Waiter, I’d like to send this theory back, it’s stringy

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, every week, well most weeks bringing you the best in so-so solving and bad jokes.  So what do we have this time around… Tut!  A new setter, a newdonym, an expression of distaste or a familiar term for a Pharaoh.   Whichever one Tut is, hi if you’re looking in.

OKey… a few misprints, but not too many, and all real words in the grid it appears.  This could be some relief after last week’s disaster, let’s get to it, shall we?

There is a 1 across… and I doubt something that is used to shoot Jews in specific would be allowed in the Listener (Listener 34 1/2, “Final Soluton” by Lawrie 8) so that’s probably JETS, and it’s FLAKE shortened to FLAK.  Woohoo, we are away!  What does that cross?  That wordplay in 2 looks like it should be LOCK,RAM, which is like HARN and AERIE is a NEST at altitude.  Wow… three down already out of the 12 misprint clues!  Oh… and FOR appearing on the main diagonal… this is looking promising.

Let’s work our way down this diagonal, shall we… SKIMPIER and COMPUTERS (what an intriguing word) and now we have FORMU… that’s got to be FORMULA, right?  But here comes CINEMATICALLY.  Hmmm… FORMU?T.  Well there goes FORMULA.  Down in the bottom right we have MARK forming… FORMU?TE?MARK.  FOR MUSTER MARK!!! That’s the Joyce quote that lead to the word QUARK being used for sub-subtomic particles.


So those misprints in the first few clues are TOP and UP  and the ones in the start of the down clues appear to be part of STRANGE (which appears to be broken up.

This just left a bit of sursolving – I had the message and was pretty sure of most of the misprints.  Part of the sursolving was a little tricky – FOSS had to fit the (modified) definition, but I don’t quite get the wordplay in the clue, similarly for CHIMERAS, but with only two unchecked letters, and a clear definition, I think I have a complete grid.

My working grid for Listener 4313,  Weak Force by Tut

Woohoo – two sciencey ones in a row!  And I believe I can claim a Victory for George.

2014 tally:  32-0-6

Feel free to tell me about how Joyce also gave names to iPhones, the internet and Pokemon, and see you next week when ‘Eck gives us all a crossword that can go green.



Up and atom!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where sometimes they appear the week of, sometimes a week behind, sometimes mystifyingly midweek.  Let’s try to get back on track, shall we?

I made a complete bish of one clue in Rood’s last Listener, so let’s see what we have here?  Hmmm… wordplay requires elementary deductions… I wonder if that’s atomic symbol elementary deductions?  If it is I’m in the camp of liking this one already.  Looks like all real words in the grid apart from five clashes, electronic dictionaries at the ready.

Let’s get to it then… there is a 1 across but I could not for the life of me see what it was.  Big boo fail on the 1 across test!  Hmmm… Nor 5.  Hmmm…

Often if I can’t see the first few clues I go to the bottom and see if I can work myself up.  What’s going on at 46 down?  Those domestic gods are LARES so LARI looks like it could be LARES,I without ES (Einsteinium, named after Albert Einsteinium).  That checks AFRIT less R as AIT with an extra F and my suspicion is looking pretty good.

From here, it became frustrating.

The grid filled up pretty readily, with real words in most places due to clear definitions, but a lot of the wordplay was leaving me bewildered, even though I knew there had to be elemental symbols removed.  I wasn’t having much luck piecing together all of the message – PARTICLES near the end, CLOCKWISE CARE WITH, hmmm, OK.  EVERY FIFTH… that looks like something.  INITIATING AT COLUMN FIVE.  Okeydoke.

It was the bits in-between that weren’t making sense.

And I put it down for a few days.

And they still weren’t making sense.

I only had four clashes, though I was sure the fifth was lurking somewhere in 29 across…  When the first class was X and V I thought maybe it was something to do with atomic symbols again – XV would be 15 which is the atomic number of phosphorus.

Hmmmm… something starting in column 5?

How can I not be solving a puzzle with a Chemistry theme?  I’ve got a doctorate in the bloody subject.  AAAAARGH!

And I put it down for a few more days.

And the deadline passed.

I hate giving up.

So I did something I shouldn’t have done…  I got a hint.

I was told to read every fifth letter starting from column 5 around the outside… DRAWINGS OF ATOMIC TO (something needed to be resolved by clashes).

Atomic TO?   Ohhh…. 34 down isn’t NIGHT, it’s TIGHT and it’s TINY PARTICLES… there’s not many E’s in the grid, are there?  And resolving clashes could make 6 of them, meaning it’s going to be CARBON instead of BORON, and two E’s are close to the middle, and four are on the outside, like the shell model of the electrons.

