Tales of an X solver

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, a weekly tale of someone who should have given up by now.

So enter Somniloquist.

OK… I’m going to risk the wrath and ire.  If I don’t like the preamble, I’m probably not going to like the puzzle, and this preamble gave me a headache.  There’s three wordplay clues and have something to do with exchanges.  OK. Across clues, thematic characters, reflecting fate of character, amended down clues.

OK – so across clues are normal but I can’t enter answers.  Down clues have to be modified but I don’t know how.  Let’s change up how I usually do things and look at the down clues first.  So to the all-new 1 down test.  There is a 1 down and I can’t make sense of it – though it does look like maybe I have to lose a T to make BARON so it could be a term for a stand-off that is B removed from somethign that means fellow club member, but I am not feeling it.  Though later on removing a letter looks good, as CRU(D)D(e),ING looks promising.

It was kind of downhill from there – I got a fair few of the acrosses and I think FOX as one of the characters (Brer?  Redd? On the Fairway?  Mulder?).  It looked like my few down answers worked OK with a few of the across answers, but I didn’t get any further from there.  I think 35 down is JAKE or CAKE and don’t know why.

My working grid for Listener 4466 X XX XXX by Somniloquist

Resounding victory to Somniloquist and the Listener crossword, I’m completely stumped as to what was going on here, though I do think that 1-3 letters were removed from down clues, stringing together the few I found doesn’t lead to anything that makes much sense.  Oh well.

Game over:  12% completion (possibly what Anax had on Everybody’s golf).

Feel free to tell me that I need to learn how to solve clues and remove letters, and see you next week when Kea gives us the theme of the Day (Robin? Talk Like a Pirate? Of the dead?)


The shapes of things to come?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, possibly back on track, but still needing to catch up.

The news came across the interweebs yesterday of the passing of Calmac.  I generally learned something from his puzzles but I don’t think we ever corresponded in person.  I didn’t know that he was the editor of the Independent crossword about the time I started doing them on a regular basis.  Au revoir Calmac!

Anyhoo, it’s Yorick time – the last Yorick puzzle had a lot of letter substitutions, and it looks like we are in for another grid containing non-words from the preamble, which has a lot going on in it – it appears we have to pay careful attention to clues, there’s either a misprint in the definition (write in answer confidently), a normal clue with normal wordplay (write in lightly, there will be clashes) or a normal clue with a misprint in the wordplay (write in confidently and hope I can do wordplay).  Let’s get solving!

There is a 1 across, but I didn’t solve it until much later so a big fail on the 1 across test.  The grid did get started with 6 across, FUL(l),CRU,M and a definition misprint R, so we are away!

Fortunately most of the clues were of the misprint type, and DRAW FIVE SHAPES looked pretty good, as did BLANKS in the definitions misprints.  With SHAPES as part of the misprints and a nice juicy ANGLE at 36 down, things are looking promising for a RECTANGLE or a TRIANGLE.

The grid fill wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, though I was a little weirded out by two blanks next to each other at 24 down and two in the asme word in both 24 across and 25 down.  With the grid almost complete, I had noticed QUADRI going down the left hand side, and the letters to make the rest of QUADRILATERAL  (not beautifully drawn on my grid)…  are these the four-sided shapes?

If SQUARE and QUADRILATERAL share some sides, then that works – it looks like it has to work, since TRAPEZIUM and PARALLELOGRAM share some as well.

Sidebar – PARALLELOGRAM is a word I have a very difficult time pronouncing.  I get all tongue-tied.

So with everything else in the grid that just leaves the RHOMBUS.  The area of 20 is particularly useful here.  That means a rhombus with base 5 and height 4, which means to have the sides the same length, the angled part must be 3 cells wide and 4 cells high (thanks, Pythagoras!).  That looks like it can only fit in the top left part of the grid.

My working grid for Listener 4465, PQRST? by Yorick

That was a tricky one! Yes, I know my quadrilateral needs to join up in the empty cell, but I think I can call this one a victory to George in a squeak.  I’m not going to go 100% because I never figured what exactly was going on with the clue to MARCHESA, which appears to be normal?  Or was it the S in RHOMBUS?

Game over – 99% completion.

Check back next week when Somniloquist gives us a puzzle that could well be my shirt size.

