Listen With Others

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Listener No 4469, Follow-My-Leader: A Setter’s Blog by Harribobs

Posted by Listen With Others on 15 Oct 2017

I suppose the idea for a puzzle can emerge in two ways. You might be reading a magazine, watching a documentary, or browsing Wikipedia, and come across an interesting theme, and then ponder over how best to illustrate it in a 13×13 grid. Or you might think about how the words and letters of the crossword can be manipulated to reveal hidden information, and then try to find a theme that fits in with the gimmick.

Follow-My-Leader arose from the latter process. In other puzzles I’ve used coordinates to pick out cells to be highlighted, or to be joined together in a line drawing, but it occurred to me that the coordinates themselves could spell out a thematic text.

I needed a set of thematic elements, ordered alphabetically, chronologically, numerically, or whatever, so that their corresponding coordinates would produce the text. I started on, and went so far as clueing up, a puzzle where the clashes were stops along a journey, but eventually decided that some of the place names were too obscure. French presidents were my next thought but, as it was too late to get accepted in time for the French elections, I settled on the list of German chancellors.

The text containing the coordinates for all eight post-war chancellors would have sixteen letters. DIE BUNDESKANZLER was a possibility, but PALAIS SCHAUMBURG was more interesting and meant that “location” could refer both to the location of the clashes and to the occasional location of the Chancellors themselves.

The words in the indexing row and column were chosen so that all letters were different, and theme cells weren’t too close together. Bars in the symmetrical grid were set so that all theme cells were checked, and other bars adjusted until words could be found that produced the desired jumbles of the Chancellors in the right places.

This last step proved easier than expected. It seems that, even for quite awkward words like KIESINGER, you can generally find two words that clash to give the required anagram. For this technique, and also the use of an integral indexing row and column, I owe a debt of gratitude to Sabre who used them in the magnificent Identity Crisis (Listener No 4367).

I should also like to thank the editors for their advice and surprisingly thorough checking of the clues.


One Response to “Listener No 4469, Follow-My-Leader: A Setter’s Blog by Harribobs”

  1. Encota said

    Hi Harribobs, Thanks not only for a great puzzle, and setter’s blog, but also for the fact it encouraged Mark Goodliffe to solve it unseen on Youtube! If any of you out there have friends or relatives thinking of giving The Listener a try then there are a lot worse places to start than watching this!

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