Listen With Others

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Listener No 4661, One Across: A Setter’s Blog by Lionheart

Posted by Listen With Others on 20 Jun 2021

The idea for One Across came from learning the terms parallel and cross cousin in a quiz, and noticing how the directions also fit crossword entries. I started building the grid after my first Listener suggestion was rejected for the average word length being too short. It seemed like the easiest grid to build of the ideas I’d had. There weren’t actually that many pairs of famous cousins (a list of 30 Celebrities You Won’t Believe Are Related would include 25 people you’ve never heard of) so I was pleased to find four pairs with workable names, work out exactly what kind of cousin each pair were, and then fit them into a puzzle. 

At this point I was still thinking of this as grid-filling practice. It was when I remembered the term cousin-german that I decided to go on with the clues. I like Listeners where the whole puzzle is thematically linked – where the cluing gimmick does more than give you an extra instruction that could have been preamble. I immediately both wanted to write this and dreaded having to do it with just one year of schoolboy German.

Cluing took a while; the first thing I found was that the grid was pretty constrained and that COHYPONYM couldn’t be removed. There are some words you don’t want to define and you also don’t want to write wordplay for, so I was delighted to get a decent clue, with the lovely gift = poison. I wrote the German clues first with a list of ‘false friends’. Some obviously went with one answer or another – like bier and ale – but most took a lot of headscratching. The extra letter clues were almost relaxing afterwards.

I sent this off to the editors and didn’t expect to hear back. The immediate reply was ‘we’ve got a backlog of 50 submissions to go through’ and I started worrying that the inclusion of living people wouldn’t be okay. So I was amazed to see my puzzle would be published. 

I’ve got to thank the editors for their work with my clues. In particular, my original clue for NEELE used ‘alt rock’ to disguise the pointy rock definition of needle. Roger and Shane worked out that neele never meant that, but reclued it whilst keeping the spirit of my original (as if writing partly German clues isn’t hard enough).

My pseudonym is the obvious one with first name Richard and middle name Leo. Thanks to everyone who solved this puzzle, whether you liked it or not. I’m still learning and so I hope you enjoy the next one more!



3 Responses to “Listener No 4661, One Across: A Setter’s Blog by Lionheart”

  1. davey said

    lovely puzzle Lionheart. as soon as i twigged the theme i hoped that Elf and Gift would make an appearance – glad you didn’t let me down! i must confess i did not realise that ‘cross’ and ‘parallel’ were anything more than descriptions of the names in the grid until reading this.

  2. Anne C said

    Thanks Lionheart, I enjoyed this – one year of school German and some help from Google Translate. I had not heard of cousins-German, nor parallel and cross cousins. But while trying to find the pairs of names, I did discover that ‘Törn’ translates to ‘cruise’. Unintentional red herring?

  3. gillwinchcombe said

    Thanks Lionheart, great job! I hadn’t heard of cross and parallel before, so I too almost missed the significance. I had however heard of cousin-german, back in the mists of time. I’ve written my own blog on your fine puzzle, reflecting the comments that arrive as part of your snail mail bundle. I hope your next submission is coming along nicely.

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