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Breaker breaker, we have a problem

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where failure came back to town last week and boy did it feel familiar.  Can we settle back in with the second of the numberwords for the year – this time it’s Zag – Zag entering the list of setters who are a double threat with letterical and numerical puzzles.  I struggled, but eventually came through on the last two Zag puzzles, you can read about them in the tags at the bottom of this entry.

OK, what have we here.  Entries are coded, then uncoded, then recoded, then derecoded and are referenced in the clues in the unredecoded versions.

I read the preamble the first time and went “Huh?”.

I read it the second time and went “Is it a two-way cipher?  In that case this could be easy”.

I read it the third time and went “Oh, maybe it’s not a two-way cipher.  Damn.”

OKeydoke – it looks like a couple of the clues reference each other and some others are squares, and that’s probably as good a place to start.  The top and the bottom rows contain all the digits 0-9 once, which means both decoded and undecoded, so it looks like we’re on the hunt for two squares that share no digits.  Phew, there’s not too many of them.  OK… and 20 codes to 1 (but 1 doesn’t necessarily code to 20), and the last digit of 1 has to be the encoded version of the last digit of 18 and is the square root of 20… which now seems to eliminate 1 to 361 and 20 to whatever digits encode to 361.

Yikes… OK, I drew a line through squares and put the pre-encoded version in the top half and the reundeenencoded version in the bottom half.  There were still four options for unencoded 20, and I got a few more steps in… whatever 1 encoded to had to encode back to 1.  12 down had to be 900 or 961, and 1 had to encode to 4 or 9…

But hours of permuting later… that’s all I’ve got.

my working grid for Listener 4295, Codebreaker by Zag

Once I’m in the failing mode, I’m well into the failing mode!  I have no idea what the next logic jump was that I was meant to have made, but with a crossword this tight, I’m sure that it has to be done in a very linear progression.

Victory (two in a row!) to Zag and the Listener Crossword.  Breathe a sigh of relief fellow mediocre solvers, I am still very much one of you.  I wonder if John Green was nervous over the lack of poorly-addressed envelopes coming from the “deep” South.

2014 tally:  19-0-2


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