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Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where an exceedingly average and opinionated solver vents frustration and occasional victory.  It’s been more of the latter, as I saw on the Crossword Center that I made a mistake on last week’s offering (which I didn’t finish before the deadline so I didn’t mail it in), so that is plummeting the old record.  At this rate the people sitting next to me in bars complaining about how I don’t do normal crosswords probably have a better solving record than I do.


Well it’s time for the last numerical of the year, and it’s Xanthippe – a double-threat of a setter with some numericals and some lettericals over the years, most of which I’ve rather enjoyed, and particularly an old puzzle with a game of solitaire required at the end.  We have a sequel!

I got rather excited about this, until I read the preamble… Hexadecimal… which I thought I was done with after the days of machine code programming.  Properties instead of clues… hmmm.  And then a long list of the jumps in solitaire that lead to a solution involving three words.


There does appear to be a way in – 14ac is the largest hexadecimal, larger than E00, with no repeated characters, only letters. and 15ac is also bigger than E00 so 14 has to begin FE? It’s also even and not a multiple of 6, so that limits it to being FEC.

Hmmm… everything that is a multiple of 10 (in hexadecimal) must end in 0 so I can place some 0’s in the grid.  There’s not many odd answers, so circle the characters that have to be odd, and the only letters that can go in them are B,D, and F.

Two hours of grid poking later, I’m completely stuck with about half the grid filled.  A peek at the preamble… the removal instructions will need to be used in filling the grid.  Aaaahhhh… the first peg has to jump one of the same number, so the repeated character in 11 across has to be the 0 to let the jump happen.  At this point, things look like…

My working grid for Listener 4321 - Solitaire II by Xanthippe

And I can’t see anything else that can be solved from the properties or knowing where in the size hierarchy the entry is.  Hmmm. I guess I have to play Solitaire now with half a grid?

Well, I printed another copy of the grid, and cut out pieces of paper to do this with… I thought about using scrabble tiles and writing the characters on the other side.  That might have been a better idea, because another hour after battling fingernails and scraps of paper, things looked like…

Attempting the solitaire game

Aaaaand… we are stuck.  Stuck stuckity stuck stuck.

Welcome to Stucksville, population you.

Small pieces of paper taunting me with my inability to work out what goes on them, “ha ha ha – call yourself a solver” they say.  And behind them somewhere Xanthippe is laughing mainiacally.

I bet I’m missing something horribly obvious.

Welcome to the end of year crashdown, with a big Victory to Xanthippe and the Listener crossnumber.

2014 tally:  36-2-9. That’s two puzzles this year where I have not even come close to a solution.

Feel free to tell me in intricate detail how hopeless I am at finding obvious solutions and see you next week when it appears we have another chance to bid farewell to Radix.

5 Responses

  1. Hello George

    I’m sorry you got stuck on this as I know how frustrating that can be and I think you would have enjoyed the game. I set this a few years ago soon after my first number one and when I recently came to test solve it I found it really hard!

    Best wishes

    • No worries – and within about 0.002 seconds of posting this, I thought “that top right has to be even so it can only be a C…. ahhhh…

  2. You managed the grid fill in L4125 Elementary Number Theory which had a similar clueing style so you certainly had practise in the technique!!!!

    • Not quite – there was a small set of possible entries and no ambiguity in Elementary Number Theory. In any case, I’ve had lots of fun emails informing me how thick I am, so keep ’em coming. I get roughly twice as many views when I fail!

  3. So who gets the Pythagoras Plate or half a biro for this year’s best numerical then? You’ll have to get it back from gwizardry though!!

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