A study in scar tissue

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and the quest for an all-correctish year, which is thus far one letter away from happening.  This week it’s Salamanca stepping up to the fray – and maybe Salamanca jumps on a theme and sticks to it – there were 47 “Plays of the Bard” crosswords, and now it appears we’re going two in a row with Sherlock Holmes, following up 2010’s The Glady Marsh  (the less said about Mazy, the better).

So what have we here – a non-quotation running around the perimeter, some unchecked letters (including a P, G, Z and Y!) and some wordplay only clues.  So it looks like we’re in the world of all real words in the grid, yay!

This is the first time a Listener title has made me literally laugh out loud.  Before filling anything in the grid, I showed it to a few casual crossword fans who smiled with me and wished me luck.  To the bar!

There is no one across, so no chance on the one-across test.  There is a 9 across, and I couldn’t figure it out straight away, but 10 across is one of my pet words, CLERIHEW and we are away.

Maybe I’m getting better at these, but for the first few Salamanca Listeners I tried, I had real problems with the clues.  I’m much more cottoned in to these minimalist clues, where you have to look for an abbreviation or a wordplay element from every word of the clue, and things started to fall pretty quickly.

First big boost was URANISM and ZINGARO being right next to each other – that makes it very likely that PUZZLE is one of the words around the outside.  Similarly the positioning of ASPASIA and TSARS made it likely that WATSON was the last word of the quote – taking care of NAEVUS having A and V removed, like the title.

I solved this in probably the reverse order that Salamanca intended.  The generous unchecked letters made the message pretty clear…

Working out the message around the perimeter

then the removal of A and V from several answers, then finally the “wordplay only” answers being teeth.  Two sittings later, and this was all in the bag – it went into the mail on Monday morning.

My grid for Listener 4174, The Dentures of Sherlock Holmes by Salamanca

Without the unchecked letters, this would have been a far greater challenge, and getting the message quickly really helped out on the right hand side.  I did really like the title, and the quote – this was a few hours of great fun and I’m ready to call it a Victory to George!  Now to see whether Salamanca comes out with another couple of Sherlock Holmes themed crosswords – by strange coincidence I’m going to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie at the second-run theatre tonight!

2012 tentative tally (alliteration!) 3-0-1

Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week when we race Ozzie to the winning line!

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