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Atom Smasher by Llig

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 August 2010

The numpties are too dependent on solving aids, like Anne Bradford’s indispensable Crossword Solver’s Dictionary and the big red book and its CD versions, so, although friends moaned that Llig’s Atom Smasher was easy and not sufficiently challenging, we, dumped as we were by Easyjet at midnight, two hours after the plane was due to leave, with no replacement flights for three days, had a tough time coping with this one during a 20-hour drive.

Llig again! We have only just solved one of his in this month’s Crossword (together with Curmudgeon – who on earth is he?) and it was fairly challenging so we might be in for a struggle.

Just a large sheet of paper, a pencil and our limited brain power. Ah well. SPACEMEN, NEREID, NEURAL, SUPERNOVA, GNOMON and a few more obvious anagrams appeared easily but we needed the Internet to reassure ourselves that DAMOCLES was a flatterer and not just the fellow of sword notoriety or that DENEBOLA shines in the tail of the Lion constellation. There seemed to be an unusual density of scientific words and an unlistenerish lack of alcohol this week – just JAVA, a plastic beaker of Internet cafe coffee at 1ac. We were travel-weary and ready to moan when we met the crosswordese ‘Top star eager to make a comeback’ yielding DIVA at 42ac. Yes, obviously we have joined the ranks of toffee-nosed Listener snobs who scoff at an easy clue – SHAME!

For us it was a laborious grid-fill with an immense struggle to sort out the south-west corner, even though YOICK (one gets to laugh about call to spur the hunters) had been the obvious solution to 34ac. Those clashes were the problem. (Numpty note – look for the obvious hint! 13 clashes make 26 letters!)  A kind friend said “Why don’t you write down your 26 clashing letters and examine them closely?” Of course, by then, we had worked out that the down misprints yielded ‘THE LETTERS A TO M ARE ERASED’ so it was fairly obvious what remained to be done. I can hear the purists saying’ “What a pity that real words were not produced in both down and across lights!” – but hang on a minute. Simply fitting all twenty-six letters into the grid probably took a few days’ hard labour and combining that with coherent words in both directions would have been a tall order – wouldn’t it?

For me, listing those letters solved the clue that was still causing me to scratch my head – or did it? . BanK/E gods steer to harvest (6) I needed an X – DIOXIN or DIOXAN? I still don’t really understand the wordplay. Thank you Llig for entertaining us during a very dull overnight journey!

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