Listen With Others

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Listener 4725 Carte Blanche, by Piccadilly

Posted by vaganslistener on 9 Sep 2022

Groan… it’s another numerical. They roll in like depressions from the Atlantic. I’m moderately numerate, but they’re not crosswords and not my cup of tea, so I usually skip them in the Magpie, but try to complete them here in the Listener, not that I’ve really got a snowball’s chance of an All Corrrect year. Anyway, it’s good to show willing, so here we go…

The key is usually to find a “way in”, and to to my great surprise once I noted the SO, HO and OR at regularish intervals in the down clue numbers, the penny dropped that that sequence was indeed the “way in”, since the numbers they represented would be in ascending order and quite probably begin with 1 2 3 4 5 etc. And so it proved to be. My first guess at O was wrong, but my second, once I realised that some other clues containing it constrained its value, was right, and in no time at all I had quite a lot of putative equivalences.

At this point supper intervened, and while a glass or two can soften the pain of number theorising, it isn’t that good for accurate calculation, so I decided (a) to wait until the morning, and (b) to work up an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the consequences of my vaue choices. It took a moment of revision to remember how to enter a factorial, and I needed to check the formulae carefully (the working ones are hidden under the answers they generate) but after an hour or so it was working a treat, and I found I had 19 of the 26 letters almost certainly correctly allocated. Looking through the across clues suggested some suitable guesses for the rest, and of course the self-calculating nature of the spreadsheet meant I could check them out in real time.

A quick check of the entry method and that the across clues gave symmetrical word-lengths, and it was time to build the grid. I am prone to transcription errors and it’s hard to put in the bars at a neat thickness, and checking the entries would be a nightmare (pity John Green) so I resorted t technology again and typed it all into Crossword Compiler to produce the nice neat grid you see here, with the “Review Clues” helpfully then listing then in conventional order for checking.

A bit of a slog at times, and I miss the theme that setters sometime manage to build even into numericals (or did I really miss it?), but a very cleverly constructed puzzle, and as always a bit of fun and games in the pseudo-words hidden in the clues. So Hi! [Clue UR] Piccadilly, and thanks, and hope to see you again soon.

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