Friday, October 23, 2009
Ummmm, when does 21 = 24?
Leo is a new setter to me, a check on the Listener page shows 5 crosswords scattered over the last 13 years, one of which represented the 1999 Rugby World Cup????? It appears Leo likes ciphers and removing letters. There's extra material in some clues, and wordplay with extra letters, and then we need to literally adjust a grid to a satisfying conclusion. Hmmm... well let's get cracking then.
I had a really amusing first solving session on this one - I was performing in an improv show at a bar, and hadn't killed my bar tab by the end of the show, so I thought I'd stick around for a drink and talk to some of the crowd. Not sure what it was about this show, but the place EMPTIED almost as soon as the show was over. So I had a full beer, and nobody else around... so I fished this one out of my backpack and decided to have a bash in the bar. I ended up making such a good start on the grid that I got one more beer, which I think annoyed the owner who was thinking about closing early.
Now despite that, I failed at the 1 across test - it was one of my final entries. I did make a pretty good start with 4 across - POST, HAS,TE(E) - so an extra letter of E - the whole right hand side of the grid then just fell together including seeing that 4-15 across were giving -ETTER (so probably LETTER or LETTERS as the first word of the message), and that something was fishy with 8 down, 22 down and 16 across - 8 down was ANT (extra material APOSTLES), 18 was GAD (extra material ROMAN TABLES?). 22 was TARA, and I had placed the A,RA, so there was a missing letter where 22 crossed 31 (extra materal FEBRUARY), so 31 could be ULE (extra material PERFECT). 44 down looked like Y,E,S, so there's probably a blank square at the top of that.
I was feeling pretty good about this - and intruigued that I'd found a Q as an extra letter (don't see many of those). A little googling shows that there's 12 Roman Tables, and 12 apostles, so these extra bitties are looking like numbers, and with LETTER as the first word of the message, we're probably replacing numbers with letters.
The second session found another empty square right in the middle, so it looked like a pattern - used that to confirm 39 and 40. It was the bottom left half of the grid that took the longest time to fill - I was looking for 29 to start (S)LAM instead of (S)LATE, and seeing OPS at 40 sent me hunting through many pages of Chambers to find KEEP CAVE meant to keep watch.
So I have a grid - I didn't bother with the rest of the extra material, just kept in mind that there's numbers somewhere. The message reads LETTER COUNT GIVES A SECOND MAGIC SQUARE. OK, a magic square is one where the rows and columns add up to the same value (there used to be one on the same page as the crossword in the Melbourne Age a long time ago). So do I turn the numbers into letters and make sure they form a magic square?
Or do they count to something?
Hmmm - well HAL crossing OPS means I think there's an O at 40. Similarly TA-RA and _ULE could only be Y. ETA- and CAS_E should be T. Poking through word wizards for combinations that fit the rest of the clashes, and turning it into a number code gives... nothing. But I can make TWENTY ONE out of the letters? Is that a count for a Magic Square?
I don't usually do this, but since it's after 11, the answer is up, and I've lucked into it. Is a cheap victory a sweet victory? I was meant to count the letters of the numbers that came from the extra material. I didn't do that, but I got the correct answer. Yikes, sheer luck.
Amazingly cheap victory for George: 2009 tally: George 24, Listener 16. Current streak, George 2.
I now have to go deal with a school field trip, so here's a little Robot Johnson - "I Hate Your Kids"
Feel free to leave comments, and see you next week to see how neatly I can write in lower case.