Listener 4197: Bandmaster’s Duet for One (or “Who are you telling to …?”)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 July 2012
Remember the opening of my blog for last week’s puzzle by Hedge-sparrow: “It was Saturday morning and rubbish weather to boot, so time to get on with the Listener. The trouble was that this was the puzzle from the previous week, and I was running horribly late with everything. This was probably due to the stress of moving house, on which I’m scheduled to exchange contracts towards the end of the month and complete in early August. Watch this space.” Replace ‘Saturday’ with ‘Sunday’ and that’s this week’s opening!
And it was a carte blanche to boot. And a Bandmaster, who I think is one of the trickier practitioners. I can’t find a puzzle of his that I’ve blogged, and pre-2011 puzzles have all been packaged up ready for the house-move. So it was onwards and upwards with a blank grid in front of me.
Every clue had an extra word which had to be removed before solving. I did a double-take to confirm that it said “extra word” not “letter”. I thought that would make life pretty easy, after all they must be fairly obvious. I was half right. In the first six clues were the words reform diagram clearing cells containing atom, and the atom seemed likely to become A to M. After that, the extra words seemed a little less reluctant to stand out, until the end of the down clues, where I found submit original barred numberless grid highlighting five aligned letters.
Not that all this pre-solving guesswork helped me hugely with the clues, and that was borne out by the very slow progress that I made after highlighting the central point of the across clues … Chambers’ first discarded slack editor — definitions were consistent. Since the clues lacked entry lengths, it was essential to add them with every clue that was solved, making sure to similarly mark the symmetrically opposite clue if it was one of the acrosses.
ASTIR, UNEVEN, ERGO, then BLEEDS. That was all I solved in the first fifteen minutes, and I had been right about Bandmaster’s trickiness. After about an hour, I was beginning to get answers slotted into their correct places in the grid. And after about four hours, I’d finished it. This was a tough puzzle.
I’m afraid I didn’t have much time to spend on blog notes this week, partly because of all this house move stuff, partly because I’m back at work part-time, and partly because the animation on the right took ever so slightly longer than normal to produce. OK, OK, other things took up my time as well, including golf and the pub, both of which I indulged in to relieve stress!
So the reason why the extra words weren’t quite as easy to tease out as those in the first and last clues was that they were basically just random definitions. These were the definitions to the words in a conventional 13×13 block diagram puzzle, with the grid generated by removing all the letters A to M and blacking in the others. Luckily, the definitions were in the normal order, and it only took about 15 minutes to complete. I had, at first, wondered whether some of the entries were clued by more than one word since there seemed to be a few extra ‘extra words’. However, there was another bit of important instruction to be found: find slantwise expression. I actually got the diagonal hint fairly early on as BUY appeared running NW-SE, and once finished, there was BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE.
Back to the original grid, and in the top left corner, also running NW-SE, was BOGOF. The puzzle was complete, and great fun it was, thanks Bandmaster.