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Round Robbin’ on the Crossword Centre message board.

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 September 2013

Nothing needs to be highlighted!

Nothing needs to be highlighted!

The Numpties sent off  their entry to the August puzzle yesterday (in July!) That belies the fact that it caused us more than the usual amount of Numpty head-scratching. Had it not been that we were part of this creation, we might well have abandoned in despair as, after about twenty-four hours of clue-gazing, we had only my putrid little clue in place (Occasionally recondite unknown book of manuscripts – Well, you try cluing CDEX!) and one other, SENNET (Enter Amiens in error – Marie exits to the sound of trumpets – ENTER AMIENS less MARIE*) Would a purist say that that one also needed an anagram indicator to tell us that the letters of MARIE had to be individually extracted and out of order?

Of course, I was one of the privileged ones whose clue (if I could remember which it was, and, at first, of course, I couldn’t) gave me a hint as to what was going on – that missing O – and the title gave another. We guessed very early on that we were ‘Robbin’ rounds’ from words either in just the wordplay or in the entry as well, with a number of normal down clues.

Fortunately, the other Numpty appeared at breakfast saying ‘WHIPPOORWILL’. I know he has strange dreams but decided that this time, he had decidedly flipped until he explained that he had finally seen the way into the crossword. (W(ith) HIP + PR + WILL and two Os missing).

SECOND GROWTH followed quickly (We had to cut A twice from GARDENS WATCH* – and this time, the As were indicated as ‘separate’ – then again, add a couple of Os to the anagrammed word). The grid began to fill.

Why am I writing a blog? I usually stick to just Listener blogs. Well, in truth, this crossword grew on us as we solved the handiwork of one brilliant setter after another. That list of names (with the odd Numpty blotting it) was an illustrious gathering of stars and clue after clue earned delighted guffaws or astonished intakes of breath.

IMG_0545I marked my favourites as I went along. EEYORE was an obvious candidate, though that must have been set by some modern Yoof as we oldies know very well that our old friend was a rather moth-eaten grey donkey and would certainly be gloomy about being labelled a ‘Blue ass’ in Disney style.

That one is sure to earn its fair share of votes, as is JESUS WEPT, and I can imagine MASS NOUN earning a few too. (That fearsome thing that editors prompt me about when I have a single word like VRILS or HAPPINESSES that is the only one that will fit a light). The trouble is that almost every clue proved to be masterly, but this blog would go on for ever if I listed all the joys. My vote went for OH DEAR. ‘My old man and that woman are intertwined’ (6) I would love to know which star compiler managed to give a two-letter definition (MY!) and a naughtily suggestive word play (O + DA and HER intertwined).

IMG_0546I filled out my grid in ink, ready to be sent to quiz.man at ntlworld and wondered whether I should do the Listener thing and risk highlighting all those Os that had appeared in a circle in the centre of the grid. Didn’t it say ‘Nothing needs to be highlighted’? Oh ho ho! The light dawned. What a fabulous final touch. This one, to my mind, was a compilation worthy of the Listener and definitely meriting a blog. Grid by Paul McKenna – edited by Derek Harrison. congratulations! It was a stunner!

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One Response to “Round Robbin’ on the Crossword Centre message board.”

  1. Trevor the Marker said

    Thank you very much to Shirley for a wonderful blog, which makes us feel very grand at the Crossword Centre. I just do the puzzle marking, but it was a remarkable feat to get 36 different clue-writers to contribute in quick time to one puzzle, which was basically published as set, it seeming unfair to edit individuality.

    OH DEAR was indeed a popular clue set by Luciano Ward. The winner for favourite clue in the end though was EEYORE by Ian Simpson. This clue combined the splendid notion of the sad donkey being a ‘blue ass’ together with a most accurate description of the puzzle over the years.

    The puzzle can be found on Derek Harrison’s Crossword Centre website, and a full solution is available via his newsletter.

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