• Archives

  • Advertisements

Stick a pin in me, I’m done

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, sadly back on home soil again – if you are looking for a party situation par excellence, I can highly recommend New Orleans. I hope those that went to the Listeners Annual Dinner had a good time and a speedy recovery (and my very best to Jane who is recovering from something quite painful and unsettling).

OKeydoke – what have we here – biggish grid at 13×13.  Lots of clues, but all normal. 13 clashes (hmm…) and some replacements/deletions at the end. Better get solving then!

The first three squares in the grid are for down entries, so we are left with a 4-across… and a partial fail on the 4 across test – as the definition and the second half of the clue seem to be pointing at BOMB(a), but I can’t figure out what sort of BOMB from the rest of the wordplay.

11 across INGATE gets me going, and most of the left hand side of the grid came together pretty handily… but with no clashes (though the M at the end of GYM looked tempting). This was a bit of a theme – I had a very hard time finding clashes – my first definite one was not until IDEES/WINE.  There were a number of all-checked entries where I was pretty sure there was a clash and had to play with letters to find them (SECATEURS/GEAN for example). From the clashes it became apparent that we were replacing the letters in SUMMER FLOWERS with letters to make real words. I was at one point convinced there was going to be one clash per column, and scrutinised column 2 over and over to see if I had missed anything.  It got down to the last two unfilled squares in the grid both needing to be part of words with clashes (RADULAR and DOME – the last being one of those pesky, all-checked entries).

I was relieved like nobody’s business when I put in the extra letters to word wizards and got LEPIDOPTERIST, who would use a BUTTERFLY NET.  I had noticed ORANGE PIP and DUGONG in the grid, which could become ORANGE TIP and BUGONG – AGGER could become EGGER and so we are looking for butterflies and moths.

Three fairly long solving sessions later – et voila!

My working grid for Listener 4492, Mad Toms Traps by Hedge-sparrow

Wow that was an intricate puzzle. Fortunately the endgame didn’t take anywhere near as long as the gridfill, which was a real hunt and peck for the clashes.  I believe I can call this one a Victory to George, and with the quantity of the thematic matter in the grid (look at that – the only answers that don’t end up being part of any thematic material are OBAN, MAAING and ORIBI) everything needed to be completely understood for a solution

Game over: 100 %

Feel free to tell me that I should just go for the ether, and see you next week, when Nutmeg puts an imp on the railroad tracks.


Blogotempophobia – fear of submitting a blog on time

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Coming to you today from beautiful (though it is meant to pour rain this afternoon) New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dysart time! I usually enjoy Dysart’s puzzles and don’t find them too difficult, so let’s see what we have here. Mostly normal clues, a few jumbles and some things to change. Hmmm… let’s get to solving.

There is a 1 across, and not only is it solveable, it appears to have an extra word – EN,F(L)AMED and WORK is extra.  Double bonus on the 1 across test!  Let’s write in words gently as there are jumbles afoot. The first one isn’t far away, as PAINT does not appear play well with ON TAP.

Fast forward – ON TAP was my way in – after finding EVERYTHING as an extra word and ON TAP becoming PANTO, and with the title, I remember that PANTOPHOBIA is fear of everything. I’ve already got PAINT which has pain in it, so maybe fear of PAIN is going to be a part of it.

Sometimes I get it – armed with all of this, and some searching Chambers for PHOBIA + the extra words, the rest of the grid fill did not take long, maybe 90 minutes.

My working grid for Listener 4491, A Dreadful Puzzle by Dysart

I already suspected PAIN which turned out to be correct – BEAR becomes FEAR and there’s ANDY CAPP hidden in a diagonal. Wow – Andy Capp is still going???

OK – so another fun puzzle, and jumblies that meant something. And even better, a fairly quick Victory to George (fear not, gentle readers, that will not be the case over the next few weeks).

Game over, 100 % completion!

Feel free to tell me that I should also have a fear of telling a funny joke and see you next week when Hedge-Sparrow introduces us to snares left by an insane prostitute (Stormy Daniels, anyone?).


Welcome to the Excel Inn

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  If this is the first post you’re seeing, you need to see more posts… and my little bit on Pointer’s from last week should be right below this.

Numberword time! First numerical of the year and it is Botox.  The Listener Crossword site tells me that Botox is a hybrid of Artix (who we had not that long ago with a puzzle I didn’t get), and Shark who we last saw under the guise of Handyman last year. Pseudonyms abounding! Neither of them have set a numerical Listener that I know of.

I have no shame, dear readers. I saw the sheer number of numerical clues, that all the numbers 1-26 were used, and that there were several letters in many of the clues, and a few of them had two equations that worked out to the same value, and went straight to Excel to make a spreadsheet.

Now of course this doesn’t take all the logic out of the equation… it was still a hunt and peck around the grid. I made some notes of what was divisible by what, but with the number of linked clues that had to be solved together, I really needed that sheet that populated multiple entries when I tried a new combination of numbers.

