I confess to a goof in the grid here in that I overlooked the bars between the TWO and FIVE and the FIVE and TWO which as a result were indicated as being retained because the adjacent letters actually specified bars in the digits in the sum. Raising the 25 a row would have solved it, and prevented anyone being misled into thinking of fractions. This may be why Mike, God rest him, sat on it for so long. As it happens, I know a couple of solvers got through it and found 77 without distraction, but it remains my oversight. Sorry, folks.

]]>I agree with you both to some extent. My first answer to the arithmetic was two point nine, may not be a fraction, but it is a representation of 2/5 plus 5/2. When this did n’t yield real words, I looked at 25 plus 52 – which gave the alternative answer “Seventy-seven” – this did yield real words and as the puzzle number was 1177, it was the number I backed, as it were. The second pair of superfluous bars did rather muddy the waters, but I persuaded myself at the time that it was a bizarre representation of an addition.

Personally, I had more problems getting the clues solved, the top half quickly fell into place, but the lower half of the grid was torture for me – some days I rattle through Phi’s clues at an uncanny rate of knots, but others, like this one, it becomes more a war of attrition.

It is sad for the world to have lost the talents of Mike Laws, for me the Inquisitor has become a more contemporary version of the Listener under his guidance – Themes like “Only Fools and Horses” and “Bash the Bankers” bring more of a chuckle when solved, than some of the more obscure themes employed in the Listener, yet each requires a similar degree of skill to get to the “message”.

]]>We are at the position where **- + -** seems very odd, but **TWO POINT NINE** doesn’t produce real words.

As I will still be away when the solution is printed in The Independent Magazine, I would be grateful if you could post a comment about the solution at the end of this thread a week on Saturday.

Alternatively, Phi may like to comment.

]]>I acknowledge that **SEVENTY SEVEN** in the bottom row produces the more elegant completion of the grid, and will doubtless prove to be the published solution.

However (and notwithstanding your maths teacher’s drumming of “fraction + fraction = fraction”), there is no indication that the horizontal bar between the 2 & 5 in column 4 and that between the 5 & 2 in column 9 should be ignored (and to my mind writing the problem as “25 – + – 52″ would be highly suspect).

This isn’t a case of sour grapes, rather a moan that a seemingly defective preamble prevented a satisfactory completion of the puzzle.

And for me, the sentence “Some entries may not appear to fit, though a grid pattern comprising real words (one a common foreign word) is achievable.” served to hinder, not help.

Sad news indeed about Mike Laws, whose death was announced on this site by Gaufrid last week.

]]>I think can remember a maths teacher from many years ago drumming into me that the answer to a sum of two fractions should be expressed as a fraction, not as a decimal. In that case, the answer to your sum would be twenty nine over ten or two and nine tenths, neither of which would fit neatly into 12 cells.

I must admit to having done a bit of experimentation with possible endings for the new down words before hitting on 25+52=77 and was attracted for a time by SEPARATENESS or SEVENTY-EIGHT as possible words acoss the bottom. When SEVENTY-SEVEN eventually dawned on me, it therefore came as a strong candidate for the right answer.

I’ve managed to get a good broadband signal in a campsite in Sweden.

]]>The grid did at least come in handy as a “practice” grid for the following week’s Nimrod.

]]>“2 over 5 + 5 over 2 =”, the answer being “TWO POINT NINE”, which completes the bottom row. ]]>