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The three laws of moronics: a moron must hurt another moron. A moron must allow harm to come to other morons. A moron does not know how many laws there are.

Welcome back to George vs lack of an internet connection.  I was in Sydney last week visiting my sister, and take away my internet and I’m like a hermit crab – every 10 steps I was waving my smartarse phone around looking for a connection.  Can I get a wi-fi?  I did a carefully calculated attack – Starbucks gives 1 hour of free internet if you buy a certain quantity of coffee, so I schlepped the laptop there and belted out my regular contribution to Times for the Times on Thursday, but that left the regularish nattering of Listener-related irreverence.  Which had to wait.

Not that there is all that much worth waiting for – Radix’s final puzzle.  A man who has been critical of my making light of crosswords, but did send me a nice postcard once when I submitted a correct solution.  Part of the Mango crew who get much pleasure from taunting me electronically.  And a setter with whom I could never really come to grips with his puzzles.

That track record continued here, I’m afraid!  There was a lot going on here, and even those normal clues that were to be entered with unchecked letters missing were bloody difficult. I did pretty well on the right hand side, where it looked like we were heading for SEATTLE and OSIRIS with the composite clues.

Given that we were told mathematical manipulations might be needed I tried adding together some words of the composite clues… well it did for EFFETELY + HINDUISE = MOTIONED.  We were told 1, 27, 53 etc… so maybe multiplication?  That worked for FRUITION X GREEN BAN = PLASTRON but I couldn’t figure out how HANJAR and SHERRY were going to give OSIRIS.

Possible letters for the unchecked options near the end suggested ASIMOV, so I figured it must have something to do with the Laws of Robotics, but my extra/missing/duplicated letters didn’t seem to be close to and of the Asimov novels or stories I had read.

So in the end an utter dismal failure.  I’ve now seen the solution, and I wonder if “Runaround” is too obscure to be fair?  There wasn’t much here to help the solver out along the way.  Probably big sour grapes from another failure – 2014 is not my year.  A final Victory to Radix and the Listener Crossword.

2014 tally:  36-3-9

Feel free to tell me that since I have no mouth I shouldn’t scream, and see you next week when Artix may P O One

Surely this is the end of Morbid March?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, in memoriam edition.  It’ s a double-dip with Radix, who made two posthumous visits to Morbid March, the previous in the form of Mango a few weeks ago.  I’ve added a Radix tag to the tags so at the end of this you can check out previous Radixy encounters.  OK – what have we here?

Oooh, a prize for the first-time Listener solver who sends the most correct entries (shouldn’t this be the “greatest number of correct entries”?).  I wonder if someone who sporadically sends in counts if they send every one in this year?  Eh… winning things is not in my blood. I won a Brewers Dictionary from the 3D calendar crosswords a few years ago.

OK, what do we have – a single letter removed from 12 clues, added to a word elsewhere.  A whole word taken out of 12 clues, added elsewhere, 12 normal clues which apparently don’t lead to their grid entries.  Hmmm…. OK.

There is a 1 across and since the surface doesn’t seem to make sense it’s likely a letter has to be removed (S from GULLS maybe)?  Anyhoo, GULLS makes no sense so underline it and move on. We’ve got a gentle MOD (Vince Noir?) up next, so that means… well nothing since I can’t enter in normal clues.  Another normal one next – LADYBUGS.  Finally LAT,ELY and an extra CINEMA and there’s something in the grid!

A first pass through the clues and I managed to solve most of the normal ones and confirm it didn’t seem to be forwards, reversed or jumbly forms of entry.  I was having no luck whatsoever with these extra letters… it really looked like 1 across was going to be INAMORATA and the wordplay could be INA,MO, then TAR and A revsered, so I need to take the F away from ARE, but I can’t add F to GULLS and make a word.  Similarly from checking letters and definition it looked like 27 was going to be DRAFTEE, and that’s all the letters in FEARED plus a T but where can I get that T from?

Hmm… preamble… added to a WORD… I can’t put an F in GULLS and make a word… what if I add F to all the letters in GULLS… MARRY!  Aaaaah… I think I know what’s going on – are the extra words added somewhere – 1 down is EWE and the entry is I?L – so that would be adding D?G – add DOG to EWE and I get ILL!

Aha!  I started making a list of clue types, words and from that teased out most of the letters and word combinations

Working out the clue types for Listener 4286, No Robbery! by Radix

I hope that scan looks better in the blog than it does in the preview… it was pretty obvious that the final grid was going to be real words only, so a few of the last ones  (like GAGE + EDAM = LEHR at 24) were worked out by subtracting words I had found as extra from the letters already there in the grid.  It was also very very compact in that the extra words from across clues were used in other across clues and extra words from down clues were used in other down clues.  Here’s what I had at the end.

My working grid for Listener 4286, No Robbery! by Radix

Well that ended up rather fun!  After a long piece of staring and poking to try to get a start on the grid, things didn’t take very long once I’d started on the list of extra words.  A fun farewell from Radix, who may be scowling from the beyond that he didn’t get to break the all-correct for the year (at least if I still have an all-correct for the year).

