Keramos, Keramos, will you do the fandango?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener. Brace yourselves – we may be caught up!  I put posts for the previous two puzzles below this one, including my gripes about the puzzles that won all the awards at the Listener dinner.  But what do I know?

Harribobs puts us back into classic Listener territory – all words entered with a letter changed! Across clues double on the changes with a misprint.  Yikes!

Well there is a 1 across… and the wordplay is definitely leading to EROTEMES (as is the definition) but there’s a few possibilities for the anagram indicator… so we have a partial victory on the 1 across test.  And in it goes lightly shaded…

I managed to motor through a lot of the clues, and filling the grid was a pretty steady process. Fortunately I could see most of the misprints near the end of the acrosses, and it was evident that we were looking at HENRY W LONGFELLOW, and KERAMOS eventually came out of the first few acrosses.  A browse through the poem and there it is – ALL THINGS MUST CHANGE TO SOMETHING NEW TO SOMETHING… and I could see where STRANGE was almost there in the grid!  Woohoo – not much sursolving later, and there was a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4495, An Exchange of Letters by Harribobs

OK, I did like this one (I know a few hours ago I trashed everyone’s favorite Listeners). I liked the number of changes, I like the thematic use, the quote was fun, and you end up with a grid of all new real words. That’s neat, Harribobs!  It also means the puzzle requires everything to be understood in order to be solved (yes, I hear you say “but you were to unerudite and cloth-headed to be able to pick out characters from Westward Ho, some game and puzzle dude and whatever that was that ended up as Morse code, so who are you to judge”).  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over… 100% complete!

Feel free to tell me that I should change back to not doing these, and see you next week when MynoT admits to being on the run.


I’m tooleoorlin sick and tired of these begorrah snakes on this meluckycharms island

Welcome back to the next part of the mop-up.  Mop-up being particularly appropriate here, since the day this came out, I was in New Orleans, and I had been given a tip to visit Lulu Distillery – a place that makes their own vodka, gin and rum and has notorious happy hours.  I arrived at the start of happy hour, and unfolded this one.

OK – it was the weekend of the Listener Dinner, which was in Paris this year, and so the title may be referencing that. I have just read the results – I did not do well on the top-scoring puzzles. I got close on Army and Wavy, but didn’t really know the source material. I thought there were some major flaws in Follow The Directions, where there was no indication of the source material whatsoever other than an obscure name in the grid, and His I did not understand even after reading the solution. I was impressed by The Properties of Numbers but could not find the starting point. I thought X XX XXX had a convoluted preamble that would turn anyone off the puzzle. I did at least finish Nemo but I thought it was messy.

My favorites did not crack any of the lists… the ones that struck me as the most fun and best overall for 2017 were…

4441 – It’s Dark Up Here by Colleague (the overlapping themes of decreasing circles and the oozelum bird disappearing up its own arse)

4439 – Where Falls the Axe by Hedge-Sparrow (that got a few votes)

4447 – Influence by The Tall’n – what I really liked about that one was that every entry mattered

4457 – Polo by Apt – unique grid that suited the theme

4462 – Squares by Phi – that got some love in the voting

4471 – What can the matter be by Flying Tortoise.  Don’t often see something really new in a puzzle, and that was certainly new!

My pick for the year overall would have been 4471, with the four individual grids being four different styles of puzzle and the elements appearing in each square.

Meanwhile, back to the bar.

The cocktails were delicious and the puzzle was pretty straightforward – we had SEAS and SNAKES and SAINT PATRICK, and since Chalicea has had a habit of sticking maps in the puzzle and the snakes are around the outside, getting rid of them is going to make a shape of the map of Ireland surrounding the sea. It was also the day before St Patrick’s Day here – in fact the next day’s parade was getting prepared just a few blocks from where I was sitting.

My working grid for Listener 4494, Overseas Outing by Chalicea

I like that the scan represents how crumpled the grid was after sitting at the bar for an hour or two.

Feel free to tell me that I forgot to colour in one corner and should be kicked out of any bar and into the ocean (that would have been possible in New Orleans) and next up the catch-up is complete as Harribobs trades degrees.

What the devils?

Welcome back to the forgotten realm of George vs the Listener crossword. Hi – remember me? The last few weeks have been pretty ragged, and I even went about two weeks without solving a daily puzzle.  Yes, check the old pulse.

Not sure why, just a combination of stress, travel, and other things.  Anyhoo – it’s time to do a bit of a catch-up.  These puzzles have been out for a while, so I’ll do a bit of lip-service.

