Listen With Others

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Listener 4065: X by Pilcrow

Posted by erwinch on 8 January 2010

Looking at the files for my comments on Pilcrow’s previous four Listeners, I see that I was rather dismissive and especially of the latest (3992: Tour de France), which had been completed in a little more than thirty minutes.  Football (3617) had an interesting grid, in the form of the net for a buckyball, and there was certainly something interesting going on here with X, where we had an unusually large grid (16×16) yet only 17 clues of about average length.  The fourfold symmetry with 4×17 grid entries hinted at the theme, which was confirmed after five clues were solved.  Corrections to misprints spelled out:
– – – – – – CT – – – MET – – –
And it was found that – Perfect Symmetry – fitted the clues and explained the title.
I generally like to tackle the bulk of the Listener late on Saturday morning after either a twenty mile cycle ride or two hour walk – a daily routine.  All the snow and ice meant that the bike had been put away for the duration so I was walking and only went and slipped, falling heavily, flat on my back.  Consequently, I had little enthusiasm for crosswords so it was some time before further progress was made.  Even then, nothing appeared to fit together until Berlioz was seen to cross slouch, tin god and ionizeUnnoticed and uncharacteristic followed after making tentative grid entries and I was then able to solve all but the 16th clue:
I had unsuccessfully tried to fit ooze to the wordplay of the 16th clue (Stuff which makes slippery, turning battle completely!).  Looking at this grid now, the scheme of entry looks obvious, just as the keyword stands out in Playfair workings, but I didn’t twig until entering the sixteen answers in conventional order:
Ironically, the missing answer was snow, MONS rotated 180°, so the clue was both thematic and topical.  The above grid uses the Georgia font as did the online title, X by Pilcrow, which may have been a suggestion but I thought that DejaVu Sans fitted the bill better.  I also used only the first of each thematic pairing, U/C, W/M and N/Z, rotated appropriately:
Undoubtedly, I have not positioned each letter in its cell perfectly but this will do!
Well, we have seen the likes of this theme before – Elgin’s Asylag comes immediately to mind – and we shall certainly see it again but I thought this a most ingenious construction.  Thank you for providing so much enjoyment Pilcrow, one of the highlights of the year for me.   It has compelled me to revise my perception of your puzzles completely and I look forward to your next.

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