Victory to George – 2014 tally a staggering 12-0-0.  Yikes!

Feel free to tell me that I need to be on the right gage, that Morbid March must not become a tradition, and see you next week when Spud gets us primed, and that’s just the beginning!

The year of numberhell continues

Another week, another day late, but I think regular readers are getting used to it.  I used to have a break on Friday mornings just before the new Listener would appear, well that break has disappeared so my usual routine is gone.  Speaking of gone… it’s Radix taking a shot at numbers.  I’ve tackled a few word puzzles by Radix (and several more Radix-influenced Listeners by Mango and Qid).  Most recently was Taste and Fancy which I managed without too much trouble, the two-for one Double Cross which I crawled to a finish on but I didn’t get very far on the Playfair challenge Argentum.  So what have we here…

Sides and diagonals of boxes in base-24.  That’s an odd challenge.  I’ll admit I read the preamble four or five times before trying to work my way through it.  I picked the two smallest numbers and tried pen-and-paper possibilities, but didn’t get very far.  This looked like too much of a challenge for Excel… I wrote a FORTRAN program to generate the possibilities.  There appeared to be only two possibilities for E and three for D, but most other letters had a large number of possibilities.  This was looking like the brute force of all brute forces.

Anyone read “The Portable Door” by Tom Holt?  Early on, the protagonist is given reams and reams of sheets of paper with numbers on them and told to sit and find patterns in them.  I felt just like that for the next two hours, banging my head against lists and lists of numbers looking for the way in.  It didnt come.

My working grid for Listener 4256, Boxes by Radix

This is the year of numberwang!  Early mistakes and lack of perception have rendered me completely impotent on the numerical puzzles this year, with only one left for redemption!  Yikes.  Victory to Radix and the Listener crossword.

Wow I’m having a bad year.  I think part of it is taking on some new commitments and a much stranger performing schedule, but maybe I’ve peaked and I’m on the downhill slide.

2013 tally  22-7-5

Feel free to tell me to quit when I’m ahead (or not too far behind) and see you next week when Ferret entertains our shorts.


You thought he was bad, have you tried Spenser?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  There was some smooth sailing for a while, but I seem to have hit a few rough (and silly) patches in the last few weeks, let’s see if things can be righted again maybe.  At least I didn’t highlight MARM last week (I don’t think I even saw it, or else I probably would have).

Aaaah, Radix this week.  Now Radix has taken a few little playful digs at me on the Crossword Centre Message Board over the years, and  I have struggled with his offerings in the Listener.  The last full-blown Radix we had was Double Cross which I managed to get.  I just noticed that the previous Radix, which was the Play”fair” Argentum attracted about half of the usual number of entries.  Not to mention various incarnations of Mango and Qid that have passed by.  So a modicum of revenge is sought on Radix.

Misprints somewhere, across spell a person.  Double misprints in downs, doing one of those boustrothingys that pop up from time to time.  That’s a lot of misprints.

A misprint-hunting we will go.

There is a 1 across and it looks like SHE,A for a tree that makes regular appearances in barred- and American-style grids.  The first misprint is a W and when there’s a person’s name that starts with a W, what are the odds that it’s going to be WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE?  It’s the right number of across clues.  6 across – braId and ENLACE, didn’t see 11 or 12 straight off, but 13 is UNMATCHED and fIt and 22 across is MOLDERING and decAy and the Shakespeare thing is looking dead on.

Theme found, time 5 seconds.  Pat on the back George, you’re really good at these.

Knowing the misprints, most of the across clues went in pretty easily, and quite a few of the down clues.  I hadn’t found a single clash though… each across clue has at least one unchecked cell, so it’s probably the case that repairs have to happen in unchecked letters.  Given my luck on the first guess, I thought I’d ride this out and not have any clashes.

For a day or so, that was as far as I got.  Despite having almost all of the across clues from knowing the misprints, the down clues were BEASTS! I thought there’d be some obvious Shakespeare quote appearing, but I couldn’t get anything until finding PAJOCK in the middle there.  It’s in Chambers as a word that may be a misspelling.  Well I knew where one word ended and another began, so back to looking for words that Shakespeare invented by messing up spellings of other words?

Seems like that’s the way to go – as eventually GALOWSES appears.  Finding leO as the misprint was a hold-up here.  I had a large number of mismisprints (I may have invented a word just little Willy S there!) including two in the second down clues, where I orginally thought it was Out and taG for H,END.  I had to start searching Chambers through patterns like TU??ON? to get TURBOND and again at the end to get HANDSAW.  Eventually there was a grid… and messy it was!

My working grid for Listener 4193, Taste and Fancy by Radix

OK, now to these rectifications.  Radix had done me a favor here, in that the entry at 12 now had to be ARAM, an easy find in the full-text search of Chambers. I did abuse chambers a fair bit here, looking for all possible misprints and writing down the letter options in a column (I thought I’d scanned it, but not that smart).  ISH SPELLER came out as a contender at the bottom.  I AM A —-ISH SPELLER?

