Many years ago, the Magazine Crossword, as it was then called, featured a series of answers where letters clashed. The numerical difference between letters resulted in Pi (to about 24 digits); clashing letters had to be replaced by these numbers and then the Pi shape highlighted. I recall completing the grid, with the clashing letters, but then coming to a halt. (I’m not sure if the rubric included the hint about replacing clashes with numbers.)

My recollection is that there were no winners that week but the solution, when published, seemed eminently logical and satisfying. ]]>

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle and my only minor gripe would be why was in necessary to both highlight the words and draw lines as it seemed a bit confusing. Would it not have been better just to draw lines – the words acting as indicators as to where they should be?

]]>I recall that a couple of years before he died, Mike Laws (the previous editor) said the production team had informed him it was “bucketloads” – he was left unsure as to how many buckets there were & the size of each of them. ]]>

Has anyone else any source of information? My experience with the champagne has also been one of diminishing returns over the years, so I suppose the entry keeps increasing, which is good! ]]>

A more official count would be interesting!

]]>I initially decided just to draw the lines through the letters comprising the “sections”, but no further. In agreement with Hihoboa’s theory, though, it struck me that the infinite extension of the “generators” ought to be reflected accordingly. I’m no mathematician, but got that much from (I think) Wikipedia – so I am not myself persuaded that this is a “maths” puzzle requiring the doing of maths, so much as a difficult but not untypical IQ requiring the Googling of the instructions.

Ultimately, I was disappointed with the final step (if I have it right), involving as it did little more than highlighting what was already highlighted (“plus a bit”). The discovery of ELLIPSE, elliptically, was however a joy.

As for the Listener / IQ debate, I remain to be persuaded that the standard Listener is much more difficult than the “top end” IQ. I’ve been doing them both every week for a year, and have found only a few Listeners to be so off the scale that they wouldn’t also make it into the IQ (typically those that require me to get the scissors out and chop up the grid, at which point I leave my toddler to guess with me; seems to work).

Out of interest, for those of you who do regularly submit IQs to the weekly competition, any idea how many entrants there are? I’ve been submitting steadily for a year, and not even a mensh! My girlfriend has reached the conclusion that it would have been much cheaper to “buy the sodding champagne” than spend it on stamps.

]]>One of life’s beauties is we all see things differently. As to Shakespeare – my apologies to the bard for any offence but Romeo and Juliet did not aid our understanding of astronomical movements. ]]>

Firstly, whether you like it or not, crossword puzzles are a WORD-based pursuit, not a mathematical one, and those who approach cryptics from the word go are, by and large, interested in words in my experience.

The second, and perhaps stronger point, is that other themed puzzles (both Listener and Inquisitor) may require the solver to unearth facts or information that is not familiar to them, but no matter how arcane the subject, the solver is still only researching some information. There is a world of difference between me having to look up, for example, the works of Mussorgsky (with whom I’m largely unfamiliar) and having to actually apply mathematical aptitude to a puzzle.

In other words, I don’t need to be a musician or understand musical notation to do a puzzle about Mussorgsky, but the maths puzzles generally require me to know how to DO maths, not just know ABOUT it.

I’ve expressed myself badly but my more irascible self would simply say I don’t think maths puzzles are cryptic crossword puzzles.

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