I found Nutmeg’s puzzle very hard to get into. It wasn’t the printer’s Devilry clues, it was the misprint clues that really held me up.  It helped to eventally get SHADE and SYMMETRIC to figure out the last of these. Fortunately RALPH the Printer’s Devil was an obvious choice for the middle of the grid, and SATAN and CLOOTS jumped out to give half of the symmetrical pairs.

As I solved I was keeping check of the PD and misprint clues side by side – that would have been funny to animate.  The PD clues were well in the lead until I figured out what the message in misprints was, and then it was just PD clues left at the end.

PD clues are fun, and although I’ve stopped entering Azed competitions (I might get back to that someday), I used to do pretty well in his PD clue-writing competitions.  I particularly liked 28 across:  Feeling for US lady-killer, we visited he(r on de)athrow, and 37 across:  for presenting out pe tit(ion i c)an send my fleetest runner. That one really uses the PD device nicely.

My working grid for Listener 4493, Devilry by Nutmeg

In the end, a fun puzzle! I used to really dislike PD but I’ve warmed up to them.  This will not happen with Playfair.

Game over:  100% completion

Feel free to tell me that I should be split in two and have something inserted, and now we move on to Chalicea who wants to inform everyone of the homosexuality of a foreigner.

Stick a pin in me, I’m done

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, sadly back on home soil again – if you are looking for a party situation par excellence, I can highly recommend New Orleans. I hope those that went to the Listeners Annual Dinner had a good time and a speedy recovery (and my very best to Jane who is recovering from something quite painful and unsettling).

OKeydoke – what have we here – biggish grid at 13×13.  Lots of clues, but all normal. 13 clashes (hmm…) and some replacements/deletions at the end. Better get solving then!

The first three squares in the grid are for down entries, so we are left with a 4-across… and a partial fail on the 4 across test – as the definition and the second half of the clue seem to be pointing at BOMB(a), but I can’t figure out what sort of BOMB from the rest of the wordplay.

11 across INGATE gets me going, and most of the left hand side of the grid came together pretty handily… but with no clashes (though the M at the end of GYM looked tempting). This was a bit of a theme – I had a very hard time finding clashes – my first definite one was not until IDEES/WINE.  There were a number of all-checked entries where I was pretty sure there was a clash and had to play with letters to find them (SECATEURS/GEAN for example). From the clashes it became apparent that we were replacing the letters in SUMMER FLOWERS with letters to make real words. I was at one point convinced there was going to be one clash per column, and scrutinised column 2 over and over to see if I had missed anything.  It got down to the last two unfilled squares in the grid both needing to be part of words with clashes (RADULAR and DOME – the last being one of those pesky, all-checked entries).

I was relieved like nobody’s business when I put in the extra letters to word wizards and got LEPIDOPTERIST, who would use a BUTTERFLY NET.  I had noticed ORANGE PIP and DUGONG in the grid, which could become ORANGE TIP and BUGONG – AGGER could become EGGER and so we are looking for butterflies and moths.

Three fairly long solving sessions later – et voila!

My working grid for Listener 4492, Mad Toms Traps by Hedge-sparrow

Wow that was an intricate puzzle. Fortunately the endgame didn’t take anywhere near as long as the gridfill, which was a real hunt and peck for the clashes.  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George, and with the quantity of the thematic matter in the grid (look at that – the only answers that don’t end up being part of any thematic material are OBAN, MAAING and ORIBI) everything needed to be completely understood for a solution

Game over: 100 %

Feel free to tell me that I should just go for the ether, and see you next week, when Nutmeg puts an imp on the railroad tracks.

Blogotempophobia – fear of submitting a blog on time

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Coming to you today from beautiful (though it is meant to pour rain this afternoon) New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dysart time! I usually enjoy Dysart’s puzzles and don’t find them too difficult, so let’s see what we have here. Mostly normal clues, a few jumbles and some things to change. Hmmm… let’s get to solving.

There is a 1 across, and not only is it solveable, it appears to have an extra word – EN,F(L)AMED and WORK is extra.  Double bonus on the 1 across test!  Let’s write in words gently as there are jumbles afoot. The first one isn’t far away, as PAINT does not appear play well with ON TAP.

Fast forward – ON TAP was my way in – after finding EVERYTHING as an extra word and ON TAP becoming PANTO, and with the title, I remember that PANTOPHOBIA is fear of everything. I’ve already got PAINT which has pain in it, so maybe fear of PAIN is going to be a part of it.

Sometimes I get it – armed with all of this, and some searching Chambers for PHOBIA + the extra words, the rest of the grid fill did not take long, maybe 90 minutes.

