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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.

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Rounding out the year… sometimes I slay myself

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword – this appeared on the website on New Years Eve Eve and I was rather happy to see Lavatch’s name attached to the final puzzle for 2016.  It has been a while since we have had a Lavatch puzzle, but it is a name I am delighted to see on the Spectator series (including an excellent one last week – 2292, Discovery).

Anyhoo, it was a cold and quiet Friday afternoon, so let’s get stuck into it. To be honest, the preamble reminded me of Spectator territory since the unclued lights are of a type (fortunately without the appendage “verifiable in Brewer’s”.  Misprints in ever clue, misprints, misprints everywhere!

What would be 1 across is not only unclued bu unnumbered, which means we have to go to a 5 across test, and Lavatch does not disappoint – AP(PET,IS)E and we have a correction of H.  First letter of a message is an H?  Can an I,G,H,L,I,G,H,T be far away?  The I is looking good – anagram of BILL and PAUSE making PLAUSIBLE.  W(H)IT,Y – you betcha the highlighters are coming out!

This was the theme – I never got stuck at any particular point, and with it looking like GEAR, CATHERINE and FERRIS were three of the unclued entries it seems we are heading towards WHEELS.  The message also came together HIGHLIGHT — QUOTATION IN SYMMETRIC FORM appeared first, it took a little fiddling to see the second work was THEMATIC (mostly because I misspelled SYLLEPTIC at 40 across and so had a T instead of an I as the correction.

So that means the grid-staring section – helpful THE three rows down, and WHEEL coming off of it – I figured we would be looking for a quotation in a circle and it is also a quotation about a circle – THE WHEEL IS COME FULL CIRCLE!

My working grid for Listener 4431, Round by Lavatch

This took a little over two hours, but it was fun all the way and do themes ever get tighter?  Thanks for rounding out the year in style, Lavatch!

Game over – 100% completion!

The end of 2016 sees my record as 44-2-7.  Not spectacular, but not too shabby.  Who knows what 2017 will bring.

Maybe it will bring me hitting the publish button in a timely fashion… whoops!

If you charge it, they won’t come?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, where you like it when I succeed, but love it when I fail – my incorrect grid posted last Saturday ended up being the most-viewed page for almost 18 months.  Most were probably Ozzie rubbing his hands in glee.

My most spectacular failure last year was due to Lavatch, where a carte blanche grid turned out to be exactly that, so I was in more than a little trepidation when I saw the setter’s name, knowing I had only two days before I was off on a two-week roadtrip.  This had to be done in a sitting or two or else it was likely to be three weeks in a row I wouldn’t be able to submit (with apologies in advance to Dipper, who drew the “I won’t even be by a printer by the time this is due to be mailed in” slot this year).

I’ve tagged previous Lavatch puzzles, so you can enjoy the previous battles by clicking the little tag link at the bottom.  There’s usually some grid manipulation at the end, and this appears to be no exception – two letters in 16 cells, and then some grid manipulation at the end – yep, it’s Lavatch!

There is a 1 across, and it looks like it should be some form of L?(AS)?S – LYASES, LEASES, LEASAS, but I couldn’t quite get it the first time so I left it blank, and a half fail on the 1 across test – gulp!  Better luck with 11 across for RED(ECO)RATE.  That crosses ERASES which means I could have been completely off the mark at 1 across or there’s a clash there.  We may have a start, or may not.  Pressing on…

Lavatch pops up occasionally in the Spectator series so I’ve been solving a few more Lavatch puzzles and am getting more into the style of cluing. Pretty soon ANTIS popped up as one that didn’t fit the grid entry… but the clue helpfully had the number of letters so that was a bit of a giveaway.  Silly me wrote all the possible letters that could go into cells before realizing that if it went in a checked cell then one of 4 down, 5 down or 6 down would have one more letter than the grid length… nope – so the N and T go in the same cell.

I had much better luck with the bottom half of the grid than I did with the top half, and two F’s and a J close by in the doubled-up letters made TRAFFIC JAM an likely candidate.  Looking at the rest of the letters I had, HE SOLUTION looked like a good second message.  Probably THE SOLUTION?  So we have ?????N TRAFFIC JAM – if that is an E/L clash at 1 across, LONDON TRAFFIC JAM looks very promising!

To Google!  Enter “LONDON TRAFFIC JAM SOLUTION” in Google and you get messages about the CONGESTION CHARGE.  Although I’ve been to London a few times I didn’t know about this – I’ve only walked or taken public transport.  I did notice pretty heavy traffic at a few times, but didn’t think that there were programs in place to dissuade using cars in the city.  Anyway, it was instituted by Ken Linvingstone who was London’s Mayor at the time and can be formed by tweaking a few letters around the middle.

What a rare delight… a Lavatch puzzle I finished in one go!

My working grid for Listener 4305, Not A Blocked Grid by Lavatch

This was in the mail before I left for my trip.  Has Lavatch turned over a kinder, gentler leaf, or was this just designed for the Listener solver stuck in traffic (confession – I usually have the Guardian crossword on the passenger seat when I drive to work for while I’m stuck at traffic lights).

I believe I can call this one a Victory to George (though I did that last week and look where it got me).

2014 tally:  27-0-4

Feel free to tell me that this isn’t really a solution and the traffic’s as bad as it effin’ was back in the day, and see you next week when Dipper tells us “I’ll be sack”