Was it named Alekhine’s Gun after what the audience wanted to put to their heads?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where it’s going to be hard to muster up the usual ebullience. If there’s two things I dislike in thematic crosswords, it’s Playfair squares (coming next week), and chess (hidden in this one).  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I also have a cold.  Misery.  On the other hand yesterday I posed off my first Listener solution and my first Azed clue in over a year, so hopefully they are enjoying the trip across the Atlantic and time away from my miserable self.

OKeydoke – Russian Roulette – there’s twelve clashes somewhere and extra letters in wordplay.  Hidden message in other clues, clashes and some shading.  No bars, though it does appear the grid has 180-degree symmetry, although that wasn’t mentioned in the preamble.  Let’s get started!

There is a 1 across and it appears to be some sort of complicated compound anagram that I couldn’t figure out on the first go, so a bit of a strike-out on the 1 across test.  Better luck with 11 across – RO,SEA,L and there’s no extra letters there so the thematic area isn’t in the top right.  I couldn’t get anything from ROSEAL, so I treated it like a carte blanche for a while and moved through the across clues.  Felt weird to work with a grid full of numbers but no bars.   Things started to take hold in the bottom right part of the grid and I put circles around the answers that were partly in the thematic area and crossed them out if they met answers that were not.  Looked like we were heading for a big square area.

I was also getting worried when the grid was about half full and I’d only found one clash, the O/P of OPEN/CUBED.  I was also doing a lot better on across answers, so much so that I knew it was TITLE OF PART TWO OF ELIO… LA?D

LAND?  We just had T.S. Eliot a few weeks ago, could this be THE WASTELAND?  Part two is called A GAME OF CHESS which works with the O clash and the square area in the middle.

OK – so the 12×12 grid had a chessboard in the middle, and we use the letters from clues outside that to extract ALEKHINE (who Googlepedia tells me was a Chess Champion) and SGUN which doesn’t seem to make any sense, until I continue the cyberinvestigation that there is a chess formation (and a pretty terrible sounding video game) called ALEKHINE’S GUN.

We now have some sort of record in sursolving coming up, as I only have one of the clashes and a ton of down clues to solve, at least I know the extra letters!

Another hour or two later, all those clashes are found (is it kosher to have two adjacent clashes in a four-letter word, which happens twice, and two adjacent clashes in a three-letter word?) and I have a complete grid.

My working grid for Listener 4377, Russian Roulette by Rasputin

I know I’m meant to rub out all the answers that aren’t chess pieces, and color it like a chess board, but honestly, I’m over this one.  I’ll begrudge that it is very well laid out, though I still question the concentration of the clashes, a theme that appears to be scattered to the remotest part of the internet and putting more Eliot, with chess, so close to a Playfair?

How about we call it a draw, Rasputin?

2015 tally:  41-3-5

Feel free to tell me I should really give up at this point rather than try submitting again, and see you next week when fucking Playfair kills the year stone dead.

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One Response

  1. Oh dear, dear George! Had you persisted, you would have found that rubbing out the non-chessmen would have resolved that issue with ‘two clashes in a four-letter word’ as you put it. Look at the blogs on Listen With Others who did persist.
    All the best for 2016 anyway – from one third of Rasputin,
    Chalicea

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