My working grid for Listener 4491, A Dreadful Puzzle by Dysart

I already suspected PAIN which turned out to be correct – BEAR becomes FEAR and there’s ANDY CAPP hidden in a diagonal. Wow – Andy Capp is still going???

OK – so another fun puzzle, and jumblies that meant something. And even better, a fairly quick Victory to George (fear not, gentle readers, that will not be the case over the next few weeks).

Game over, 100 % completion!

Feel free to tell me that I should also have a fear of telling a funny joke and see you next week when Hedge-Sparrow introduces us to snares left by an insane prostitute (Stormy Daniels, anyone?).


Welcome to the Excel Inn

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  If this is the first post you’re seeing, you need to see more posts… and my little bit on Pointer’s from last week should be right below this.

Numberword time! First numerical of the year and it is Botox.  The Listener Crossword site tells me that Botox is a hybrid of Artix (who we had not that long ago with a puzzle I didn’t get), and Shark who we last saw under the guise of Handyman last year. Pseudonyms abounding! Neither of them have set a numerical Listener that I know of.

I have no shame, dear readers. I saw the sheer number of numerical clues, that all the numbers 1-26 were used, and that there were several letters in many of the clues, and a few of them had two equations that worked out to the same value, and went straight to Excel to make a spreadsheet.

Now of course this doesn’t take all the logic out of the equation… it was still a hunt and peck around the grid. I made some notes of what was divisible by what, but with the number of linked clues that had to be solved together, I really needed that sheet that populated multiple entries when I tried a new combination of numbers.

I do remember wondering if I’d ever figure out which letter was 1… and that was a stroke of genius on the setters part by only having 1 (which I think was W) appearing in only 1 clue.

OK… now what.  32 cells stay as numbers (out of 66).  For the rest, there’s a cipher, where each number stands for 1-3 letters… Both end columns are the same…  the columns might be a key here – I see a column with 1111 and 2222… but 3334 and 4445.  Huh?  Next to those is 4321 three times.  Maybe the cipher will helps… it sounds like we should arrange the letters we just solved for in order, and use the second digit.

I tried that, and got nothing from the title.

What if isn’t the order of the letters in the answers, but just the normal ordering of letters?  That would probably have made the grid construction easier, right, if you didn’t have to come up with a code and the method of clueing letters together.  That looks more promising – REJOB could become HOTEL.

Aaaah… the identical columns are STAIRS.  There’s the RECEPTION at the bottom, a PENTHOUSE at the top and a LIFT in the middle.

I guess there’s no room 13? In the US that used to be a big thing, but I don’t recall the number 13 being left off of room numbers lately.  I’m traveling next week, I’ll check… though I am going to New Orleans, and if anywhere is going to be a superstitious hotel town, New Orleans sounds like a good option. Anyhoo – we have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4490, REJOB (or HOTEL) by Botox

This wasn’t too bad – I did this all in one long, three hour session. About half an hour to write the Excel code, about another two hours fiddling with the numbers to make them fit, and not too long head-scratching about the cipher.

The last few years I’ve made a mess of the first numerical, but this time I think I’ve cracked it!  Victory to George.

Game over:  100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that Excel is far worse than anything else I regularly do, and see you next week when Dysart describes me in puzzle form.

Two replacements, including a blog week?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Ever had one of those weeks where you were so busy you thought you had done something, and it turns out you didn’t?  Well guess who didn’t put Pointer in the picture.

My working grid for Listener 4489, Ocean-going Vessel by Pointer

I don’t have a great deal new to contribute (but then again, when have I ever had a great deal to contribute?) – the grid fill was lightning fast – less than 20 minutes. The first change was obvious, and there seemed to be only one plausible change in 2 down, but a few in 22 across,  I was getting nervous. Since everything changed twice, if it was 13 changing that would have to be SHIP OF THESEUS, which rang a bell (and looking it up, clearly this was what the puzzle was about), so I went to the other end and started knitting things back up from 6 down.

Gridfill:  20 minutes.  Spot the theme: 5 minutes.  Fiddle with those letter changes… fartoobloodylong! On the other hand I didn’t know TRIGGER’S BROOM, but when I saw BROOM as a possibility near the bottom it popped up, and I could get those last few changes.

Ponter’s puzzles have been nothing if not odd, and tend to involve a lot of grid changing (remember the alphabet soup one?). In the end I liked it, but it was mighty frustrating having so long an endgame.

Game over:  100% completion, and a hangdog victory to George (though not in the sense of getting a blog up in a timely fashion).

Speaking of which, I have less than two hours before the solution to REJOB comes out, so see you in a few hours for some numerical musings.