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Number or Nummer by Ruslan

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 Sep 2011

There was going to be no numpty blog at all this week as there is one total number numpty in the team. Two small grids and a very long preamble that explained that letters were to be entered rather than numbers did seem intriguing. Being a  German speaker didn’t really help, in fact, I would say it hindered, leading me, later on, to have trouble remembering whether I was entering Null=0, Zero=0, Z= two, or O=one. I imagine mathematical minds would not have such mental confusion.

I did wonder, though, at once, why we had such a strange set of letters in the clues and not the more conventional A to K (omitting I with its ambiguous role). Could it have been to add to the German flavour of the whole works, giving us a handful of newspapery-sounding words (BLATTES, BILD, ZEITFAZBILDSDS and ABTEILS)?

One thing was immediately obvious. We were going to be playing with the fact that Z could be zero or Zwei, N could be Null or nine, T could be two or three, F could be Funf, four or five, S had the wide range of Sechs, Sieben, six and seven, E could be Eins or Eight.

The south-east corner was the evident way in. I wrote myself a list of square numbers and contemplated. One digit was evident – the squared numbers that had three digits all ended in 1 or 9, so an O, an E or an N was going into that square. The rest of Friday evening was spent flailing with numbers, trying to find the elusive D,B,A and I that would fit that corner.

If I have any advice for solvers, with regard to these tri-monthly numericals, it is, ‘Keep a careful record of what you do!’ I was absolutely convinced that we needed 19 and 29, but must have gone over the same ground at least three times. Once we had those elusive figures, the other numpty, who had already seen that Z was very likely to be 2, soon had a full grid, using the fact that (919) Neun Eins Neun in 1dn could tie in with (921) nine two one, and so on.

It didn’t take long to see that our solutions where German transcription had crept in read FEEZNEZA NENSANSA (FOOTNOTE NONSENSE) Well, I have to agree! Say no more!

Several hours of work had gone into getting so far and there was a gaping white grid on the right. Did we honestly have to go through all of that again? We were under the false impression that this time, we were dealing with an entirely German transcribed grid. Why, otherwise, would we be filling in the whole thing a second time?

Suffice it to say that we did and, once we realized that English transcription was going into that south-east corner again, with the one change that there was a 5(F) in that critical square at 21, rather than the given T(2/3), things went well. This time, Numpty 2 fed the figures into an Excel spreadsheet as we got them. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly considering the constraints of the grid) half of them obligingly stayed the same.

For me, the three-monthly nightmare is over and I am left with the feeling that Ruslan’s idea was very ingenious (though I wish he had given us only one grid and the word NONSENSE underneath it, for that preamble that I found pretty misleading).

One Response to “Number or Nummer by Ruslan”

  1. jake said


    this is the only way to contact you as my email has encountered pop3 issues. I cannot email at all. Can you please do the EV deeds.



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