Lions and tigers and squares, oh my!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – one man’s attempt to show that mental capacity peaks around the time he decides to start a blog, and it continues on a downslide ever after.

This week it’s Ron, with a carte blanche.  Almost a year ago to the day, Ron gave us Breach of Contract which made it into my top 5 of last year, so I was looking forward to this one!  There’s some twists I don’t think I’ve seen before – some extra letters in definitions, some extra words, alternating letters of which spell out a bit of a poem.  On top of that, down answers in alphabetical order, and 90-degree symmetry.  Phew!

There was a problem here – this arrived at about the worst time for me, and I barely got a chance to look at it over the next week.  So I didn’t even get started on it until after the deadline to send it in (a pattern that continued for another week).  Damn you real life getting in the way of me doing crosswords and mailing them across the ocean!

Well, with carte blanches, it’s worth trying to figure out some of the pattern, and since the enumerations were given, it looked like there had to be two across answers on each row (so the extra clue must be in the downs).  There is a 1 across, and it looks like BASS,I with DAMNEDEST being the extra word, so this poem looks like it begins AND S – it has to start in the top left or one square in, which means the fourth square has to be an S.  Yes!  One letter down, 143 to go!

Didn’t make much of the next clue, but then there’s an anagram for PEINS, which means the poem could be AND SO ME or AND SOME… this is looking promising.  Didn’t get the next clue, but “low-fat” seems to be sticking out, and could be added to what I’ve got to make it AND SOME OF T… O,PAL makes it AND SOME OF THE… couldn’t make out 6, but GALL,I,C and now we have AND SOME OF THE BIG, which is ringing a bell – a Googling later and there’s AND SOME OF THE BIGGER BEARS TRY TO PRETEND THAT THEY CAME ROUND THE CORNER TO LOOK FOR A FRIEND!

The title of that poem is LINES AND SQUARES which sounds appropriate!

I know it’s solving things back-ass-wards, but I used the rest of the poem to find the removed lines and started solving the removed word clues first, working from the end of the downs up – I saw S,ILLS and SEA L,ACE quickly, which confirmed the positions of BASSI, PEINS, OPAL and GALLIC and making the first down clue look like APPAYS.

The 90 degree symmetry was generous – I could slot in most answers as I got them – the last part of the grid to fill in was the top right, having no real confidence at putting in PIGSTY and AMIGO and needing to get to a dictionary to confirm GALA, KA,GO,S and the extra letters in TALI and COGUE.

Why were PIGSTY and AMIGO such a pain?  There had to be an extra letter in the definition.  No there didn’t… there had to be an extra CHARACTER in the definition… aaaaah… the 4 and 9 are the extra characters, giving 4 X, 9 Y and that means 4 lines and 9 squares – the grid pattern is a noughts-and-crosses grid!  That works – there’s two grid lines in each row and in each column.  The rest of the extra letters give CUT TWICE ALIGN SILLIES, and clue 42 is our solutionless one.

I thought we could have been looking for Winnie The Pooh characters in the solutionless clue, but we’re looking for sillies that can also be found in the grid… well SILL is there to make SILLY, and underneath is NUTTER – but if I slide the Y along using the new grid lines as guides, that moves HA over UTTER to make HATTER and NU to MPTY to make… well another blogger with far better artistic skills than I probably let out a squeal at that point.

There’s also DINGBAT or DINGBATS, but there’s only one S in the clue so it’s got to be DINGBAT.  That leaves me nine letters for two more sillies… FOOL looks like a possibility but I can’t find it in the grid – there’s GOOF and a good old Australian one GALAH!

Since it was past the deadline, I didn’t prepare a send in-version, so here’s what my original looked like with scribbling and circling.

my working grid for Listener 4235, X and Y by Ron

Wow!  Ron had the setting bar high there – a fully-symmetrical grid of real words that could be manipulated this way, two different types of clue manipulation (and very few surfaces were ruined by removing the extra words).  Sorry I didn’t get it done in time to send a letter along with a solution, but if you’re checking in, Ron – I really am looking forward to the next one!

I’m going to call this a Victory to George (though Mr. Green will be none the wiser).

2013 tally:  8-3-2

Feel free to comment on my tardiness at solving (though the blog is up on time), and see you next week when Mordred makes me do another bloody wiyguapy.

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3 Responses

  1. Hi George, I think you mean the numpties up there in your blog – yes, we certainly let out a squeal!

  2. I was, and is it presumptuous to think there may have been more squealing in the very recent past?

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