Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Listener No 4746, Compressor: A Setter’s Blog by KevGar

Posted by Listen With Others on 5 Feb 2023

The inspiration for “Compressor” was actually a previous Listener crossword in which a few clue answers were anagrams of place names, these names forming the actual grid entries. I thought I would try something similar using the names of composers. However, it soon became clear that the number of composers whose names could form anagrams were fairly limited. To make it easier for me, and hopefully more difficult for the solver, I thought that if I introduced an additional letter into a composer’s name this may produce a better opportunity to form an anagram, around which a clue could be formed. The actual grid entry would then be the composer’s name formed by making an anagram of the clue answer minus the additional letter. It soon became clear that this could actually work, using the names of many more composers with an additional letter, rather than the composers’ names themselves.

I then set about trying to fill an empty grid using the names of as many composers as I could, and eventually managed to get 15, whose names could all form anagrams of real words by the addition of a single letter (shame that there has never been a composer called “Umbriel” which would have made a nice symmetrical 16th!). The major time-consuming difficulty was then trying to complete the grid, which unfortunately resulted in the necessity to use a few uncommon words (“Eavie”, “Baedi”, “Oromo”). I decided also to make the puzzle a little harder by presenting solvers with a blank grid. However, the inclusion of clues to 2×12 letter words intersecting with the 4×3 letter words, none of which were thematic, would at least give solvers a good start to filling in the grid.

I felt that it was essential to make use of the dropped letters from the thematic clues somehow so that solvers couldn’t just identify the likely composers without properly solving each clue. This led me to the idea of giving an instruction in the non-thematic clues by using a misprint in each of these “normal” clues, whereby the corrected letters in usual grid entry order would produce an instruction to somehow use the discarded letters (see below).

The next difficulty was trying to come up with a suitable title. Clearly “Composers” would have been too much of a giveaway, so I eventually decided to see if there was any possibility that I could treat the title in the same way as the thematic answers became actual entries. In the end I came up with “Compressor” (the “key word”) which by removal of an “R” was an anagram of “Composers”. Using this “R” along with the discarded letters from the thematic clues allowed the formation of two further composers – Schubert and Schumann, which solvers had to identify.

Thanks are due to the Listener editors who improved a number of clues and introduced me to the word “termitaries”! For non-setters of Listener crosswords, it may be worth noting that it usually takes a number of weeks to compile a crossword, and after submission, around 18 months or so before hearing whether or not that submission is accepted as a future Listener puzzle.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: