Listen With Others

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Listener 4726: Red Applause by Crash

Posted by vaganslistener on 16 Sep 2022

Hello Crash (if that doesn’t sound too odd). The Crossword Database ( doesn’t list any previous puzzles of yours but my spies tell me you’ve been solving for years: so welcome to this corner of Setters’ World. 

Neither title nor preamble gave anything away to me, and of course I have no knowledge of Crash’s interests to go on, but the circled squares (or should that be squared circles) suggested a game board. My first thought was something like Go, but as soon as Ps and Qs started to appear in the circles, it was obvious that the endgame was going to be, well, an endgame, in chess. But which game?

I really should add looking at the last letters of the clues to my “do it first” list, because the message from the clues emerged as ALL BUT NAMES AND LETTERS IN CIRCLES ERASED. CLUE ENDS. And the clue ends spelled out COLOUR PIECES APPROPRIATELY. MAKE FINAL MOVE WQ TO F4. But which game?

The names at the top and bottom of the grid stood out as SPASSKY and FISCHER and Googling them plus RED APPLAUSE led straight to Game 6 of the 1972 world championships (–Spassky,_1–0_(QGD_Tartakower)  gives the moves etc). Fischer opened very unusually with Queen’s Gambit declined. Spassky played his usually impregnable Tartakower defence (I ony know these things because I just read them …), but Fischer disrupted his plans with the seemingly innocent move of a pawn to e4 at move 20, and after White’s move 41 (the one we are asked to add to the grid) Spassky resigned. The audience applauded – and memorably Spassky joined in the applause (hence the title).

I found the clues fairly straightforward but wondered why they felt a bit sticky – until I realised that the need to generate the clue-end messages along with the misprints was forcing some awkward turns of phrase. All the same, they were well-done, as was the puzzle as a whole, and it made a worthy Listener.

The final challenge was how to colour the pieces. Colouring the letters meant white letters on a white background; colouring the pieces (circles) meant black letters on a black background.  In the end I went for pencil-grey on the black pieces. JEG can always rub the pencil out if he want to check the letters beneath 😊 .

Thanks Crash: and I hope there’s another in the pipeline. 


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