Listen With Others

Listener No 4463, The Evolution of East Perry: A Setter’s Blog, by The Ace of Hearts

Posted by Listen With Others on 3 Sep 2017

I’ve always enjoyed trying to solve circular puzzles (I don’t know why, my failure rate was high), so when I discovered Qxw on Quinapalus’s website I thought I’d give it a go.

I knew from reading on the Listener website that I had to have a thematic theme to warrant the circular shape of the grid. Fortunately at that time I came across the “Fifth Wheel” in Chambers and decided to try and build a puzzle around that. From previous solving experience I knew that there were a lot of four-wheeled carriages in the dictionary, so a text search revealed a host of them, and I listed them all with a view of trying to get them into the grid, either as radials (spokes) or circular entries to represent the shape of a wheel. Two of the definitions for “Fifth Wheel” each had 34 letters in them, which meant that there would only be 34 clues (which I didn’t think would be enough for a Listener puzzle), so I tried to add 6 radial (spokes) to this to make a nice 40 clue circular grid.

As this was my first time using the Qxw software (I didn’t realise how to use it to its full potential), I came up with a grid that I thought was the best I could get, considering the grid constraints. However, it was woefully inadequate. About half the answers were jumbled (too many) and (I think) the solution was not unique, which was a big no-no. Plus, because of space restrictions in the paper, there were too many letters in the innermost ring, which would make it impossible for people with impaired vision to read properly.

With all of these faults, the checker (Roger Phillips, bless his heart) could easily have rejected the puzzle, but he didn’t, because he liked the theme (and maybe he felt sorry for me?). He even came up with an alternative grid fill with only ten jumbles, which meant that I only had to rewrite 13 of the clues. But the clues (oh the clues) were bad, very bad. Not bad in the sense that they were nonsense, but bad in that there were small things in them (about 80% of them) that were wrong, like the duplication of indicating first, last, middle and odd/even letters, inaccurate definitions, etc. Anyway, Roger stuck with me (and I learned a good deal about some of the finer points of clueing) and eventually we came up with the completed grid.

Which brings me to clue number 10, “Duyure”, a remote place somewhere near Honduras. Because this clue is one of the jumbles, and the answer is so obscure, I should have made the clue to it a lot simpler to solve. However, at this stage “clue fatigueitis” had set in and I missed it, so apologies all round for any unwarranted stress caused.