Friday, May 30, 2008
Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, one exceedingly average solver's attempt to get half of the Listeners out for the year. And I'll get it out of the way, this one has me completely flummoxed. From the preamble, it looks like I'd have to solve the whole grid before I can get started on the theme, with some assistance from the principal diagonal.
The good news is that it appears all clues are normal.
And bloody hard!
I'm itching to find out the actual solution to these, because even knowing that clues are normal and presumably Chambers words, means the first part of this should be more like a Mephisto, and I can usually get those out. But apart from an almost complete NE and SW corner, my grid is bare, and some of them are probably wrong.
I might have expected this... Sabre's last puzzle (A Paradox, A Paradox), I remember with particular angst, it was one of the puzzles last year that I managed exactly one grid entry (OUTFLANKED). Before that was Navigator, where I similarly had a very bare looking grid.
Congratulations, Sabre, you are too good for me, and I will lick my wounds now. A resounding walloping victory for the Listener crossword.
Current standings: Listener 8, George 11. Current streak: Listener 2.
A little note for regular readers - I'm going to be in New York City next week, so I most likely won't be posting on Friday. I'll be back in town on Saturday, so expect a write-up on 3982 then.
Friday, May 23, 2008
The completed grid represents doors which have been closed for over a year, there's clashes that need to be resolved, three blocked off cells in a diagonal in the middle. Down clues are normal, across clues have an extra word.
Sounds complex, but if there's only 15 clashes, I should look for normal intersections rather than clashes. I started with the down clues to see if any jumped out, and actually did pretty well on a first scan of the downs. Some cute clues here, I really liked 13 - EG replacing P in PRESS giving EGRESS. A bone thrown to us antipodeans with 22, UTES. 29 is a great word nicely clued, ULULATE being LULU reversed and then ATE.
With a little less than half the downs in place a trip to the acrosses. I always consider it a good sign when I can see the first clue, and it's another reversed word, TART reversed plus T gives TRAT and the first letter of our quote is W (Who, What, When, Where... isn't it always W?). This doesn't quite work out as 14 is CAROL giving me a H and 15 is OLPE, giving me an A. W-HA?
Back and forth, slogging through the clues, it appears most of the clashes (but not all) are in the column that starts with 11D and the row that starts with 18A. The phrase comes to me after seeing two F's together - S-FFL-D makes me think of "WE HAVE SHUFFLED OFF THIS MORTAL (COIL)" which fits with the theme of closed doors, and eventually gives me, woohoo, a filled grid and 15 clashes! Nine of them in the places I mentioned, and six scattered.
Now to find the "notices".
I can't see anything.
MORTAL (COIL). Am I looking for coiled words? Names of people over a year dead who are hidden in coils in the grid? No...
Am I looking for coils of the word MORTAL? Maybe, I can find five of the six letters in MORTAL coiled in the top half of the grid. But I can't find all six.
Anything else that can help me? Looking at the row of 11d, I can make THE MERCHANTS from those letters. The across ones can make LIES in the middle, but nothing as clear as HERE LIES THE MERCHANTS (which is terrible parsing anyway).
Is is a case of an easy beginning and a difficult ending? I have no idea what logic step I am required to take next... The Tall'n, you have beaten me! And not for the first time, I got nowhere at all on that puzzle that turned into a godoku, and failed miserably on the A&D puzzle from just before I started my official battle. I thought I was going to get this, but you were too smart in the end - victory to the Listener Crossword, and my lead erodes.
Current standings: Listener 7, George 11. Current streak: Listener 1.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Here goes one of my favorite tricks - the clues in alphabetical order. This doesn't mean I'll manage it, but I like the trick. Some clues have a misprint (in definition), giving an author's name, two dramatizations (probably in those long unclued spots at the top and the bottom). No three-letter words, only three 8-letter words, and four 6-letter words. Lots of 7-letters. This is going to be a tricky grid to put together.
First step: tackle clues wordplay first. No idea how many misprints there are going to be. A first run through the clues looks promising. The first clue is definitely ACNE and the second is ALKALI which means the misprint is an E - base solution (surface harmed a little bit, base's solution?). But the clues looks mostly straightforward, and eventually (certainly aided by being able to guess a lot of the first letters) I've got a little more than half of the words. There were some nice clues in this set, I liked the ones for KINETIC, UMPS, NATASHA and NOVELISE.
