by Parker Higgins & Ross Trudeau ⚽️🏴🇺🇦
BONUS PUZZLE! Very important note about the solving experience here: *we* know the answer to 37-A, but we can’t tell you! So if you’re solving in the applet or with the .puz file, the check or reveal won’t work correctly on those squares, and you won’t get the “happy puzzle” completion indicator even when you’re done. If you can, we recommend solving this one on paper with the PDF. In either case, the solution link above will hopefully make the *real* solution clear.
We’re going to have a special guest solver tackling this one tonight on the Cursewords Live stream at 8:00p eastern. Drop by and say hello in the chat!
*SPOILERS* on this puzzle’s solution and how we constructed it after the jump below…
Some of you will have figured what was going on in this puzzle before you started solving. It’s an example of the “Quantum” or “Schrödinger” puzzle genre, of which this 1996 puzzle in the New York Times is undoubtedly the most famous example.
Essentially, if you’ve got two answer words of equal length–like ENGLAND and UKRAINE, the two countries that will play one another in the game in question on Saturday–you can build a grid around an answer slot which can reasonably contain more than one answer.
You achieve this by constructing the grid such that the down answers that pass through each relevant box could be two different words that can be clued the same way. In this puzzle, the “quantum” clues/answers are:
EPSILONS / UPSILONS [Certain Greek letters]
PORN / PORK [It’s not kosher for some conservatives]
MIG / MIR [Soviet craft launched in the 80s]
PLY / PAY [Provide with cheddar, say]
ADS / IDS [Sources of some embarrassing desires that might pop up suddenly]
NSFW [“Don’t open at the office” subject line letters] *same for both*
VITAMIN D / VITAMIN E [Compound that may mitigate cognitive decline]
It wasn’t part of the original plan that two theme-adjacent 15-letter spanner answers were going to be part of the grid. But, in a moment of serendipity, we were able to point up the gimmick with BOLD PREDICTIONS [Confident public guesses about uncertain future events] and SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT [Noted thought experiment feline that may be simultaneously dead and alive].
So! As you can see, Parker and I aren’t soothsayers or overzealous partisans. Just inveterate word nerds and soccer fans.
Happy solving, friends!
-Ross & Parker