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congratulations to austin burns of orlando, the winner of the meta contest from the ACPT puzzle! in a staggering coincidence, austin also won the meta contest for last year's ACPT puzzle. can he three-peat next year?!? full recap (including spoilers for the puzzle) after the jump.

at first blush, this appeared to be an ordinary, if challenging, double or nothing puzzle, where 0 or 2 letters go into each square of the grid. but something strange was going on in some of the answers. plus, there appeared to be at least a mini-theme: the two grid-spanning answers were both clued {Don't go all or nothing} and the answers were SPLIT THE DIFFERENCE and FIND A COMPROMISE. now, the latter answer has 15 letters, which doesn't work in an ordinary double or nothing puzzle, where every answer length has to be even.

the key was that several squares took only a single letter, not 0 or 2. that's because the meta is about not going double or nothing. reading off the letters in the special squares from top to bottom gives BET MIDDLER, a homophone of singer/actress bette midler and a nice punny description of somebody who doesn't bet all or nothing, but prefers rather to "middle" her bets. many of you pointed out how fine a construction this was by andy kravis, and i totally agree with you.

congratulations to everybody who solved the puzzle and entered the contest. we received 113 correct answers before the deadline, and 2 incorrect answers—and i suspect both were due to typos/autocorrect. (this was a tough puzzle to solve, to be sure, but once you solved it, the meta was pretty much impossible to miss.) that means that austin defied 4406-to-1 odds to win both last year's contest (where his was one of only 39 correct submissions) and this one. austin will receive a free entry into the next big crossword tournament, the indie 500 in washington, d.c. on saturday, june 3. i'll be there, and so will pie; will you?

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