Of course machines can think, but are friends electric?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, coming to you from the drenched mountains of North Carolina.  And from watching those miserable one-dayers, it looks like England isn’t faring much better and my friends in Melbourne tell me of the bitter cold.  If everyone can complain, everybody’s happy!

So remember last week where I managed to snag the theme before solving a single clue?  I managed to outdo myself this week by thinking, not long before the Listener came out on Friday “You know what would be perfect – an Alan Turing themed Listener by Hedge-sparrow”.  The 100th anniversary had been on my mind, and was also in the Guardian weekend puzzle.  Oh well, no Hedge-sparrow (yes, I know we get Hedge-sparrow next week), but I had nailed the theme as it turns out, we were just a long way from getting there.

It is Hotspur – who was last spotted at the other end of my fine adopted state (hi Hotspur if you’re looking in).  Been a while since we’ve seen Hotspur, since two offerings in 2009 – Resident with the Transnistra theme and some Pirandello with At Arm’s Length.  Both of which I completed in those days of being pretty bad at these, as opposed to what I guess now is kind of goodish.  What have we here – misprints in most clues, some jumbles, and six rather strange cells in the bottom right.  Hmmm… 10 jumbles, eh – better write the words in lightly.

There is a 1 across but I couldn’t get it straight away (though FANE was sticking out as a word that had a misprint).  Next up we have ZY,GOT,E and we are off and running!

I found the clues pretty tough going and at the end of the first solving session I had very little in the bottom half, a smattering of the top, but rather satisfyingly in the middle CARIC-ATURING!  So I felt pretty good about the theme.

Back for a second look, I figured we would be looking for a Turing quote, and with -PR-PO-E from my misprints at the start, things are looking good for a quote with PROPOSE in it, which would be (thanks Googly) I PROPOSE TO CONSIDER THE QUESTION “CAN MACHINES THINK” which is the right number of letters.  Based on where I had misprinted letters, the normal clue should be somewhere around 27-31 across.  AHA! 30 is MACHINE and that puts A TURING MACHINE… and of course ENIGMA was already in place (though maybe jumbled) at 41 across.

These were some tricky clues, but knowing the message helped make inroads on the bottom half.  Since the bottom part of the grid is like a Turing Machine, it looks like adding together letters is happening.  I got another sheet to note the changes going on there…

working on the bottom half of the grid for Listener 4195Thanks to the kind soul who emailed me that there was an error in the original grid.  ENIGMA became COGITO – nice finish.

In typical George fashion – message found, theme found, code cracked, all hunky dory right?  No, there’s the little matter of a completely unsolved 11 across!  With A-AR there it was hunt and peck time to find that AJAR (king reversed) could mean DISCORD.  We have a grid!

My grid for Listener 4195, Sum by HotspurPhew – I wanted it, I got it, but it was a much trickier road than I was expecting, this wasn’t in the mail until Friday!  Loved the theme, laughed at being left with one four-letter answer at the end, but in the end I think I can call this one a Victory to George!

2012 tally:  20-0-4

Feel free to turn my gears and give me new letters, and see you next week when Hedge-sparrow sends us here, there and possibly everywhere.


One Response

  1. […] the Listener by Hotspur… we last saw Hotspur a little over a year ago with the Turing-themed Sum, which which I struggled, but managed to get there.  Before that was the transnistral […]

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