Elgin’s Ballad vs George’s marbles

Welcome back to George versus the Listener, when mediocrity is doled out in nice week-by-week packages.  And I’m on the road again this week (and next) so this is a pretty late post.  The solutions been out for hours, but I haven’t peeked at it yet (did I win?).

Let’s see what happens here – Elgin last appeared in October 2010 with a Wallace and Gromit themed puzzle that I managed to work out easily, not spotting that I was meant to get all confused by Batmen and Robins.  Before that came Without Bars which I completely flopped at.  So which version of Elgin is coming to play?  Across clues are given in order of definitions, may go in forwards or backwards, some of them don’t go in at all, some will be missing a letter in the grid, and there’s a line that’s not even there at all. Ummmm… OK

Downs are normal (thanks).  Let’s play with the downs.

OH BOY!  I barely got any down answers on a first shot! NOTICES, LE(P)TON, ERE,BUS, D,ICIEST, SEDATE, TRIALIST, SEDER and ESS were the only ones.

Well, how about those acrosses then?

Got a few more of them, helped being able to guess what the first letter was.  The first big break was getting TRUSTLESSNESS.  OK, since that’s 13 letters, it has to fit on a line where the first character is a T and R or the last letter is a S.  It didn’t fit any row I had but could go reversed in the bottom row (with the T not fitting in the grid).  Since the grid has 180 degree symmetry, then the other 13-letter entry needs to go in the top row.  Playing with words that would fit with the three letters I had in the top row, JENNY-LONG-LEGS appeared.  AHA!  That would make 3 down YAPSTERS and 5 down NARD.

This was as far as I got (at least with the grid) for a long time.  I kept going back and getting one or two more of the across answers, and stare at my sparseish grid trying to figure out where they went.  I thought I saw where EVULSED could go, and ROBING, and I think PARADED and SEESAW.  Putting them in gave me a few more down answers.  But I’m stuck again.  At this point here’s what I’ve got…

my first attempt at a grid for Listener 4185 - Ballad by Elgin

So where to do from here?  Some of these entries must be wrong – so back to a blank grid.  At this point I’ve got all but about five of the across answers worked out, so there must be something I can do there.

A fresh grid started to do the trick -AEFALD went in above PARADED.  Now there’s not many 4 letter across answers (there’s no 3 letter ones) and if 8 down is (TROT)SKY then CAUKER can go to fill out that row since there’s not another K in the acrosses I’ve fitted,  CAUKER has to wrap around the grid, so I guess the edges of the grid aren’t really edges of the grid.  A J and a U means there’s got to be a JUDGE of some sort.  There’s doesn’t seem to be many B opportunities in the grid and nowhere to put BIRTH or BREED.  Googling JUDGE BREED BIRTH and BALLAD throws up “The Ballad of East and West” by Rudyard Kipling, which has a JUDGMENT SEAT  (not enough letters, but maybe that missing row doesn’t have one?) and contains neither BIRTH nor BREED nor BORDER nor EAST nor WEST.  WOOHOOO!  I have all those in my answers.

Time to write out a list of the words I have left to place and the ones I have yet to find and bang out a solution here…

My final working grid for Listener Crossword 4185

This took me more than a week!  It was in the mail on Tuesday of the second week which probably means with the slow snail mail from the US I’ve missed the deadline, but I think I’ve won the war.  I had SEESAW in the wrong place orginally and that was stopping me from getting those last few down ones.  Strong men have to meet, and do we have HERCULES overlapping HECTOR in the fourth row.  I was loath to put REDDER in that middle row even in the first attempt, because I was convinced the middle row was going to have the unclued answers.

Wow, Elgin!  That was a workout.  By far the most challenging crossword I’ve tried this year, but I think I found it all – so I’m going to call this a Victory to George.  And breather a sigh of relief – it’s been as much a challenge to relive this and write it up.

2012 tally:  13-0-2

Feel free to tell me I made it hard on myself, or got google lucky (I think that’s why one of the buttons even says that you’re feeling lucky!), and see you next week (I’m still on the road so who knows when it’ll show up) when Tangram allows us to master his cue (did that come out right?).



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