When a staff fals in the forest, does anybody hear?

Welcome back to another up-against-the-deadline edition of George vs the Listener crossword.  Got a rather pleasant surprise when my mail was delivered this morning, I had a snail mail letter from Ozzie with some notes on The Winning Line.  I’ve had several emails from setters before but this is the first time one has taken the time to darken my mailbox.  I believe with all the postage, Ozzie may have taken a loss on that crossword!

And now to Merlin.  My only brush with Merlin thus far has been Motley Collection where I sussed a Pied Piper theme, but didn’t manage to get through enough of the clues that I could come close to a grid.  What have we here?  Three types of misprints, a message, real words in the grid, and a moving protagonist.  That sounds tricky.

Until we look at the softball of 1 across, where A,H,AB is our seaman and there’s a Y at the start of the quote.  O and U can’t be far away when a quote starts with Y, and there they are in the next clue in FL,ATTEST (after recent yips, I’ve bookmarked a page of those damned auto codes).  With the top row complete and all real words in the grid, it’s time to start working downwards.  Compared to my first tackling of Merlin, this was a breeze and the misprints were leaping out at me – ALACRITY was soon in place, and googling quotes involving alacrity suggests we’re in Shakespeare land – YOU MAY KNOW BY MY SIZE THAT I HAVE A KIND OF ALACRITY IN SINKING.

Since the top half of the grid was in place, there was FALSTAFF in a jumble up the top.

The bottom half of the grid took longer than the top (even with the quote in place), but I was still done with the grid in about two hours.  Falstaff was worried about sinking, so I guess we’ve got to sink him to the bottom – and that works with real words.

my working grid for Listener Crossword 4180, Knight's Move by Merlin

Wow – rapid turnaround.  I assume the top half is meant to be left empty (though Archimedes would not be pleased), so it felt a little strange shading empty squares, but I believe in one long session I have this all done and dusted.

It was a very fun treatment of the theme, and my double gulp on seeing the setter and the theme (having knightmares of last year’s puzzle where answers were to be entered using chess knight’s moves), turned out to be ill-founded.

EXCEPT… I just saw the solution and I have completely misread the preamble.  It’s not FALSTAFF that is meant to be highlighted, it’s where he was – the BUCKBASKET and the THAMES.  Oh well… Merlin, you have outmagicked me again!

2012 tally:  8-0-2

Feel free to criticize my inattention to detail and see you next week when Franc hopefully throws me a sinecure.


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