It is tempting to type this using only 11 characters

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly dose of mediocrity in solving.  And for the three of you curious, I managed a rather credible tie for 4th in last week’s golf tournament.

OKeydoke – what do we have this week? Yorick!  A new setter or a newdonym, and definitely a new tag for this blog, so hi Yorick if you’re looking in!

The preamble sounds a bit daunting – 26 answers to normal clues entered with the first letter misprinted, and the rest of the clues have an extra word, and the answers are entered… well somehow.  OK, let’s solve!

There is a 1 across and it is a nice gentle S(HEAT)HE so no extra word, and in it goes with a first letter to be determined… which is unchecked!  Yikes!

Fortunately that crosses IGNOBLE, so I have one replacement, and since there’s nothing else to change, it appears we’re not looking at real words in the final grid, I hope this works out somehow.

About an hour in, and I realise the complete bleeding obvious – there’s 26 misprints, and so far they have all been for different letters, so maybe it’s a cipher, with each original letter coding to a smaller set of letters?  And maybe that’s how the extra-word entries are entered, since I wasn’t getting much out of the first letters of the extra words except it looked like it might start with CODE.

This was promising!  Some of the longer extra-word answers were starting to make sense with using the same code as I’d started to work out for the misprints!  Eventually a pattern starts to form – they encode to ALL THE LETTERS OF THE ALPHABET.  Which means the title is an encoded form of ??NG??? and when you’ve been around all the letters of the alphabet enough you know that is a PANGRAM!  Woohoo!

That’s everything finished except for… oh about a dozen clues.  Sursolving time!

I can’t remember now what the lat few were, but definitely SUETY took a lot of teasing and playing with the possibilities for ?ERLT, as did SUCH (though it shouldn’t have, since NONESUCH is in Bradfords).  Eventually, a grid.  Much scribbling and re-writing, can’t say ciphers are my forte, but I think I’ve got it.


My working grid for Listener 4370, Hefbeet by Yorick

Curious puzzle – quick start, very slow middle section until I had the flash of near-brilliance, and then a rush to the finish, followed by an age on the final few clues.  I guess that sums up the Listener, right?  Woohoo, Victory to George!

2015 tally:  35-2-5

Feel free to tell me that there’s a ton of transcription errors (I do not envy the checker’s job this week!) and see you next week when Ploy looks like he may have whipped up a Richie Benaud memorial crossword, maybe there’ll be a lot of 2’s in it.

Golf? Don’t mind if I do!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword on a rather unique circumstance – if you are reading this at the time it is posted, I am actually playing golf!  I’m in a rather silly tournament called the Mediocre Golf Association World Championships in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada.  I’m not even bringing my laptop, I am treating myself to a weekend of binge drinking and average golf.  I hope I win!

My working grid for Listener 4369, Golf... by Xanthippe

My ride will be here in a few minutes, so there’s the grid.  I was of course partial to this as I am a big fan of the game.  It wasn’t too difficult to figure out where the holes went, and after placing a few of the answers I noticed there were a lot of O’s and T’s at the ends or beginnings of words – AHA!  So each hole starts at a T and ends in a O and those get moved from the word.  That helped me get a few of the more tricky holes sorted out (I think 11-15 took me longer than the rest of the puzzle).

Hope everyone else had fun, and I’ll see you next week with possibly a recap of how I fared.


Isn’t this the game where if you draw the wrong card, you get married?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, Harribobs time!  A new setter (or newdonym) who appears familiar (maybe from EV?), so hi Harribobs if you’re looking in!

What have we here?  Extra letters in wordplay, extra information and something about a game that feels oddly familiar – isn’t this one of those mathematics generated propagating thingys?  I saved the temptation to Google it and give away the ending at the beginning and got to solving some clues, after all it’s all real words in the grid and there is a 1 across, so we don’t have that very often!

Gentle start as E+POSTS reversed gives ESTOP and a big pass on the 1 across test, woohoo! That intersected with every barred-grid-solver’s favorite French soldiers, (s)POIL,US and the grid is off to a flying start.

