And now we’re back… from outer space…

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, if you’re still coming back after our brief hiatus.  Many many crazy things going on but hopefully some dust has settled.  So much for those brilliant ideas of making it through the year – I missed out on submitting two Listeners, one Azed comp clue, the final puzzle and grid of the 3D crossword calendar.

So sweeping the detritus of the last few puzzles aside, let’s see what’s next… it is System Analysts by Stick Insect – we’ve run across Stick Insect twice before – near the end of last year there was Maxwell’s Demon hiding in Lawbreaker, one of my favorite puzzles of the year  and before that Hexes with the Henry VIII theme.  Stick Insect left me a message then, so I may still have one reader left – hi to Stick Insect if you’re checking in.

Well – this prints on one page!  And there’s only 16 clues and a crazy variation on the spherical grid.  Answers in alphabetical order, eight possible orientations, four messages.  Wow… that’s a lot for 16 clues.  Let’s get cracking…

There is a 1 across and a pass on the 1 across test with CAPER becoming CABER and we’re away.  I think I got 10 of the clues on a first go-around.  Originally I thought the central letters were going to be C,S,O and T, and started working on wedges using these, but that T wasn’t quite going to work out, but when VOGUE appeared as the last letter, V became a possibility for that fourth wedge.  Time to start wedging…

Working out what fit gave me the last word (DOHYO) and I’m left with these four wedges.

listener_wedges001I look for ways of putting them together, and see that the the dot could be 2, 13, 7 or 10.  2 sounds like the easiest number, I’m much better at getting the second letter from each clue than the 13th…

TWO SPACE MISSIONS… hmmm… V? VOYAGER?  The lines could pass through V, O, Y…

Did I just get it the first time?  One line would pass through the 1, the other the 2, and we’d have the traces of the Voyager missions.  Wow, that’s awesome.

I wanted to know what the other messages were, so even though I was done I worked my way through to see what other thematic nuggets Stick Insect had left for us.  My working-out version is rather busy, but you can see what happened…


Woohoo!  This was only two short solving sessions, but they were sure fun, and I needed a starter to get me back into it!  I’m going to call this one a Victory to George and the final countdown is on.  I got it in the mail, probably past the deadline, but I wanted to thank Stick Insect for another… ummm… stellar puzzle.

2012 tally:  37-3-7

Feel free to leave comments below – there’s 4 puzzles left for 2012, can I crack it for 40 (and how will my tally compare with John Green’s)?  Check back next week when we do a line with Mr E.




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