Quad erat demonstrandumb

Greetings all – I was going to have this up yesterday, but the Kimpton Onyx hotel in Boston boasts “fast internet” while “completely not working internet” might have been a better description.  Oh well!  Not that there is a great deal to say this week.

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossnumber, your quarterly check in on my ability to use Excel to solve a puzzle that is intended to be done using a pocket calculator.  And we have gwizardry who brought us a pretty difficult (so difficult I couldn’t do it) cards themed puzzle last time around that was very popular with most of you.

This time we have a Lagrange Four-Square Theorem puzzle – all answers are a sum of squares.  Neat – and there’s zeroes in there which doesn’t happen often in a numerical puzzle.  It was pretty obvious D was going to be zero, and T was going to be one, so there’s 1/13th of the puzzle out of the way.

I shamelessly Excel’d my way through this which is good, because I had to double back twice, the most memorable being a big blunder assumption on V that caused me to have to go back nearly to the beginning.  Two sessions later, it all fell into place, with 1120 neatly becoming QUAD

My grid for Listener 4425, Clue-by-four by gwizardry

The most intriguing part of this puzzle to me was that I think I would have struggled a lot more without crossword compiler – nature’s gift to carte blanche puzzles with symmetry! For an 8×8 puzzle with all but four numbers checked, that’s a lot of bars.  I tried sketching it on paper at the beginning and had bars all over the place!

Anyhoo – game over and it’s a 100% completion for George and another challenging numerical from gwizardry!

2016 tally:  39-2-6

Feel free to tell me that I cheat even more on numericals than I do on lettericals, and see you next week when Harribobs asks us to name that tune.


It’s been much easier since John…

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and the last paper scan for a few weeks, since I am back in New Jersey for the last stint of this secondment.

Ferret Time!  I made a complete mess of Ferret’s last one (though I didn’t recall that until I looked at my blog post on it since it was from a few years ago and I was more intent on having a little fun with Duck), so hopefully this will be better.  Two word phrase, something about quadrants, entries that cross quadrants are normal.  OK, let’s see where this goes.

There is a 1 across, and the wordplay looks like it is heading to H,I,R,AGE – which sounds like the Cost of renting and we have a big pass on the 1 across test and a piece of thematic material right off the bat, woohoo – somewhere in that unclued entry there is a C.

Even better – 1 down gives me the other unchecked letter – HOPED has a misprint of G in the clue.  I probably should have pressed on and tried to do the first quadrant in full right there, but I poked around the grid trying to get as many of the long answers – eventually DEAMINATE (that Chemistry degree wasn’t useless after all!) makes one thing clear – that first quadrant unclued entry is GARLIC and I think we could be in for a little CROP ROTATION.

CROP looked sound as I’d already found EARLY and DEMON which were both too long for their entries.  ROTATION – jumbles?  SODA and RIAS definitely needed jumbling, though it looked like both could go in just reversed, which fits with ROTATION more.

I think we may have cracked the code early on – time to sur-solve.

Fortunately the rest of this was pretty brisk, since I’m not a huge fan of botanical themes, at least the crops were easy to spot.  The last step was to rotate BARLEY, CARROT, FALLOW and GARLIC 90 degrees to produce all real words.

My working grid for Listener No. 4424, Fieldwork by Ferret

Nifty little puzzle, and completed in only two short sessions, so that’s a relief, particularly with the next challenge being maths.

Game Over – victory to George and I think 100% completion, got all the thematic material and needed to solve every clue to get there.

2016 tally:  38-2-6

Feel free to tell me that a vegetarian should care more about crops, and see you next week when gwizardry asks us to get a clue before 4.


Let’s play two-up with Phi!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword!

I’m running just a touch late here due to my rash decision to brave the shops on what should be known as “Do not get up out of bed Friday”.  Nintendo teased me with the release of a new 3DS and it was going to be available at a store near me… well if I was one of the first 10 people in line at 5am and someone in front of me didn’t buy multiples.  Grrrrr…

Phi would understand – he did put a bunch of Pokemon in today’s Independent crossword as a sort of Nina.

We haven’t had a Phi puzzle for a while, and I had the pleasure of starting this one, from a printout no less, on a flight heading to Las Vegas.  Woohoo! So what have we here – words that differ by one letter, extra words in wordplay – seems relatively straightforward for Phi, so let’s see where it is going.

