Listen With Others

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Listener No 4517, In Transit: A Setter’s Blog by Agricola

Posted by Listen With Others on 16 Sep 2018

I’d originally planned the publication of this puzzle to coincide with the anniversary of Cook’s arrival here in Aotearoa, but then I realised that back in the Old Country, the commemoration of his journey was more likely to happen on the anniversary of his departure. That meant that I had to stop daydreaming and get something down on paper to send to Roger pdq. It would really help if the Royal Mail could send us puzzle setters details of their commemorative issues a couple of years in advance, but I suppose that just isn’t a priority for them.

I’m still learning to have realistic expectations when planning a puzzle. My original idea was to combine Cook’s voyage with that of Māui, who fished the North Island out of the ocean and left it behind (along with his canoe) for Cook to “discover” many centuries later. Of course there just isn’t enough room to do that in a realistically sized grid. The other constraint, if I wanted my map to be realistic, was that I couldn’t reference too many significant points on the Endeavour’s journey: most of them are all scrunched up in the middle of the grid. That meant that I couldn’t make any reference to Australia — I’m so sorry about that 😉 .

I did spend a long time thinking about the correct form of the code word: HMS Endeavour or HM Bark Endeavour? Perhaps the latter is more correct, but I worried that it was also more obscure. I was finally convinced by re-reading Patrick O’Brien, who assured me that any boat with three masts was entitled to be called a ship, so HMS it was.

Many thanks again to Roger and Shane for all of their help in getting the puzzle up to scratch. They did – quite rightly – rule out one of my clues for using a neologistic anagram indicator: “Prickly Ned’s end on Game of Thrones cut”. If anyone can find a way of making this work then I’d love to hear from them. Also, in case you were wondering, I don’t have any plans for another Playfair puzzle (well, not for a while anyway). Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.


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