4037 S by Hedge Sparrow (S)urvival!
Posted by shirleycurran on 26 June 2009
Yes, we the easy clues junior 8 X 8 team did realise that S is the origin of species – one of the many onion layers of this challenging crossword, but, for us, it was, at times, a matter of (S)urvival.
Naturally, like most solvers (I imagine) we have been expecting this theme to appear – a bit like Haydn (or Bloody Haydn again, as Dave put it) but we had gone a long way before Galapagos and Evolution tempted us to look for Darwin in the middle of the grid.
Those four asterisked clues jumped out at us – GAMMON, ATTEND, SAPOTA and BOTTLE but we had our usual depressed moment when we realised that they were going to be jumbled. I imagine the compiler has to do this to enable his endgame, but what hard work and frustration for the solver!
We are Darwin and Galapagos enthusiasts so ‘the voyage of the …’ soon led to B(EAGLE) but we could hardly believe the P?PAAA that we had as six extra letters – it took our wise crossword genius friend to explain to us the last of the six – SAG from GAS(P) – another P.
We can’t have been the only solvers to be struggling to find our ten clashes and, worse, to be unsure how we were to resolve them. Lots of lucky guesses almost filled the grid but we were really floored by 14ac. Now I know that LEI is the Romanian capital (of course, I was having difficulty fitting Bucharest into the grid!) and 7d. G(O)ALL seemed likely but how was it going to fit with PLAINER and DESTINE? The same occurred in the south-west corner. We liked our DIV(A)E and NICE(E)LY but, of course, they meant that we had to find a word for some sort of force that was L??V? (Yes, TEETH – (S)HEET rev. round Tories’ leader) This is almost beyond the comprehension of the junior 8 X 8 team! Again, I wonder how many other newcomers were nearly beaten by the fact that two of the final words to enter contained four of the clashes.
‘Survival of the fittest’ took a long time to tease out and it took even longer to work out which Chambers accepted as the fittest. What an amazing pdm to see that, in order of grid entry the winning letters spelled out THE FITTEST!
That S of the title suddenly made sense but we still had to put what we thought were going to be a set of apes (lots of As and Ps) into the grid. Of course, we produced one of those evolutionary chains we used to have to create as word games at the end of term.
I think we survived this one – acknowledging that it was clever and difficult – tough for learners. Thank you Hedge-sparrow.