Listen With Others

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Listener No 4716, Venation: A Setter’s Blog by The Ace of Hearts

Posted by Listen With Others on 13 Jul 2022

This was my second submission for this puzzle because the first one was fatally flawed (I had “Piltown” instead of “Piltdown” as one of “the circle of men” in one of the ring lights. The original version of this puzzle was also submitted before the checkers had advised me that they thought the “letters latent/cyclical entry method” had been played out and to try something different. So with this in mind I thought I would try the extra letter in clues gimmick, with answers entered either forward or backward for the re-worked puzzle. I wasn’t sure if this was possible or not, but the only way to find out was to try it.

First step was to open the powerful and free “Qxw” crossword construction programme, which I always use for circular grids. As the definition for “Tinchel” has 38 letters, I created a grid with 38 radials (my original idea was to create a 39 radial grid with “Tinchel” as one of radial answers, which could then be highlighted, but because “Tinchel” has 7 letters, it would mean that all the radial answers would have to 7 letters and as a result the grid would probably big too big to fit into the paper for publication and would be rejected for this reason) and put “Tinchel” into one of the circular lights.

In the innermost ring I created 12 cells (I think the maximum number of cells for this ring is 12 or 13, anymore and the cells would be too small for visually impaired solvers) and put in 3 four letter synonyms for deer. These lights were to remain unaltered during the grid fill as I felt if I had to alter any of the other ring lights in the outermost and third rings I could do so with minimum disruption to the grid overall. I selected only forward and reversed for the possible answers for the radial lights and worked my way round the grid putting in “Tinchel” first and then (by trial and error) fitting in synonyms for men in the other circular rings. This all went smoothly for a while, but I did meet problems near the end when the last few synonyms met the first synonyms and my options were limited, but I persevered and with a bit of juggling, got there in the end.

Next up was the preamble and the clues and as is the norm now there were a lot of alterations to be made to make them clear and fair, although some were just minor tweaks for better surface reading and space saving.

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