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‘Follow the Directions’ by Artix

Posted by Encota on 24 Nov 2017

First of all, thanks to Artix for a very cleverly constructed puzzle.  Is ’SABRE-TAUNTER’ a suitable description for a Listener crossword?  The labels on the top and bottom initial grid rows of this excellent puzzle by Artix appear to suggest Yes!

Some delightful clues.  For some reason,

  Tissue Artix found under hi-fi (8)

really appealed – probably for the apparent mundanity of its surface.
Being parsed as STEREO ME.

In the main the clues felt gentler than some of Artix’s previous puzzles, though I found two were still quite challenging:

With no kids, up for grabs … almost … suitable for marriage? (7),

needed a memory jog to apply SP (sine prole, without issue), then add ON SAL(e).

   Runs out of splints, leaving hospital (6),

looked like the definition would be ‘Runs’ and the answer EXTRAS but it took me a while to parse, largely as I didn’t know the meaning of TRASH that is splinters (and thus splints).  So EX TRAS(h) it was.

Of the thematic information, I spotted ROSE SALTERNE first in the finished grid and vaguely recalled the name.  A bit of research soon led to the hero AMYAS LEIGH and the book, WESTWARD HO(!).  There only seemed to be one way to find the three parts of the title – as WEST-WARD-HO spread around the across clues.  And the new beloved name was AYACANORA, according to the research.  So now what?  [Aside: this was probably about the 40% of total time used stage!]

As an aside, if one attempted to write a clue where the answer was WESTWARD HO! (CHARLES KINGSLEY), how would you describe the clue length, especially the Exclamation Mark?  Might it be something like:

  Novel when galleys cross with Drake! (8,2,1 (7,8))

And would you include the ‘!’ in the letter count? Or would you do something else entirely?

Anyway, back to the plot.  I had two early ideas – one much brighter than the other.  And boy, was one dim, so that’s not saying much!  The heptagon, given its odd number of sides could readily be shown to not entirely follow the gridlines – as that would result in an even-numbered shape.  So there must be some diagonals.  However, I then looked at the AMYASLEIGH in a column and thought, “That could easily be a mast, it must be an image of a sailing boat, that’s how he embarked upon his journey.”  And that was my downfall – in terms of wasted time.  I drew multiple different configurations of two-sailed boats.  I could make the sails fit half the space easily but the hull was a nightmare, as I couldn’t get the parts of WEST-WARD-HO to all properly come into contact.

So I tried looking for AYACANORA instead and was delighted to find it in three 3-letter parts, with all but one O, in Column 7 – as AYA, CAN and URA.  At this stage I still hadn’t cottoned on to the fact I was looking for arrowheads, let alone that the first should be pointing Westward, so I worked out the simplest cuts I could get away with to ‘free up’ AYA, CAN and URA – and suddenly things began to become clear.

The ‘pun-meister’ reputation that Artix has long been building luckily led me quickly to reading ‘love restored’ in the Preamble as meaning change the URA to ORA.

My final decagon looked like this (after the Tippex storm in which the hero had been ‘struck by whitening’) [‘O deer‘ Ed.]

Screen Shot 2017-11-05 at 22.17.04



P.S. Did you know that CHARLES KINGSLEY was actually a pseudonym?  He was going to subtitle the book ‘RISKY CHALLENGES’ but decided to be more subtle and hide it as jumble, in his pen-name.  His real name was Geppetto.  Not a lot of people know that …


One Response to “‘Follow the Directions’ by Artix”

  1. TonyC said


    Paul recently clued Westward Ho in Guardian Prize 27, 328 as:

    A marked village showed wart, unfortunately (8,2)

    A bit easy for a Listener, but the issue of the exclamation mark was discussed in comments to the blogpost at

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