Listen With Others

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Listener No 4498, Name That Tune: A Setter’s Blog by The Ace of Hearts

Posted by Listen With Others on 6 May 2018

While I like circular grids, my favourite gimmick is letters latent clues, so I thought that with the help of Quinapalus’s crossword construction programme I would try to combine the two. I had thought of the Johnny Cash song “Ring of Fire” previously as the theme but didn’t know how to go about constructing a circular grid. Armed with the Qxw software, I managed to create a circular grid including the letters latent gimmick by inserting the message into the letter’s latent box, writing in the message in the third ring from the perimeter and then working on the radial answers in tandem with the synonyms of fire in the perimeter. This started off easily enough as the programme gave me lots of options. Near the end, cross-checking letters limited the options, and a couple of times left me no options at all. I overcame this by merging and unmerging some cells, thereby creating a non symmetrical grid — sorry solvers! — and juggling the synonyms for fire on the outer ring. Eventually I had a complete grid.

All that was left to do then was the clues (my Achilles heel). I put a lot of effort into the clues, making sure that they were accurate and fair. I then left them for a couple of weeks, reviewed them and made some minor adjustments until (I thought) I had a decent set. Unfortunately I failed miserably again. The editors however liked the idea and the delivery method and so didn’t reject the puzzle, even advising me on how to amend the clues. They weren’t that bad, but lots of small grammatical points needed to be changed. I used to be good at grammar at school but most of my knowledge has long been assigned to the skeleton closet, which I’m afraid to open in case something bad hops out! I eventually got across the finishing line. Although I didn’t understand all of the reasons for the amendments, I did agree that it was essential to have the clues 100% accurate and it is to the credit of Roger and Shane that they are so diligent in this respect.


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