Listen With Others

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Listener No 4570, Bright Spark: A Setter’s Blog by Shark

Posted by Listen With Others on 24 Sep 2019

I like science and I like a good story, whether it be fact or fiction. Myths have played a part of several puzzles of mine, but the Kite experiment created by Benjamin Franklin is one that is clouded in mystery as to what really happened. I am sure this incredible figure in American history came up with the idea and probably tried it in some manner, however the outcome of it, perhaps is more questionable.

The pictorial representation of recreating the experiment in a Listener appealed to me; the remarkable coincidence that STRING / KEY and STRING / KITE, each hold the letters of (lightning) STRIKE could not be passed aside. The grid was naturally going to be longer in its vertical dimension to fit all the letters including LEYDEN JAR in a nice 3×3 section at the bottom, plus a zigzag LIGHTNING shape at the top. However, I wanted to create a final denouement leading to the “potential” result and therefore ELECTRICITY fixed the width of the grid to 11 letters. This took a considerable amount of fiddling with the grid to ensure real words after removals. Working from the bottom up, SEE A WOLF and SEA WOLF, was one of those fortunate finds in Chambers. Interestingly, I have just been on qat and it fails to come up with this change, so I am pleased even now that I discovered it. I had to weigh up whether to have a different E in that column or sacrifice an E from LEYDEN JAR. I liked the SEE A WOLF change so much that I thought that once the Kite experiment was drawn, it wouldn’t disappoint too much to destroy it slightly to create the ELECTRICITY.

I clued the puzzle in the standard Shark fashion, which tends to be at the hard end of the spectrum. I do not intentionally do this, but given I prefer puzzles that make you think when solving the clues, it seems a natural result of Shark puzzles. Of course, a carte blanche or jigsaw grid will naturally require easier clues to start cold solving, but this puzzle did seem to tax quite a few (according to the feedback). However, after the grid was completed and endgame realised, the overall feedback was pleasingly positive. Glad you enjoyed.



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