And now we know which two emotions go in to makin’ whoopee.

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.

OK, I’m deliberately late with this one. Fortunately I solved it quickly, because I got two tip-offs that this puzzle was one of the ones used in the MIT Mystery Hunt, a kind of ultramarathon of puzzles. I am a member of the US-based National Puzzlers League (there’s a very very good chance I’m going to make their convention this year) and there’s a fair bit of overlap.

I’m sure it is being praised everywhere by now, but this was a fantastic puzzle, and it’s going to be tough to top. This has everything I like – a clear, concise preamble – not all real words, something to do with construction.  The presence of two-letter entries typically means something being removed from words.

Normal clues, a couple of non-Chambers words (I think the MIT hunt uses Mirriam-Webster International Edition as the source dictionary), and I guess it’s away we go…

Due to the unclued entries, there was no 1 across.  I couldn’t see the first across clue straight off (though it was a three-letter answer so maybe something needed to be removed). The first clue I solved was HAVING at 10 across, and since it was the same length as the grid entry I wrote it in tentatively.

With LOWER and LIMEWATER as entries that neeeded letters removed, and the title of the puzzle, it looked like a good bet that WOE and AWE were going to be removed, with HATRED coming out of THREADLET and HOPE from TOPHET – removals taken care of!

I was getting close to having all the clues solved, but no clue on the unclued entries… I thought they might be something to do with emotions themselves, but OVERLEAF appeared to be the only word that fit one of them. Hmmm – that would be LOVE + FEAR – I had found FEAR but I haven’t found LOVE (sad sack that I am).

At this point it all became clear – the unclued entries are going to be words formed by adding together the letters of the removed emotions, and there should be two left over.  Brilliant! Although I have complained about large amounts of sur-solving, I rather enjoyed putting all of this together to get the final grid.

My working grid for Listener 4485, Mixed Emotions by Miss Terry

The final thing I loved about this puzzle was that in order to get there, everything had to be understood completely!  No wasted material, and what a fun idea.  I stand in awe of the trio that makes up Miss Terry – Arepo, Ten-four (the only one of the group who has written a puzzle I have tackled) and IOU.  This was fantastic – the Ascot Gold Cup could be done and dusted in week 2, and best of all, it is a Victory to George!

Game over, 100% completion.

Feel free to tell me that this puzzle should have been harder for someone without emotions, and see you next week when Lavatch tells us that taw kwan do is hip.

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