Listen With Others

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Listener No 4734, Definition: A Setter’s Blog by Gnomish

Posted by Listen With Others on 13 Nov 2022

The inspirations for the puzzle were the two definitions of space (the other being “intervening distance”) and the definition of DEFINITION as “sharpness of outline, visual clarity”. I really liked the “material bodies” definition, found by chance. I understand that its vocabulary owes something to the philosophical literature, but the lexicographer should take credit, all the more so because you’re little the wiser after reading it.

There was a second sequence, the submitted means of confirming SPACE, but it depended on a “close but no cigar” pun I lost faith in before submission, and which the editors declined, subsituting the initial letters scheme. It’s there, although not organised neatly, and using the same values of abcde.

An 11×13 grid would have been ideal with the words in the external rows breaking THATINWHICH/HAVE EXTENSION, but the remainder of the definition would not have extended into them as they did; the fourteen letters of MATERIAL BODIES floating about in the grid would have been a very different proposition.

The overlapping of the messages was pure serendipity, which I gratefully hung on to. Naturally, I looked into whether applying the sequence in reverse column order, reverse row order, starting from the bottom right hand corner, etc. produced any further possibilities. I recovered most of my senses eventually.

My main regret was the possibility of a correct solution for some by simply guessing at it, having identified the definition, and being unwilling unravel the rest. Feedback suggests that this was not the case, however, with at least one doughty solver actively preferring to see the whole thing through.

The puzzle took a considerable amount of time to put together. Thanks to the Listener editors, the solver who tested it and gave pertinent feedback, QXW, and all solvers providing their feedback too — very welcome, and all points have been carefully noted.


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