My working grid for Listener 4312, Elementary Deduction by RoodHmmmm,,, I wanted to love this so much.  But there’s bits and pieces here I don’t like.  The AT vs TA possibility at 41, whatever was going on in 29 or 31.  Mostly that I couldn’t get it without a hint.  Victory to Rood and the Listener Crossword.

2014 tally:  31-0-6.

Feel free to tell me I cheated (I didn’t submit… actually I sent some comments in but well after the deadline), and see you next week when I have a legitimate chance to not be able to force against weakness with ‘Tut.


V for La France

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your one-stop site for half-finished commentary.

It’s been pretty busy here lately and pet projects have taken a back seat, so I’m sorry about this not appearing until Wednesday, when it’s probably only Chalicea checking in to see if there’s an update.  OKeydoke – what did we have here?  No symmetry and roughly a third of the cells are not utilised.

OK – I got that far and thought “hey, that sounds suspiciously like the Samuel puzzle with the map of England”.  I know that Chalicea and Samuel are familiar with each other… are they splitting puzzle ideas now?

I should probably solve it and see… anyhoo we have extra letters in wordplay and some clues lacking a definition. OKey, away we go.

There is a 1 across and it looks like CASA with one letter unnecessary – yep it’s the S with CAA being to telephone.  So a pass on the 1 across test, just no obvious place to put 1 across.  Moving on – 6 and 7 are pretty short clues… 7 looks like an anagram of TITAN in a harsh sound.  BRITTANY?  Could this be a map of France?  That would make sense with the title.  Is 6 maybe another part of France… NORM(h)ANDY.  Aaaaah – I believe we have a winner.

About 45 minutes of solving later I was able to start putting together a grid.  I tried at first using the grid from the printer, as it seemed there were some obvious places to start around CAA being on one line, NOMANDY below it and BRITTANY below that.

My working grid for Listener 4311, Carte Blanche by Chalicea

This was becoming a big schemozzle… so time to do what one should always do when faced with a carte blanche – turn to Crossword Compiler!  I guess I should point out that as I was putting this together, I had not been able to solve 1 down.  So I kept hoping that something would appear that would fit around the far left corner.  Is there a bit of France over there?

Finally that last piece of the map puzzle fell – it’s GANYMEDE.  Here’s what might get me to upgrade to Crossword Compiler 9 or 10… the ability to add an extra row to the top or the bottom of an existing grid.  It’s a tad frustrating getting so close and having to start the grid all over again…


finally we have it!  Map o’France, the strangely unclued 2 letter entry RF (mentioned in the extra letters), and we have to shade EURO which was hiding in AERONEUROSIS.  I confirmed with Chalicea over email after the deadline that the RF was to avoid overunching.

This was fun, but it was a strange experience to have the theme so early and have it in that fashion (“hey, this is just like that other puzzle”).  But in the end I can claim it a Victory to George and now this blog is only behind by 6 days and 23 minutes.

2014 tally:  31-0-5

Feel free to tell me that there’s no point being this late in posting and see you next week (well, hour) when Rood asks us to figure something out something from earth, air, fire water and possibly aether.

For a sequel maybe a Y-shaped coffin?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, the blog that may lift, but to the relief of Duck, will never separate.

Oh dear it’s been a busy week – I’m making my musical debut, singing the role of Barrel in a production of Urinetown and I’m up against all sorts of writing deadlines, comedy and non-comedy, so this may be a short blog.  I’ll make up for it in pictures!

Charybdis time – I’ve done some tagging so you can read all about my previous battles with Charybdis at the bottom.  It’s been a similar pattern, not too tricky grid fill, but then the endgame has often held me up for ages.  Here it looks like we have another grid of real words (yay) and apart from extra words in the clues, no other trickery.  Yay real words!

And there’s a 1 across – we haven’t had one of those for a while. (p)ILLS gets us going, a big pass on the 1 across test and CHILDHOOD is the first extra word – way to bolster the old confidence, Charybdis!

I must have been in solv-o-matic mode or completely on Charybdis’ wavelength, because not only were clues falling left, right and center, but I spotted “THE L SHAPED” in the second row pretty quickly.  Wasn’t there something called “THE L SHAPED ROOM”?  Yes there was, by LYNNE REID BANKS that forms a nice L sticking underneath.  I think we have a theme.  I had heard of it but not read it nor seen the movie, sounds depressing.  Not as much fun as a musical about water conservation featuring a lot of toilet humor!  It wasn’t long before I had a complete grid… but no OM to go with THE L SHAPED RO… and since all the extra words had at least one L in them, I’d put together the messages as DRAW NET TOTAL AREA IS 34 WRAP TITLE TO MAKE WALLS.