I do remember wondering if I’d ever figure out which letter was 1… and that was a stroke of genius on the setters part by only having 1 (which I think was W) appearing in only 1 clue.

OK… now what.  32 cells stay as numbers (out of 66).  For the rest, there’s a cipher, where each number stands for 1-3 letters… Both end columns are the same…  the columns might be a key here – I see a column with 1111 and 2222… but 3334 and 4445.  Huh?  Next to those is 4321 three times.  Maybe the cipher will helps… it sounds like we should arrange the letters we just solved for in order, and use the second digit.

I tried that, and got nothing from the title.

What if isn’t the order of the letters in the answers, but just the normal ordering of letters?  That would probably have made the grid construction easier, right, if you didn’t have to come up with a code and the method of clueing letters together.  That looks more promising – REJOB could become HOTEL.

Aaaah… the identical columns are STAIRS.  There’s the RECEPTION at the bottom, a PENTHOUSE at the top and a LIFT in the middle.

I guess there’s no room 13? In the US that used to be a big thing, but I don’t recall the number 13 being left off of room numbers lately.  I’m traveling next week, I’ll check… though I am going to New Orleans, and if anywhere is going to be a superstitious hotel town, New Orleans sounds like a good option. Anyhoo – we have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4490, REJOB (or HOTEL) by Botox

This wasn’t too bad – I did this all in one long, three hour session. About half an hour to write the Excel code, about another two hours fiddling with the numbers to make them fit, and not too long head-scratching about the cipher.

The last few years I’ve made a mess of the first numerical, but this time I think I’ve cracked it!  Victory to George.

Game over:  100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that Excel is far worse than anything else I regularly do, and see you next week when Dysart describes me in puzzle form.

Two replacements, including a blog week?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Ever had one of those weeks where you were so busy you thought you had done something, and it turns out you didn’t?  Well guess who didn’t put Pointer in the picture.

My working grid for Listener 4489, Ocean-going Vessel by Pointer

I don’t have a great deal new to contribute (but then again, when have I ever had a great deal to contribute?) – the grid fill was lightning fast – less than 20 minutes. The first change was obvious, and there seemed to be only one plausible change in 2 down, but a few in 22 across,  I was getting nervous. Since everything changed twice, if it was 13 changing that would have to be SHIP OF THESEUS, which rang a bell (and looking it up, clearly this was what the puzzle was about), so I went to the other end and started knitting things back up from 6 down.

Gridfill:  20 minutes.  Spot the theme: 5 minutes.  Fiddle with those letter changes… fartoobloodylong! On the other hand I didn’t know TRIGGER’S BROOM, but when I saw BROOM as a possibility near the bottom it popped up, and I could get those last few changes.

Ponter’s puzzles have been nothing if not odd, and tend to involve a lot of grid changing (remember the alphabet soup one?). In the end I liked it, but it was mighty frustrating having so long an endgame.

Game over:  100% completion, and a hangdog victory to George (though not in the sense of getting a blog up in a timely fashion).

Speaking of which, I have less than two hours before the solution to REJOB comes out, so see you in a few hours for some numerical musings.

The Bourne Conundrum

Welcome back to George vs the Listener crossword.

Interesting week in crosswordingland – I read a lot of praise being heaped on last week’s puzzle. After reading the solution and looking at the rest of it, I think the final grid looks neat, but I can’t say it is “the best Listener ever”. Not everything was thematic, and in order to get all the stuff into the grid, there had to be jumbles, which didn’t really match the theme. Perhaps it’s sour grapes because I couldn’t finish it, but I’m not in gush mode.

Anyhoo – Xanthippe time! What have we where – Jigsaw time, with clashes and something to highlight.  Non-words in the final grid (well that happened last week too).  There’s a letter at the start of each clue, with the title spelled out, and then some alphabetical.  Araucaria used to do this in his jigsaws by indicating the first letter of the solution, maybe Xanthippe is throwing us a bone?

So I guess we have to start with an L across or down… from the definition it is something like LIANAS.. SENA can be the army – LIANES? The L isn’t indicated.

Maybe this is a big rebound moment – having failed miserably last week, did I crack the code on the very first clue?  A few more clues later and that seems to be the case!

Armed with this knowledge I got a long way through the clues on the first try – including SNOWBOARDER and AMBIGUITIES. Knowing the 14-down entry (as yet unsolved) had to start with P, the joining of POCKETS, KNAIDEL and SNOWBOARDER was very tempting, and led to the top right hand corner being the first one slotted in.  My first three clashes were on a diagonal right next to each other – that’s neat, though the clash of EURO with EMBOUND threw that for a loop!