Stuck point #1. Can't get any more clues, and (as later I will find I am incorrect), I think I have EMPHRDAG as the letters of the author that gets me nowhere. (The H came from MEW going to HEW, I later corrected it to MOW, the M from LOAF going to LOAM, but of course LOAF didn't have to change, did it?).
I only have two of the 8-letter words at this point, ESTROGEN and NOVELISE. They don't cross each other, so on a whim I try each of them at 19a and look for crossing words. This turns out fruitful, and I found that most of the words I had fit across the top with ESTROGEN at 19 and since I had all the five-letter words but two, and none of them had an O as the second letter, I put NOVELISE at 18. The grid is looking decent now, except for the SW corner. And I'm pretty stuck there.
OK, let's play with the long entries. Thanks mostly to putting UMPS in at 6D I can see that HOUSE OF USHER will fir across the top. It's Poe... (this is where I clear up my two bum letters). Looking at the misprints I have gets me the rest of the top of the grid (after scanning, I noticed I have MENNE instead of BENNE at 17) - the misprints are in the across clues from 9 to 32! I thought they would have been more scattered than that.
This gives me TOMB OF LIGEIA (Films based on Poe novels - that makes the title Murder - anagram - AT THE RUE MORGUE) at the bottom, and a full grid.
Adjustment - the HOUSE OF USHER has to fall, and it does nicely, making all complete words in the bottom. The TOMB OF LIGEIA gets dug up, so replacing the top with the bottom I've got another set of proper words. No idea if the RUE MORGUE has to be applied anywhere. And where is Vincent Price? Can't have a Poe movie crossword without Vincent Price!
Nice puzzle, deceived me for a while. And two in a row for George, eking out a comfortable lead in the battle. Current standings - George 11, Listener 6. Current streak: George 2
Friday, May 9, 2008
First off, I'm sorry about the yellowness of the image. I print my crosswords on the back of recycled paper and sometimes a non-white sheet creeps in. I'll make sure it's white (or at least not such a garish colour) paper that is used for the rest of the blog.
Another titanic struggle here - I remember trying one other Wasp puzzle that worked out to be a game of Cluedo. I found most of the thematic parts, but didn't get the complete grid.
Given my recent failure and chastisement on 3973: Collusion, first thing I saw was that there are two unclued vertical entries. Note this down and don't be caught later on.
Some across answers entered modified, some have extra words, downs have wordplay leading to extra letters. I'll take extra letters for a start, and see how many downs I can jot in, and maybe get the message. That worked out OK, 2d is pretty straightforward, LAVE being (NAVEL)* + N, 4 is STEE(L)+R, 5 is CALENDS+E, 6 is AC(T)HIEVE. Lots of nice dangly words to get me going. Then a huge run of drawing a blank until a few near the bottom, 26 is HYDRO(T) and 30 is DORY(D).
Thanks Wasp for lots of juicy anagrams to get me started!
I don't usually talk about where I solve, but it's generally either late at night at home or in bars, or during random breaks. My first stab at the across clues was the first time I tried crosswording at Waffle House. I got a lot of curious looks, and my coffee cup was filled up a number of times. More waffle house solves will be forthcoming!
To the across clues. Another juicy anagram to start, and we have an extra SCANTILY. And in keeping with a recent discussion on the crossword centre, the clue has the proper surface even if SCANTILY is removed. 10 looks like it should be MAGENTA and all the checking letters fit, so it should go in as normal - I'm still stuck on whether MEETS or ESCAPING is the extraneous word. 11 is CARTA (extra barely, and again the surface works... so it's a safe bet removed words don't leave a clue with a poor surface), and 12 is DELHI (extra LODGINGS). I'm going to kick ass on this one! Found a few that are going to need modification, 21 is ISSUE, 22 is SEWERS, 29 is LADEN, and then two more that will go in unaltered, 32 is ISLAM (I was just in Louisiana) and 34 is NEONATOLOGY which is a magnificent construction!
Came back a day or two latter to attack the rest of the downs with Chambers and Bradfords. I have most of the right hand side (though I originally had REINED - REIN+(R)ED) for 23. My extra letters in the down make -N-LET-ER--LORT-D. ONE LETTER somethinged. Whatted? Whered? --LORT-D doesn't give anything in Word Wizards. Aaaargh...
A few days later, I'm determined to finish this beastie. Calm down, relax, breathe...
Penny-drop moment #1: none of my "entered as normal" answers cross those unclued down entries. Could it be that all of the altered answers intersect them? Looks likely... I enter in IRON ORE at 33 and DIODE at 31 (and unfortunately MISHIMA at 18). The checking N gives me TAINO at 27.
