Listen With Others

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Listener No 4582, Full Steam Ahead: A Setter’s Blog by Hedgehog

Posted by Listen With Others on 15 Dec 2019

I developed Full Steam Ahead some six years ago so my memory of working on it is somewhat hazy.

I enjoy trying to incorporate a new idea into a puzzle and so the idea to insert numbers into the clue answers and to give that a message was appealing. Can it be done and how could it work? Highlighting GO in green and the title were ideas in the back of my mind so were in at the beginning. I do remember trying to construct a message by only inserting single digits which only gave 9 letters (or ten if 0 was used). On the other hand, having some two-digit insertions seemed a bit untidy. When I went for the more messy approach of some two-digit insertions, I immediately thought of the clue for 1 across as a way to get started. The puzzle looked at if it might be very intimidating for solvers (and the setter) so it was attractive to have a deduction to get started immediately. The length of the message and 1 across determined the rough size of the grid and a little playing around gave me the final one.

After that, the grid fill was largely determined by the location of extra numbers and 3,8,9s. This was particularly problematic in the bottom half of the grid and took quite a time. After the grid fill, I only had a clue to 1 across but added a number of higher powers of the lower digits to fit the style of 1 across and give a way to solve for digits although at that stage there was no clear solution path.

At this stage, I sit down and solve the puzzle. It really doesn’t matter that I know the answer as it is simply a logical exercise as to whether the answer can be deduced. I don’t remember having to change many of the original clues. It was pleasing that it turned into two stages — deducing the letter values and the grid fill — and neither was trivial.

In retrospect, I feel that it is not the neatest of puzzles but does have a somewhat different logical challenge and is not just a number-crunching exercise. However I await the opinions of solvers.


One Response to “Listener No 4582, Full Steam Ahead: A Setter’s Blog by Hedgehog”

  1. David Thomson said

    Many thanks and congratulations, Hedgehog. I can’t say I found the puzzle easy – numericals are not my natural habitat – but it was well-conceived and certainly not just the sort of slog that has to be resolved in Excel. My own opinion is that offerings that cross the boundary a bit between words and numbers are interesting, but purist may disagree?

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