At least there are no mistakes so far!

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where I am having a hard time trying to catch a break (spoiler alert, it won’t be for at least another week).

Did anyone else’s Listener print out with this totally insane font?  Degree of difficulty #1, trying to read the font. Not sure if it was just the day or this puzzle (it was back to the regular serif font for 4478), but the way this font printed out I was having a hard time telling what was what.

My working grid for Listener 4477, Word Squares by Elap

My first thought was that this was going to be pretty straightforward, since there cannot be that many numbers that meet the criteria (I see that maybe I should have worked it out to find out exactly how few). I also forgot the limit on numbers, which when it turned out one had to be four times the other should really have limited it.  But after about an hour, all I had to show for it was the seven cells entered, and I did not get a chance to play with a calculator.  That’s one of the tricky things about numerical puzzles, word puzzles I can carry around and sneak peeks at during breaks and the like, but when I have to have a calculator handy as well, that’s more tricky.

Anyhoo I’ve read the solutions now and I think I might have gotten this one with a little more time and discipline, two things I’m sorely lacking. Another mighty victory for Elap and the Listener Crossword.

Game over:  3% completion

Feel free to tell me that it wouldn’t have mattered, and see you next week when Tangram has a puzzle about a man who is also a piece of wood


His and Los

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, the blog that regularly disappears into the ether, promises to be on time, and disappears again on a regular basis.  The drunk uncle of crossword blogs.

On the other hand, here is where you can come if you want to feel better about completing, or not completing a puzzle, because I’m still stunned by the praised heaped on the Westward Ho themed puzzle (as I thought, I theme that I knew nothing about with zero indication in the clues, preamble or puzzle on how to get started), and the last five weeks or so have been insanely busy, so I haven’t had time to ponder on a puzzle.

And so the next few posts will take you on a dark journey of an occasionally good solver who is frustrated. The puzzle His is a good example.  I got most of the top half of the grid out, but even so had a bunch of question marks as to which word needed to be removed, or whether I was missing something out in the wordplay, and in a few place where clashes should go. Here’s where I got to…

My working grid for Listener 4476, His by Nebuchadnezzar

Now I’ve read the solution I don’t know if it would have mattered if I had gotten further. I had never heard of Dudeney and Loyd, and even after reading the solution on the Listener website and the posts on the other blog, I still don’t get it. Let’s just shelve this one away as an utter victory to Nebuchadnezzar and the Listener Crossword

Game over:  11% completion

Feel free to tell me at this point I’m not going to get any better and should go back to word finds (though given my record of finding things in grids, word finds could be a bit too much of a stretch) and see you in a few minutes when I completely fail maths.

Care to stare?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your place to hear the unfounded rumblings of an insignificant aficionado.  Pull up a chair, it’s going to be rant week, as this week, for the first time in a long time, we hit my all-time pet peeve – the endless stare at a completed grid.

My working grid for Listener 4475, Follow The Directions by Artix

All clues were normal, all grid entries were real words, it was all in the endgame this week. This is typical for Artix, and I either get it, or I completely don’t get it, and this was a week where I completely and utterly didn’t get it.  The grid fill wasn’t too difficult, another one that I did on a plane with no internet but access to Chambers on my laptop.

So here’s the thing – there was (and I’m sure I will be corrected on this in other places), there was absofuckinglootely nothing in the clues to signal the theme, except for a pretty useless hint of Devonians being thematic. Is the hero SHIRE CREAM?  So at the end I’m left with a complete grid and a hunt to find a hero (5,5) with no other hints at all.

Nothing in this grid looks like a 5,5 name.  I checked acrosses, downs and diagonals.  So what does this mean?  I’m going to kick myself if it is a theme I know, but my guess is I’m hunting for something I’ve never heard of with no guidance other than it is something that can be chopped out in a seven-sided figure.  And I love mutilation of crosswords!!! Still waiting for the one you have to burn and now I’m being tortured by a crossword begging to be hacked to pieces but I have no idea where to make he first cut (be lucky I am not your doctor).


Total and utter Victory to Artix and the Listener Crossword.

Game over… can I say 30% completion?  What is the point of a complete grid and nothing else?

Feel free to tell me that I need to start cutting myself into a heptagon, and see you next week when Nebuchadnezzar gives us several greetings.

The party was going great until Sisyphus rocked up (this terrible joke also works with “rolled up”)

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and for a second week in a row, a pre-written post that is meant to appear at the time that the next puzzle is released.  I can only assume it happened last week, I didn’t get a chance to check until the evening.

Llig time!  It has been a while since a Llig puzzle, and I have usually done well with Llig, so that’s a good sign. There’s misprints in across definitions, and something left out of down wordplay, and all real words in the grid. Hmmm… let’s get solving, shall we?

There is a  1 across, and at a first read I couldn’t make sense of it, but next to it was 6 across which looked like an anagram of IDOLS around S – DOSSIL is a dressing, so there was a big fail on the 1 across test, but a nice start after that!  DOSSIL was a good find, because 6 down really looked like it should be DRAGON, but there was no indication for RAG in wordplay, so something thematic was found pretty early on, woohoo!

