Holy Kay, Kate, Kenneth, Kevin, Keith, Kim and Katherine on a doughnut

Welcome back to George versus the Listener Crossword, and a happy Earth Day to everyone!  In honor of it being both Earth Day and Good Friday I’ve been going around offering Easter eggs to people and saying “Happy Dead Jesus, Live Planet Day”.  This confuses people, but most of them take the eggs.

This week’s challenge is “Carte Blanche En Tore” by Ten Four.  Oh how things have changed – “A New-Year Message [from]” was the very first puzzle back when this blog was an attempt to be half-correct.  And I got it!  I also fared well (with one letter as a mistake) in The Isolated Word, so maybe I was feeling a little smug when I came to tackle this one.

Blank grid.  Torus. Answers wrapping around.  Graph theory.

By the way, I kind of knew what the answer was before getting started – I know a little bit of topology and graph theory and rememebered those wonky hexagons and something about seven points that could be joined on a toroidal surface.

But to get there… DEEP FREEZE MEGA EXTREME COLD SOLVING!  I would have been better off to get a book of all the seven-letter words in existence and thumb through (putting ??????? into Word Wizards wasn’t particularly helpful).

There is a 1 across (though where it went was anybody’s guess) and a pass on the 1 across test with the juicy anagram of RETRIAL + Y.  I drew a blank on the next few across answers and then got a bunch in the middle.

I notice now that I can’t find the copy of the grid I had my solving notes on, though I do have about 10 aborted attempts to fit the words I had into a grid.

OK, I’ll admit, I got frustrated on this many many many times.  I came back to it, got a few clues, came back to it, got another part of the message.  I was determined to finish the bloody thing, but I don’t know if a Listener has frustrated me as much as this one.

The final breakthrough was deciphering EACH PAIR OF KS WITH LINES starting at the end of the acrosses and into the downs.  Ks are used for points in topology.  That gave me answers for all the downs between 1-28 except for 19 which I still couldn’t figure out.  I’d counted up the number of entries and figured out that there had to be two across answers on all but three of the rows, which with 180 degree symmetry meant that one of them had to be right smack bang in the middle (I was perilously close to having an entry with just SPIKIER sitting there in the middle).

I wrote all of my down answers in a list, decrementing the list every three answers to see what of my across answers I could start to piece together.

Finally, a pattern emerged – it was fitting RAWHIDE and CHIGOES and AGENTED with SPIKIER, thus by symmetry placing HERDING.  Symmetry I can do.

I started trying to work the rest of the answers that I had in, and figuring out by symmetry where the others would have to go.  I had gotten this far and was starting to make a bunch of mistakes.

My first attempt at Listener 4131, Carte Blanche en Tore by Ten-Four

Back to the drawing board

I had the suspicious word ORESTUS for 16.  I was also losing where my numbers were.  Second attempt to get this grid back on track did work – I started a word table so I had enough room to write in both the numbers and the letters.  Not knowing where a lot of those down answers started was killing me.  Finally, this approach let me work my way through the rest of the answers, and I had a grid… with numbers.

A N G O L I G 1R E T R I A L 2 R
3 S E 4 S P A D O E S 5 O 6 U P C L O
C 7 S 8 A I L A R M 9 Z A M A R 10 R O
A S T 11S L K E B 12 H K 13 P N 14 R E P
R A 15 T W E E D L E 16 T O S S I E
17 P Y A E 18 M I 19 C 20 A R R I 21 S E S D
E 22 T S 23 R A W H I D E T 24 T 25 A S S
R R K V 26 S 27P I K I E R A K U 28 J
N I T E H 29 A G 30 E N T E D 31 R E U
32 M 33 M A D I S O N 34 G 35 O L I A R D
E M U 36 L E S 37 E S 38 P A D A S 39 G 40 A
S E S E S K S E Y K 41 R  42 L I A I
43 T R O T 44 H E D 45 A R M A D A S C
I 46 V O D E Y 47 B R E A S 48T S 49 W A
Z 50 A B R A 51 D E S N 52 S T A R E 53 T

JOIN EACH PAIR OF K’S WITH LINES THAT DON’T CROSS – there’s my hexagon of Ks radiating out from the middle of the grid, and by wrapping the lines off the outside and back in it is possible to join em all!  This is not the greatest artist’s rendition, though it has gridlines.

My final grid for Listener Crossword 4131, Carte Blance en Tore by Ten-Four

Sorry about the scribbles, you get the idea...

There’s no way I could have finished this for the deadline, in fact the last answers didn’t go in until last night, but I was determined to get this beastie figured out.  Really liked the end product, but plenty of frazzled nerves on the way.  Ten-four has upped the difficuly quotient significantly here!

But I’m going to claim it as a Victory for George and a nice little mini-streak going here.

2011 tally:  George 11, Listener 3.  Current strak:  George 6.

What’s that you say, Burt Ward?

Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week to see what’s up (and down) with Llig.

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