Listener 4323: ONEPO by Artix
Posted by Jaguar on 26 December 2014
Last week saw the final farewell to Radix, creator of some of the most fantastically complicated puzzles in Christendom — and last week’s was certainly no exception. Apparently his early puzzles featured in the very early days of the EV in particular. I’ve no doubt his work was important in establishing that series. He’ll be missed by many, setter and solver alike.
The Listener world has plenty of other setters ready to take up the mantle. Artix has gone a step further than most and made sure to have an “x” in his name. Listener solvers will have seen his work a few times before, in his 2012 debut (Golf and Teddy Roosevelt) and as the “R” in Rasputin the same year (featuring a circular grid and Rupert Brooke). I solved neither of them. And he has a part to play in the background of many other crosswords too: adviser, test-solver, helper, co-setter… at any rate, I’m familiar with his work and unique style. So I was looking forward to this one, although I thought it might turn out to be rather tough!
This week things seemed a bit more accessible, at least, and once we’d worked out what “12ed” meant it seemed that it was going to be an otherwise standard grid fill with normal clues, etc. Something of a relief! The six-letter answer thing promised for a fun construction, too — especially with the added 90 degree symmetry. I think last year Shark wrote a similar “only six-letter answers” puzzle for the EV series; although there the six-letter theme wasn’t made explicit in the preamble.
In the end, I only properly came to this on Sunday, and it took quite a while to solve clue 12! That made working things out a bit tricky, to say the least… still, eventually it became clear that 31 SEARCH might have to be entered as something else to fit with its crossing entries, and that something else was an anagram, namely ESCHAR (how lucky that Ifor’s recent puzzle taught us all the anagrams of Search!) And with that (about an hour or so’s solving time) I was away.
The rest was, mostly, pretty uneventful, a smooth ride to the finis through a cracking set of clues, the “search” one being probably my favourite for its tribute to a modern search engine (well, “ask Jeeves” anyway); also the (semi) &lit. in 21. Working out the grid shape was also not too bad, and came fairly naturally from the symmetry. Eventually, it was down to just a few gaps, and then finally there was just the mystery of 7. “Prised”, so after resorting it might be Prides. Yeah, I’ll go with that.
So, to the perimeter. Not Prides after all, apparently, as it didn’t take long to realise that the ten-word phrase was “six of one and half a dozen of the other”. But of course. So IR?D?S instead, or (eventually) Raised (Rai + sed, a charade but an obscure one!) giving IRADES as the entry. And that 13-letter word was HEXADACTYLOUS, or “six-digited”, ie 6.
Which leaves just the highlighting, and the mysterious comment about a link to the bizarre title and the initial grid. Probably took as long as the rest of the puzzle in some respects… until I realised that the initial grid was literally the grid we were given to start with, containing 12, 6 and four bars making a plus sign. “Twelve add six”, then — only that wouldn’t give a unique solution… so “twelve and six”. Sounds like something to do with old money, so maybe that’s the link to the title. Perhaps it used to be called a “po”? Or maybe not. It’s a mystery that may never be resolved… until another solve pointed out that 12s6d = 5/8th of “one pound”, or “ONE PO[und]”. Oh.
So, a pleasant little romp through various thematic 6s and 12s, all tied together in a well-constructed grid, and not too tricky. Also, look at the date this was published! December 6th, or 6/12…
Lovely stuff, Artix.