WP Magazine’s Dec. 1 crossword contest in honor of the crossword’s 100th birthday involved solving four crosswords to discover the identities of two real D.C.-related people (the “ghosts”), the real place they’ve been haunting since the first of the year, and their connection to crossword puzzles. Special hints called “Underclues” accompanied the puzzles, and circled squares within the puzzle grids mapped out the route to the “haunted” location, a real establishment within 100 miles of The Washington Post’s front door.
(Underclues were sentence clues with key words omitted. The key words could be revealed by transferring letters from numbered squares in the filled-in grid to numbered spaces below the grid. In the explanations that follow, the capitalized words were the key words that had to be solved.)
Read about the winners here.
“In Puzzle 1, MTV is short for MOUNT VERNON PLACE.”
In Grid 1, the circles revealed the word “Fifteenth” going north (The Post is on 15th Street), “Mass” going southeast (Massachusetts Avenue), “MTV” going east (Mount Vernon Place), and “NY” going northeast (New York Avenue).
“In Puzzle 2, the route names form STAIRS where each STEP is TWO letters WIDE.”
The circled squares in this puzzle revealed “John Hanson” (John Hanson Highway) and “Blue Star” (Blue Star Memorial Highway).
“In Puzzle 3, there are three route words to discover in the grid, but they have been REPLACED by their ANAGRAMS. Find the three words and REARRANGE THEM to reveal the true parts of the route. (Their letter lengths are 5, 7 and 6.)”
The route that this puzzle showed is CANOE/GETAWAY/ ATONES, which anagrams into “Ocean Gateway” and “Easton” (Easton Parkway).
“In Puzzle 4, a single compound word is hidden. On a map, this road has two names and eventually ends at a certain street. In the grid, the route curves and stops one black square away from a three-digit number. This is the number of the street address you’re seeking. The street itself has the same name as a famous CAT. The two-word name of the establishment ANAGRAMS INTO the names of the ghosts. What the ghosts and crosswords have in common is a HUNDREDTH BIRTHDAY THIS YEAR.”
This grid had no circles, but we’ve added color to show the last leg of the route, “Peachblossom” (Peachblossom Road/Oxford Road).
Thus, the entire route was “Fifteenth, Mass, MTV, NY, John Hanson, Blue Star, Canoe Getaway, Atones (which, per the instructions, anagram into Ocean Gateway and Easton) and Peachblossom.” Peachblossom Road ends at South Morris Street in the Maryland town of Oxford (Morris is the name of the finicky cat in TV commercials).
“Peachblossom” ends one black square away from “DIV,” which is 504 in Roman numerals (a hint about Roman numerals was given in Puzzle 3). At 504 S. Morris St. is a bed-and-breakfast called the Oxford Inn.
“Oxford Inn” anagrams into “Nixon/Ford,” who are the two D.C.-related ghosts. Their connection to crosswords is that both were born in 1913, the same year the crossword was invented.
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