is yours to figure out. The answer to this meta puzzle are the answers to the questions “Who won?” and “How much did they win by?”. Be specific with your answers.
This puzzle is called a Siamese Twins crossword, where two lists of clues are provided, and you have to figure out which clue goes with each puzzle.
The first clue to solving the puzzle is provided at 1-Across. Ana’s puzzle has the clue “Hallmark buy” for CARD. Bob’s puzzle has the clue “Quail and deer” for GAME. These two words make CARD GAME, a hint to what our game might be.
The two puzzles seem to have five theme answers each. Ana’s puzzle has GARDEN HOSE, CHESS BOXING, BASEBALL TONIGHT, COUNTRY MILE, and OPEN LETTER. Bob’s puzzle has PURPLE RAIN, HOPE AGAINST, GOLF TOURNAMENTS, DAVID CARUSO, and TURKEY COMA. No other obvious clues are given for the theme entries.
However, 23-Down has the clue [ ___ flush (something not found in this puzzle)] for ROYAL. A royal flush is an element from poker, so it appears that the game Ana and Bob are playing is poker.
So, in order to find out who won, we have to construct the two hands (as seen in the title) that Ana and Bob had. A playing card has two important factors: its rank and its suit.
It must be observed that each of these two word theme entries all begin with a word that can be followed by a card suit. For example, GARDEN HOSE can be transformed into GARDEN SPADE.
The other word in the title is “Count”, which is how you can find the rank for the cards. Counting the number of letters in the first word gets you the rank of the card for that theme entry. So, the word GARDEN can be interpreted as a “six of spades”.
The transformations of the theme answers are:
GARDEN HOSE = GARDEN SPADE = 6♠
CHESS BOXING = CHESS CLUB = 5♣
BASEBALL TONIGHT = BASEBALL DIAMOND = 8♦
COUNTRY MILE = COUNTRY CLUB = 7♣
OPEN LETTER = OPEN HEART = 4♥
PURPLE RAIN = PURPLE HEART = 6♥
HOPE AGAINST = HOPE DIAMOND = 4♦
GOLF TOURNAMENTS = GOLF CLUB = 4♣
DAVID CARUSO = DAVID SPADE = 5♠
TURKEY COMA = TURKEY CLUB = 6♣
And thus, two poker hands are made.
Looking at the two constructed hands, Ana has a straight, and Bob has two pair. So, the correct answer to this meta is Ana won, and she won with a straight beating a two pair. Correct entries had to have both of these parts to be deemed correct.
This second question was phrased in a way where it was not obvious what game Ana and Bob were playing. I wanted the CARD GAME revealer to be a big indicator what game they were playing, so I tried to give a vague-enough meta question to let the puzzle have the big reveal.
This was a tough puzzle, not going to lie. I knew that a Siamese Twins puzzle is always a tricky thing no matter what, and then the matter of finding the two poker hands is another tricky leap, but well done solvers who got it all. There were 10 correct answers all together, but there were so many incorrect attempts. The most common error was just seeing which of Ana and Bob received more of the clues by their alphabetical position. Some other methods did get there involved bridge and seeing if the suit for one theme entry beat out the other theme entry, another involved estimating the amount of time involved which each of the theme answers and noting that Ana would have more time, and another entry saying that Ana won by a “country mile” (not mentioning the suits and ranks part). While they were all noble attempts, the poker process is definitely the best solution.
So, 10 readers submitted Ana winning with her straight. This week’s randomly selected winner was Roger Barkan. He will join Jon Delfin, John L. Wilson, Jim Quinlan, Eric Maddy, Andy Keller, and David Cole in a future section of the site. He will also win a T-shirt from the 2015 USC Puzzle Hunt in a size of his choice! I hope to have more physical prizes in future installments of the meta.
I know this was an intensive exercise, but I hope you enjoyed it. I’ve always been a huge card games nut, and I was excited to come up with a meta puzzle that involved card games that had not been done yet.
Mark my words: the next time we have a meta, it’ll feel like a Week 1 Gaffney. I’m not sure what week this puzzle would have been.
On an admin note, there will not be a new puzzle next week. The next puzzle will be July 12th. However, there will be two things published until that new puzzle.
-My Indie 500 Back Track (see the pun there?). Expect that this Thursday or Friday.
-A new installment of the X-word Files! This time, we’re going geographic, and I don’t think I could interview a more qualified person to talk about next week’s subject than the person I got. It’s going to be great.
Thanks everyone. Enjoy the new puzzle!