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Full Steam Ahead by Hedgehog

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 Dec 2019

Oh dear, Numerical. Are these really the crosswords that have the most entries? We are in sunny California doing the school run and some grand-child minding as their mum is doing a course at the far side of the continent – in Washington. Jet lag isn’t the ideal accompaniment for any crossword and, for me, certainly not for a numerical one. I scanned the clues to see whether Hedgehog retains his place in the Oenophile outfit and found only TT and an almost appropriate AAARRRGG!

The title and shape of the grid led us to expect that we would be putting 126 into our final grid, the steam-train record of the Mallard in 1938, and the letters used allowed HIGHLIGHT, HIGHEST, ENGINEER, GREATEST – it looked promising, though GREEN seemed likely; but the Mallard was blue  – and it was not to be.

We read the preamble with a degree of horror – a number from 1 to 11 inserted somewhere along the length of each solution (including the beginning or end) – how are we going to manage something that makes the solutions so fluid?

After hours of head scratching, the logical path emerged:

1a: Since AAA+AA is less than 1000 for A = 9 or less,  A = 10 or 11.  If A = 10, 1a = 1100 and no matter how one inserts 10 or 11 for the entry at 1a, either 3d, 4d, or 5d would start with 0.  So A= 11

14a & 30d: HENS must be 1234 in some order since none of their cubes can be > 99

27d: 100 > HHH + III – SSS >= 1 + III – 64 = III – 63.   163> III => 6>I.  So I=5.

27d: 100 > HHH + 125 – SSS => SSS > HHH + 25 => S = 3 or 4

If S = 4 then 25d = 20 but then either 31a or 34a would start with 0 => S = 3.

27d = HHH + 98 => H = 1

 19d: 1000 > 5*(5GG – 11) => 200 > 5*GG – 11 => 211 > 5*GG => 43 > GG => 7 > G.   G=6.

20a: 1000 > (TT(3+T) + T + L) > TTT => 10 > T

33a: 1000 > LLL+LL > LLL => 10>L

6a: 100000 > AARRR – GGI = 121*RRR – 180 => 100180 > 121*RRR => 830 > RRR => 10>R

So that only leaves D=10

9d: 1000 > 11*E*29 = 319*E => 4>E. So  E=2, N=4

3d: 1000 > LL*19 – R  > LL*19 – 10 => 1010 > 19* LL => 53 > LL => 8>L.  So L=7

27a: 100 > 5*(11 + R) => 20 > 11 + R => 9>R.  So R=8 and that leaves T=9

Even having laboriously produced all the numerical values with pencil and paper, I struggled to fill my grid, making an initial error that led to a chain of flawed entries. The only positive thing was that I could just make out ‘ALL THREES, EIGHTS AND NINES HIGHLIGHTED IN GREEN’, which produced a rather wobbly green GO in the grid and showed me where our errors were.

Completed with enormous relief. Late on Saturday – but thanks anyway, Hedgehog.

It occurred to me that crossword lovers who like the slightly different ones (indeed, I believe these numerical ones get the largest entry) would probably be the people who would appreciate the 3D Crossword calendar, 2020 3D CROSSWORD CALENDAR v2 and that a plug is always welcomed by the team that puts so much into supporting two really sound causes (the RNIB and BBC Children in Need appeal).

A number of friends including Listener setters (you’ll find me in January, Arachne in June, Shark in July, Nutmeg in November and Enigmatist in December) give their work to this beautiful creation. Please support us!




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