Salut, et bienvenue a Georges v… bugger it – I did French in high scool 20 years ago and I’m not about to try to write a cryptic crossword piece in French. Raich is my old Times for the Times colleage, Niall McSweeney, who we last ran up against in OOOOPPPP where I thought I had it complete but messed up the ending. Revenge time!
So 44 of the clues lead to defective wordplay, but the good news is it looks like the grid contains all real words! Got an email from Phi last week where I think I realised that I’m a much better solver once I have a letter or a choice of letters available in the grid (now I do use a lot of word wizards and chambers online searches for the fiddly bits but I mean the getting started grid filling). So yay for real words!
There is a 1 across but it makes very little sense in its original form. Actually I made a really slow start of this one, getting nothing until ADO
RN and WINTER with the missing letter N. So for a while my grid looked pretty funny with a bit on one side and a bit on the other side, and precious little in the middle.
First “huh” moment was from working on that left side and finding that 20 down looked like TAM??DE?TN. I suspect we’re not working with real words after all. Or French ones. How can we have made-up words with two unchecked letters and no Playfair grid in sight.
I found the bottom (particularly the bottom left) an easier fill, and managed to extract two parts of the instruction from there – PRESIDENTS and REPUBLIQUE.
Are these some form of names from some former French colonial republic?
I’ll admit, I followed this red herring for a ridiculously long time, looking up presidents of Cameroon, French Guinea, Cote D’Ivoire and all sorts of republics hoping to find that there was a T.A. MERDIOTN or TMAERDIOT, N that was a president somewhere.
If all else fails, stop following possible trails and solve the rest of the clues, idiot. My big gaps now where in the top right. Some poking in Chambers and Bradfords yielded KEYS, OKAY and YARD. CI-QU… CIRQUE? CINQUIEME!!!! So I was looking way too far afield, the CINQUIEME REPUBLIQUE is the current French structure, and I didn’t know that there had only been 6 presidents. I remember MITTERAND on… and looky there – we can anagram the names to fit in those slots.
After several sessions of bashing and poking – grid full! Still don’t know what the first word of the message is – MELANGEZ? LES PRESIDENTS DE LA CINQUIEME REPLUBLIQUE.
Six-letter place. Huh? It appears that the Cinquieme Republique has a lot to do with crises in Algeria. But that’s 7 letters, as is Algiers. Were there any battles in six-letter places? Nothing doing through the middle of the grid.
I nearly went spare looking for this six-letter place, hunting for place names. But then our favorite wordplay element popped out at me. ELY… hey and next to it is SEE. ELYSEE (no S?). Looks right… lets highlight.
Wow I made a meal of that but I think I’ve got it all – though based on what happened last time maybe I should pur some caution out there. My favorite clue in there was 53 across – yay Chemistry clues – with MISNOMER becoming MOSNOMER which is MONOMER with an extra S.
Victory to George! Maybe things are starting to get back on the right track.
2011 tally: George 4, Listener 2. Current streak: George 1.
Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week, when we’ll let Aedites be our travel guide.