NOTE: For the sake of solvers who may have missed last week's contest, the solution is on a separate page (see the tabs above). The write-up below gives nothing away about the puzzle or meta answer.
Week 1 Wrap-up
23 solvers out of 27 submitted correct answers this week, but only one of them can win. By random selection, this week's winner is Parker Lewis. Congrats, Parker. Parker is not only a skilled solver but an innovative constructor as well. In fact, his NYT debut partly inspired today's puzzle (no spoilers, really, so you're safe to follow the link).
From the sounds of it, solvers generally found this puzzle slightly more difficult than I had intended, although almost all were nevertheless able to work out the answer. Looking back, it's certainly a bit tougher than a typical Matt Gaffney week 1, but then my intention was not so much to try to hone in precisely on his difficulty levels, but more simply to gradually increase the difficultly each week a la the MGWCC. Since it sounds like solvers found this to be around a week 2 or maybe 3 on the Gaffney scale we'll call it a "week 2.25." This week's should be about a week 2.75 or so; maybe a full-on 3. Either way, I think you'll enjoy it. At least I hope so - I sweated blood making this one.
A big thanks to Amy over at crosswordfiend for directing a bit of traffic my way. Throughout the past week I had the pleasure of chatting with a number of puzzlers whom I had never met before as their answers rolled in. Hope to hear from y'all again this week.
Miscellaneous Xword News
In other crosswording news, the last few days have been particularly good to solvers. There was George Barany's stunning Chronicle of Higher Education puzzle (which, based on the star ratings, is a serious contender for puzzle of the year over at the fiend), a new Todd McClary "unthemely" puzzle, and three consecutive days of brilliant NYT puzzles (a tremendously impressive debut by Caleb Emmons on Thursday, Josh Knapp's crackling Friday grid - another contender for the annual Oryx awards, and Laura Sternberg's smashing Saturday puzzle). And all of these from either unknown or underhyped constructors (why is Todd McClary not a household name yet?). Also, speaking of the Chronicle, I think I'm going to start brainstorming some ideas for a submission. Having lost my NYT virginity, I feel more inclined to start submitting to other, more "modest" venues, and I've long felt that the CHE provides a unique outlet for puzzles that delve a little deeper into their theme subject or deal with topics outside of the arena of "common knowledge." Plus, George Barany, in his comments about this week's puzzle, had nothing but good things to say about working with editor Patrick Berry, so that's appealing too.
Lastly, I think I actually solved Matt Gaffney's meta this week, which makes it my first correct week 4! Unfortunately: a) I totally forgot to do week 1, so I can't say I'm 4 for 4 (stupid!), and b) it's not a real week 4 because there are 5 Fridays this month. A small victory nonetheless.
This Week's Puzzle
Anyway, good luck with this week's puzzle, and don't worry if you're not a computer person - I promise you can still get it!. Deets are as follows:
Meta Contest Overview: There will be four metas in total, one each week. I will be trying my best to consistently increase the difficulty each week, but, hey, I'm new at this. Each week, one winner will be randomly chosen from the list of solvers with the correct answer to the previous week's puzzle. They will win the opportunity to suggest an entry and/or clue for a future Cross Nerd puzzle, and will bring honour to their family and their country. At the end of the four weeks, any solvers that answered all four metas correctly will be entered into a draw to win untold riches, most likely in the form of a puzzle book or two (haven't decided yet, but seriously probably something around a $25 value).
Instructions: This week's contest answer is a superhero. This is week 2, but it's more like week 2.75 or 3 on the Matt Gaffney scale. Send an e-mail with the answer in the subject line to peter.bananarchy[at symbol goes here]gmail[dot]com by 11:59pm CST on Sunday, July 1.
More words, crossed and otherwise, next Tuesday.
Puzzle: Programming Camp
Download the PDF file here and the PUZ file here, or solve or download the Across Lite puzzle and/or software from the embedded app below.