Listen With Others

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Listener No 4580, A Game of 11: A Setter’s Blog by Glow-worm

Posted by Listen With Others on 1 Dec 2019

As I mentioned to Shane when submitting this puzzle, I really hadn’t expected to produce another “Game of…” as I entered my ninth decade, but the spirit moved, and there it was.

It was harder than ever to discover a workable game to develop. Not that there aren’t plenty of possibilities; merely that, as Paddock, myself and others have shown, certain elements have to be available in the original game which are transferable to a thematic puzzle format. Among these is usually the chance to define a term in different ways, sometimes quite removed from each other. Thus, when I lighted upon “Chase the Ace”, I guessed this could be a fruitful path to follow.

The phrase quickly suggested a mini-journey for the solver, “chasing” various meanings of the term, and I realised that the ‘extra word(s)’ route was the way to go, despite its being rather time-worn. I also wanted to achieve two aims: to include some well-known “aces” and to introduce a quotation round the perimeter. Having regretfully set aside The Red Baron, I chose a tennis theme, and off I went to the ODQ.

There are moments in a setter’s life when fate intervenes on his or her side, and in this case I was blest with two such moments. I’d recalled John Betjeman’s fixation with strapping young ladies on the tennis court, and there, in “Pot Pourri from a Sussex Garden”, I found the lovely Pam. This suggested referencing the game’s female stars.

Now — could it be that the number of letters in the quotation plus those in PAM added up to a useful number, like 48? Yes, it might — and I offered up my thanks to the cruciverbal gods. Soon after, whilst thinking about a phrase for solvers to discover at the end, out of nowhere came “A Point of No Return”. More god-thanking!

How, though, to get from the aces to the punning phrase? Solvers would need to identify obvious letters, so I placed them at either end of the “non-quarry” extra words (as Roger named them). I hope solvers forgave the non-symmetrical grid, but the exigencies of the content (especially the perimeter quotation) made it necessary.

I don’t know whether I’ll manage another “Game of…”, but I enjoyed this one, and I hope my friends at The Listener did too. Kind regards to all.


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