My working grid for Listener 4310 - Net Book Arrangement by Charybdis


And now the fun begins.  I’m updating this long after the solution came out and I’m surprised at the number of solvers saying that they didn’t cotton on to the definition of “net” because it came up in an Oyler puzzle two years ago.  But what did the net of an L look like?  The area is 34… is that the total surface of the net?  I guess the title has to be a part of it, but where is the rest of this net?

Stupid George isn’t good at re-reading preambles, because after two days of drawing nets, nothing was coming to me.

Of course the answer is in the preamble – the letters of DARK SCREEN can make an L-ish shape from the top and the letters of PRESS FLATS can make one below…. cutting those and wrapping what I had of the title at the top revealed the OM – it’s from the WO in TWO-TIME upside down.  Kind of like that old WREN from a few Christmases ago.  I made a copy of my grid and hacked away at it to get this…

My room folded

It took me the whole week so I was bucking up against the deadline, but I got a message from Charybdis that my comments came through and my name wasn’t on the unsuccessful list, so I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!  Woohoo!

2014 tally:  30-0-5

Feel free to tell me that I should write these up in one go and see you next week (or in about 15 minutes) when Chalicea offers to blanch our carte.


Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, the internet’s third favorite Listener blog.  Which for some bizarre reason had something on the order of 50 views on Thursday.  Probably the Listener Editor team looking for lawsuit material.

Anyhoo, what have we this week three weeks ago?  We have Gos!  Now Gos has a kind of a noir theme to most puzzles, with a series of murder mystery themes which have been rather fun so I’m looking forward to this.

Hmmm… a black spot in the middle, normal clues, looks like everything is a real word except for some unclued answers… one of which would have been 1 across so that’s a deft sidestep of the 1 across test.  There is a 8 across, and it looks like A,M(ATE)UR so there goes my test, but I guess someone over at another blog will be happy with the appearance of booze in the first clue.  Anyhoo, we are away.

There were no tricks in the clues, though it seemed the solve worked in an L-shaped sweep, starting from AMATEUR and working down and across to where it became apparent that ORSON WELLES was a good guess for the right hand column (on the grid  below, rather than writing the letter straight in to that column, I wrote it to the right of the column in case the change was obvious.

So ORSON WELLES, eh?  What do we have up the top… if it’s JOSEPH COTTON we are in “Citizen Kane” territory.  And so it is!  Yes, we’re hunting Rosebud and I’ve got to change ORSON WELLES to CITIZEN KANE or CHARLES KANE and JOSEPH COTTON to the name of whatever his character was… wikioolgle time.  Jedidiah Leland.  Ummm… that’s not going to fit. J. Leland?  Jed Leland?

Besides, putting CITIZEN KANE on the right doesn’t make real words.


Yes, dear readers, I plugged along with the CITIZEN KANE thing for about an hour, wondering how it could work.  Kind of like watching the film for the first time.

Reset… definitely ORSON WELLES and JOSEPH COTTON.  Did they work together again after “Citizen Kane”?  Of course they did… a few other times, but it appears the next time they were on screen together was THE THIRD MAN.


HOLLY MARTINS and THE THIRD MAN give us all real words and they were searching for HARRY LIME


My working grid for Listener 4309, Shades of Green by Gos

Stop kicking yourself, George, stop kicking yourself.

Well done, Gos – though I got there in the end I managed to pursue a false trail that would make any mystery writer proud.  I believe I can call that one a Victory to George

2014 tally:  29-0-5

Feel free to tell me I need to watch more movies and see you next week when Charybdis nets us a book agreement.

A final sigh of relief with Ruslan

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – where Ruslan appears to be moving in to Jimi Hendrix territory by having nearly as many posthumous releases as ones released during his lifetime!  I thought Ruslan had the last laugh last year – Ruslan puzzles feature in the hall of shame and I could not get a handle on the last one.  I’ll add tags to them soon, WordPress’s new “editor” (motto:  you can type things in boxes but there’s no guarantee they’ll make it to the page) seems to be having issues with me going back and tagging old entries while I still have a draft entry present.

OK – what have we here – prime numbers greater than 3 (hey, two weeks of prime numbers in a row!  bet that makes some of you feel awesome) can be expressed as 6n+1 or 6n – 1.

