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Posts Tagged ‘Smudge’

‘Property Management’ by Smudge

Posted by Encota on 8 Jun 2018

Crikey, Listener 4503 was tricky, wasn’t it?  I eventually succumbed to writing a few of those functions that I had always meant to for years, for future numerical puzzle-setting.  You perhaps know the sort: isprime() to test if the number in brackets is prime and so on.  The functions  istriang() and isdiag() soon followed.  Did it help much here?  Probably not.  In fact the most re-usable one was getdigit(number, digit) to let me select any single digit within a number e.g. to compare it with another, check if it is odd, …

My suspicion is that many seasoned numerical setters and solvers must have some of these at their fingertips and more than likely a lot more – though this was the first puzzle that finally encouraged me.

2018-05-21 07.03.38 copy

I think it was about Sunday lunchtime when I finally cracked L4503, having eventually used the final 5 lines of the Preamble for the first time to determine whether my LOI at 26ac should be 522 or 524.

I was left with the worrying suspicion that their surely must have been a much more straightforward Solution Path than mine.  The Mersenne primes helped get an initial toehold but some of the properties – especially for me ‘f’ and ‘i’ – seemed to give little info until right at the end.

But I did think that the hidden message telling us to indicate those different ways to reach that special number 4503 was good.  There were, I think:

  • 19 x 3 x 79
  • 57 x 79
  • 19 x 237 and even
  • 18012 / 4

Unbelievably well hidden, I hear you say.  My finished article therefore looked like this:

2018-05-22 07.57.02 copy

What was that?  You didn’t spot the hidden message??


Tim / Encota


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Listener No 4503: Property Management by Smudge

Posted by Dave Hennings on 8 Jun 2018

Well, this quarter I was actually geared up for this quarter’s mathematical puzzle — so often they catch me by surprise. However, I wasn’t geared up for the setter. Having expected Nod or Zag to make a reappearance, I was faced with Smudge, and he didn’t ring any bells regarding a previous puzzle. I was surprised, therefore, to find that he had set one of the tough puzzles of 2016 over two years previously — No 4388 Cycle 20% More, all about Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Grand Duke, not a mathematical at all.

This week, we had a series of properties in a list, such as square, cube, triangular number, Fermat prime. Each grid entry had to be associated with exactly one of these properties, as did the clue number at which it was entered. We were also provided with information about numbers divisible by their reverse, perfect numbers and integers which are the sum of two squares, all of which “may be helpful”.

I loved the clueing technique here, similar in many ways to Piccadilly’s The Properties of Numbers — II last year. I made a list of the clue numbers and then went through annotating each to show which of the given properties applied to them. I gradually teased out some grid entries but, two hours later, I reached a dead end — my first. This was, I think, because I had put 56 as a definite for 10dn, rather than just a possible.

I decided to be a bit more organised on my second attempt, and created a grid with clues down the left and properties/occurrences across the top:

This made it much easier to tick off the entries as I resolved them or to mark properties that didn’t apply to a clue.

I also used my favourite mathematical tool, WolframAlpha, to identify the following:

  • tetrahedral numbers, n(n + 1)(n + 2)/6: 1, 4, 10, 20, 35, 56, etc
  • Mersenne primes: 3, 7, 31, 127, 8191, etc
  • Fermat primes: 3, 5, 17, 257, 65537, etc
  • Perfect numbers: 6, 28, 496, 8128
  • Numbers whose reverse is divisible by the number: 1089, 2178 and palindromes

Unfortunately, none of this prevented me from diving headlong towards dead-end number two, which was overlooking 901 as a possible entry for 34ac (reverse of a prime but not a prime).

Third time lucky, and my grid looked like this:

And I managed to successfully complete the puzzle like so:

Thanks for an excellent mathematical, Smudge.

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Property Management by Smudge

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 Jun 2018

Preamble almost as long as the clues and not a hint of alcohol in either – well, what did I expect? Certainly not the two days of almost reaching a full grid then spotting a problem, a badly chosen fourth power that would lead us up a blind alley or a missing rule i from our final countdown. Yes, I know that success depended on keeping a very careful record of which rule we had used and which were still available for use but I wonder how many solvers sailed straight to the solution in a few well-documented minutes.

Friends sometimes say “Aren’t you lucky that both of you are interested and solve crosswords together!” If only they knew! The other Numpty is the mathematician so I initially got out of hearing range weeding the bottom of the garden, but eventually had to participate in the grid-filling and record keeping and that was fraught and even ended in the odd shouting match. The air was blue at times.

We were frustrated by the need to consult lists of Mersenne primes, triangular numbers, five-digit primes and so on. Is there somewhere a solver who has these at his finger tips? We certainly don’t and the heap of paper piled up.

Just a portion of the mountain of paper this produced.

Well, we got there in the end and are agreed about one thing – what bliss that there isn’t another of these for three months. Can it really be true that there are more entrants to these things than to the verbal ones? Where do all those batty solvers come from?

Thank you anyway, Smudge. At least you gave us an alternative to watching little children dressed as Union Jacks and waving the same at the royal event. The other Numpty claims it was a very ingenious construction.

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Cycle 20% More by Smudge

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 Mar 2016

Statutory duel 001

I quite like the way the levels of Listener difficulty are varied from week to week so you never know whether you’ll be done by 9 on Friday evening or still be sweating over it till Monday. I suppose this raises the whole question of how challenging and time-consuming Listener puzzles should be. Had we but world enough and time …

The title of Smudge’s ‘Cycle 20% More’ told us nothing at all. Were we meeting a new setter who is a fanatical ‘Green recycler’ or a seasoned setter sheltering himself (herself – I’m perpetually hoping that a few more lady setters are lurking in the wings) under a new identity to deflect all the flak that he/she suspects will come his/her way when solvers see his/her astonishing grid with three unches in six and strings of open lights? One seasoned solver commented to me “This will have to be something special to get past the editors with that atrocious grid!”

