In which I get cross with a cross crossword

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – my few months of hell only have about another two weeks to go, after which I may even get back to a semi-normal routine of solving and posting.  But here we are again, a day after the solution has gone up online, and I’ve read everyone waxing more than lyrical over this Listener.

Which of course I made a right mess of.

listener_xwd_4339

Shackleton!

How did we come to this?  Well there was a near-carte blanche, with the three blacked-out cells in the grid.  There were double clues, four extra words, a song, an instruction and a phrase to be rendered.

This was definitely a novel way of setting out clues!  So for the first time, I guess we have to have a “zero across” test?  It’s a double clue, and of the two I could only get the first one in an initial read-through (E,RECT)… so I guess half a pass on the zero-across test?

OK – a bit of cold-solving later, I’m trying to figure out how to put together this grid… I realize that if there was a common letter in the position of each answer then they likely crossed each other in the diagonal of the grid… so maybe we can place HYE/HIN, ESTATED/BEASTIE and ADMIRER/HAS BEEN.   It didn’t take long to realize that I couldn’t do that with ADMIRER/HAS BEEN and have the clue the correct number of letters from the diagonal, in fact they would have to go all the way to the corners.  Ohhh… there’s not many positions that one could place clues that start 8-12 cells from the diagonal, so those must be the ones in the opposite corners. My assumption that ESTATED/BEASTIE joined together lasted for a long time, meaning I put ERECT/ESKAR in the wrong place too, and when I finally had the first clues with a symoblic modification (TONELESS and MONEYMEN, so ONE had to be replaced by 1) that there was absolutely nowhere in the grid they could go… GAK!

My problem was that even when I worked out the correct positions of these words, a few leftover characters from them started messing me up when I was trying to solve the last few clues from checking letters and knowing where they had to go.

Eventually I had almost all clues solved, and a close to full grid.  The numbers 1, 2 and 3 in the grid… I had the instruction – FULLY EXTEND EACH BLOCK NSEW – so we’re making black space in the grid, and the song lyric THE ANIMALS WENT IN TWO BY TWO (hurrah, hurrah!).  I had ANT, WASP and BEE making a Z near the number 1, and MOTH in the opposite corner.  I know I should be looking for ELEPHANTS and KANGAROOS from the song but I can’t find them.  I’m also completely stuch on one clue in the top right corner.

In desperation, I wonder if there’s another Z in the bottom right corner made from BRY and FLY… but it’s beyond repair.  A big Victory to Shackleton and the Listener Crossword… I’ve now seen the solution, and I am still not sure there is enough there to unambiguously lead the solver to the answer, but maybe that is tired, overworked sour grapes.

2015 tally:  10-0-2

Feel free to tell me how dense I really am, and see you next week (maybe even at the regular time) when Nudd makes me wear a red shift.

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