Grab nifty online references of the first 1000 prime numbers and away we go…

I had about two pages of notes, but now as I come to write this, I can’t remember where I started – I think with the teeny tiny ones.  There were only two possible entries for 2 (2,2), 52 and 70.  All entries had to end in even numbers, and most of the rest was hunt-and-pecking through the pretty small list of possibilities.  It seemed most of the time there was not a great deal of difference between the multiples of 6 that needed to be added together, so you could guess what the first digit or two in each entry was likely to be and work from there.

My main problem came from wanting to write the actual products of the primes somewhere.  Once finding 61 X 97, there was no need to even write down 5917… I think somewhere along the way I stopped writing down the actual product of the primes, unless it looked like it might not fit the number of digits specified in the answer.  About two hours of calculator mashing later, I had a grid…


My working grid for Listener 4308 Sub-prime more-gains relief by Ruslan

It is sad that this is the last Ruslan Listener – a setter of intriguing numericals!  Some I got, some I missed, all I admired (I think “Beating the Bookies” was marvelously inventive).  So a final wooohooo and Victory to George and vale Ruslan.

2014 tally:  29-0-5.

Feel free to share anything about Ruslan and the art of the crossnumber, and see you next week when Gos realizes those prime numbers may have left us a little green

A vegetarian vs the Listener Crossword

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword, edging up on one year of being meat-free.  In October of last year I was diagnosed with some health problems and the recommended options were giving up meat or taking pills that are bad for the liver.  I need my liver (I don’t treat it like I love it, but I really do love you, liver).

So when the title of Wan’s puzzle appeared I was a little confused.  Even in omnivorous days, I don’t seem to recall salami going with walnuts.  Must be a deeper meaning.  OKeydoke, what do we have – thematic clues have to have something removed from a word.  OK.  39 elements to find at the end.  Hmmm…

Well it does appear we have a grid of all real words, so that should help.  Let’s get to it!

There is a 1 across and it’s a straightforward RA,TABLE so we finally have a pass on the 1 across test!  Woohoo!  That crosses R,E,PAST and what looks like AD VIVUM but that means there’s something wrong with PUMA.  Aaaah – take away the P and A.  Hmmm… 5 down looks like it could be LEER from the wordplay, maybe there’s something wrong with KEYNES.

All real words and not that many obscure words in a 13×13 grid meant the fill was going pretty steadily.  It seemed for a while that it was the first and last letters of four letter words that had to be dropped in order to solve the clue – but that can’t be all there is, since I can’t explain 3 down, 5 down 43 across (which looked like it should be EMBERS) or 17 down (which looked like it should be OESTRAL from the definition).


From OESTRAL to get the rest of the anagram I have to lose the 1st, 4th, 6th or 7th and 8th character.

Primes?  Keep the primes?

That would turn KEYNES into EYE – GLAD-EYE!

Aaaah and the clue number is prime too – is it all the primes?  Looks like it.

Something at the back of my mind was ringing… isn’t there a thing called a PRIME SPIRAL?  Spiral is in the title and preamble.  Googlytime!

Thank you wikioogle for telling me that it is a thing – and STANISLAW ULAM is an anagram of SALAMI and WALNUTS.

Now we’re getting somewhere – the grid was not quite full, but it appears that the letters in the prime number positions of the prime spiral would have something for me – HIGHLY SEASONED ?AUSAGE ?ND EDIBLE TREE SEEDS

Even I can guess the missing letters – so 36 across must be VALSE?  Aaaah VALETAS minus TA with an S inside.  Yup, and 37 is SIDE – and SPANGLET becomes PAGE and 22 down has to be P(LATE)AS,M.  I never did figure out the wordplay for FIASCO, so if it turns out to be ZIANCO then I could be wrong, but I think I’m right.

Unfortunately my printer ran out of ink this morning (this is not a euphemism) and for some reason when it’s out of ink it won’t scan – just screams at me “buy me more black ink and then we’ll talk”, so I don’t have a scan just yet.

Even more unfortuantely – this arrived right at the end of my long roadtrip, and I didn’t even get to pick it up until after the due date has passed.  I know Wan checks in here sometimes, so I don’t think you got any feedback from me, although I did mail in my grid and a note with another puzzle.

OK – this was great fun!  One of my personal favorites for the year but I doubt it will be everyone’s cup of tea (particularly among those who were expecting to not have to deal with primes until the next week).  I do have a fondness for messages hidden in an unusual way (we’ve had Fibonacci and golden mean hiding before), and the large grid was generously filled with starter words.  Woohoo!

I think I can claim this as a Victory to George (though I won’t be winning an electronic atlas or whatever they’re giving as prizes these days)!  Yes, I can – the official solution has FIASCO.

2014 tally:  28-0-5

Feel free to tell me what I’m missing out on by not eating meat, and see you next week when Ruslan primes our subs.



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