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working grid for Listener Crossword 4068:  364 263 by Xanthippe

Hi there and welcome back.  The move seems to have been pretty seamles, WordPress has some nifty tools so I can see how many people read this thing (I had no idea it was that many). WordPress has a bit more space for images, so I’ll try inserting the grids straight into the page rather than hosting them on flickr (I was getting close to the flickr limit).

I printed this crossword off immediately before leaving for Chicago for the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival.  So for the first few days I was going to be in a vacuum, neither Chambers nor Bradfords made the trip with me.  I had the laptop though, and where I was staying was meant to have reliable internet access, so let’s abuse Chambers Word Wizards to death.

Xanthippe’s last Listener was one of the first puzzles I wrote up here, in the days of the very basic plot.  I solved Solitaire, and had a lot of fun with the ending.  This one has an interesting looking grid, letters to be removed (one from each row/column), all real words in the final grid and a big string of characters.

Don’t need the interweebs to tell me that I think we’re dealing with some text messaging thingy.  Out comes the old Motorola and the message is the first thing decoded.


Xanthippe, Xanthippe, Xanthippe… that’s far too long and grammatically correct to be a true text message.  You should have tried.


Maybe it was the fear of going it dictionaryless, but I did a lot more preparation for this before solving a single clue.  I remembered a crossword from last year where we started with a carte blanche, but it was easy enough to find which row each across answer went into and construct the grid from there.  This was almost that way, but there is one ambiguity, the first two rows had to be 6,4 then 3,7 but the next two could have been 5,3 and 6 or 5 then 6,3.

Those 9-letter downs have to go somewhere near the centre of the grid too.

OK, enough worrying about the shape of things, let’s solve some clues…

There is no 1-across, but I can’t see the answer to the first across clue.  The third yields something – TIGER minus G is TIER and there’s an extra letter to be moved.  My question about the order of the rows is resolved by there being both an extra letter in R(E)AM and COE(R,CE)D so it has to be 5+3 then the 6 letter ones are on their own.  That opened the old solving floodgates!  Wasn’t long before I had MOBILE PHONE across the bottom and all the down answers slotted into place. The picture is going to be a BONE, 364 263 gives me DOG AND, so it’s the rhyming slang that’s needed.

My favorite clues was the first of the down clues – STEER with E moved to the bottom, then O for STEREO was inspired.

Oh, boy, I’m nearly finished.


Hi there bottom left hand corner… you’ve got gaps, and it’s all in three across clues.

It took me as long to get those last three as to get the whole rest of the crossword.  Isn’t that frustrating, when you’ve seen all the theme (though I didn’t have a full word for the left hand side – I think it’s PREDIICTIVE, but maybe it’s PREDICTYPE or some trademark name).

Hello Chambers, hello Bradford’s nice to have you back.

I hope TEXT is right… I’m going to assume there’s a retailer called NEXT, it sounds like a good name for a shop.  I only needed the third character.

Next up was that “Judge acquitting Frenchman”… Bradford’s gives IDEE for impression and it took me forever to be convinced that this was it and I got the I for the side row.  Finally spotted it – I,DEEM minus M.  D’oh.

Second last row was the row of doom, agony and destruction.  I didn’t know either of the entries (well I know ARE because all the letters are checked)!  I searched in vain for the names of semiconductors that ended in LAYER… I was so convinced it ended in LAYER that I even wrote it in the working grid.  Finally I decided it might not end in R… Chambers to the rescue – ALLAYED is an alternative to ALLOYED and so it can mean MIXED.  A,LED with LA,Y inside. Great… one more answer but that doesn’t help me with the extra letter.  It’s got to be something to do with ARE.  Is VARE a word?  Yes, but it means a wand or something like that.  Oh, but it can also mean VARA which is a measurement near a yard.  Eureka!!!!!

So if TEXT is right (and surely it would be in a crossword with a text messaging theme, right?) then I’m home!

Let’s follow the rules, fix those last words and erase those gridlines…

Phew… thought I was going to be stuck at the end, but I’m going to declare that a victory for George!

2010 tally:  George 2, Listener 0.  Current streak:  George 2

I’ll leave you with an image of the sort of hijinks that happen when my sketch comedy group, The Feral Chihuahuas hit a cold place like Chicago.

Feel free to leave comments – if you commented last week you should be able to go through straight away, and see you next week to be converted by Samuel.


7 Responses

  1. Heya,
    Next is a big retailer here in the UK, though when I noticed it the first time I rejected it on the grounds that it would be an unfair clue for non-UK solvers.
    You do get additional assurance that text is right though from the preamble: “The word in the left hand column, with one other entry, instructs solvers in what to use to decode…”, which is predictive text
    Well done on your solving start to the year too!

  2. I’m usually pretty nervous about cartes blanches too, but this one had enough in it to help out the special needs solvers like myself. Nice theme, and how predicatble of predictive text that my phone told me the first word to decode was “John” !

  3. Greg has the right idea here – if I’d read the preamble more closely then I would have made the link between PREDICTIVE and TEXT.

    Oh well… at least none of my comments involve a distended anus.

  4. Incidentally, in keeping with the spirit of this puzzle, Chambers on ipod touch/iphone is very useful when you are travelling. Can’t search on definitions, sadly, but several other handy search features

  5. […] had Xanthippe once this year already with the rather fun DOG AND BONE text message puzzle, 364 263, and before that one of the very first puzzles completed for George v Listener, Solitaire.  So […]

  6. […] and I got all of them with varying degrees of struggle – Girl with the little cut-out holes, 364 263 (I wonder if this will be archaic soon as most people use mini-keyboards for texting), and way back […]

  7. […] with a numerical involving licence plates and US states, grid mutilation (but still not burning), rhyming slang in text messages, and a crossword that was a game of solitaire.  All fun, and all […]

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