Half an hour after downloading the puzzle we had re-read the preramble (it was one wasn’t it!) and solved a mere eight clues and I hadn’t even checked whether Smudge earns his/her entry ticket to the Listener Tipsy Gang – so a check was due and I didn’t need to read far down those clues (with their sometimes highly implausible surface readings; if I said “Girl in family circle keeping bit of jumbly sofa and tree”, they’d think dementia has set in).

What do I find? ‘Lawfully gobbed spot of alcohol, 50% proof (3)’ We decided this was A(lcohol) + TE(st) giving ATE and that the L was moving into ‘gobbLed’ meaning that ‘Awfully’ had to exit the clue. I think Smudge will be staggering ‘awfully’ at the setters’ dinner in Windsor next weekend if he is into 50% proof! Next I find ‘Glass with whisky is often halved slate (6)’ We move the S here producing ‘late’ as the word to exit and S with MALT O, which Chambers tells me is coloured glass. Yes, I’m writing this blog in retrospect, when we had realized that those exiting words (WANED, DECEASED, GONE, WRAITH, LATE, JUMBY, HAUNT, SPIRIT and so on), are all, as the preamble told us, ‘loosely thematic and must be discarded’.

A music expert has explained this to me saying of the last two Gilbert and Sullivan creations that the song that gives the discovery that resolves the plot has the line, ‘The Ace is lowest, lowest, lowest, so you’re the gho-est, gho-est, gho-est’  (not one of WSG’s finest moments, though the generally overlooked last two have very good music).” he added. However, at this stage, we simply noted that lots of dead, deceased and wraith-like characters were leaving our clues.

In retrospect, too, I realize that Smudge had a BARMAN pulling a pint in clue 2d. ‘Weak thing that baRman may pull with note for its top (5)’ with the ‘baTWOman’ moving in from clue 33d, shedding the TWO to be used in the endgame and taking in an R as part of TENETS SURELY, as well as giving us FA + [p]INT = weak. and he was into the rum babas too! A definite entry ticket to the LTG with this mixture of malt, beer and rum!

What a stroke of luck that the letters that seemed to be moving in those across clues gave us A S SULLIVAN. GILBERT had to be there and as we were told that ‘the moved letters show the Creators going their separate ways’, we looked in the opposite direction and teased out WilliaM S Gilbert. Wikipedia time as usual in our Listener solves. What was their last production before they went their separate ways? Not my father’s favourites that I know well, The Mikado or the rather lovely Iolanthe, but a relative flop, The Grand Duke – and as I read the plot, my thought was ‘No wonder!’ Still, it did talk about the STATUTORY DUEL (which was likely to be the ‘thematic Contest’ that was to be revealed), the secret Sign which was eating a SAUSAGE ROLL (so we knew that sausages were going to ‘roll’ and were probably jumbled in ‘five rows of the filled grid’). Even better, we learned that the ‘discovery that resolves the Plot’ and dethrones The Grand Duke is that Aces count low in the ‘Statutory duel’ and that he has not, therefore, in the contest for the title, drawn the winning card.

I have been blogging this puzzle for at least five years, ever since Chris Lancaster asked for more contributors. My response, then, was ‘Sure, I’ll write blogs but they will probably be blogs about failing to solve’. (To which his response was ‘No problem, they would be just as valuable as blogs about successful solving’). The Numpties have made a few errors since then but never ‘failed to solve’ – even the Sabre Knights’ moves or Mash’s Klein Bottle. However, until that p.d.m. of the Aces dropping to the bottom of clues, I was despairing of completing this one. Suddenly we began to enjoy it as crossing letters helped us to solve clues and the grid filled.

Grid to submit 001As we were confident that THE GRAND DUKE had to go into 1across, we could almost side-step the complicated moving of words in the down clues and the extraction of parts to change the PFDFMJESTTCD of 1ac. and leave the jumbled letters of TENETS SURELY, though we still had to link clues 1 to 12 with the remainder to tease out the solutions.

A fellow setter who laboriously worked out this complicated step gave me his findings: FOURier -> Tier/  baTWOman -> baRman / lAgs -> lEgs/ babAs -> babEs/ FIVE-bar -> T-bar/ Quit -> Suit/ adeNINE -> adeN/ sKim -> sLim/ subJection -> subSection/ slEIGHT-> slY/ mAst -> mUst/ Ass -> Ess, which, of course, tell us that to those letters we had to add were 4, 2, A=1, A=1, 5, Q =17, 9, K=11, J=10, A=1, 8 and A=1.  and leave the jumbled letters of TENETS SURELY.

A sausage hunt ensued. This was verging on the ridiculous – but then, so was that plot, and, of course, we speedily spotted SAVELOY, SAUSAGE, BALONEY and LORNE and my newest edition of Mrs Bradford’s gem gave us CORN DOG. Making those adjustments revealed the STATUTORY DUEL and we breathed an immense sigh of relief and returned to normal life.

What an unusually critical Numpty blog and, in truth, I am very impressed indeed by the ingenuity of the compilation, the vast amount of relevant material incorporated, and the superb use of this rather obscure theme. Perhaps it could have been made a little less tortuous, though, by removing a step or two? These were some of the toughest clues I’ve ever encountered and I imagine a number of solvers are still head-scratching. So many thanks, Smudge. Dare I say that we’ll look forward to your next compilation or should I say we’ll dread it?

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