As sure as you are you and me am me and don’t pay the quarrymaster

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – maybe this will be the day I remember to scan the grid and save the draft?  You never know…

Sabre time!  I did not solve the last Sabre and that was even after a discussion with Poat, so let’s see what we have here.  An interesting-looking grid, and a new way of entering in answers, coordinates as letters of a quote.  This probably means there’s some duplicate axes.

This grid entry method intrigued me, so without really looking at the clues that much I tried to see what I might be able to learn from the coordinates system.  After spending a lot of time getting my X and Y mixed up I came to the following set of conclusions…

  • the last few columns were likely a set of W,R,H,D,O – maybe WHO or HOW
  • the last few rows were likely Y,O, and U which sounds like a word
  • A and S were near the top and the left hand side
  • There’s definitely two A’s and two S’s in the x-coordinate and two A’s and probably two D’s in the y coordinate

OK, let’s work on some clues – some real stone-cold deep freeze solving again.  Maybe Sabre reels it in a touch on the carte-blanches, but I had pretty good luck with a number of the longer answers, and the ones where the coordinates were the same (not that it really means that they will start in the same place).

With more than two thirds of the clues solved you would think that I would be able to start putting this together, right?  Well just trying to match up acrosses and downs was getting me nowhere… even more so since it appeared there were far more letters in the clues than there were spaces in the grid.  Are we two letters to a cell in some place?  Do the clashes involve a ton of letters?

Time to go back to what I originally thought of – if the last three letters on the y-coordinate are YOU then NOTODONTIDAE can go all the way across the row, meaning opposite it is probably UNFATHOMABLE or WITHSTANDING. O contains PUNISHMENT and U contains RASPY and SCANTS.

Of all things, I can now line up THC, placing the N in the x-coordinate… this probably means OAT is 180 degrees separate and it’s UNFATHOMABLE that goes in the fourth rwo (R and one of the A’s placed).  Lining up THC gives me the ANT that is probably the end of GRANT (so it probably ends WHO) and on the opposite side RUNTS (one of the S’s placed).  THEGNS and SHEETS make up all of the O column, so two six-letter answers take up the left hand side – ABUSED and DAWNER are both A’s, and fit.

There’s nowhere at all to put QUARRYMASTER, WITHSTANDING and NAILROD. Hmmmm

I must be close to being able to figure out this quote, with about half of the letters placed…   AND YOU AND WHO SAID HE ASSURE?  Nothing doing with looking that one up.  It looks like the unclued entry across the top is going to be ARE YOU and another is AS?A?I  Taking “ASSURE” out of the search and putting in AS I AM I hits paydirt – Tristram Shandy!  So that means QUARRYMASTER and WITHSTANDING cross with the clashing letters jumbling to TRISTRAM SHANDY!

At this point my grid was a disaster area

My working grid for Listener 4367, Identity Crisis by Sabre

Time to use the strange feature of the Times website – when I print default size the grid is HUGE.  Plenty of space to cram in all these letters and work out the clashes.  I also looked up the characters from Tristram Shandy, which I will admit I have never read.  Fortunately the character list is not too long, and I could resolve UNCLE TOBY, DR SLOP and the rest.  I was held up a while over the last unsolved clue – HAYRICK… kind of sneaky that there is really a 7-letter answer with only one truly checked letter, the rest being part of the thematic material.  Resolve the clashes into the letters of STERNE and at last a grid!

The rest of the quotation is DON’T PUZZLE SAID I – DON’T is already in the grid, and underneath it can be made PUZZLE and SAID leaving real words in the largely unreadable grid, and the I goes down the bottom.

Final grid for Listener 4367 Identity crisis by Sabre

What an intriguing solve – painfully slow at the start, must have taken three hours before I put a single entry in the grid.  Once I got the quotation it was a big cascade until about another half hour looking for that last solution.  Very tricky stuff there, Sabre, but I think I can cautiously call this one a Victory to George.

2015 tally:  32-2-5

Feel free to tell me that alas I have not known this well, and see you next week when Harribobs bases a Listener on an obscure ABBA song



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