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Restitution by Schadenfreude

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 May 2013

Restitution by Schadenfreude 001Our first reaction? “Schadenfreude! Well he promises a challenge but it is sure to be a worthwhile one with a satisfying endgame.” Then “Hmmm, it’s one of those alphabetical jigsaw things! Well, that has the advantage that, as you solve, it becomes easier because you can fix solution answers in their alphabetical place. Let’s do what we usually do and mark the clue lengths”. Mumble, mumble, numpty grumble. “Well, there seems to be little correspondence between the clue lengths in the grid and those of the proposed solutions – there’s something fishy here!”

Of course, ASH, BRA, EYE, LEA, OBI and YES were almost our first solves but where were the 3-letter spaces? Suspicions surfaced. There were spaces for  four 8-letter words but clues for only two, spaces for eight 7-letter words but clues for only two. Something was going to happen round the perimeter.

We had 36 clues and misprints in 26 of them – almost one in four and then that rather disturbing OTG ZTOG TZCLGAS OUO HZG EUTH OGOGAH CAL UATL LGEUOOCH SGOHGE to solve. There was no clue in any letter-frequency there unless it was all those Os, but there was the capital L on Lgeuooch.

Nothing for it – get solvingI It was a generous set of clues with only the slightest hint of Listener compiler tippling in ‘Take ecstasy in sickly-sweet Manhattan cocktail (6)’ (R + E in ICKY) Oh dear Schadenfreude, mixing the drugs and alcohol! There was a generous smattering of disease, fungus, mental agitation, sickness, shocked staring and sore unopened spots, though. I wonder what those surface readings that we almost skip over unnoticed in our attempts to suss out the wordplay, do tell us about the state of mind of the setter!

MALTHUS gave us the way into the grid, though. That leading M (not one of the ETAOIN SHRDLU letters) so conveniently placed at the start of a word, was likely to intersect with EMOTED. We tentatively began a grid-fill, assuming that those six 3-letter words were going to turn into 4-letter words when the long perimeter ones appeared. That, of course, limited where we could put them – well,  BRA, anyway – there aren’t many places one can put a bra – no, seriously, we tentatively placed BRA? at 7 across. Yes, we were working on a numbered Antony Lewis Crossword Compiler grid. I have said before that I don’t know how anyone solves one like this with just pencil and paper!

I love this jigsaw part of the solve. As the grid filled, words suggested themselves for our solutions that were still missing. B?D?E?E? ‘Did bather, injured, get almost embarrassed? (8)’ Another of those kinky surface readings? Do we have an image of a shark-mauled swimmer worried about his torn nasty little elastic speedo? Ah, no, it was BAD + GE[t] + RED.

A full grid and yawning spaces where those perimetrical 7s and 8s had to go. Whilst the other Numpty worked out the cipher, I attempted to insert all the possible letters and deduce those four words. Neither of us initially succeeded. He was muttering “C, Z, O, L, G, O, S, Z, G, U, I … No, must be doing something wrong …” and I was mumbling, “LASBA?P? – what could that be?”

Fortunately, BOOTH and OSWALD put us out of our misery and the usual visit to Wikipedia introduced us to Czolgosz and Guiteau, so that we were able to insert their four victims. (McKINLEY, GARFIELD, LINCOLN and KENNEDY, with, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald as one that is unproven.)

It remained for us to work out our last instruction. There was a satisfactory sense that this puzzle was rounded off when those 26 misprints were put to good use in a final act of deciphering. I have been attempting to think my way through the order in which Schadenfreude must have set this (I hope he will tell us!) The difficult thing, after he had spotted that those four names would fit symmetrically and had worked out a grid that allowed partial ‘real’ words to intersect with them (Wow!) must have been finding those tough misprints in clue order. Of course, he just added to our struggle by removing clue numbers and originally placing the clues in alphabetical order of their solutions.

USE BLUE SHADING FOR THE ONLY RECENT AND ONLY DEMOCRAT VICTIM. We did.

Many thanks, Schadenfreude.

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