Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Often I write these in the hour or so before the solution comes out, but I’ll be in the middle of some crazy travel on Friday morning, so here we are from a remote location.
When I printed off 24 Across, I thought something may be wrong – the whole puzzle printed on one sheet of US Letter paper (it’s a little wider and shorter than A4). I don’t think that has happened before. With the wider than normal and shorter than normal (14X11) grid, and the side by side clues this was a compact one.
And it’s Pilcrow – been a while since Pilcrow was spotted – and last time it was the mind-warping, grid-spinning perfect symmetry of X. Before that was Tour De France where I found the thematic stuff but messed up on some outside answers, so my battle with Pilcrow is tied!
So there’s side-by-side clues and a hero to be found. Sounds like we’re in the world of normal clues and real words in the grid – woohoo!
There is a 1 across (which is also a 40 down), and the first part of it looks like it should be COULOMB (quick check of Chambers – yes, COOMB is a unit of capacity, though not electrical capacity/capactiance). The first down clue looks solvable – RESURRECTED and CHAR,LA(TAN)IC which confirms where COULOMB goes and gives me the first and last letter of 24 across. Woohoo!
With those in place, it was less than an hour before the rest of the grid was filled. Compared to X, this was a checked letter paradise! Two of the ones that I didn’t get thr first time through – OONT and UNCE, had all of their letters checked! We’re looking for record Listener finishing time. Now what’s going on in the middle?
I had A-S-N-LE-E-G-R. First name, surname and an article befitting the country of origin.
In a classic moment of not-reading-the-preambleitis, I went straight to thinking that the first three letters were AUS and we’re looking for someone German. UNCLE MENGER? UNCLE VENGER? Wasn’t he one of the guys in the Millenium series? Nope – this line of thinking is getting nowhere.
Oh – the article is between the names, which means it’s the LE there in the middle. A-S-N -E-G-R who is French. Unless it’s LES. Oh great. AUSANA LEGGER? What name is A-S-N- anyway?
It’s a good thing Word Wizards has some real names in it – because when I put that pattern in I got ARSENE WENGER. Well, it fits… a trip to Google to find out who he is and why he should be a hero, and it turns out he’s the ARSENAL MANAGER.
Aaaaah – Pilcrow didn’t get all the letter-turning tricks out of his/her/their system with X (one of those times where it helped to check out a setters previous oeuvre). A lowercase e can be tilted to make an a, an uppercase W to make a uppercase M and we’re in action!
An hour to finish the grid, and about another half hour to figure out the endgame, and we have a Friday night finish!
Good thing too, since I had to be on the road early on Sunday morning, so this was mailed off on Saturday. I liked the letter manipulation part, but I must say I didn’t care too much for the theme. And if you had no idea of who he was, and didn’t have Word Wizards, I wonder how you would have gotten ARSENE WENGER?
Still, I’m calling this one a Victory to George! And the deadlock with Pilcrow is broken. Look out for letters that are to be entered in mirrors, or that have been inverted in three dimensions next time!
2012 tally: 23-0-4
Feel free to criticize my lack of knowledge about soccer managers, and see you next week when Kea will leave us scatterbrained.