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Listener 4116: Glow-worm’s Game of 1 … Again (or What the XXX! … Again)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 December 2010

Glow-worm is obviously a kid at heart. A number of his/her recent puzzles have had kiddie games as their theme. These include: 3747, Sardines in 2003; 3899, Kiss-in-the-Ring in 2006; and 4013, Hunt the Slipper two years ago. There was a notice at the top of the preamble: “This puzzle is not related in any way to No 4013, A Game of 1 by Glow-worm.” Well they’re both set by Glow-worm and both appear in the Listener series of puzzles, but thanks for the warning (perhaps it’s more than just being helpful).

At first glance, a large-ish grid and a long-ish preamble. The grid had nine obliques (slashes to you and me) in the central squares. Nothing too difficult on the clue front it seemed (no clashes, for example), just nine acrosses where the wordplay led to the answer with one letter being replaced.

I had one of my best starts for a long time. Perhaps the editors were concerned that a recent run of difficult puzzles had worn us down … time for a bit of a break. (I’m not at all sure that that’s the way they think!) Anyway, nearly twenty clues solved on the first pass, including four of the nine special across clues and five of those where the answer strayed into the central 3×3 area.

The answers crossing the unclued 13dn and 40dn were pretty straightforwrad, perhaps deliberately so. The entries for these two clues were .ROSS and .OU.HT respectively, and DROSS BOUGHT seemed very unlikely. So the game of NOUGHTS AND CROSSES was the theme, with the American equivalent TIC-TAC-TOE as the entry at 1dn. The letters in the central nine squares provided an anagram of 22dn, which was DAVENPORT. The preamble instructed us to put a NOUGHT or CROSS to the right of the slash, depending on whether the replacement letter in the wordplay of the nine special across clues was a vowel or consonant respectively. Thus I ended up with the noughts and crosses grid on the right, the Xs providing the WINNING LINE (39ac). A davenport is a small writing-desk and represented, I think, where the solver was working on this puzzle while the children were playing their game … hence the “cohabitation” in the grid.

Meanwhile, in the perimeter a quotation was building up. It looked as though it began LITTLE BONES (I’d already guessed that the square labelled d was a B), but a visit to my Oxford Dictionary of Quotations provided a far more likely index entry “Little boxes on the hillside”. Thus the edited quotation required was by Malvina Reynolds, an American songwriter: “Little boxes made out of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same.” This is a reference to houses in the hills near San Francisco, and provided us with the link to the game of ticky-tacky-tocky!

Finally, the winning line pointed us in the direction of the winner of the game: either NAIAT or NCROI, well actually ANITA/TANIA (the child with the identity crisis) or CORIN. Since the squares labelled abc def ghij spelt out THE BOY LOST, it was the girl who won and needed highlighting in the completed grid … in pink of course! 😯

A good, entertaining puzzle from Glow-worm, with some fine clues and nice surface readings. Clues which particularly deserve a mention are:

14ac Humorous journal, the “Eye” for JOCULAR
18ac Vest I acquired is filled with holes for OSTIA, with the O being a replacement for E in vest
18dn Smelly housemaid regularly needs bit of carbolic for OSMIC

Those of you who saw my blog on Listener 4105: Out to Work by Charybdis, may remember my reminiscence on Take Your Pick, that old TV quiz with Michael Miles. This week, I was reminded of another popular game show way back in the 50’s, Criss Cross Quiz with Jeremy Hawk. This ran from about 1957 till the late sixties and was based on the American quiz show Tic-Tac Dough … how typical of the Americans to fixate with money! (Mind you, the 80 quid in this photograph is probably equivalent to about £1,500 now.)

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One Response to “Listener 4116: Glow-worm’s Game of 1 … Again (or What the XXX! … Again)”

  1. shirleycurran said

    It never occurred to me that the appropriate highlighting was that girly colour (if I did it in pink, it was pure hazard!) Still, I liked the fact that, for once, the under-represented (at least in the crossworld world) sex got a look in.

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