Numerical time! Elap is one of the setters of the numerical crosswords with whom I have the most difficulty. Last year I caught the theme of Big Holes, but couldn't get to the end. This time we're messing around with perfect squares, and there's some form of code involving the numbers.
Well, numerical puzzles are usually a logic exercise, and so with all the single letters being squares, I started by looking for occasions of the same letter more than once in an answer, since there's fewer cubes than squares, and even fewer powers of six. This approach netted me the values of K, U, Y, S and B pretty quickly. E and M had to be 9 and 64 - but in ordering the letters from low to high, I had K - Y S U B - so it was looking good that E was 9 and M was 64.
The grind came near the end to find those last few combinations, particularly the large numbers like J and H. I caved and made a spreadsheet to sort out C and N, which were difficult to separate from each other. In the end, I had a grid, and the ordering of the letters now read KEY SUBMIT XWORD. Well I didn't submit the crossword, but there's KEY (4,9,16) slantwise near the middle of the grid. I don't know whether to put the letters in, shade it or draw a key, so I drew a sketchy-looking key, and wrote K, E, and Y in the squares.
So I think I've finally cracked an Elap numerical Listener. I don't have a great deal to say about it, took me two fairly long sessions with a calculator and Excel. Nifty trick - but I'm not sure if there was any actual ambiguity in the end as stated in the preamble. All the squares I had that could be single digits or double digits ended up being resolved by the checking entries.
I'm writing this blog after the solution has appeared (snowed in today), but haven't checked to see the solution.
2009 tally: George 31, Listener 17. Current streak: George 1
Bugger bugger bugger bugger bugger, just read the solution and I had a completed grid but totally blew the last part. I thought I had to "find the key" and then "submit the crossword", not turn the key into a crossword.
Victory to Elap and I am still unable to finish an Elap Listener!
2009 tally: Listener 18, George 30. Current streak: Listener 2.
It's cold and snowing here, most of my town is closed down today, and I hear it's not that pleasant across the U.K. either. So let's see if the Fiery Furnaces can warm us up.
Feel free to comment, and see you next week for a Christmas Edition of George vs the Listener, with a nearby resident, Hotspur.