Listener 4338: A game of 15 by Glow-worm
Posted by Jaguar on 10 April 2015
2015 has so far seen a set of entertaining diversions rather than the super-hard puzzles that we saw quite a few of last year. But there’s certainly been a few fun ones, and here’s another one. Glow-worm’s offering takes us, as it happens, on a busy stroll through the local fair. Glow-worm invites us to take part in a spot of duck fishing, as I unimaginatively know it, or “hook-a-duck” as Wikipedia calls it — a frustrating game, as I remember it, but Glow-worm’s version is markedly less so.
What a preamble to start with, though! Trying to decipher all that was a mess, and I stared at it several times trying to make sense of what was meant — and, predictably, failing, despite maybe ten minutes of reading, and re-reading, and re-reading again once more, and then the thought occurred to me that I might try looking at the clues instead. Turns out they weren’t so hard after all, and about thirty minutes later I had half of a full grid and some idea that the letter O was moving about, with NO G(o) and CUDDLY T(o)Y appearing along the top as PRIZES (apparently). putting us in the realm of some game or other.
Back to my actual work, for a bit, but after getting bored of being productive I found that completing the rest of the crossword turned out to be also rather easy, although I’d skipped parsing the clues (and still haven’t found all of the three superfluous definitions, for that matter). By this point, though, I had the theme — “hook-a-duck”, and after fond memories of fishing for ducks that turned out to have useless numbers on the bottom, I went through and found what the six jumbled ducks were — 11ac Eider, 26ac Pochard, 31ac Wigeon, 7dn Teal, 20dn Shoveler and 34dn Mandarin. Comparing with the circled cells and there is DONALD left over, one of the more famous ducks after Bradman’s. (Speaking of which, I wonder if Don Manley, who has set in the past as Duck, was hooked by this one..?)
Well, that’s the theme and most of the playing-around with duck-hooking sorted out, But there were just a few odd gaps left over. Most notably, what was the last across clue? Eventually I figured on “OOPS (Op = surgery, +S), but I’m not entirely satisfied by that and have been wanting to make “loss” work. Also 23ac GONG (Going – i[nterior]) and 33ac, which is clearly LEES (worst part) but it took a while to see Le[gum]es — two of the sneakier clues in an otherwise easy if entertaining set.
And, finally, the highlighting — the ROD we have been using to do all that hooking through the game. A very fun and packed compilation, Glow-worm, and yet being not too difficult it’s a good introduction to how much thematic material can be packed in to a puzzle.