I got a long way through the grid before finding the next breakthrough – 34 down definitely looked like it had wordplay for BEAR, but a definition that looked like BEAR something – maybe BEAR PIT?  Hmmm… PIT and RAG… a look at 36 down, and it looks like wordplay for NOSE and a definition for NOSERAG.   OK – if I go back to the left, I haven’t solved 1 down, but could it have PIT in it? Yep!  EPITASES and only EASES is indicated in wordplay!

At that point I focused more on the lower half of the grid to see what I could find left off of the answers.   SKINFLINT was next… now there is no room for FLINT inside an entry above it, but if it starts in the unchecked cells, the last part of FLINT can be part of INTRA (which I had penciled in from definition but was agonizing over the wordplay).  Now things were really coming together, and it looks like the misprints in the across entries were going to come to SISYPHEAN TOIL – so the words for ROCKS are moving up in the columns.

I was relieved this puzzle didn’t require me to go outside to look up any sort of theme, since I did it on a cross-country flight, so I had four hours of digital Chambers on my laptop, and nothing else.

My working grid for Listener 4474, Rock Group by Llig

This was rather fun and a little step down in difficulty after the previous few, but I’m still left with one nagging problem – I have no idea where the misprint S at the very start comes from.  I can’t imagine the answers being anything other than EMBASSY and DOSSIL, so I think I can call this a Victory to George.

Game over:  99% completion

Feel free to tell me that I need to get the dossil out of your embassy, and see you next week when Artix introduces us to the hot new rock group The Directions and asks us to like them on Facebook.

A sticky wicket at Hastings

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword now only a day late.

Looks like we have a new setter this week in Puffin, so hi Puffin if you are looking in, or if you looked in yesterday and thought I had ignored you.  What have we here – extra words in clues, and some unclued bits, and some highlighting.  Looks like real words in the grid, and we actually have some indication where to put them this week, after two carte blanches in a row.

There is a 1 across and it looks like O,DD,SON with an extra word beginning with A (oh goody, the achievement begins with an A), but that does mean a big pass on the 1 across test, woohoo!

I made pretty good work of the top half of the grid, and as ARTH?RMAIL.. appeared I’m wondering if there really is going to be a puzzle about ARTHUR MAILEY???  When you are an Aussie kid growing up in the 70s and listening to Richie Benaud and Terry Jenner talking cricket on the radio, you’ve got it ingrained that Mailey once took all ten wickets in an innings – his biography was called “10/66 And All That”, and I read it a long long time ago.  And here he is in the Listener.

But of course – it’s now going back to the battle of Hastings!

And of course a few weeks ago we had a puzzle by Stick Insect, and when looking back over my notes I was reminded that there was a puzzle from last year about Harold getting an arrow in the eye.  Looks like it’s happening again!

My working grid for Listener 4472, Sharp Work by Puffin

I was so happy with getting a theme immediately that I didn’t even notice that originally the incorrect number of cells to shade was listed – ONE IN THE EYE with HAROLD DEPOSED making the shape of an arrow.  I was done and dusted in under an hour, woohoo!  Victory to George, and a fun debut from Puffin.

Game over, 100% completion.

Feel free to remind me of the current state of Australian cricket, and I’ll see you next week (hopefully) when Ifor gives us even more cricket!

A week late… so humour me

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  It has been a rough couple of weeks writing-wise.  I got some pretty negative comments back about a script so I haven’t been into the writing thing as much.  Compound that with long hours at the day job and I’ve been neglecting my duties of making terrible jokes at the expense of other peoples’ fine crosswords. Hopefully a corner has been turned, I have been cast in two plays, and I talked to someone who said he read my script and thought it was funny, so maybe the response I got wasn’t indicative of everyone who was in the room discussing scripts.

Or I could be a lazy ass, a shitty writer and can’t solve half of these damn things.  Let’s see what happened with Flying Tortoise.  After a rough start, I recall enjoying Flying Tortoise’s puzzles.

I started this one in an airport waiting for a flight to New York City.  What a strange puzzle.  Carte blanche that is really four little carte blanches.  Clues of four types in alphabetical order of answers and… wait a minute… if there’s only grid bars in one quadrant aren’t there far too few clues?

Time for stone cold solving, I guess…

I made a mess of this right off the bat, figuring (I had no dictionaries with me on this trip, except Chamers on my laptop, which wasn’t on) that the answer was ASPENS and the wordplay was… well… something.  I did put a question mark next to it at least.

OK – about three runs through the clues and a few things were becoming clear.  There were more misprints than anything else.  The clues where the letters were restored led to a couple of very similar answers – CARERS, CARETS, CARATS.  One of the four words pieced together from the clues was MELANCHOL? so probably MELANCHOLY.  That was about as far as I got on the plane, still had nothing in the grid.