I managed pretty well through the grid fill, though I will admit Harribob’s definitions were in general clearer than the wordplay, so I did a fair bit of what is known on another blog as “biffing” in clues – TRAVELLER and IN TOTO were prime examples, though later on in decoding the message I found TINTOT in Chambers as a coloring book.

A bit over an hour later, there’s a grid – a message, START LETTERS HAVE ELEMENTS OF LIFE SHADE SECOND GENERATION, and the mathematician CONWAY in the grid.  Time for the endgame…

OK… I was AWFUL at this.  I knew I was going to make a disaster of it on my original grid so I printed out another one and tried to do it… and ended up with an unholy mess.  So I made an excel spreadsheet and put X’s in the squares.  It looked like I was making an I near the middle but that was it.  At that point I started looking at Conway’s game of life online and found someone had made a flash version!

I used an app to get the shading solution

Phew!  Of course in transcribing it back to my grid I managed to shade one more cell than I should have on the first L

My working grid for Listener 4368, The Name of the Game by Harribobs

A pleasant debut from Harribobs, nice clues and a fun theme, even though I needed to stretch the limits of fairness to get that last part to fall into place.  In the end I think I can call it a Victory to George, woohoo!

2015 tally:  33-2-5

Feel free to tell me that I’m really losing at this game, and see you next week when Xanthippe has a puzzle that has to go with golf and ellipses

As sure as you are you and me am me and don’t pay the quarrymaster

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – maybe this will be the day I remember to scan the grid and save the draft?  You never know…

Sabre time!  I did not solve the last Sabre and that was even after a discussion with Poat, so let’s see what we have here.  An interesting-looking grid, and a new way of entering in answers, coordinates as letters of a quote.  This probably means there’s some duplicate axes.

This grid entry method intrigued me, so without really looking at the clues that much I tried to see what I might be able to learn from the coordinates system.  After spending a lot of time getting my X and Y mixed up I came to the following set of conclusions…

  • the last few columns were likely a set of W,R,H,D,O – maybe WHO or HOW
  • the last few rows were likely Y,O, and U which sounds like a word
  • A and S were near the top and the left hand side
  • There’s definitely two A’s and two S’s in the x-coordinate and two A’s and probably two D’s in the y coordinate

OK, let’s work on some clues – some real stone-cold deep freeze solving again.  Maybe Sabre reels it in a touch on the carte-blanches, but I had pretty good luck with a number of the longer answers, and the ones where the coordinates were the same (not that it really means that they will start in the same place).

With more than two thirds of the clues solved you would think that I would be able to start putting this together, right?  Well just trying to match up acrosses and downs was getting me nowhere… even more so since it appeared there were far more letters in the clues than there were spaces in the grid.  Are we two letters to a cell in some place?  Do the clashes involve a ton of letters?

Time to go back to what I originally thought of – if the last three letters on the y-coordinate are YOU then NOTODONTIDAE can go all the way across the row, meaning opposite it is probably UNFATHOMABLE or WITHSTANDING. O contains PUNISHMENT and U contains RASPY and SCANTS.

Of all things, I can now line up THC, placing the N in the x-coordinate… this probably means OAT is 180 degrees separate and it’s UNFATHOMABLE that goes in the fourth rwo (R and one of the A’s placed).  Lining up THC gives me the ANT that is probably the end of GRANT (so it probably ends WHO) and on the opposite side RUNTS (one of the S’s placed).  THEGNS and SHEETS make up all of the O column, so two six-letter answers take up the left hand side – ABUSED and DAWNER are both A’s, and fit.

There’s nowhere at all to put QUARRYMASTER, WITHSTANDING and NAILROD. Hmmmm

I must be close to being able to figure out this quote, with about half of the letters placed…   AND YOU AND WHO SAID HE ASSURE?  Nothing doing with looking that one up.  It looks like the unclued entry across the top is going to be ARE YOU and another is AS?A?I  Taking “ASSURE” out of the search and putting in AS I AM I hits paydirt – Tristram Shandy!  So that means QUARRYMASTER and WITHSTANDING cross with the clashing letters jumbling to TRISTRAM SHANDY!

