Listen With Others

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X by Pilcrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 January 2010

Solvers perform acrobatics to fit the clues into the grid


Only seventeen clues. Now that looked promising for the ‘Stripey Horse (5) Z????’ team, especially as the misprints seemed likely to yield something recognisable (piece for niece, mark for mask, incite for invite, slump for slurp and person for parson). However, it was the misprints that took us the longest. We almost despaired of finding the definition of X.   

Clearly, as there were 68 slots in the grid and a perfectly rotational symmetry in the grid construction, words were going to be entered four times each. Even the stripey horse gang could see that. But which words and how?   

As soon as we had ‘perfect symmetry’, we were away and solutions began to appear. SMIT, UNNOTICING, HOY, TIN GOD, REIN, SLOUCH. This was sheer joy, as, clearly, every solved clue counted for four – if we could fit it in!   

It was those words ‘in clue order’ that gave the game away. Feeding UNNOTICED into the grid in the obvious place, which had to be after at least one four-letter word (SMIT) and probably in the across clues – therefore three lines from the ‘bottom’, gave us the direction in which that word had to go four times. Wonderful!   

The only problem was that when we entered all the words we had by now solved (tailless ANOUROUS had crawled in), we had an impossible sixteen-letter word in the perimeter. Intriguingly, VITTORIO EMMANUEL fitted if we fed him in backwards; but he didn’t have much to do with an extraordinary personality to get moving about.   

It made sense to look for an N or a C in the four corners, and light dawned. ‘Extraordinary’ gave UNCHARACTERISTIC. From there on, it was downhill all the way (which boded well as heavy snow was falling outside) – sheer magic. Probably because of Pilcrow’s astonishing feat of compiling this grid with perfect rotational symmetry, the solutions simply fell into place. It was now simply a matter of dizzily rotating the grid to fit it all in, or performing acrobatic feats round the grid.   

No red herrings? You must be joking! It wasn’t until I was copying out my grid and imposing strict ‘clue order’, that I realized that the odd word NOSING should not really be appearing before SMIT. I hadn’t understood the word-play but fondly imagined it had something to do with handling first class reds (nosing the red wine!) Of course, turned upside down, it gave a far more satisfactory UNISON, and the ‘clergyman handling first class rode on the Tay’ gave the missing RAID.   

We loved this one and really admired the astonishing construction – down to that penultimate word SNOW (which, by 2 a.m. when I finished solving, was a foot deep outside the window).


2 Responses to “X by Pilcrow”

  1. Philip Crabtree said

    Nice solution, but I notice you have TINPOT in the grid, whereas TINGOD is the answer, hope you submitted the latter rather than the former (assuming you submit entries)!
    This puzzle ends quite a long run of corrects for me as I didnt get Uncharacteristic.

  2. Shirley Curran said

    Oh dear, Philip, I submitted this one with TINPOT, but we are not in the running for a run of corrects, either because we get too much assistance to be able to honestly submit, or because we are pretty incompetent. But just wait till about 2020 – by then we might be on the scoreboard!
    I am so sorry you didn’t get UNCHARACTERISTIC. It was a fine p.d.m.

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