2017 Puzzle 8: “Let the Games Begin” Solution

August’s MMMM challenged solvers to find a music genre. Two of the symmetric center entries (RIO/IOC) as well as the puzzle’s title (“Let the Games Begin”) suggest that the meta is somehow related to the Olympic Games. The clue for IOC, [Org. that assigns many three-letter codes], hints at the path to the solution. Each of the seven theme entries contains exactly one three-letter Olympic country code, as follows:

LA WOMAN –> Oman
ONE DAY –> Netherlands
CAR WASH –> Rwanda

Taking the first letter of each of these spells C-O-U-N-T-R-Y, this month’s meta answer.

My band just got back from a short tour of Europe. Here’s a impromptu country song that we did in a hotel lobby in Montreux, featuring what may be the world’s squeakiest piano bench.

Selected Solver Comments:

azmat   ‘Country’ was the obvious guess….but the extraction was excellent. There was an ‘Aha’, a click and a smile.

Burghman   Wow, so many layers!

Kranke   Clever solve, but sheesh, this grid- lots of googling required!   A number of people found this month’s fill on the tougher side.

Stribbs   Nice that you have only one valid code in each entry!   That did make finding theme entries harder!

Redhead64   So how many people initially thought the California-based band (named for a Baum character) was TOTO instead of OZMA? Was that red herring intentional?   Nope.

thanman2   I lost a lot of time trying to make the grid a square by adding the codes to the answers, like TUR to MOIL. Curse you for that red herring!   Also unintentional. You may be cursing me next month though (cue evil laugh). 


Clues That Could Have Been Musical:

mmurphy suggests cluing EPISTLE as [Donovan’s “___ to Dippy”].

ASB suggests cluing THE SAME as [’90s earworm song by Matthew Sweet “We’re ___”].

fheaney suggests cluing DENGUE as [___ Fever (band inspired by Cambodian pop music)].

Norm H suggests cluing RUDD as [AC/DC drummer Phil].



Steve Blais   You deserve a gold medal for this one.

Howard B   ChallenginG, HArd puzzle. Was a tougH ONe to crack. Appreciate iT,PEte!

Rishi   ESPecially CHAllenging! FRAnkly, COMmenced clueLESs AND MAD. adVANced SLOwly. eVENtually FINished aROUsed AND SWEaty. SOMe POLluted mIND, THAt GUY! HONestly, cANT LIE – PARticularly GREat.


A total of 133 people found their way to the answer this month, the fewest of the year so far. The average rating for the puzzle was 4.26 stars out of 5, the highest of the year so far. The average difficulty rating was 3.46 out of 5, also the highest of the year. This month’s randomly chosen winner of an MMMM coffee mug is Jimmy Cassidy from New York City. Thanks to Matt Gaffney for blogging the puzzle at Crossword Fiend, where you can rate the puzzle (thanks!) and/or leave a comment.

Thanks for playing and see you in a month!