Posts Tagged ‘gwizardry’

Clue-by-Four by gwizardry

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 Dec 2016

I dread the three-monthly numerical puzzles and can’t even console myself by beginning  with a check of the setter’s membership of the Listener setters’ drinkie club unless, like Oyler recently, the setter is into doubles and triples (Oyler who with Zag in December is launching the first edition of the Cross Numbers Quarterly – here’s a plug. It’s the first of their three-monthly magazines containing not one, but eight numerical crosswords – I can’t imagine a Christmas present I would appreciate less, but know that the numericals get a far larger entry rate than all the rest so it’s a gift to the number buffs).

Surprisingly for a non-numerical Numpty, this one didn’t look too bad, except for the carte blanche grid and the lack of clue lengths. Even a Numpty can calculate square numbers. I found an isolated G & T in one of the down clues and decided that we must allow gwizardry his admission ticket to the bar, ‘Cheers gwizardry!’, then we examined letter frequency.

It took no time at all to see that D had to be zero, since it appeared at the end of the majority of the clues. The other Numpty (the mathematical one) worked on the Zipf’s law of frequency, thus establishing that T and X, for example, had to be low numbers,  and with a considerable amount of shall I call it ‘muttering’ when he had to backtrack, produced the semblance of a working grid. Then the air became blue as he attacked the last, top right corner.

Of course, like so many solvers, we faced an impasse: 5d had to be 262 but that clashed with 15ac which was 365. For a frustrated hour we struggled then emails from friends began to appear suggesting that there was an error and prompting us to look at the Answerbank where a few solvers had decided that the clue had to end in TT and not TD. Obviously an error in a numerical crossword will have greater repercussions than one in a verbal one but it was the equivalent of a  clash in any other situation. I wonder whether the editors will simply decide that able solvers should manage to spot this problem, or whether the crossword will have to be discounted in the annual statistics.

Indeed, with that adjusted clue it worked, and we uneasily put the challenge to rest, having established that those four centre digits, read clockwise, gave QUAD. How appropriate! Many thanks gwizardry. That typo was a real shame and I understand that it has now been corrected on the Listener website, though I am told it appeared in the printed version of The Times. We are currently being snowed on in Nevada’s South Lake Tahoe, after crossing the snowy Sierra Nevada so The Times is about 7000 km away and we can’t check.

I know that the ultimate responsibility for accuracy in a crossword is the setter’s but errors can creep in all along the line of editorial checking, vetting, printing etc. I have managed to produce a few horrors in my time but the comedy is that those are the ones we remember, the ones that we are remembered by, and maybe even the ones that produce a smile.

So here’s a smile for gwizardry, who must be just about as sad as Poat who is currently getting a bit of stick from some for hiding his hare in the mud of the pre-ramble. Thank you gwizardry. No, I shan’t look forward to your next – I hate the things, but this was a fair and fine challenge.

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A Kind of Magic by gwizardry

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 Jun 2013

I have just learnt that A Kind Of Magic is a song by Queen. That isn’t the only thing I have learnt today as I am pretty good at poker dice but have never played poker. Nor has the other Numpty. That only added to the complexity of this puzzle for us. It was indeed verging on a killer. The frustration of the three-monthly numericals comes from the fact that when we reach a dead end, we have to backtrack so far – usually almost to the start – and there wasn’t even any Listener setter tipply stuff in this one – just poker rules and numbers and suits.

The other Numpty decided that a real pack of cards was essential for this and set up a super-sized grid with all the data around the margins. My role was to provide the TLC and get out of cursing range as  attempt after attempt failed to work.

I kept a photographic record of each of the stages so that some of the working rows and columns could be repeated without a complete return to the start. I have to wonder how many solvers simply took out their pencil and used their mental faculties to solve this. It was certainly easier with the real cards in our hands.

We were perhaps lucky that those five cards whose locations gave us the title to be optionally written below the grid slotted into place fairly quickly and with FI MG CI AN AK and OD and the assumption that the 1-letter and 2-letter words were going to be A and OF, A KIND OF MAGIC emerged. That sort of confirmed the position of those cards too.

We were told which of the two players won each round, and had to learn, for example, that three of a kind would win over a flush, so we laboriously worked through possibilities until, with disbelief and immense relief, we had a fit. Then came the laborious double checking. Of course, we were amazed that gwizardry was able to be sure that this was a unique solution (well, we hope it was!) and thank him/her for a tough work out.

Listener 4242: Killer Queen by gwizardry

Posted by Dave Hennings on 7 Jun 2013

This puzzle reminded me of the Listener playing card puzzles by Leon, the last of which was in the early 90’s. I don’t know if I ever completed one, but the preamble from gwizardry’s Killer Queen looked interesting, and far less daunting than some recent numericals. Little did I know what lay before me!

This isn’t a detailed breakdown of a solving method, I’m afraid. Others will be posting that for your enjoyment.

I got off to a good start, with three 7s and all four jacks being placed in the grid. Row G, being the only split hand, fixed the positions of the two Queens, with either two Aces or two Kings plus two of another card. Column I was K K J 7 7 7 plus A 9 or 3 3.

Row B factorised as 210.7, so must be 7 4 2 for Player 1 and 8 x x for Player 2. If Player 1 was just 7 high, then Player 2 would win, so Player 1 must be a flush in spades with Player 2 holding either 4 4 8 or 8 8 2. All those 8s and 4s looked like they might come in handy.

[I was pleased to have remembered about flushes here since they were a feature that I would forget on more than one occasion during the course of this puzzle. That, and those pesky Aces with a value of just 1 that could pop up almost anywhere.]

I resolved Row A as either K K x for Player 1 and 5 5 x for Player 2, or K 5 3 / 9 5 3 flush for Player 1. I found that column K lacking a factor of 5, and column L lacking a 3 were very useful. Row D was 7 x x for Player 1 and 10 x x or 8 x x for Player 2. Only 7 x x and 8 x x enabled all different values for the remaining cards: 5 4 3 2.

In trying to resolve Row C, I basically listed all the possibilities, starting with 7 7 A with 10 9 3 all the way through to 7 6 5 with A A 9 (about a couple of dozen). most of these could be eliminated because either Player 2 winds, or the absence of a factor 5 / 3 in column K / L. Some would eventually fail due to there being too many of a particular card value.

I got stuck at this point for absolutely ages.

I finally saw that if Row A was K x x then Row F had to be 9 9 J. That gave too many 9s, so Row A was 9 5 3, and Row F was K Q J for Player 1.

I got stuck at this point for even more ages.

Row H kick started me again, and I listed out the possibilities. All those 4s and 8s above helped me eliminate all of the possibilities except K 10 10 6 4 4 in some order. At this point you may see that I overlooked one possibility for that row. Everything I tried failed either then or a short while later. Consequently, I nearly miss the deadline for posting. Only by retracing my steps — getting seriously worried in the process — did I finally see that Row H could be K 10 10 8 6 2 in some order … namely K 10 6 and 10 8 2.

After that, everything came together fairly quickly, and I embarked on slotting the final suits into their squares. This wasn’t quite the five minute job that I thought it would be, but it wasn’t too tortuous. And finally, A King of Madic A Kind of Magic revealed itself.

Thanks, gwizardry, for a tough assignment. What appeared at first sight to be a simple puzzle turned out to be anything but. I suspect the setting process was probably the same!