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Duet for One by Bandmaster

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 July 2012

An enthusiastic Numpty vote of confidence for Bandmaster’s Duet for One – how could it be anything else? Didn’t we get two for the price of one and, even better, one that was just about at Numpty solving level.
We were a long way from home (still are) north of the Arctic Circle with24 hours a day of dazzling and scorching sunlight, feeling sorry for all our rain-bound friends, but fortunately the little laptop has Antony Lewis’s Crossword Compiler loaded on it. I wonder how solvers with only a pencil and an eraser cope with a carte blanche barred crossword that magically converts itself to a sort of Numpty-level blocked grid (of the ‘stripey horse (5)’ ilk – just my thing) then requires us to submit the one we laboriously solved in the first place.

No, I am not complaining: I thought this was a work of genius. Of course Bandmaster earned his place in the alcohol quaffing Listener compilers’ club with his lovely clue ‘[Deceiving] jug getting people endlessly tipsy (4)’ (PEOPLE losing both ends and going rather squiffy = OLPE).

Incidentally, is that yet more evidence that ‘endlessly’ can happily suggest the loss of both ends as well as just the end end? I like it!

It wasn’t a weakness of ‘Duet for One’ that we had sussed out what we were going to do before we had solved anything much at all: REFORM DIAGRAM CLEARING CELLS CONTAINING A TO M SIMULTANEOUSLY DARKENING REMAINDER. RE-SOLVE USING THESE DEFINITIONS. (Well, it didn’t take us long to see that there was no moggy lurking in there and not much hope of bosons or quarks so it couldn’t be A TOM or ATOM) FIND SLANTWISE EXPRESSION. SUBMIT ORIGINAL BARRED NUMBERLESS GRID HIGHLIGHTING FIVE ALIGNED LETTERS.

Danger signal – bars have to be inserted (and poor Mr Green who has to strike out all those of us who have overlooked a few – what a checker’s task!)

Solving was fun, even with only a Franklin Chambers and the ccw application and when we managed to resist midnight sun viewing we soon had an almost complete grid. ‘Wise hospital operations increase drugs (6, two words)’ defeated us (and perhaps other solvers too?) but fortunately the intersecting letters and that very transparent clue taught us that HOPS UP is a term for drugs.

We had been enjoying this from the start but my admiration knew no bounds when a symmetrical blocked grid appeared as we darkened N to Z. My new little Franklin Chambers gadget (Model CWR-119) was positively burning with pride as it had its first outing, producing words like FEDAYEE and ENDUE to fit those definitions.

Strange things were appearing too; BLUFFING GRID glared out at me on the top and bottom rows. Hah! Better still, Bandmaster with superb conductor precision had directed us to the diagonals and, sure enough, the maestro confirmed the title as this was a true duet for one: BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE. (Who can resist that advertising gimmick? How often I sadly stuff that extra item into the deep freeze wishing I could overcome the lingering austerity instinct and walk away with a single purchase!)

No, honestly Bandmaster, this time it was a genuine bargain – pure magic, though my Franklin toy didn’t like BOGOF. It suggested I BACK OFF. Still, I took a chance and highlighted BOGOF (that rather rude-sounding word) and carefully checked my original barred grid.

Thank you Bandmaster, thank you Bandmaster (twice). This was all a crossword should be AND MORE.

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