Listen With Others

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Sad Hummer by Hedgehog

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 September 2012

Honestly Guvnor, I was only joking when I said ‘Why not produce a numerical with misprints, just to double our pleasure!’  We gazed in total disbelief as this came off the printer. ‘They have to be kidding! Where do we start?’ That was two agonising days ago – well, our last letter was identified shortly before midnight last night and I haven’t wanted to look at it again since after all the bickering as the other numpty insisted on factorising every solution to check it and I just wanted to stick it in an envelope and never see it again.

Oddly, since we worked our way through this entire puzzle with just a couple of calculators, a heap of scrap paper, a few chewed pencils and worn erasers and only a spread sheet of possible three-digit powers with a central 1 or 2, for example (plus a few gin and tonics etc. to keep morale up) the less mathematical numpty (that’s me – emphatically LESS) could contribute more than usual for a numerical, though the contribution consisted of mindlessly working my way through possible values of A and B such that 91 x A x B could end in 8 – that sort of thing.

I read the comical comment by one resigned solver that he could, at least, inform everybody of one fact, that A was not A. That was about the limit of my initial understanding of the problem. What was the way into this and was it possible to solve it without a number of inspired guesses?

As usual we counted the letters in the clues to establish frequency (to while away the time while we gnashed our teeth) and sure as dammit, that showed us that 2,3 and 4 were a combination of I,S and T.

18ac was the only thing that was easy because I^(L^S) could only involve I,S and T and turned out to be 4^(2^3) 65536. It was possible to move on logically from there to 16d, the oddest of the clues so probably useful, the three-digit DKSTZ which could only be 2345 x 6, 7, or 8 (it turned out to be 960).

From then on it was a grind – we nibbled on with observations such as K can’t be 10 (from 3d). Guessing seemed to us to be compulsory so we’ll be interested to see whether Erwinch produces a logical path through the minefield.

Coming by the title of the Edna O’Brien novel was a lucky moment, though the clues where we had the greatest problems were not the asterisked ones. At least it helped us confirm our findings and it resolved the final question of the value of N, (that was our left over letter) and removed our doubt about L and Y where we vacillated between 20 and 21.

And have you read that novel? I did, years ago and it made me just about as miserable as this puzzle did. If I remember right, it was about a divorcee having a series of unsatisfactory relationships during a prolonged vacation and ultimately losing her son. Gloom settles on the Listener! I am still humming a sad little tune or SUMMING BADLY (though obviously that was a Spoonerism for HAD SUMMER).

I am sure Erwinch will give detailed input about the solving process so all that remains for me to say is ‘Thank you Hedgehog, roll on the verbal ones (and surely you can produce a carte blanche with jumbled misprinted numbers!)’

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One Response to “Sad Hummer by Hedgehog”

  1. erwinch said

    Sorry Shirley but I shan’t be blogging this and may have finished for good with LWO having completed five years since May 2007. I am serious about wanting to spend more time reading and my pile of books to read was not getting any smaller.

    Anyway, while I am here I may as well comment on the puzzle. Perhaps not as difficult as it first looked, my starting point was 18ac (I^(L^S)) which had a unique solution and where L proved to be the misprint. After that progress was fairly steady as I recall. This was a brilliant construction but not a favourite with me – I seemed to spend a lot of time making speculative entries and then dreading coming to an impasse. One notable feature was that the standard preamble instruction that all entries were different was actually required for once – the entry for 27dn could have been 80 or 60 except that 17ac had to be 60.

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