37. Endgames


Finally, we did match - last week's puzzle was indeed a Week 4 but what I felt was the best one of the month!

1. Puzzle #36 recap

Puzzle #36 answer: HIGHLIGHTER

Correct entries: 37

One of my favorite puzzles of the summer - and one that came to me while eating something spicy one day, which is every day.

I like the fact that you have to be a little clever in figuring out what's going on with the mechanism. My line of reasoning:

a. We have 7 starred entries - but also the fact that the prompt clearly says what we're looking for is more than 7 letters. So at least something else is going on.

b. In perhaps bold, iconoclastic contrast to the title, the starred entries all seem to be congregating toward the bottom of the grid...so something clearly is going on toward the top!

c. This is where we have to be a little bit more sneaky, but I will aver that - since I like clues that might have more than one entry that fits of the same length - I figured that it might be possible that you maybe made one of these actual guesses during the solving!

In any case, if we take a look at the starred entries in conjunction with the top of the grid, we see what almost seems to be the rest of a synonymous entry, once a letter is appended:

L ASHES (facial features)
I CONIC (renowned)
G LAND (pancreas, for one)
H ONE (sharpen)
T EASE (ridicule)
STATE (tax type)
R ANTS (talks wildly)

The initial letters of these words spell out LIGHTER, which is not really a valid school supply in my book! (You could perhaps make a tenuous argument that you could use it a chemistry lab - and I had a chemistry pun to make here, but all the good ones argon). 

Once we get to this part, we recognize we need more than just a string of 7 letters - and once we take the title into consideration, the letters are certainly higher on the grid than the rest of the puzzle! There is your HIGHLIGHTER (great for solving metas as well, as Frankie said!)


2. This is the final installment of Summer of Solves, and I would be remiss if I didn't thank all of you for making this week-by-week meta hunt a success. Crosswords do not solve themselves, and I am humbled by what I think is over 100 unique solvers during this stretch. I do acknowledge that some definitely pushed the boundaries into Level 5 (or Level 55), so I'm striving to take it a bit easier on you for the final third of 2022!

After today's puzzle, we return to our bimonthly schedule, where I will post a regular-sized meta on the final Saturday of the month (likely around this same time) and a smaller meta somewhere along the way, likely about the month's halfway mark. I'll try to keep that to Saturday to maintain some semblance of regularity, haha.

I will tabulate leaderboard rankings and announce the final Top 25 (perhaps right in time for college football season!) soon.

This should be no more than a Level 2, especially if you're a fan of something as much as I am. (Ideally, you'll see pretty quickly what's going on!)

Good luck!

Mikey G

The answer to the meta is a phrase in 9 letters.


  1. Afraid I can't comment in-puzzle because I don't have the meta, but 45D is a bit off, for reasons I will elide for spoilers.

    Thanks for the puzzle!


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