Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Listener 4751: (Reverse Engineering an) Instruction by Oyler

Posted by vaganslistener on 10 Mar 2023

Despite their brilliance, I can’t say I look forward to the quarterly numericals. Words are my métier, and numbers are a struggle, requiring me to overcome a slight number/date dyslexia and also engage the detail/calculation half of my brain, which strongly prefers a snooze to a workout. But they are part of the deal, and I’ll believe they’re good for me, so here we go.

Not, however, with a moment of intuiting first, and in the mysterious way these things work, I formed the opinion that a reversal of the grid would be the last step, as indeed it proved. Had I been more of a mathematician I would have noted at that point that the heavy use of digit sums and products, and indeed palindromes, was going to make that an easier miracle of construction that it might otherwise have been , but it’s still enormously clever of Oyler to pull it off.

The issue this time wasn’t finding a way in – there were plenty – but keeping track of all the cross-referencing and mutually checking options, which made it rather like a Sudoku, and indeed I made plenty of use of the trick of writing all the possible numbers in the squares and erasing them when they didn’t work. 

Happily (sic) the Happy and Lucky numbers were listed, and the necessary lists of options of cubes, primes and so on weren’t too long or complicated to scribble down the side of the page.

I got about half-way doing this and then felt I was slowing down, so looked for a back door. Setting up a chart of the possible letters that might appear in the message for the entry squares I already had proved instructive. There emerging at the beginning was RE… I couldn’t resist putting in REVERSE and indeed reverse-engineering those ‘down’s’ using the result. And looking at the other letters I had and the likely word patterns, REVERSE ACROSS ANSWERS fitted nicely, and worked a treat in the grid.

The only real trap I saw (there may have been more…) was that I had put 88 in for 26a, which didn’t work when reversed, while 81 did in both reflections. And if I’m honest, the dyslexia meant I made a total pig’s ear the first time round when trying to write in the reversals. At least I noticed.

The only moment of amusement was when I got fed up with 6d “Has 8 factors including 1 and itself”. I decided to ask ChatGPT. I’m pleased to say the result was gobbledygook.


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 )

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: