Two things sprang to mind when I saw this week’s puzzle. Firstly, “Oh dear, it’s Mr Magoo, so a fiendish one is on the cards!” Secondly, “It’s too soon for the next mathematical puzzle surely.” It soon became clear that I was wrong on both counts. This wasn’t a mathematical, and, although indeed by Mr Magoo, it wasn’t too fiendish.
Only some letters of the alphabet were to be entered in the grid, and then it would be necessary to divide it into “different pieces”; no doubt one across would reveal all. Not that it revealed all straight away, as it wasn’t the first clue to be solved. Like last week, we were told the answer lengths , and they frequently disagreed with the entry lengths, so a bit of unexpected help from the maestro.
9ac SOMEONE and 15ac PAIRINGS came first, followed by the superb 20ac Two thousand and thirteen maybe shows this ultimately? (7) for ODDNESS. Both 9 and 20 had 7-letter entries, so, unless there was some real fun and games going on, it looked as though the letters D, E, M, N, O and S were among the letters which were to be entered.
5dn [u]N[k]NO[w]N, 6dn [b]OS[u]N and then back to 8ac IMMENSE. 1Dn DIS[ar]M and at last 1ac DOMIN[at]O[r]S. So I had the theme, and the worrying bit in the preamble about partitioning the grid didn’t seem so worrying.
And so, for a Magoo puzzle, I finished in pretty quick time. A couple of clue explanations held me up a bit. 21ac Reforming navy is sinking Britain in more out-of-fate debt (9) was MODERNIST, being RN (navy) IS in MO (old word for more) DEBT – B (Britain); and 7dn It’s in a way “strained” (9), which didn’t so much hold me up as stump me completely…even now.
All that remained was to divide the grid up into 28 domino pieces, with each of the letters D, E, I, M, N, O and S representing one of the ‘spots’ from 0 to 6. I solved it fairly quickly, even though the bars already in the grid tried to catch me out. It was just a question of taking each domino in turn, D-D first, then D-E, D-I, D-M, etc (or whichever order took your fancy) and seeing if there was a unique occurrence. If not, on to the next one, and starting again, when the list was finished, for a second and third pass through.
Thanks then to Mr Magoo for an easier than normal puzzle. However, it has me dreading his next offering which, I suspect, will be a little trickier.