Puzzle #66 – Themeless #18

Let’s jump right into last week’s contest puzzle. (If you haven’t solved it, look away! Spoilers abound!) In the puzzle, there were five starred clues. Tipped off by the title of the puzzle, “No Holds, Bard,” observant solvers noticed that the answers to each of these clues contained the name of a character from Shakespeare’s Hamlet mixed in with another letter:


In order, those extra letters spell THORN, which is something that certainly discourages holding, so that’s the answer to the contest. (That’s the “No Holds” part of the title.) As an extra hint, the photo from that post was taken from the classic Twilight Zone episode “Five Characters in Search of an Exit.” (If you didn’t recognize the photo, clicking on it would’ve taken you to the episode on YouTube.) This is a double hint. Not only are there are five of the bard’s characters hiding in the grid, but there are five characters (i.e., letters) that you need to extract from the grid to come up with the contest answer.

So how’d you do? There were 93 correct submissions of THORN, and 4 incorrect submissions, most of which were last ditch efforts. Among those efforts and other first thoughts inspired by the prompt of “something that’s meant to discourage holding” were: QUILLS, RED CARD, PENALTY FLAG and CAPITAL GAINS TAX.

Our randomly selected winner is Steve Williams of Holbrook, MA. Congratulations, Steve! If you want to get in on the spoils, there’s still time to reserve your own copy of Matt Jones’s “No Holds Barred”. Maybe the next contest will be in less than a year’s time?

Anyway, themeless crossword today. You’ve got it under control.

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9 Responses to Puzzle #66 – Themeless #18

  1. Di Neer says:

    Wow! Brilliant. I thought it somehow had to do with “acid test.” I was trying to get “electric kook-aid” out of the other answers. Nothing to do with the clue, but seemed fun!

  2. Thank you. I get it now. I am in the learning stage of meta puzzles.

  3. Jeff G. says:

    Damn it Chloe! Download Neville’s latest .puz file to my PDA ASAP!

    Nice pic :-)

  4. Maddy says:

    I submitted THRONE — I extracted the five letters, got a word that AFAIK had nothing to do with the Hamlet theme, then realized with an extra letter I could get something related to Hamlet.
    Am I the only one?

    • Neville says:

      You were. You’re right that it wasn’t related (directly) to Hamlet, though many solvers sent in their favorite Shakespearean thorn references. Instead, it’s playing off of the No Holds bit, as indicated in the directions. Unfortunately, THRONE doesn’t quite fit that bill.

  5. Sandi says:

    As to Themeless 18. Wow. Tough puzzle! I had NEVER heard of 10D, so I feel enlightened. I was going to complain about obscurity, but perhaps it is just that I am ignorant! Pop culture from the previous decade or so I admit to my failings, but 38A just can’t be confirmed if one has never heard of her! Unlike 16A, which can be inferred, even without a German background.

    Lots of other examples, but a stray letter here and there reduces the possibilities and focuses the fill. Is that the key to good cluing and/or a good construction? Seems I do that a lot with Merle’s puzzles, so I guess the answer must be yes!!!

    Keep ’em coming, Neville! And of course, you need to identify your friend.

    • Neville says:

      I only learned about 10D recently myself. I certainly wouldn’t say that you’re ignorant; that’s just a tricky one if you’ve not heard of it. But hopefully the answer makes sense.

      My “friend” up in the photo is 38A! I had the pleasure of meeting her a few weekends back, so I figured (especially with her unique last name) she’d be great for a grid, even if there was a little doubt for those unfamiliar.

      And any comparison to Merl Reagle is certainly a compliment (though not necessarily deserved!)

    • jefe says:

      Ditto to unfamiliarity with 10D (though workable through crossings) and 38A. Most other names I could get via crossings, but I had to guess at 13/18 (correctly) and 37/38 (incorrectly). 37 could’ve been more UsER-friendly Neville! Great puzzle on the whole!

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