Posted by petebiddlecombe on March 23rd, 2009
This is one of the easiest of the regular Azed specials for me – even though this explanation may sound complicated.
Each answer can be entered in 16 different ways, which sounds difficult. But apart from the perimeter letters, every letter in the grid is checked, with twenty-five letters “super-checked” because they appear in four answers. If you ever did the hexagonal puzzles (can’t remember the exact name) in the Puzzler as a kid, you know many of the ropes already.
As soon as you have two answers orthogonally adjacent to each other, you have only two ways of writing them in – as long as there’s only one 3-letter sequence that occurs in both. Remember that it may occur backwards or “round the corner” in one of them. Supposing that sequence is ABC, one answer could have it as ABC?????, ?ABC????, ??ABC???, … ,?????ABC, BC?????A, C?????BA or in reverse CBA?????, …, ?????CBA, A?????CB, BA?????C (I’ve left out the obvious one-step moves). Words like DETESTED need watching out for (DET and its reversal – see the wrong one and the ES will be the wrong way round. Ditto EDD and DDE which are “round the corner” in this word in two directions.)
The two possibilities in these adjacent answers will both imply one or two possible three-letter sequences in at least three other answers (if the two solved clues are a corner one and its neighbour), and up to six other answers (if neither is on the edge). This should often give you enough information to solve one of the neighbours and settle the entry of the original two. With luck, you’ll solve a couple of “clumps” of clues which you can gradually link together.
Another tip: If you have one corner of solved answer fixed from another answer, then as long as that’s a letter used only once in the answer, you have the diagonally opposite corner too – if one corner is the first letter, the opposite one must be the fifth, whichever way the answer is entered. And if both of two diagonally adjacent answers are both undetermined at the moment, you’ve gained information if their answers share exactly one letter – but that doesn’t happen very often.
It’s worth crossing out the numbers in the grid as you solve clues, so that you can see which part of the grid to concentrate on.