Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, one of the interweebworld’s 9th favorite blogs about the Listener Crossword. Those of you who are regular solvers know we’re in for a threesome (at least) of crosswords featuring a recently-deceased setter. I don’t know if the plan is for this to be an annual occurrence but for right now I declare it Morbid March.
I had a really tough time the first three Mr. Lemon Listeners, though I got through the last one with not too many problems. You can read all about them from the tags at the bottom
What have we here – a carte blanche with a coordinate system for entering answers, the coordinates coming from extra letters in wordplay… symmetry, no enumerations and clues in alphabetical order of answers. Yikes!
Welcome to super stone-cold solving!
I was proctoring an exam the day this came out, so I had a few relatively uninterrupted hours to get going. There is a first clue, and it’s a rather gentle anagram for AFRICAN + M,D. It wouldn’t fit in the bottom right, so up the top left goes an A. One letter down, 168 to go!
Hey, two anagrams in a row – the next one for AFTERCLAP + I,A – also has to go on the top left version. Two A’s in the grid! AFTERCLAP would reach all the way to the bottom of the first column which is tempting.
The next one looks like BANDA from the definition and the alphabetical order, but I couldn’t quite get the wordplay.
Another anagram! BOAT TRAIN + M,E – also has to go on the top left version of this
Two more down for another anagram (it’s anagratastic!) – CAREWORN + A,D. That makes the AFTERCLAP idea look good
The first pass through of clues went pretty well – though I couldn’t get much of about 15 or so clues in a row in the midle (from INRO down to SOGGY. This was enough to start putting together the grid.
I had a sneaking suspicion with the coordinates gimmick that this would be a Descartes-themed puzzle, and a 13X13 could fit COGITO ERGO SUM… looks like it could go down the trace diagonal. CARTESIAN should go in there somewhere – maybe at the top right, where there’s a 9 letter entry symmetric to AFTERCLAP. Yeah, that’s got to be it!
I wrote in COGITO ERGO SUM and CARTESIAN and got on with working out the left-over clues. COGITO ERGO SUM really got me going in the bottom right of the grid, which was pretty empty after a first go-around. I couldn’t make the words I had fit with CARTESIAN though, and it really looked like SUBURB should go at the top, so what’s going on there.
A first look at what could have fit in there turned up BOTTLE-IMP, but I ignored it at first. Second peek in – it’s another name for a CARTESIAN DIVER – one of my favorite toys to try to make with kids when I’m teaching them physics and chemistry stuff – you can make one using a plastic soft drink bottle, and a plastic pipette which has the end sealed up. Changing the pressure makes the thing bob up and down, and apparently Descartes is credited with its creation! So BOTTLE-IMP it is.
There was still some sur-solving to get COBFIN becoming COIN, and (though I was kicking myself when I finally saw it) MAGI to eventually convince myself there wasn’t an entry that began in MB. Finally… a grid.
Not sure if I snuck in the back door with this one, getting the thematic stuff first and then filling in the gaps. The clues were a mix of very easy and horribly difficult (I never did find where the M and A from CASABAS came from) but I think I can say this one is a Victory to George and the all-correct streak is hanging on by a thread.
2014 tally: 8-0-0
Feel free to tell me I don’t know my M’s from my A’s and see you next week when mango gives us some sort of movement.