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L4582: ‘Full Steam Ahead’ by Hedgehog

Posted by Encota on 13 Dec 2019

With a numerical to solve it is always very pleasing to have a Preamble with no ambiguity whatsoever, so this puzzle from Hedgehog started well. And so it continued – a great puzzle, many thanks!

And Full Steam Ahead? Clearly GREEN for GO, of course! Here’s my early draft of the solution:

There appeared to be a few ‘ins’ for this puzzle:

  • Clues with only one letter in were a helpful start, such as 1a’s AAA+AA. In this case, with A being any integer value from 1 to 11 and its result needing to be at least four digits long, A’s options were immediately cut down to A=10 or A=11. The former made 1a’s answer 1000 which, even with the pair of digits 11 added somewhere, would make one of the crossing Down clues begin with zero. So A=11 and 1a = 1452. That was quick!
  • There were a few clues of the form EEE + HHH + SSS, which soon allowed one to deduce that H, E, N, S were 1 to 4, though initially with no certainty of the order.
  • I used Excel to summarise what I knew. If a specific clue allowed me to deduce something, I labelled that something in the grid. It looked like this:

Where Green in the table means A=11, etc. [And even with a table this tiny I was pleased to be able to use Cntl-Enter to fill multiple cells – e.g. A1 thru A10 – in one hit!]

  • And the ‘jigsawing’ of entries-converted-from-answers was surprisingly good fun, with some powers of deduction required along the way! Most of the left hand side went in quickly: it took me longer to be certain I had the unique solution on the right hand side.

What is particularly neat about this puzzle is its high level of self-checking. If you had inadvertently added the wrong number in any clue (& you were all at 6s and 7s) then the hidden message wouldn’t read correctly. And, on top of that, the final colouring of all 3s, 8s and 9s gave yet another level of checking. So this should provide a high % of correct entries, I think.

Great stuff! Thanks again to Hedgehog.


Tim / Encota


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