Yes: another new setter (or partnership) to wrestle with. What a feast we are having.

The preamble wasn’t giving much away directly, but we were clearly going to be looking for a SUBJECT, probably a person rather than a topic, and three of their CONCEPTS to highlight. Six letters from clashes would reveal the subject (I was a bit slow in realising that that probably meant their name) and when joined they would make a thematic shape (something geometrical?).

Further lines joining those six squares would cross at other clashes and illustrate the “central” concept (I didn’t understand what that meant until later). Corrections to misprints in 10 definitions would give a further hint to the subject. And oh yes, four symmetrically placed entries had to be anagrammed. The setter had been VERY busy.

The way in for me was discovering quite quickly that 1d was one of four entries that needed anagramming. The answer INTEGRAL fitted with crossing entries when transformed into TRIANGLE. That was sounding usefully geometrical! Pascal has one of those named after him (in *Chambers*). 25d is symmetrically placed with WORDAGES emerging as its answer and DOWAGERS as its transformation. WAGERS – didn’t Pascal also have one of those named after him that I studied at college? That was looking like a Subject and two Concepts. What and where was the third? A bit of research revealed Pascal also had a THEOREM, and there it was in the centre of the puzzle (so *that’s *what “central” concept meant), unambiguously filling the central cell.

After a bit of grunt completing the grid I was confident I had the misprint message MATHS HOMME which is rather Frenglish but fitted Pascal fine, and eight clashes. By now I had looked up Pascal’s theorem and the associated diagram was – lo and behold – the same as the pattern of the clashes. Only then did I notice that the elements of the clashes needed to leave real words spelled out PASCAL while the unused ones added BLAISE for good measure. VERY neat, Mr Snaky. That almost makes you Mr SNEAKY. The cells were duly joined to make a thematic shape – but should that be the hexagon or an ellipse in which it inscribed? The theorem states that if a **hexagon **is inscribed in a **conic**, then the three points at which the pairs of opposite sides meet, lie on a straight line. First I went for the hexagon, then a conic (ellipse), but we shall see.

The final step was to look at the points of intersection of the interior lines, and three of them spelled out GOD, the topic of Pascal’s Wager, and forming the Pascal Line of the Theorem (red circles added for clarity). (The preamble wording says “the clashes at their intersections” spell the topic out, but there isn’t a clash in the central cell which is a bit worrying. There are two clashing squares involved, one with G/S in it and one with B/D, but I can’t make anything out of G+S+B+D and can’t see another option so am having to stay with GOD, as a Bishop probably should… Or am I muddling or overthinking this?).

All in all a very rich puzzle and a remarkable first outing. I hope there is another under construction and look forward to it slightly nervously as Mr Sn(e)aky certainly has the potential to get us up a gum tree.