2013 Finale: “Numbers Game” Solution

Numbers GameThe 2013 contest had a “mega-meta” hidden in all the puzzles in addition to each puzzle’s meta. This year solvers were allowed to guess the mega-meta before the final puzzle, and nine people did so successfully, earning extra bonus points. For the final puzzle, “Numbers Game,” the meta is the mega-meta. An additional 25 solvers solved it.

The following entries helped them:

CROSS REFERENCES [You need to track these down to get the mega-meta]
RAIN [Precipitating April grid entry related to the mega-meta?]
KIDS [Joking October grid entry related to the mega-meta?]
RUN [Jogging June grid entry related to the mega-meta?]
TIP [Gratuitous February grid entry related to the mega-meta?]
ENID [OK May grid entry related to the mega-meta?]
IT ON [Connecting July grid entry related to the mega-meta?]
STAND ON YOUR HEAD [Clever way to corroborate the mega-meta answer]

Huh? Going back to the puzzles in question helped provide an answer.

The clue for KIDS in the October puzzle was [Bob Marley acknowledged 11 of his]. In the same puzzle, 11-Down was LOVE. Bob Marley has a song called “One Love.”

The clue for RUN in the June puzzle was [Last title word of the 45 that launched Bruce Springsteen]. 45-Down in that grid was STEP UP. Bruce Springsteen has a song called “One Step Up.”

Similarly, the other four clues referenced Elvis Presley‘s “One Night,” Finger Eleven‘s “One Thing,” Barenaked Ladies “One Week,” and Joan Osborne‘s “One of Us.” Likewise, the puzzles for the other five months not referenced in the final puzzle contain similar patterns of key clues leading to specified grid entries. The gallery below shows all 11 puzzles (click to enlarge), with Aqua highlighting the clued word and Lime the partial song title. The table below the gallery (click to open) shows all 12 songs with “One” in the title (one for each puzzle except September, which had two), in addition to the clues for the cross-referencing entries.

The final puzzle provided another path to the answer. The central entry was the seminal U2 album ACHTUNG BABY, intersected by one of the album’s producers, Brian ENO. The final “way to corroborate the mega-meta answer” was to STAND ON YOUR HEAD, turning ENO upside down to get (what else?) ONE by U2, which is the answer to the mega-meta.

Kudos to abBrent HolmanCenariusJanglerNPLJastersj,  jeremiahsjohnsonVraal, and Steve Williams for solving the mega-meta without the help of this puzzle. A key to figuring out the mega-meta early was noticing the unusual clues involving numbers. A few of the early solvers told me they were tipped off by the strangeness of [“Warning ___” (Coldplay song from the movie “Code 46“)] which clued SIGN in the September puzzle. Another small tip-off was that the partial song titles were always clued non-musically – e.g.  LOVE was clued as [Word in an iconic Robert Indiana sculpture] instead of using the many possible musical references.

The average user rating for this puzzle was 4.58 stars (highest this year) and people who solved it rated the puzzle 3.75 on a scale from 1 (easiest) to 5 (hardest). This month’s winner of a free MMMM coffee mug is Erik Agard from College Park, MD. Many thanks to Matt Gaffney who blogged his solving journey (as he does every month) at Crossword Fiend.

A total of 52 MMMM subscribers correctly solved at least eight puzzles this year and hence are eligible for the Grand Prize Drawing, which will take place before next Tuesday, January 14. And I’m pleased to announce that Tuesday, January 21, will be the beginning of the 2014 contest. The puzzles/metas will get a lot easier as we start the year.

Thanks for the great feedback (it makes it worthwhile!) and thanks for playing.

And Happy New Year!

2013 MMMM Puzzles
(click images to enlarge)

Click + to see how a song with ONE in the title was hidden in each puzzle.

Word Unusual Clue X-Ref Song(s) Artist
TIP Finger Eleven‘s breakthrough album that contains 11 tracks and shares its name with part of a finger 11-Down One THING Finger Eleven
A NICE “___ Pair” (Pink Floyd double album reissue that peaked on the U.S. charts at #36, higher than either of its component albums ever did) 36-Down CLUSTER One Pink Floyd
RAIN “Kentucky ___” (Elvis Presley single that reached #16 on the pop charts) 16-Across One NIGHT Elvis Presley
ENID First single for Barenaked Ladies, who have since sold more than 15 million records 15-Across One WEEK Barenaked Ladies
RUN Last title word of the 45 that launched Bruce Springsteen 45-Down One STEP UP Bruce Springsteen
IT ON “Bring ___ Home” (Grammy-nominated album recorded by Joan Osborne at age 49) 49-Down One OF US Joan Osborne
KANYE He gave Jay-Z a $34 K gold skull as a present 34-Down LOST One Jay-Z
“Warning ___” (Coldplay song from the movie “Code 46“)
Do what formerly Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu did at age 32 that shocked many fans
KIDS Bob Marley acknowledged 11 of his 11-Down One LOVE Bob Marley
Faith Hill country hit that charted at #12
Thin Lizzy frontman Lynott (for all 12 albums)
12-Across WILD One Faith Hill
Thin Lizzy
“We Got ___ Love” (9th song on Mary J. Blige‘s 9th album)
“___ Me” (9th song on the Foo Fighters‘ “Greatest Hits”)
“We ___ Fall in Love Sometimes” (9th song on Elton John‘s 9th album)
9-Down THE One Mary J. Blige
Foo Fighters
Elton John