Listen With Others

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4044: OOOOPPPP by Raich – Setter’s Blog

Posted by Listen With Others on 14 August 2009

As one who works in administration, I had always been very impressed with Parkinson’s Law (Work expands to fill the time available for its completion), which I first heard of way back, fairly soon after it was formulated.

It is a very inventive example of ‘many a true word spoken in jest’ and cleverly made to sound very similar to laws in physics governing gases.

So when I noted the centenary was due (Cyril Northcote Parkinson was born on 30 July 1909), I considered how a puzzle might be built around it.

The basic idea never changed – some way in which the solver would have to apply the law by expanding the letters of WORK into the TIME AVAILABLE FOR ITS COMPLETION.

Ideally I’d have liked to make the surrounding letters comprise a square or perhaps rectangle but, after several attempts, could not manage this. So I had to let some of the letters go into a second layer outside the first one. Because of this, I thought very precise instructions would have to be given to the solver indicating the exact number of letters in the container which the solver would have to highlight. This would surround a 4X4 array which would comprise 12 barred-off cells and in the other 4 the letters W O R K at the beginning or end of words in four successive rows. This grid was very difficult to construct and normal symmetry was abandoned at an early stage. Eventually I succeeded, with the exact number of clues required to enable the message to be revealed by an extra letter in the wordplay of every clue.

This message gave HIGHLIGHT CONTAINER – TWENTY NINE LETTERS – USE PARKINSON’S LAW. The title OOOOPPPP gave an extra hint (or confirmation) to the fourfold expansion of WORK in the array, as OP (work) is an abbreviation frequently used in puzzles.

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