At this point my grid was a disaster area

My working grid for Listener 4367, Identity Crisis by Sabre

Time to use the strange feature of the Times website – when I print default size the grid is HUGE.  Plenty of space to cram in all these letters and work out the clashes.  I also looked up the characters from Tristram Shandy, which I will admit I have never read.  Fortunately the character list is not too long, and I could resolve UNCLE TOBY, DR SLOP and the rest.  I was held up a while over the last unsolved clue – HAYRICK… kind of sneaky that there is really a 7-letter answer with only one truly checked letter, the rest being part of the thematic material.  Resolve the clashes into the letters of STERNE and at last a grid!

The rest of the quotation is DON’T PUZZLE SAID I – DON’T is already in the grid, and underneath it can be made PUZZLE and SAID leaving real words in the largely unreadable grid, and the I goes down the bottom.

Final grid for Listener 4367 Identity crisis by Sabre

What an intriguing solve – painfully slow at the start, must have taken three hours before I put a single entry in the grid.  Once I got the quotation it was a big cascade until about another half hour looking for that last solution.  Very tricky stuff there, Sabre, but I think I can cautiously call this one a Victory to George.

2015 tally:  32-2-5

Feel free to tell me that alas I have not known this well, and see you next week when Harribobs bases a Listener on an obscure ABBA song


Holy disappearing draft, Batman

Welcome to what should have been George vs the Listener Crossword, but…

WordPress appears to have eaten my draft!

So here I am getting ready to check it over and hit the “publish” button, but it’s not there to publish.

Of course I don’t have my grid with me.  Hopefully something is saved on my laptop, which is at home.

Home is not somewhere I am going to anytime soon, since I’m going to see the John Cleese and Eric Idle show in Charlotte tonight.

Quick summary… Llig – clues weren’t too difficult, spotted quickly that the four answers that needed to be shortened would be real words (and cause no clashes) if the I was removed.  There was a bible quote that was rather difficult to find for a bible quote hidden.  Everything was sorted out in one fairly quick solve, a little over an hour.

I hope the letter I was meant to be put in the middle square.  I toyed with drawing a picture of an eye, but I don’t think that fit the requirements.  It seemed like a bit of an anticleyemax?

Hopefully the original post will be found somewhere, otherwise I’ll add the grid to this later.

love and cuddles


Update – it did not – though the scanned grid was still in my files section… who knows?

My working grid for Listener 4366, Ego Trips by Llig

Every schoolboy knows how to wikioogle it, at least

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly stop for short-cut solving, obvious jokes, and general wittering about the barred-grid beastie.

Calmac time!  I have a habit of not seeing the themes in Calmac puzzles until near the end, so let’s see how it goes here – we have 21 misprints, leading to a question and some highlighting.  Looks like we have mostly normal clues and all real words in the grid, and yet again we get a Jumbo Listener!  14×14 with a ton of clues!

There is a 1 across – and it looks like we have a pass on the 1 across test for the first time in a while, with RE(ASSES)S going in and there’s no misprint here!

Unfortunately I couldn’t make much headway into that corner, beyond AORTA (misprint E) and STRAUSS not a lot went in.

On the other hand – the top right hand side yielded quickly with the extra letters beginning with a C from F,RANCE

Half an hour or so later, things are looking good, most of the right hand side of the grid is full… and something strikes me – the message looks like CE?TR?L which looks like it’s going to be CENTRAL, and CLUES down the bottom.

Could it be CENTRAL LETTERS OF CLUES?  It’s 21 letters long…

There’s a lot of clues, and many of them seem kind of long, so there could be something hiding in there.  I started working backwards and forwards on the clues to see if there was a message… EVERY SCHOOLBOY (this is looking good) KNOWS WHO IM…

OK… that was the end of the first page of my printout (the Listener printed from Firefox at 70% size on US letter paper puts some odd page breaks in), and I’ll admit – I was getting a headache looking for these central letters, so I did what every good schoolboy does, and started typing the phrase into google… and there it is – Thomas Macauley “Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma and who strangled Atahualpa”.

Unless you went to school in Australia in the 70s I guess.

So now I have to google who did the deeds…

Is this what is known as a wiki wormhole?