There is a 1 across and it is IS,LAY and not only that but even I know ISLAY isn’t Irish so there is our first extra word!  Woohoo!  It also crosses what looks like it has definitions for SHRINE and STRINE so we are off to a particularly good start – not only that but it crosses STARING and SHARING.

About two thirds of the grid was filled in during the flight, where I had my laptop so I could look at Chambers.  I’d found three of the clashes – looks like there are only going to be four, since so far the unindicated letters are all checked, on the main diagonal, and they are all a clash of H or T. HEADS OR TAILS?  That would work with the words I had found so far as extras – they all have a letter of HEADS OR TAILS as the first or last letter.

I’d spotted TAILS on the diagonal during the solve, and it looked like A TOSS was a possibility on the other side of that diagonal but running in the opposite direction.  OR TAILS could be made from letters in the middle – so what is on the other diagonal?  Taking a punt that HEADS OR TAILS started in the bottom right helped full the rest of the grid and find the last clash.

So what is going on the other side?  I HERALD A TOSS?  That isn’t a phrase, is it?  No it isn’t but it is an anagram of HEADS OR TAILS!  I think that’s the last bit we need.

My working grid for Listener 4423, A Bit Up In The Air by Phi

Fun puzzle, and it seems Phi has decided to go easy on us this week (is there a stinker in the works?).

Lazy solving time – I only found 10 of the extra words (CONVENIENT not being one of them, right?).  Since I’m thinking video games, maybe I should bring some video game notation into the blog.  You can finish a game, but you may not finish it 100% (there are very few games I have tried to get 100% on – a few puzzle games like Picross 3D I have 100% completion).

So let’s call this one Game Over – win, with 90% completion.  I’ve been doing the victory thing for too long.

2016 tally: 37-2-6

Feel free to tell me that I should be reading, writing and not playing video games, and see you next week when Ferret sends us out into the field.  I’ll take gully.


A wild hare chase

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and a rather unusual puzzle from Poat for a number of reasons.  One is that he hinted this would be difficult, and the other is that it gives the origin of an old obsession of mine.

So what do we have – normal clues seven clashes, messages a trail and a goal.  OK… sounds deceptively simple at the start.  Let’s get to solving then…

There was a 1 across but I didn’t get it on the first pass through – it took until O(UT,LEAR)N to get the grid going, but that ended up being a good place to start as JETSAM gave me the first of the clashes, and an unlikely set of letters in PU?EE?O?? gave me another with PULVEROUS.  At the end of the first sitting I had most of the grid and a message that was looking like READ EVERY T????.  Read everything?

The bottom left of the grid was giving me the most grief, but into the second solve I got lucky – I had all seven clashes so I could hunt and peck through the last few entries knowing there were no clashes left to be found.  I also have READ EVERY THIRD as the message.

I made another copy of the grid in Crossword Compiler and deleted the checked letters, then circled every third…

finding the message in Listener 4422 - buried treasure by Poat

ONE OF THREE ACROSTICS.  Aaaah – let’s take every third letter – two of them lead to false trails, the other came up with CLOSE BY AMPTHILL.  I googled Ampthill and learned it was the location of the Golden Hare from the book Masquerade.  I had not heard of the book, and the wikipedia page on it was a rather fascinating read.  So we are looking for a HARE.

There’s no HARE in the grid… hmmm.  It can’t be anything else, surely?

What does the preamble say… in “the search area” – ahhh, there’s the HARE.

Anyhoo – I wonder if anyone else got suckered into this?  There was another attempt re recreate Masquerade as a collectible card game.  It was called Perplex City and there was a small cube buried somewhere in the forest in England. As the cards were released there were more and more gradual clues as to the location of the cube – some shapes that appeared on cards could be joined together to form a map of the National Park for example.

I was obsessed with Perplex City – all the cards had puzzles on them, and you got rewards from solving the puzzles (I still have the little plastic tokens).  I would trade cards in the mail with players from California and New York so regularly that I had a stack of padded envelopes just the size of the cards.  Unfortunately it was discontinued during the second season, though I still have my stack of cards in a desk drawer in my room.  Vale Perplex City.  Anyone else play it?

So thanks Poat for a fun puzzle with some nice twists – not as difficult as you had intimated!

2016 tally: 36-2-6.

Feel free to tell me I should have buried my solution, and see you next week when Phi apparently has us join the Mile High Club.


