Professor Layton and the cruciverbial conundrum

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly dose of grids with squiggles.  Last week’s puzzle , managed to generate a fair bit of natter over the positioning of the 1’s in the grid, with some claiming the preamble has to be followed to Aspergers-level of exactness.  Which made me giggle even more when I passed a “Walk/Run for Autism” event last weekend.  I suspect a lot of people just stood at the starting line with internal conflict.

But that is beside the point – it’s Listener Day, and this time we are peeking at Monk… there’s only been one other Monk puzzle that has made it here, but I’m used to him appearing (often on a Saturday) in the Independent, so I’m ready for some tricky clueing.  Odd shaped grid, numbers around the outside – oh, it’s number of train track pieces!

I usually carry around with me a little red Nintendo 3DS and I love puzzle games on there – my absolute favorite is Picross 3D, but there’s a series of puzzle games centered on Professor Layton.  Those games have daily puzzles, and this looks like one of the ones from an early game where you have to lay down train tracks along very specific requirements.  Anyhoo, there’s a puzzle to do first!

Normal clues, but some cells need more than one letter… okeydoke, here we go.

I started on this one during a pretty-hung over lunch, but that’s neither here nor there – there is a 1 across and it is the 1 across to end all 1 acrosses – 15 cells!  Hooley dooley!  Couldn’t figure it out on a first look so although the amount of 1 across is impressive, that’s a fail on the 1 across test.  IAGO at 14 across got me going, and from there most of the right hand side, particularly along the bottom started to fill up fairly quickly.  The first two double-stuffed cells I found both had an S and an N in them, so I suspect we’re looking at directions the train line comes in and out of those cells.  That discovery really helped with filling in the much harder-to-crack left hand side of the grid (and THE TOWER OF LONDON at the top), and one confirmed bend in the track.  It was two fairly quick solving sessions that gave me the grid.

Now to the other puzzle… well the bottom row only has two so that’s the ways in and out.  There’s a 7 on the top right, so the track has to go all the way down from the top cell to the second from the bottom (it occurs to me now that I was excluding some zig-zagging, but since most of the numbers across the top row were fairly small, I didn’t think this would zig-zag much).  The path through the left hand side of the grid seemed to be easy enough to figure out from the double-letter cells and the numbers at the top, and I used the numbers on the sides more for joining up the right hand side of the track.  Practice with Professor Layton helped – it was less than 5 minutes to have the complete train track.  Woohoo!

My working grid for Listener 4361, Two for the Price of One by Monk

I liked the combination of crossword puzzle and logic puzzle, and as happens when I do his puzzles in the Independent, Monk’s clues never cease to amaze me, which means it’s time to bring back something I had planned on doing every week, but when I don’t write these early enough, they get lost in the rush.

Clues of note:

19 down – Zip closed up to the front (5):  O then DRAWN reversed for ONWARD, N and W in the same cell

300% style points for the surface there, Monk

12 down – Old Scandinavians run into neutral territory, avoiding capture (6)  NO MAN’S LAND with an R inside and losing LAND to make NORMANS, N and S in the same cell

Another brilliant clue, and one of the clue types that I used to mess up a lot when I was getting started with the long subtraction

So I think I can claim this as a Victory to George – woohoo and choo choo!

2015 tally:  26-2-5

Feel free to let me know that wriggly trains are a thing, and see you next week when Colleague asks us to look at his spots and see what we think

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