How do you make a St. George Cross? Spill his beer!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener, and I’m going to get this one out of the way early.  I’m on vacation in Brazil, scouting opportunities for a thong bikini repair and retrieval stand around the beaches.  If I was a really organized sort of person, I would have had this written already and ready to go, but when you’re at George vs the Listener, you’re getting the complete average of solving.

This week’s challenge was one of the only ones I remembered that fit on one sheet of paper.  American paper size, that is – I suspect it can fit on an A4 pretty easily.  Cruciverbalism is the fourth Poat Listener I have tried – and Poat is a setter I struggle with.  Something’s Brewing was almost an empty grid, Rules of Construction was a similarly futile effort and the less said about my effort on Reappearance the better!  So what will we make of Cruciverbalism?

Carte Blanche, tiny grid (10×8), not a lot of clues.  Extra words, doesn’t look like any real words in the grid, letters missing. GAK!  Nothing for it but to solve, right?

For the sake of argument, let’s call the first clue “1 across” (it had to go in the top right or a square the the left of it, surely?) and give it a burl.  Anagram of (L,OF,MIRROR) + H for HORROR FILM.  That wasn’t too bad, and the H is in the first position.  There’s 180 degree symmetry so the clue after the other 9-letter one must be the first down (I’m learning), and it looks like another juicy anagram clue – F+(SECRET) + another H for FETCHERS and that extra HOPE is in the fifth spot, or fourth from the end… damn.  Well my message now reads H………H…….. – maybe it’s something to do with every omitted letter being an H – that would be an unhelpful message.

The next down clue is OVER with a missing R for ROVER.  That probably checks the O in ORRORFILM and has to come after FETCERS.  But which O?  Back to the top – well Hythe look like an extra word – HOVE is a resort in Bradfords, so EVOHE (which is a pretty decent red) is looking good, and that would fit with FETCERS and OVER.

What an amazing start!  And for well over a week, that’s exactly how the grid looked.  I got the next across clue, so knew my message started with HEN.  I also got ROPY (though wasn’t sure which R it would go well with… though if it went on the first R then there would be CRY on that fourth row), and LYASE (which confirmed that it was positions at the starts of clues that determined where it should go), and made me think that there was a THREE in the middle of the message.

This one got to the point where I was on a flight from Charlotte to Miami and a very earnest-sounding woman told me that I’d stared at my crossword for an hour without writing anything in, and asked if I needed a hand, because she was good at crosswords.  I explained for her that I don’t know where any of the words go, there’s extra words in the clues, the wordplay leads to missing letters and I have a few answers but I’m trying to decipher the message.  She said “You have fun with that” and went back to her self-help book.  Can’t win them all…

You know those days where things crash together?  That’s what happened here – I was taking a coffee break and thought I could do it.  I’d given up on the third clue, but went back to work on the fourth with Chambers… some form of ABAEA + one letter being a cloth… ABA(Y)A!!!! Yes – probably goes near the A in LYAE and now HEN.Y has got to be HENRY… that VANYA looks like an extra word… HENRY V ACT THREE SCENE ONE!  Now if only I knew what that was.  Yay for Google!

Call me a philistine, but I have never seen nor read Henry V, so I didn’t know what I was up against.  The entire scene is one whole blabfest by Henry, but I’m looking for G’s and F’s thanks to the preamble.  I found what I was looking for right at the very end… CRY (hey, I saw CRY!) GOD FOR HARRY (whoever he was), ENGLAND AND SAINT GEORGE.  Well that’s not going to fit along that row where I have CRY.  But it confirms the last of my message letters, so back to solving and slotting.

That was what I needed – knowing now which letters were the extra ones, I could solve BREASTDEEP, HANGNEST, CHIGOE, AIKONA and LOIPE.  And putting HENY in where it needed to go gave me ORH wrapping around the top – the quote is in the shape of a St. George’s Cross.  Last in, of all things, was a headsmack clue for GEARE.  I never did understand the fourth clue, I guess it has to be TERPID (or TREPID), but all the letters are either checked or part of the quotation.

Wow!  I was pretty stoked that I could go from nearly empty to finished in a half an hour or so, but that was the case.  If only that little brainwave had happened a week and a half ago I could have saved myself the agony of that flight!

And I believe I have finally cracked a Poat!!!! Check one more off the list of unsolveable setters (Phi and Pieman, I’m coming for you!).

Since I didn’t finish this until after I left, I have no scanned grid.  Just imagine a messy sketch with a red cross covering it, and a bunch of notes to the side.

Victory to George!!  2011 tally:  George 13 (on Friday the 13th no less!), Listener 4.

Feel free to leave comments below and see you next week (I’ll still be on the road, so it’ll be another scatty random report) as I travel with  Travellers with The Tall’n.


2 Responses

  1. Well done George, I got nowhere with this one. A small typo at the top, where you refer to the setter as Lato instead of Poat.

    • Oooooops – corrected. Sorry Poat (and sorry Lato, and all other four-letter setteronyms with an A and an O in them)

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