But did they hand out candy (insert Jimmy Savile joke here or is that in poor taste)?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword.  It took a while, but it appears computer and internet problems have not been resolved (fingies crossed) and I can get back to making bad jokes about difficult crosswords.

And this week it’s Kruger – either a new setter or a newdonym, so hi to Kruger if you’re looking in.  Let me take you back to George vs the Listener from three weeks ago…

Welcome to George vs the Listener, where I try to solve the Listener and write about it and sometimes magic happens, but usually I make a bunch of bad jokes.  It’s getting close to Halloween, so maybe there’ll be a spooky Listener this week!  I am hosting a costume contest at a show tonight, I’m all set with my zombie pimp outfit.  Brains, brains for sale

Not often I’m right, eh?

This one came out on a day I had to proctor an exam in the afternoon, so I had the dictionaries, Bradfords, interweeb and a few hours of deadly quiet time to get started.  What has Kruger served up for it – a stage, three groups, some modification, extra words and… it’s a jigsaw!  So those extra words probably aren’t going to be too useful at first.

So we are in stone-coldish solving mode – clues in alphabetical order of answers…

There is a first clue, but I can’t see what it is – AF something probably.  Second clue is (M)AGOG… rather a relief with a jigsaw that I got most of the first ten clues… then I hit on the first piece of the real puzzle – BASSET is a possible anagram of BEASTS, and the clue right under that looks like B,EAGLE… so my first clue could be A,F,G,HAN and it looks like there’s some HOUNDS  in the mix.

Just two more clues down there’s EAR,L and above it what looks like wordplay for D(UK)E… nobles and hounds?

A bit of googling nobles and hounds doesn’t show anything promising, so there goes the idea that I could have cracked all of this in the space of 10 minutes.  Back to the clues…

After a first pass of the clues, I was looking in really good shape – I’d found MARQUIS to back up my nobles idea, and gotten GRASSMOTH, INSERVICE and MIMESTERS as three of the four 9-letter entries.  OLECRANON kept coming up in word wizards as a possibility for the fourth, but (yes, I went and looked up the definition of “process” much much later) I didn’t feel confident enough to put it in the grid straight away.  However with three of the four, it was clear GRASSMOTH and INSERVICE went in the bottom half of the grid.

That was about as far as I got in the exam-proctoring period of solving… a few entries in the grid.  I made a list of all of the words in order of number of letters… and found a problem… I had FLIP in the bottom right corner, but no five-letter word that would fit – the only 5 letter word starting with F i’d found was FEUAR and though it would fit with ICARUS, I was pretty sure MOONSHOT was the eight letter word crossing.

Hmmm… it doesn’t appear there’s enough 5 letter words.  That’s weird.

I was frustrated at this time and sure I’d made a mistake in writing out all my known words, so I went to Excel and created a spreadsheet of the words in order of their answers, and the answer grid in order of the entries (that would help me line up my 1st and 4th letters).  It’s right, there’s not a match!  Double penny drop – if AFGHAN went there with the A removed and WHIPPET went up the top with the W removed then the problems are solved!

Back to google – headless hounds lead me to The Headless Hounds of Toothill Hall – now I think we’re getting somewhere!  It’s not in Brewers… and there’s not a lot online.

Now I could place my headless dogs in, and it was clear that the nobles had to be jumbled (?DKE) in the bottom right corner was the impetus for that, things were motoring, and my spreadsheet was invaluable.  I had planned to post it with the blog, since off the top of my head I can’t remember the full title and the message we ended up with, but the end of it was KNIGHTS ON HORSEBACK – and there was the HORSE reversed with three N’s on it in the middle of the grid.

my working grid for Listener 4213, A Spirited Performance by Kruger

Of course the spreadsheet is lost with the last computer, but I’m sure the full text will appear elsewhere.  This was finished on Sunday afternoon and in the mail on Monday.

Really top notch and rich puzzle, I thought – the clues were fun – I liked in particular the clues for ORGIA and OATMEAL, and the rather ingenious way of clueing two messages (though it was often obvious which was the extra word in clues).  I’m going to call it a Victory to George (though a death to my laptop), and a small moral victory for anticipating a Halloween-themed Listener.  Let’s see, it’s November 16th… probably not one about my gran’s 96th birthday.  Fourth anniversary of the death of Jim Varney?  I’ve got nothing…

2012 tally:  35-1-6

Feel free to remind me what those messages were, tell me off for getting a Windows 8 laptop, or just see you next week when Nutmeg continues the program of performances with a noted one (which must mean there’s no TED in the grid).

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One Response

  1. […] been one Kruger Listener, and it was almost exactly a year ago with the spooky-themed A Spirited Performance.  It was an involved but fun solve, so I was looking forward to this […]

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