Sooo... presming one letter has been altered (and it looks like moved, not substituted) in those across answers, the unclued entry on the right is -H-(U or V)(S or W)-(L, E or N)-. Not many words fit those (particularly looking at the first five), but THOUSAND peeks out at me. Thousand can be written as a symbol, M (Roman) or k (kilo-). Entering THOUSAND gives me a complete right hand side of the grid, and I smack myself for not getting (C)REELED for 23 earlier. That clears up the message as ONE LETTER RELOCATED. Unfortunately I have a myriad of possibilities for the left hand unclued entry.
And I'm stuck again.
This is so annoying. Think, George. Don't let this beat you. Thematic words complete the missing element. If two of those words are the thematic ones, then maybe they're joined by something. Is it going to be a big H? No... a big U? DIODEI. No... would you believe it took another full day before thinking it could be an M? And there is MAIDEN, sitting right in front of me... THOUSAND is M, MAIDEN is M. Let's go to chambers and find 8-letter words that can be abbreviated M. MONSIEUR!!!! Could it be? Yes, move the O in LEMON, the N in UNLEARN, the I in ISSUE and we have MONSIEUR, MAIDEN and THOUSAND making the big M in the middle.
And Big M was my favorite milk drink when I lived in Australia!
I still have a little solving to go - final head-smacking moment - the letters relocated are relocated to the unclued verticals. 3d is NEU(E)ME, 18 is TIL,LIM(E),A, and I don't know why it eluded me so long, but 16 was MANTIS.
I felt an overwhelming relief that I got through this, I thought it was going to be a canter, and maybe it was for some of the regulars, but I feel like I stumbled through via some extreme guesswork. The clues were great - there was enough here to get me going, and eventually they all made sense, and I liked the across clues still making sense with the removed words. Wasp, if you're reading this, well played, you kept me guessing for weeks (I finished this near midnight last night).
And a victory for George, and a huge personal milestone of 10 solved. Current tally: George 10, Listener 6. Current streak, George 1.
Friday, May 2, 2008
This one looked pretty straightforward, words in clues had to be shifted to the right, then afterwards some moving of "words" (curious quotation marks - my first thought was that maybe these are computer words, so I'd be moving bytes around). The last few weeks have been pretty busy, and I haven't had long breaks where I could work on solving. OK, plan of attack...
14 clues are normal, 32 need words moved, so always be looking for words to move. And the initial grid is going to be all real words, so let's grab chambers word wizards and Bardford's and solve away...
I didn't make a great start on this, a few clusters of words, mostly in the bottom half of the grid. There were some clever clues, my first "set of 4" appeared with the last 4 across clues - BOATEL as TOWABLE damaged minus W, VEAL as five each pound, INLY as Milton's entirely, and trashy UNITED STATES, no TUNE (this was an awesome clue) giving DISTASTE.
The top right of the grid turned out to be a heavy slog, and there are a few guesses up above (MEER, ORDE, ARED) where I can't quite get the wordplay together. However I now have a completed (fingers crossed) grid, and sets of 4 where the coordinates have to be. I can't see the name of the creator of the theme, but there's a suspicious TOUR near the top right.
Here's where it gets thorny...
I can't tell in 1ac if the word to be moved is balls (making the definition "battered and deep fried balls") or essentially ("battered and fried balls, essentially). This means the first word to be moved is either at B,R (LA, LAR, LART?) or E,R (FAR, FARE). The latter looks more promising. The other two "words" to be moved start at C,Q (hey, there's my TOUR) and D,P (DHU - that's a type of pilgrimage, so looks probable).
Good news is that the moves do seem to correlate with the letters moved, so I have
BR -> MV, CQ -> HS, MV -> LT, DP -> MT, LT -> DR, HS -> CV and DR -> CV
Apparently HR,HW is useful, originally it reads EVADAS, when I move TOUR there it says ETOURS.
And this is where we come to a crashing halt... no combination of my moved words gives me either of the things I need, complete words in the grid and 18 blank squares. This is the most promising combination of moving around my "words", and it has 20 blank cells
It's possible that I don't have to move the whole of TOUR, but that just doesn't seem right. I thought I had it, but Mango, you have bested me. I can't think of a better word than ARED at 2D, but even so, changing the number of letters I move there from 2 up to 5 doesn't help with the number of empty cells. It was an interesting battle, but victory to the Listener crossword.
Current tally: Listener 6, George 9. Current streak, Listener 1.