There may be no such thing as ugly mathematics, but I’ve met a few mathematicians that aren’t exactly picturesque

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly dose of sarcasm, puns, and solving.

Let’s see what is on our plate this week – Ilver!  I’ve found Ilvers puzzles challenging in the past (check the tag at the end of the post to see the rest of the Ilver puzzles looked like) though there seems to be a trend – get the theme early, finish the puzzle late.  Wonder what happens here… Extra letters in wordplay for down answers, and then we go hunting, including for something jumbled.  Another week of real words in the grid, sounds like it shouldn’t be too too bad.

All that and a 1 across as well… looks like it should be T-somethingthatmeansbars that means “beats” but nothing was coming to my poor addled head at the time, so there was a fail on the 1 across test.  Booo.

Better luck with 5 across with HO(MAG)E and we are away.

What an odd grid, by the way?  The long dividing line in the middle makes it look like two puzzles joined together, wonder if that will work out in the end… so much so that after a very long and frustrating solving session (these clues weren’t really as hard as they looked on a first read, but I managed to brain fart my way through not getting most of them), I had a completely complete right hand side of the grid, but apart from EAT CROW sneaking across, the left side was completely empty.  Weird!

As the left side slowly came together a few things appeared… hey, a bunch of answers don’t fit.  Not that I could work out any of them apart from PERIPLUS.  Hey, that PLUS at the end looks like a good candidate for being replaced with the mathematical plus sign.  Wonder if any of the others that don’t fit have letters that are mathematically inclined – 20 down could be EQUAL SIGN which could be replaced by…. well EQUALS sign and 16 across is SNIPING… hmmm, if that’s PI then it is also in 3 down… CHAMPIONESS – PI and ONE could be replaced.  Now we’re getting somewhere!

With these in place my message from the down clues reads AV??YINTER??S??GWUMBER.  A VERY INTERESTING WUMBER?  A mathematician with rotarism?  Checking into A VERY INTERESTING NUMBER leads to the Taxicab Number – 1729, which we’ve had in a Listener before (4046 – Disagreement by Stan).  Aha – well that explains the title!

Wasn’t too long after this that I had a full grid – though I’m not sure about where the extra N came from in 25 down… maybe it was meant to be WUMBER.

OK, I’ve got a full grid, and a key – 1729.  What to do with the key?  Oh – and what looks like the start of e to the power of (i.pi) minus 1 = 0.  I remember that one – so mabe RED ANT needs to be anagrammed to get the E in the right position?  There doesn’t seem to be an anagram of REDANT that puts the E at the end, so I should probably try to follow the rest of the thematic stuff.

The key is 1729… apply it to the grid?  The 1st and 7th character are T and H which sounds like a good start… oh, and there’s an E as the 2nd character in the second row.  AHA!  THE WORASHTTMMAECLD HARDY.  Man that’s some bad rotarism… well THE and HARDY look promising, but there’s something screwy in the middle.  There does look like an anagram of MATHEMATICS in the middle.

Something else was bothering me – why the down clues for the hidden message?  Maybe there’s something hidden in the across clues… letters 1 and 7 followed by 2 and 9 in the across clues give me BIG (yes) SSOAS (hmmm)

What about one letter at a time – BEAUTY IS THE FIRST TEST – no fucking way.  The first Test was horrible, as just was the third!  Pull it together, Australia.  Is this sledging in the Listener?

I didn’t know the mathematician Hardy was known for anything other than the taxicab number (or was even known for that) so I was surprised to see how many quotations he had, but there was the one I was looking for – THERE IS NO PLACE IN THE WORLD FOR UGLY MATHEMATICS.  Depending on where you put the emphasis, I have many friends who would agree with you there, Hardy.  So it is an anagram of MATHEMATICS inside THE WORLD – sorting it out leaves a lot of non-words, but does put the e (now lowercase in the correct position) for that odd transcendental number relationship

My working grid for Listener 4354, Taxi! by IlverAnother tricky, but ultimately fun, entry from Ilver – and I think I can claim a Victory to George (especially since I don’t think anyone can read the scribbles in that grid!).

2015 tally:  21-0-5

Feel free to tell me all about discwete wumber feerwy and see you next week when Aragon apparently breaks some soccerball rules by allowing short hand crosses



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