Listen With Others

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Listener No 4581, Transformers: A Setter’s Blog by Yorick

Posted by Listen With Others on 8 Dec 2019

The idea for Transformers started with a curiosity about words which would remain unchanged after reflection on a horizontal or vertical axis – hence the presence of HOITY-TOITY and BEDECKED. Having some knowledge of mathematical transformations, I decided to try making up a grid with reflected and rotated words, which would therefore present the additional challenge of having crossing letters match their orientation. This was a long time ago and, as happened with all my ideas then, it ended up as a one-third-filled-in grid on a scrap of paper in a buried notebook.

Having decided to resurrect it for my next submission, I was pleasantly surprised at how relatively straightforward it proved to complete the grid, though it took a few tweaks to get the right number of entries of each type. Having decided to group clues by transformation type, and therefore not having the normal order, I decided to dispense with numbers and instead order alphabetically by answer, a variation that I have always considered interesting as a solver. The use of extra letters in wordplay to spell out descriptions of the transformations seemed straightforward, but did raise a couple of issues:

  1. having wordplay different from definition requires more rigour in the wording of clues and, still being rather a novice setter, I gave the editors more work than I would have hoped;
  2. my original descriptions of the reflective transformations were HORIZONTAL FLIP and VERTICAL FLIP, but research revealed that these were open to different interpretations – thankfully I was able to make the change to compass points that retained the same number of letters and removed the confusion!

The idea of furthering the theme by transforming letters in clues was appealing, but didn’t give much scope, so I was glad at least to include it in the switching of “b”s, “d”s and “p”s in the three misprint clues.

I will admit to liking my puzzles to have a bit more challenge than average and, although I wondered if this one might be just that bit too tough, I am gratified that responses I have seen so far indicate that Listener solvers have risen to that challenge – as, of couse, I should expect!



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