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Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

How hard should a Listener puzzle be?

Posted by Encota on 18 Oct 2021

I very recently put very similar thoughts in a letter to the Editors and thought it might be interesting to share them here.

“One of the really attractive qualities of The Listener to me is the unannounced variation in the level of difficulty. Keep the variety of difficulty coming!  For me, most puzzles last a few gentle hours.  And for me, a perfect ‘annual’ mix (should you be interested) would look something like:

  • 10 to 15 puzzles per year that take through to the Monday morning until I have completely solved them.  These are ones where, in the early stages at least, I am often wholly unconvinced that I’ll be able to finish successfully! Very satisfying when you do!
  • Another 10 or so where I put the finishing touches in first thing Saturday morning (either parsing that last clue or two, or finalising what the endgame is actually talking about!)
  • The majority to last me a good few hours i.e. until mid-to-late Friday (as part of the ‘starting at Friday 4pm club’!)
  • Perhaps up to five a year that are easy enough for me to solve in under 2 hours.  I can normally solve most things but I am not the speediest of solvers!
  • Under an hour for the whole thing is too easy – these are Listener crosswords, after all!

Roger & Shane, from what I have seen from your test-solving of my published puzzles, I solve at perhaps half your speed, if you wanted to try and vaguely ‘calibrate’ the above at all.  I hope this is of some use – I am sure you have some form of ‘profile’ already in operation.”

Does anyone else have a view that they’d care to share, just for fun? Re-reading the above, I think I’d already adjust the first bullet to read ‘up to 10’. 15 is a bit brave 🙂

Cheers,

Tim / Encota

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L4675 Called to Order by Vismut

Posted by Encota on 24 Sep 2021

Well, this one was intriguing, on a subject of which I am almost entirely ignorant!

Thanks Vismut!

I recall tens of years ago someone at work once bringing in a book of bell-ringing ‘sequences’ (I am sure there’s an official word I should be using here!), with ‘his’ bell highlighted down the pages in squiggly fashion.  I’d never seen such horizontal lines being given names, though!

For most of my time solving this puzzle I wasn’t sure that the ‘sets of six’ in the preamble meant 1ac-to-13ac, 14ac-28ac etc and had been assuming the sets of six could be any combinations of six answers.  As you might imagine, this slowed me down somewhat!  Eventually I had cold-solved enough clues to start jigsawing them together: it then became clear that many of the entries were in their expected places.  And only then did I really see what was going on, once jumbles of JOKERS, PRIORY, KENNET, QUEENS appeared as the added letters in consecutive sets of six!

I was also initially surprised by the order of the second set of answers – and only realised much later on that there were (at least) two ways of considering the given number sequences, namely:

(a)    Unjumble the letters in each six and write down the order.  This seemed to give
ROUNDS (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 123456 (to spell ROUNDS)
QENUES (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 142536 or 145236 (to spell QUEENS)
JREKOS (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 154326 (to spell JOKERS)
PIRROY (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 132546 or 142536 (to spell PRIORY)
KENNET (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence eg 153426 (to spell KENNET)
ULLORP (then take the nth letter it gives the sequence 543216 (to spell ROLLUP)
All matched the entry order except QUEENS, which seemed to go in as 135246.

(b)   Take the name of the sequence, write the sequence for it alongside it and then take out letters from it in that order.  This seemed to give
QUEENS (whose sequence is) 135246 (and whose letters in that order are) QENUES
JOKERS (whose sequence is) 154326 (and whose letters in that order are) JREKOS
PRIORY (whose sequence is) 132546 (and whose letters in that order are) PIRROY
KENNET (whose sequence is) 153426 (and whose letters in that order are) KENNET
ROLLUP (whose sequence is) 543216 (and whose letters in that order are) ULLORP
These all match up with the orders of the extra letters derived from clues.

From (a) I was expecting to see the name TITTUMS or JACKS (I think they were) for set 2.  But from (b) it seemed all to be OK for it to be QUEENS.  It is still slightly baffling me why this works one way round and not the other – perhaps just coincidence, or perhaps all the others ‘flip’ between two letter-orders when that sequence is applied?  Not sure!

Thanks again to Vismut – I loved it!  

Cheers & stay safe,

Tim / Encota

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L4668: ‘Impossible Construction’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 6 Aug 2021

What an enjoyable puzzle – thank you Serpent! And that hidden message encoded in the 36 letters of the central square, as advice to those who think that retiring won’t make them busier and will give them more free time (e.g. for puzzles):
LEISURE RECEDES … ELSE RETIREMENT A SUCCESS“. So subtle, so subtle. It’s probably spelt out using Knight’s moves or something …

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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L4664: ‘Dream Match’ by Aver

Posted by Encota on 9 Jul 2021

I really enjoyed this puzzle! It combined a great grid with clever letter-sums, each of which resulted in an ‘O’.

Extra letters from the clues spelt out TITANIA (‘a speaker’), AMND II.1 (‘an abbreviated reference’), MUD (‘what ruined a thematic figure’), ADD LETTER VALUES (‘an instruction …’) and SIXTEEN LINES (‘what solvers must add to the grid’). All of this linked to the Shakespearean reference: “The nine men’s morris if fill’d up with mud”.

Add the 16 lines (as I’ve tried to do above, albeit faintly) and all is sorted. I think. Loved it – well done Aver!

Cheers,

Tim / Encota

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L4662: Hungry by Android

Posted by Encota on 25 Jun 2021

That was fun! And what a clever grid construction!

I loved how the non-words told us solvers where to look & move the Raven.

I knew well of the existence of the poem but not well enough to know that I would be searching for ANCIENT, GHASTLY and GRIM in the grid. So that provided a good excuse to re-read the poem.

The final grid containing all real words and phrase was a particularly neat touch. Android must have had a great time creating the grid!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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