Eventually I had enough of the grid to see that the clashes were along two diagonals, and the upper one looked like it could read JAMES BOND or JASON BOURNE depending on the clashes.  Ahh so we have to fix that up somehow and that explains the clashes.  So we need to find FLEMING or LUDLUM in the other diagonal. It appears both can be made…

Knowing which letters clashed helped out in finishing the grid, and after one very very long solving session, I had a competed grid. It appears that one could get JAMES BOND and I L FLEMING (had to look up his middle name) or JASON BOURNE and R LUDLUM (no middle name looking up required).  So which to choose…

I had spotted CLEAR THESE in the left column, and ROMEO and JULIET in the bottom right… and there it is – CLEAR THESE AMBIGUITIES.  So I have to keep the U and JASON BOURNE  it is!

My working grid for Listener 4488, I-spy Choices by Xanthippe

Considerably easier than last week’s but a lot of fun!  Not only that, but we are back on track with a Victory to George!

Game over – 100% complete.

Feel free to tell me that I should really forget everything just like Jason Bourne, and see you next week when Pointer wants us to go in the ocean.

Doing a nought

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. Your weekly dose of… well maybe it was premonition last week, where after my rant about the second amendment and gun control in the US, some idiot went and killed a bunch of kids. Thoughts and prayers resounding all round. Anyhoo, it’s Elgin time! Haven’t done that many Elgin puzzles (and I’ve failed on several of them), but the constant appears to be a lot of work in getting the grid together.  Here we have normal clues, but it really looks like down clues are going to be jumbled based on the preamble.

What can I say?  1 was thematic, so I had to go to 11 across for the 1 across test, and at least it was ENTER,ATE… but I had a really hard time getting enough across answers to really get a start on this grid, especially since the ones I got, mostly in the bottom of the grid, seemed to be hinting at jumbling rather than some sort of actual sort.

I thought I was getting somewhere near the bottom, where it looked like there was a LAWRENCE forming.  DH? TE? Since we were jumbling, the title was somewhere I looked for some inspiration.  It is an anagram of GOODS TRAIN, but that’s not helping with any titles.

I have a feeling this is going to be another puzzle with no real hints at a piece of work I’m not familiar with.  I’m typing this up about an hour after the solution was published, so let’s go put myself out of my misery, eh?

My working grid for Listener 4487, Doing a Sort by Elgin

Well don’t I feel like a bit of an idiot now… I love that movie! So it was THE LADYKILLERS, with Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers at their evil best, and the GOODS TRAIN was pertinent.

Well and truly flummoxed, so a big Victory to Elgin and the Listener Crossword, and as seems befitting, my all-correct streak didn’t even make it out of the first month. Better luck next year.  Now let’s put on a gramophone recording of Boccherini, and wallow in my lack of finding the lolly (and congratulations to Homer, who appears to have snagged some this week).

Game over:  15% completion

Feel free to tell me that even the little old lady finished this one on the first try, and see you next week when Xanthippe has me looking at options.

Oh yeah, I’m packing

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  So much for the easing of us all into the new year, since January brought not only Schadenfreude but also Lavatch! Not that Lavatch is always difficult, but there’s typically a fair bit to do with a Lavatch puzzle after solving it. On the other hand, Lavatch has not yet disappointed (check through archive to see if I’ve trashed Lavatch… doesn’t appear so).

OK – misprints in clues, letter changes, and rearranges. More real words in the grid, let’s get cracking.

There is a 1 across, and looky that – (R)ENTERS gets us going, and there’s a change of M for T in the clue, so the text starts with a T. That rules out nothing.

It only took about five or six clues to notice that the misprints were always in the second letter of the clue. Looking for misprints there sped up the solving process quickly – and it was finding most of the letters for PEOPLE and INFRINGED… well… if you live in Trumpydoodleland like I do, you are extremely familiar with the SECOND AMENDMENT.  Sigh.

Gentle readers, I know most of you are from not-Trumpydoodleland, so bear (arms) with me for a moment. The degree to which many people here hold their interpretation of the second amendment as sacrosanct is staggering! The state I live in has been debating whether universities can actually ban students from bringing guns to campus. I ran a high school science event, and one of the competencies was recognizing bullet casings.

It was bittersweet finding out what the theme of the puzzle was, but damn you, Lavatch in making something fun from a personal nightmare (I put it at about 78% likely that my end will come from being shot by someone I’ve annoyed).

So now back to things – amendments to clues were known, the theme was known (and I could see the start of where SECOND AMENDMENT could go in the grid), and it was under two hours for me to get a complete grid, and a good guess at the letters being replaced – surely something with GUN or GUNS… STICK TO ONE’S GUNS.

My working grid for Listener 4486, In Self-defense? by Lavatch

Definitely my fastest finish to a Lavatch puzzle, but I definitely had a leg up on the theme.  Good thing there wasn’t too much time spent on the fiddly bits, now I could move on to something else – I believe I can call this one a Victory to George.

Game over – 100% completion!

Feel free to tell me to reach for the sky, and I’ll see you next week when Elgin has us do a Listener, sort of.