Anyhoo – there’s most of ATAHUALPA in the grid up in the top right, and around him is FRANCISCO PIZARRO who I now knew captured him in the battle of Cajamarca.  Most of MONTEZUMA is in the bottom right (and all of it will be if WACK is ZACK which makes sense), and is surrounded by the Conquistaor HERNAN CORTES.


So what is left?

Almost the entirety of the bloody left hand side! Ack!

Yes, I complained about sursolving last week, and this week I did take a massive shortcut, but here we are again, in the world where all the thematic stuff is worked out (except a few letters of the instruction) and there’s still a bunch of gridfill left.

Finally, with the last letter of PAMPA in, a sigh of relief!  Victory to George, but it would be typical me if I messed something up in the sursolving.  I didn’t scan my grid just yet, I’ll add it tonight.

I should say, it was rather fun at the start!

2015 tally:  30-2-5

Feel free to tell me I’m a big lazy cheat who uses the internet to take the fun out of massive amounts of clue solving, and see you next week when Llig’s ego goes on a voyage.

Fils Dumas, meet George Dumbass

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly dose of poor deconstruction of everyone’s favorite barred-grid foe accompanied by shoddy unanimated and unillustrated grids.

Ottorino time! I’ve found the last few Ottorino puzzles quite difficult, so we could be getting a step up in the challenge level after a few easier ones.  It appears the beginning of the difficulty is dealing with the preamble.  Three different types of modification to clues (all of which are in definitions, so wordplay is normal), and then some things to find and change in the final grid after a set of relationships and connections between A, B and C.  Oooo… kkkk…

All real words in the grid and wordplay is normal, so maybe it’s best to focus on the wordplay and work around from there.

There is a 1 across, and I couldn’t make anything from it – though I figured “Rupees” meant it started with R and ended with R or S, but that was about it.  So a big fail on the 1 across test (though later on when I saw it was a modified clue I didn’t feel too bad about not seeing it).  Nothing doing with 7 across either, it wasn’t until the poet GO,E,THE appeared that I made a start in the grid.

OK… I made really really really slow progress through this one – I had a number of short sessions where nothing came, and there were just a few scattered entries.  I see now that I used three different pens for filling the grid (that might not show on the scan).

And then the flood came!  North Carolina was hit by tropical Joaquin and I was trapped in super duper shitty weather and failing power.  Laptop is fully charged though, time to really nut this one out!

First discovery was that I was working on two completely delusional propositions!  I’d messed up a definition change – in 18 across I had CAL becoming PEE to make the definition SPEEDS for RATES.  I also had thought the second type of clue change involved the first letters of the definitions, not the first letters of the keywords – so if it’s A for O making SCOLDS, then my other two definition changes I’d found were ALL for ONE or ONE for ALL and we’re in Dumas territory.

I already had POPADUM and AGMA in the grid so I could see where DUMAS was likely hiding (though 15 across was one of the last clues I got).  A little look at the fortunately still working internet on the phone leads to the connection between the son (in ORISON) and LA TRAVIATA by VERDI – and DUMAS could be replaced by VERDI though that turns POPADUM into POPAVER… is a POPOVER a plant?  No, but a PAPAVER is, and so is an AMARANT.

Guess what, gentle reader?  We now have almost all of the thematic material and still a half-empty grid!  I know I have to find PIAVE in there somewhere.  Bring on the sursolving!

Even with everything there and the hunt for PIAVE on, it took another two hours to scratch together the grid.  Ottorino and I are a long way apart on wavelength of solving clues, and whern STEMS and CZAPKA (I see now that CHAPKA was acceptable too) went in I think it was a bit of a sigh of relief.

My working grid for Listener 4364, Plants by Ottorino

So there you have it – I found this one really tough, but got there in the end, and I think the only weakness was so much of the thematic material clustered in one part of the grid.  I did like a few of the more cleverly-hidden ALL/ONE substitutions (particularly ONE-EYED becoming ALLEYED).  Phew!  Victory to George!

2015 tally:  29-2-5

Feel free to let me know I should have been ALL in on this ONE and see you next week when Calmac introduces us to that little-known war hero General Intelligence.


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