I’m sure he won’t mind my saying, but MynoT has been around for a very long time. This week saw his twentieth Listener, with over a hundred elsewhere. I think I can say without fear of contradiction that his puzzles are on the concrete side of hard. His last Listener was Delightful Punishment back in November 2014 with its theme of overlapping letters.
And this week, we had a grid without numbers and a list of clues in alphabetical order, also without numbers (thanks, editors). So it was jigsaw time, and that usually means a lot of cold solving. At least there were a lot of clues to get stuck into… 59 in total, with one unclued entry, all neatly scrunched into a 14×14 grid. There were also some extra letters in wordplay not entered in the grid, but they would have to wait until pretty near the end since they only made sense when put in normal clue order.
The first clues I try with jigsaw puzzles are those with long answers/entries. Well it didn’t take long to realise that, in try Mynot fashion, there were some shenanigans going on since the clue lengths and the grid lengths didn’t agree, so presumably entries were shortened in some way. We were faced with:
Starting my scan through the clues, I was encouraged by how many I got. After 45 minutes, I had exactly half the entries solved. Even more encouragingly, that was over half of the clue answers since one of the entries was unclued. I decided to have another quick look through the clues and eight more were polished off in the next 45 minutes, including PIN-STRIPED and PANEGYRICS.
It was time to try and cram some of these entries into the grid and see what happened. It seemed a good try to put those two P words at 1ac and 1dn. They were followed by NOUGATINE, ERRAND and YALE across, and NEURALGIA, TRANSFUSERS and PANNIER down. So far, so good, except TRANSFUSERS didn’t quite fit.
Of course, the symmetry of the grid (didn’t I mention it was mirror symmetry about the SW–NE diagonal?) was a bit of a clue and made me cram the RS in the square forming part of the diagonal.
After about an hour, the north-west half of the grid was nearly complete. As TÊTES-À-TÊTES went in, crossing FORERUNNERS, all became clear and SATURN was the first of the planets that this crossword revealed.
After that, it was relatively plain sailing as I teased answers out of the last few clues. Put in normal clue order, the extra wordplay letters spelt out Symbolise clashes. I knew that the planets all had symbols associated with them, but I needed to google to find out exactly what they were. We were also told that these were to be resolved in a “modern scientific way”, which seemed to indicate astronomical, rather than astrological, symbols. I used the NASA web site since I was sure they’d get it right.
And so another superb puzzle from MynoT was finished. Well, almost. I just needed to resolve the unclued entry, although this wasn’t needed for the solution. This was “connected with a thematic element and related to two others”. CRONUS (who would have been at 8dn if the grid had been numbered) was the son of Uranus and Gaia (Earth) as well as being the Roman name for Saturn.
As for the title, well I’m not sure. I can only think that Stomach is an anagram of Satchmo, and one of Louis Armstrong’s most popular recordings was What a Wonderful World.
Thanks, MynoT, you didn’t disappoint. Great fun.
[As a matter of interest, if the planets in my animation were in relative size with Mercury filling a 1×1 square, the Earth would need a square about 3×3, Jupiter about 30×30, and the Sun a monster square about 140×140 — 100 grids-worth!]