My Bewick’s swan’s got no bake.

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, trying to escape January unscathed – how are you all doing?

Let me add my condolences to Bandmaster and the Morse family on the recent passing of Sir Jeremy Morse.  I had never had contact with C.J. Morse, but I enjoyed many of his clues in the Azed competitions.  He had great success with clues that had succinct wordplay, which is what I have aimed for when I enter the clue-writing competition (I have high hopes for the clue that is in the mail as we speak).  A few years ago we were both in the honors lists for SNIFTER, and he got one of my favorite types of clue, a triple definition, into the VHC list.

One strong draught to make you snuffle: another to pep you up

Well played, sir, well played.

OKeydoke – what have we here – I presumed a new setter in Malva, but the Listener website shows this is a new (exclusively for avian-themed crosswords?) pseudonym for Dipper, who has regularly terrorised my non-gardening abilities with a series of horticultural-themed Listeners.  I’ll tag both in here, but if you want them separated, Malva, drop me a note.

It’s all listed in the preamble – across answers are normal, but the clues need modification.  Down clues are normal, but the answers need modification, and there’s something that needs highlighting.

Let’s get to solving, shall we?  There is a 1 across and it’s… I have no idea.  I know a letter has to move, but there doesn’t seem to be an obvious place to move (advantage, setter, as well as a big fail on the 1 across test).  Wow – it wasn’t until 16 across that I managed to get one to write in the grid – A,R,CANE with TICKS becoming STICK.  That crosses SUMAC, but I can’t place any of the letters, though if the A is in the usual place, that makes 14 PLAIN.

Working around the grid was a kind of a frustrating prospect – I was doing really well on the down clues, which I couldn’t enter into the grid, and getting nowhere with across clues.  I finished my first solving session with a lot of scribble around the outside of the grid, and very little on the inside.

Day 2… the first Listener of the new year to push me into a second day, yikes!  OK, what am I missing in these across clues – look at the ones I’ve already solved.  Most of them have an E or an S that is moving.  Are all the migrating letters directions?  So far all the ones I have found are though I really think 34 is shouting out for FINGER to be modified, maybe to FINGERS or FRINGE.

If it’s FRINGE… then all the movements I’ve found have been within a word.  I was working on the assumption that letters could migrate anywhere in the clue (I was sure that 7 across was LATE SEA).

New approach – the migrating letters stay in the same words!  Shouldn’t that have been part of the preamble?  Anyway, with that assumption in place, across clues started falling readily, and I was getting closer to a full grid.

MERE appeared on the main diagonal, and it sounds like somewhereMERE would be a good place to spot swans – a bit of googling brings up MINSMERE, which places an S in clue 5 and allows me to get one of the last remaining down clues, OVARIES with the O moving to the bottom.

The final stumbling block was the top right corner, where finally CHAI appears (ATE becoming TEA) and the H in place gave me my last down clue… well… almost – CHAMPAC and CHAMPAK both fit the definition.  Fortunately in Chambers there’s PACA for cavy, so it is the C version.  Wonder if there will be some K’s turned in.

At the end of the second solving session, we have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4382, Migration by Malva

I wonder if it was a deliberate omission that the letters in the across clues only migrated within the same word, because if I’d known that from the beginning I think this would have been a single-session solve, in the end I think I can call it a Victory to George, and the year of all-correctness lives to fight another day.

2016 tally:  4-0-0

Feel free to tell me that my goose hasn’t migrated, it’s been cooked, and see you next week when Aedites offers us display or datplay.

P.S.  There’s still time to join in the fun of the 3D Calendar Crosswords!  The first one for the year is a thematic grid with fine clues by Samuel.



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