Googling I AM A ISH SPELLER brings up that I AM A WEAKISH SPELLER is an anagram of WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.  Ahhh, hardy har har.  In go the recitified words…

final grid for Listener 4193, Taste and Fancy by Radix

For what I thought might be a Friday finish based on the first two brainwaves, this wasn’t in the post until Wednesday!  But I think I’ve got everything in its place, and can breathe a sigh of relief.

Thanks Radix for teaching me a new amusing anagram – don’t understand the title at all, but I think I’ve got everything else worked out.  I’m going to claim this one as a Victory for George!

2012 tally:  19-0-4

Feel free to tell me about how I should be able to get titles with no problems, and see you next week when Ben Trovato foreshadows the England batting lineup for the upcoming one day series with Australia – at least two little ducks.

Shouldn’t this have been by Radixx?

So while I was working on this crossword, I was looking up new setters on the Listener website and noticed something.  Qid (from 4074: Printer’s Devilry) was identified as a quartet of setters – Bud, Radix, Samuel and Seth Mould.

So now we’ve got 4081: Double Cross by Radix

Radix (and Seth Mould) also sets as part of Mango with Shackleton, from 4079: Sine Qua Non.

Is this a conspiracy?  Is Radix and his various grouplings attempting to take over the Listener Crossword?  I’ll be very suspicious if I see a Samuel, Seth Mould or Bud (does Bud set alone?) in the next few weeks.

Now I’m also kind of leery here because the last time Radix appeared (and the only Radix I’ve attempted, though I also tried a Mango and couldn’t get it), shortly after was the dreaded Playfair square, in Argentum.  Thankfully no little squares of squares here, just a symmetric grid, and side-by-side clues.  Extra letters give a message, and it appears there’s real words everywhere, woohoo!

This means there’s two 1 across tests… and it passes both of them!  Looks like the first half is going to be some combinations of the letters in YO SCOT, and a quick trip to Word Matcher suggests COOST, COOTS, SCOOT, SOOTY and TOCOS and the last of those is a punishment.  The second half is a hidden PACED.

I tried putting both sets of answers in one grid, then caved and printed off a second and third grid to try to mash these together into one.  I had both versions of the top-left fairly readily, though with a C in the middle of both 3 down starting letters, I couldn’t tell for a while which was the CAESURA/SAUTERNE crossing and which was the one that crossed with HANDSELS.

I also made a mess of things by putting PILCORN in the wrong place (I had it at 5 across in the PACED grid).

One thing that stuck out pretty quickly with both top lefts being reasonably full was that there was a message in the diagonals – THESE in the TOCOS grid and PL-AS- in the PACED grid.  Once PILCORN was repositioned, the word ANSWERS started to appear in the PACED grid, and on seeing PURVIEW in the TOCOS grid, it looked like ANSWERS was along both diagonals.

So finishing off the grids was helped a lot by seeing those diagonals… PLEASE IGNORE THESE ANSWERS in the PACED grid and THESE ANSWERS SHOULD BE USED in the TOCOS grid.

I needed the rest of the message in the clues to get some of the niggly 4-letter answers (like DOER at 27 down in the TOCOS grid and DIRT at 30 down in the PACED grid), but eventually there it all was – YOU MAY NEED TO CONSIDER THE OTHER CLUES INSTEAD.

Hmmm… well now I’ve got a real headache. Should I use the TOCOS grid and have the alternative as PLEASE IGNORE THESE ANSWERS or use the PACED grid and have the alternative as THESE ANSWERS SHOULD BE USED?  The first option makes more sense to me, the “Other clues” presumably being the messages in the diagonals.

So here is what I think should be the solution

My final grid for Listener Crossword 4081:  Double Cross by Radix

And there’s a bonus grid that we get to keep for ourselves.

The "other" grid for Listener Crossword 4081: Double Cross by Radix

There’s a few niggling doubts here, am I thinking correctly about which is the “right” grid?  Is 4 down DAHL?  Can’t figure the wordplay out, but I think it’s the only word that fits and works with the definition.  Was Radix trying to work a record number of obscure anagrindicators into this crossword (red, suffering, brewing, do, trill, loco, mobile, working, up, salad, smashing) – but amongst all of them I can’t find the anagrindicator in 31 across (unless FIDDLER is doing double-duty).

However even with the doubts I’m going to claim that I’ve cracked this one, and declare victory for George, and wonder if somewhere out there, a devious setter is working on a crossword with three grids.

2010 tally:  George 13, Listener 2.  Current streak, George 3.

So I was looking at the stats on the blog, and one thing that gets recorded is what online searches end up finding this blog.  And last week some lucky soul got here by typing in “what is flagmentation”.  Hope you enjoyed it… so in the same sprit, when I type “Double Cross” into the youtube search, I get this bizarre advertisement for Slovakian vodka.  Salut!

Please feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week for grams of pans with Sabre.