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Double Cross by Radix

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 Apr 2010

What a good thing that it was a miserable, bitterly cold weekend here in the Alps, otherwise the ‘Black and white horse (5) Z???A’ team might have objected to spending most of Saturday and Sunday tussling with Radix’s wordplay – and then much of Monday debating his logical time bomb.

We have painstakingly broken down all those obscure clues and produced two grids. Great. Put one in an envelope and mail it. But hang on a minute – which one. One has clues that read ‘These answers should be used’ in the first of two crosses. Yet below it I find an alternative, ‘Please ignore these answers’. Now this is a binary situation: an alternative has equal value to an original, it doesn’t override it does it?

Let’s take the other grid: ‘Please ignore these answers!’ Right, no problem. But what do I read

Two crosses! Double cross!

below? These answers should be used. Dilemma! Ah well, those extra letters will surely resolve it. What do I find (carefully checked so that I have ten letters included and ten removed in both the across and the down clues).  ‘You may need to consider the other clues instead.’ Ha, that solves the problem – but does it? Which were the other clues – how can he know which I was considering first?

I can see that this discussion can go round in circles forever. I wonder what would happen if I put my original grid in an envelope and sent it. After all, I rather naively worked on a single grid for about two-thirds of my solving and then realized that the clues were actually splitting themselves into two completely separate grids. Of course it made sense to work on two grids, since that automatically gave strong prompts for the missing answers instead of the jumble of letters that had confronted the bemused Stripey Horse team. I suppose that is another lesson that experience is teaching us!

All day Saturday and Sunday? What about Friday evening? Well the Z????A team abandoned in despair and decided that this one had defeated us as we could rarely decide where the half clues started and ended. ORRA, MART and SAUTERNE  (yet another oenophile Radix?) – we didn’t even reach our aim of 12 clues on a Friday and this one had 80, not 40 to solve!

Only the knowledge that Radix was behind this fiendish puzzle and that, therefore, every scrap of wordplay and every comma and semi-colon was going to be justified, kept us slogging on.

Some magic moments: (20a would not tramp once home – after whee(D)ling) we find that NILLED was an old form of NOULDE or ‘would not’, so we look up DELL and find that it fits the definition of ‘tramp; (17d Rat in a state in washing liquid) we put a likely ‘state’, VA,  into ELUATE and suddenly understand that we have EVALUATE or RAT(E). Slowly we tease out those extra letters and can guess at ‘You may need to consider the other clues instead’.

I believe there is a limit on the length of blogs. It would take several thousand words to work through our cursings, mumblings, red herrings and muddy garden paths. Suffice it to say that it was noon on Sunday before the notion of separating what we had into two grids shed a little light into the gloom.

The TOCOS grid was easily completed and THESE ANSWERS SHOULD BE USED appeared. (That was a good thing as this grid was certainly easier to fill.) One cross obviously led to the other ‘PLEASE IGNORE THESE ANSWERS’ – a relief, as we had lots of gaps. However, with zebra stubbornness, (and help from our gifted solving friend) we completed the grid we hope we have to discard. But who would opt for SIERRA from the clue ‘S(T) Swithin, viz start of rain by God trashing indoors?’ OK: We trash ‘within’ (indoors) and we are left with two Ss, so one of them is the S of the International radio code words (Alfa Romeo, Golf, Porsche and whatnot) and gives me SIERRA as our definition; I have an S left, viz gives us IE, Rain starts with R and we need the God RA – SIERRA! I had trouble with OLLA, as I thought that it was only the equivalent of OLIO in the sense of a stew – can it really be a variety entertainment too?

There were dozens like this for us and a number of new words – SEREIN, SHASHES, PILCORN, NOCKET, TALAYOT, LEIPOAS, ALBUGOS. Does Radix use these in everyday conversation? Well, perhaps we will from now on. One thing is sure, after probably about ten hours of struggling, our ability to handle wordplay must have developed. Many thanks, Radix, for stretching us to our absolute limits! We just hope you never get to a triple cross!

One Response to “Double Cross by Radix”

  1. Shirley,
    I’m glad you got there in the end … some of the clues and rogue letters really were quite tortuous. Interesting that we both had misgivings about the contradiction posed by the grids and the alternatives. Wouldn’t it be good if Radix did us a blog;-)

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