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L4620: Six-pack by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Encota on 4 September 2020

What a lot is going on in this delightful puzzle from Hedge-sparrow!

A Physics-teaching friend gave me, a couple of years back, a copy of “Particle Physics Brick by Brick” by Dr. Ben Still, which is subtitled “Atomic and Sub-atomic physics explained in Lego” – and I still refer to the diagrams in it to remind me the precise differences between quarks, fermions, leptons & related particles …

I loved how this puzzle gave you just enough – e.g. by giving the entry positions at least of half of the answers, even if you weren’t sure of the entry techniques to begin with. I started off pencilling in the first half of each double-clue where I knew them, until some clashed. Then I needed to make some sense of those clashes!

The TOP and BOTTOM of sTOPwatches and foggyBOTTOM in place were good hints. What are there six of, that include Top & Bottom? So QUARKS it was. The construction is very clever:

  • seven of each set of 14 are entered in the TOP half of the grid, the other seven in the BOTTOM half
  • seven are entered in the grid DOWNwards and seven UPwards
  • and can one tell the other entries that have been ‘charmed’ or made ‘strange’ from each other? Not sure! Jumbles for the remaining 14, anyway!

And then QUARKS appearing symmetrically across. A very nice grid 🙂

We then had the addition of those characters Gell-Mann and Zweig, plus misprints corrected to FLAVOUR in Set 3 to help us know which was the jumbled set. Loads of thematic material – very, very good.

As an aside, I was astounded to hear that SIDELOBE didn’t exist in the usual crossword dictionaries, as it has been in common use in communication systems design all my life! Surely a serious omission from the BRB and similar?

And was I the only one to work out the Total Charge of all the clues? [Erm, yes. Ed.] Each one combined an up-type quark (charge: +2/3) with a down-type quark (charge: -1/3). That makes +1/3 per double-clue, times 21 clues, making the Total Charge on all clues a healthy +7. Now how many crossword-related blogs have you read that ever give you such an interesting stat as that?

Tim / Encota

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