Listener No. 4328: Reductio ad Absurdum by Stick Insect
Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 January 2015
It had only been six months since Stick Insect’s last Listener, the wonderful Godly Mix-up where the grid spelt out PI IS 3 POINT 14159…20900 TO 80 PLACES. I wondered what he had in store for us this week, perhaps ZERO IS 0 POINT 00000…00000 TO 146 PLACES. That seemed unlikely.
I started this early in the evening on Saturday, the day of publication. I had promised JEG that I would try and post my entries well ahead of the closing date; I had been running very late with all my crossword activities over the two months leading up to Christmas. In this week’s puzzle, the perimeter would spell out a message, and its unchecked squares would be provided by the extra wordplay letters in 18 clues… how thoughtful.
I started on the acrosses. 8 passed me by, but 9 REMANET, 10 MUDS, 14 ETTLE and 16 SINCLAIR gave me a head start on the top right corner. It seemed perverse not to try the corresponding down clues, and 4 PEENGE, 5 EME, 6 RATLNE and 7 MELIKS proved that to be a wise move. So far, I had four extra letters, all vowels… perhaps they all would be.
I dropped down the right hand side of the grid. The lack of any clueing for the right-hand column didn’t seem to be a hindrance, and as I turned the corner and tackled the bottom of the grid, the lack of clueing for the bottom row didn’t hold me up either. This was proving remarkable easy.
It wasn’t long before I had made a complete circuit of the grid, and with just a few clues to tidy up, it was done in under an hour. Did this mean the endgame would be tricky? The unchecked letters weren’t all to be vowels as I had initially surmised. However, they were all in the correct order going clockwise, and it was only a few seconds until the message was to be seen: DELETE PERIMETER MESSAGE AND ALTERNATE ROWS AND COLUMNS.
I mentally deleted the perimeter and rows and columns 2, 4, 6, etc. OASEAE TESNLI DUKENS and more rubbish seemed to be a strange instruction that we were told would appear. I mentally reinstated the rows and columns, and deleted those numbered 3, 5, 7, etc. I was much happier with DELETE ALL, SEND UNFILLED GRID, and mentally deleted those words as well.
I suppose that explains why the clues were pretty straightforward. Spending 10 hours solving a puzzle, only to rub it all out again might be considered perverse.
So thanks to Stick Insect for providing a fun puzzle, and then taking it away again. What an easy week for JEG!
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