Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
With a Squash and a Squeeze - RTC3
Random Thoughts on Crosswords Cryptic and Concise + Recherché Times Crossword Clues Considered
With a Squash and a Squeeze
A Listener puzzle feature that always seems to cause me difficulty is where two or more letters have to be written in a single cell. I have no problem if this is stated explicitly, but otherwise even such broad hints as appeared recently in Laureate by Wasp (No. 4239, 26 April 2013) don't immediately lead me to what is required. In the past, hints have sometimes been less broad, or indeed non-existent, the most egregious example being Raving by Phi (No. 3221, 25 September 1993) in which eight stones in the Avebury Stone Circle were represented by eight cells arranged roughly in a circle in the grid. These were located by clashes in crossing lights, one answer of each crossing pair being given by a double clue leading to two words with a stone sandwiched between them, e.g. BI-G EM-ONG, and the other containing the letters ST at the clashpoint. Resolution of the clashes was dictated by the statement in the preamble: "Contents of squares containing apparent clashes are to be chosen identically."

You'll probably have guessed by now that the correct solution was to put ST in each of the clashing cells; in fact you may in any case find this solution completely obvious. The scrutineers at the time were Mike Rich and John Grimshaw, and they and Phi (Paul Henderson) are (or were, since Mike is sadly no longer with us) highly experienced setters and solvers, and clearly they had no problem with two letters appearing in a single cell. But it flew in the face of everything I knew (or thought I knew) about crosswords. It may be that there's a parallel universe in which I would have solved Raving correctly, but I stood no chance in this one. Quite apart from the unheralded two-letters-to-a-cell issue, I'm not convinced of ST standing for a gemstone on the basis that "st" stands for a stone in weight.

Fortunately the preamble to Laureate made things abundantly clear: the unclued entries had to be "entered with a squash and a squeeze", and this seemingly odd wording was enough (with a little aid from Bing) to point to the unclued entries being titles of books by the Children's Laureate, Julia Donaldson, author of A Squash and a Squeeze. Whether it was my natural aversion to squashing and squeezing two letters into a single cell or just general doziness, but I somehow got it into my head that the squashing and squeezing meant following the instruction for the clued entries and omitting a letter from each answer, and it took an alarmingly long time before light eventually dawned. However, once it had done, everything fell elegantly into place, particularly the letter that had seemed up to that point to be missing from the letters in the circled cells which had to be arranged into the surname of Julia Donaldson's illustrator for all the thematic books, Axel Scheffler. So no complaints this time, in fact quite the opposite.

Current Location: Ealing

Leave a comment