How appropriate – a quickie!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener, coming to you as live as I can get from fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada.

My apologies to Tramp, since this was one of the most fun Listener’s of the year – and when I saw the title with the possible smutty connotation, I was not disappointed!  It took I think I saw the KIN in the the extra word part first and recalled LARKIN being a poet, and then read the part about sexual awakening between the Chatterley Ban (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I presume) and the Beatles album that appear in the rows.

Much fun, and now I’m off to play some really bad golf in the desert!  See you next week, when Poat presumably is not using buried treasure as a euphemism.

My working grid for Listnener 4421, Post-it note by Tramp

Carole King 1, King Harold 0

So the not getting this done in time thing won.

I’ll keep this one simple and hopefully you like Crossword Compiler + Irfanview part 2 (of at least 3) creation at the end.

So… stick insect gave us this 20X10 grid with no symmetry and the title “King’s Album”.  What’s the chances that we are looking at a tapestry? Letter removals, drawing and shading… OK – let’s solve.

While I was solving I put circles in for the clues that I solved without removing a letter, to help find the items to be shaded.  Although I got the message (NUMBER OF CLUES FOLLOWS NUMBER OF ROWS), and the grid filled up quickly, I did not make head or tail of the message. I did notice HORSE and SHIELD in the circled letters and REX INTER in the uncircled, which rang a bell from somewhere.

A little Google later and there it was – the Bayeux Tapestry! I must have solved this back-asswards, because I had the message HAROLD REX INTERFECTUS EST before finding the rest of the items to shade – there was the SHIELD and HORSE… ARROW and EYE, then the SWORD and AXE.

my working grid for Listener 4420, King's Album by Stick Insect

That was a fun grid – a pretty quick fill and an extremely rare case of me getting the theme from the title.  I just looked up the meaning of the message – 10 rows and 66 clues – that was a fun touch that I totally missed.

I’m on the road again next week, in Las Vegas – I’ll try to get next week’s entry written up before I leave on Tuesday, so hopefully see you next week.

2016 tally:  34-2-6

Feel free to tell me that I need to switch editing software, and see you next week when I hope Tramp’s title is what I think it is.

A with effort

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your home for complaining about lack of printers and obscure directions in preambles.

And what happens on the day that I don’t have access to a printer – we get a grid that doesn’t even have gridlines!  Ack!

It’s Stan – been a while since we’ve seen a Stan puzzle, so hi if you’re checking in –  unfortunately there won’t be much of a write-up today, but hopefully the terrible artwork at the end makes up for it.

So we have a grid with diagonal symmetry and not all squares the same size – this could be a challenge for Crossword Compiler!  I know we don’t have to put in gridlines, but I started working with them.

So it was stone cold solving time, and I got lucky pretty quickly – I didn’t do too bad on the clues and even without trying to start the grid, I saw that ILLUMINATED was a possibility for the first word in the message, and with M??U – ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPT sounded like a good bet.  I remember these more from kiddies books than from religious texts – the good news is that unless we have to decorate the outside as well, there just has to be one big square in the top left corner.  This was good, because it looked liked AUREUS and APERCUS should go right under each other, but no, they share the A in the big square, which lets BREED fit snugly underneath.

Knowing what the first part of the message was let me fathom what the grid looked like, which was good, because I had a harder time with a lot of the down entries, particularly where to put the list of four letter entries near the end.  The generous checking really helped here.

Eventually I have a grid – BOOK was lurking near the top right, and BOOK OF KELLS is an illuminated manuscript so we are very close – the rest of the message says that the big letter has to be done up all fancy, which is impossible to do in Crossword Compiler (if there is, please let me kn0w), but pasting the grid into IrfanView and doodling around with brushes, and you have my pretty terrible looking masterpiece.

My grid for Listener 4419, Common Acid Test by Stan

Very fun idea for a puzzle that started off looking extremely difficult, but ended up a pretty breezy solve in the end! I wonder how decorated the A had to be in order to pass muster?

2016 tally:  33-2-6

Advance warning – I’m going to be in New York City next week, so either things are going to be a little delayed or if I’m a good boy (and when is that), I’ll write next week’s entry over the weekend and have it ready for the mercies of the scheduler at WordPress (which means it may never see the light of day!).

So feel free to tell me that illumination isn’t my strong point and I’ll see you next week when Stick Insect makes us listen to Elvis (a wey hey).