Now sometimes I do horribly nice things.  Not very often, but occasionally.  I was in New York City while my sister was visiting – my brother-in-law was doing a guest conducting spot, and she and my niece came with him, none of them had been to the US before.  So I let them have a date night and baby-sat my six-year-old niece.  I should win all sorts of best big brother awards for that one.  Once she was in bed, I got back to this one… MELANCHOLY… and the beginning of what looked like it could be PHLEGM… a peek in my Chambers and they are two of the four HUMOURS!  Well that explains the four squares in the grid… CHOLER, MELANCHOLY,PHLEGM,BLOODY.  That gets me the rest of the letters I’m hunting for and gets me close to all the clues being solved.  So if that is right, then that first circle is probably H – RADISH is the only answer I have that ends in H.  It could cross YSHEND and… it’s a word square!  Not only a word square, but there’s EARTH at the top of it.  The humours are linked to the elements, so that means FIRERS and WATERS probably goes in the top row.  Hmmm… WATERS begins with a W, MEADOW ends in one… can that be a word square with reversed entries?  Yep, and that makes another entry DOL?NE, which must be DOLINE – and EUROPA fits with where I know UR must go.  Two quadrants down!  The one with the misprints was up next – knowing that an the clue beginning “Gentlemen” needed either an A misprint or an A restored, lead to COMMON, which fits the MO part of HUMOUR and gets me started on the next quadrant. Funny enough the last clue I got in that set was the thematic one for AIRWAY.  So FIRERS has to go in the top left, and CURATS at the bottom – oh, it’s a word ladder!

My working grid for Listener 4471, What can the Matter be? By Flying Tortoise

What an interesting puzzle – certainly different from any Listener I remember, and an interesting solving experience, with a long head-scratching bit in the middle and then a cascade near the end.  My niece slept comfortably (I had to go in and read to her from Alice In Wonderland), my sister and brother-in-law enjoyed their night out, and I scored a Victory for George, woohoo!

Game over:  100% completion.  Very tidy construction this.

My only regret was that this wasn’t a puzzle that had seven old ladies locked in a lavatory.  I guess that is an idea that is still up for grabs.  Maybe the next Lessener crossword?

Feel free to tell me that I am still a shitty brother, and see you next week (or in about half an hour) when Puffin has a puzzle that describes tuning a tenor sax.

Peter Cook: Have you seen that bloody Leonardo Da Vinci cartoon? I couldn’t see the joke.

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, in which I frantically type up last-minute thoughts about puzzles from weeks ago.  So what do we make of Stick Insect?  I have in general really liked Stick Insect’s puzzles, though the world of quotes is kind of new.  Last year Stick Insect gave us a really amazing reproduction of a tapestry that I probably shouldn’t be talking about right now.

Anyhoo – quotes, thematic modification, and an author to draw lines through.  Let’s get going, shall we?  There is a 1 across but I did not see it sraight away, so there was a big fail on the 1 across test!  4 across was intriguing because it looked like it should be an anagram, but there isn’t a 9-letter combination.  Could it be (dun dun daaaah) a thematic replacement?  Well a bit of fiddling with the letters makes (SEANCE,D,CAN) gives ASCENDANCE and yep, there’s a thematic modification.   Oh great, one clue solved, number of grid entries zero (yes, I can gripe about that now, but it goes to extremes next week, doesn’t it?  I’m all about spoilering today).

Well with ANOETIC, SPOT-ON and CAMP in it looks like the thematic modifications are going to be to get rid of some letters, so as I went through the grid I started looking for longer answers that should be shortened – helped me get BLOOD VESSELS, APPORTION, RESTRAINT, CASING and ARYTHMIC without too much difficulty. Not sure how CASING and BLOOD VESSELS are going to go together.  Hmmm…

At this point I’m getting close to a full grid and I have eight of the ten entries that are too long for the space and I’m having a hard time seeing what is going on. So what’s the title of this work.  THE -A-T-T-US- with only two letters left… surely I can find the second word of that title without too much trouble…


Hmmm… is THE part of a longer title… THEAsomething – THEAETETUS!  Socrates time… and everything that involces THEAETETUS has MAN IS THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS… so we are removing MEASURES and inserting MEN – which makes sense to take care of APPORTION to APRON and my trouble corner is taken care of by putting ROB in there.

That means I need to solve two more E clues, which must be 43 across and 1 down. I got the final answer for 1 down before solving the clue, since with the rest of the checking letters in place, CABRETTA was the only possibility.  Aaaah – it is CA,PIT,A!  They aren’t all shortened.  Is 43 also lengthened?  No – it’s shorter – it is RESTRAINT.

That just left a few normal clues to finish the grid, woohoo!  TREHALA was the last one in.

The last part wasn’t too bad – the quote comes from PROTAGORAS, who appears as a stick-figure in the grid, with the quote used in describing Da Vinci’s sketch.


My working grid for Listener 4470, Rod and Bill by Stick Insect

So this was two pretty long solving sessions with a lot of head-scratching in the middle. It was nice to only have 10 clues pointing at the work, the large number of normal clues helped me get at a theme with which I was not familiar.  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

Game over – 97% completion (it was pretty clear where the substitutions took place, so I never checked to make sure they were all measures).

Feel free to tell me that no eyes would follow any painting I ever drew, and see you next week when Flying Tortoise locks seven old ladies in a lavatory.