The properties of dumbers too!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossnumber, the quarterly report on things logical and numerical.

Apologies (particularly to setters) for the last few weeks of being whisper quiet. A big crash of busy stuff, an illness, and a very exciting writing project have taken up a lot of the time that I would usually spend solving and making terrible jokes about puzzles. And I know I should go back and write about the last few puzzles and my various ups and downs on them, but as you can see from the grids I’ve pasted – I actually solved them.

You don’t come to George vs the Listener for smugness and ability to solve at the drop of a hat.  There’s another blog chock full of that.  You come to George v Listener to hear of failure and misery.

Enter Piccadilly.  A setter of both letter and number puzzles, though I have only done one of the letter puzzles before.  This did look rather fun and definitely inventive – look what we have, a symmetrical grid, no two lights have the same starting square, and all of the instructions are statements about numbers that are also statements about their grid entries.

There is also a clear starting point – 1 has to be a cube and a square which means it is a power of six.  That limits it to 15625 or 46656, so 3 starts with a 6 and is a prime.  I marked the end of the prime answers with an x, knowing there had to be an odd digit in those positions, and then fiddled with the possibilities for 14 that narrowed it down to 118.  Working from there to get 2, 3 (and hence 6) was looking good, that set 12 and then 24 has to be 12+12 and oh shit there’s an even digit in a square marked with x.

My working grid for Listener 4464, The Properties of Numbers III by Piccadilly

I tried backtracking and got nowhere.  I don’t think there’s another starting point, surely.

The solution is out now and it seems I had overlooked another contender for 4 down (damn you online lists of squares!).

This was an impressive piece of setting by Piccadilly, and I am a little embarrassed to not be up to the task, but this is a massive victory to the Listener Crossword!

Game over, 4% completion.

Feel free to give me maths lecture after maths lecture, and see you next week when Yorick runs letters by us.



I am usually a fifth wheel with a spare tyre

Another “I did it and will write about it soon” post.

My working grid for Listener 4463, the evolution of East Perry by the Ace of Hearts

Or not

I also posted this one very late, maybe I was staring at it for two weeks to ponder its meaning

And I will put stuff in here too

My working grid for Listener 4462, Squares by Phi

Will the last one actually get put in – we will see!


To post really late or not to post really late, that is the question

This is not complete but I’m posting it so that posts don’t get out of order which would mess up OCD people.

My working grid for Listener 4461, DIlemma by Aedites

Come back later, and there might be something here.

Four and a half percent of the grid filled in, maybe

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and the next in a series of puzzles that were started during breaks in the performances of Fiddler on the Roof.  And… it’s Sabre!  Hello nemesis – I have a pretty abysmal record against Sabre, and if you’re coming here you are probably expecting to gloat at my misfortune, so let’s get it straight out there – I did not get very far with this puzzle at all.

My working grid for Listener 4460, Four and a Half ...? by Sabre

Yep – a practically empty grid.  So what happened?  Well all we are told is some words have to be removed from clues and there’s clashes.  Gulp.  How many clashes?

Well there is a 1 across, but I couldn’t solve it.  6 across looks like it should be B,LOBBY put it in to check on later.. looks like it might be correct because it intersects BRRR (which appeared in a Times puzzle I blogged this last week).  A few more clues including the long SNOWBALL TREE and I’m thinking maybe this is a solveable Sabre… and then the clashes came!  Six clashes between them in 29 and 30 down.  Eeeek!

Consistency in clashes – well the ones I found seem to be separated by two letters (though how that could lead to an ambiguity is beyond me).  So maybe that is the key?  It really looks like 23 down should have some clashes but I can’t solve it.

I also can’t seem to find words to be removed from clues either, possibly the AT at the start of 27 across and OF in 8 down.  Great… let’s think of a literary piece that includes AT and OF.



I kept meaning to go back and spend more time on this, but with the appearance of the next Listener this seemed to find its way to the bottom of the puzzle page and stay there.

Complete and utter victory (yet again) to Sabre and the Listener Crossword.

Game over, 3% completion (reminds me of an old PS1 game where I couldn’t make it out of the tutorial level).

Feel free to tell me that four and a half referred to the number of answers I was able to enter correctly and see you next week when Aedites asks us to call Emma.