Trouser snakes and stocking ladders

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly destination for complaining about stuff.

We appear to have a new setter today, though with the shape of the grid, the name of the setter and the title of the puzzle, I took one look at it and said “is it time for a Snakes and Ladders puzzle again?”.  Damn, I’m getting good!

And as for “again”, Dysart’s puzzle, called Child’s Play was seven years ago.

OKeydoke – carte blanche, down answers with extra letters, let’s see what happens here.

Since the downs were normal, I started with them – so let’s see if there is a pass or fail on the “a down” test.  I didn’t get it straight off, so a big fail there.  Next up was R.E., PE(NN)TER for REPENTER with an extra N… Snakes and ladders are looking food, and all but confirmed when clue d is P(KILL)OW for PILLOW with a K.

So knowing what to look for in the down entries I managed to get most of them at a first reading and things were looking good.

There are not enough cells for all the letters in the across entries, so something is getting doubled up – fortunately with DENTAL, LARDER and RENTER being the first three of the across clues, it was pretty obvious that the first letter is going to be shared – aand later on I have RINGED followed by NATION so that must be where there is a snake or a ladder.

From there it was all over bar the solving – except for one very strange diversion – I was convinced that 14 across was TOLARS and that held up the top half of the grid forever – it wasn’t until I saw that LADDERS was rising up from the bottom and there was a possibility of SNAKES above it that I got POLKAS to fit into that space.

My working grid for Listener 4408, Child's Play? by Serpent

Pity about the theme coming so early, but it was a fun and finely constructed crossword, and exactly what I needed too – I solved most of it backstage waiting for Jesus Christ Superstar to start – a fine start to the weekend before killing Jesus a few times.

Advance notice – I’m going to be on the road for several weeks beginning Monday so I don’t know what state my updates will be in.  Today’s Listener is probably the last I will print until mid-September, so I don’t expect to be submitting, and some weeks may look like very neat grids reproduced in crossword compiler.

2016 tally:  25-2-3

Feel free to tell me that I never graduated from kindergarten, and see you next week when Xanthippe has hidden some philosophy somewhere.

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