Listen With Others

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L4604: Tour de Force by Kea

Posted by Encota on 15 May 2020

It is a very close thing comparing with the ‘Brock’ a few puzzles ago – both must surely be serious contenders for Puzzle of the Year.

As an aside, there are rumours that one resident LWO oenophile* considered this puzzle as not meeting the requirements for alcoholic content: however, with WKD clearly placed at the top of the grid – in fact on top of the BAR (in place close to the bottom of the grid in ring 5) I will beg to differ.

Back to the puzzle: 0, 1 or 2 letters had to be moved from its starting place in each word, toward the end of that word, with the remaining letter order unchanged. How exactly was not initially clear!

I found I was solving the clues on the right-hand half of the grid much faster than the rest, such that it looked very likely that the message hidden in Ring 5 seemed to begin CENTRIFUGE USING … The grid is round, so that seemed to fit nicely. Ring 1 seemed to be saying TURN ….. , which (kind of) backed it up. But now what?

The following morning I have solved a few more clues such that the message might have been reading something like CENTRIFUGE USING SCRAMBLE … Was this a hint at anagrams? Then suddenly the PDM – and CENTRIFUGE USING SCRABBLE … appeared!

Might the higher-scoring letters get moved further to the outside, as if their mass was greater? This allowed several of the entries to be sorted, plus greatly reduced the options for what might fit in the last 6-10 clues/entries that I hadn’t got. At long last I had them and, sure enough, the final message: CENTRIFUGE USING SCRABBLE VALUES FOR MASS (!) And, for completeness, ring 1 spelt out TURN LOOSE.

As an example where two letters were moved, BHOONA becomes OONABH, i.e. the B (3 in Scrabble) moves to position 5 and the H (4 in Scrabble) to the end. All the other letters, OONA, in this case each with a Scrabble value of 1, remain in unchanged order.

Another neat feature was shown in the answer to 7, which was FU YUNG and its entry as UUNGFY, where the G (Scrabble value 2) was still correctly placed even though it wasn’t moved in the order and only the F and Y had moved ‘outwards’. Equal-valued letters stayed in original order too, even if moved – see the pictured entries of FU YUNG (again) and LOCUMS.

What a brilliant puzzle, with a beautiful Title, too. Creating that must have been such fun!

Bravo Kea!


Tim / Encota

*Other lovers of alcohol are available


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