Enigmatic Variations 1473
Sea Shell by The Ace of Hearts
Extra letters give A SCALE OF WIND VELOCITY WITH ZERO FOR CALM, defining BEAUFORT SCALE; clashes resolve as numbers: LIGHT AIR (1), NEAR GALE (7), STORM (10), GENTLE BREEZE (3), CALM (0).
I decided to try my hand at producing a crossword with multiple letters in one cell after reading the “Crossword Grids That Hold More Than One Letter Per Cell” article on the “Crossword Unclued” website. I had been using the excellent (free) Qxw software for compiling puzzles, but I didn’t realize it had this capability until reading the article. With this in mind I needed a gimmick where the clashes could be represented by a letter, number or symbol, so that solvers could easily enter this into the single cell to show they had resolved the clashes. So after a little bit of thinking I came up with the Beaufort Scale, with numbers representing the different measurements of wind speeds that the clashes would produce.
I also decided to create a second gimmick with the clues to give solvers a second method of discovering the theme. Most of my previous crossword clues have been of the “Letters Latent” (my favourite) type, but I had been recently converted to the “extra letters in clues” type, which at first I found to be very difficult, but (when the penny finally dropped) found them to be very rewarding. So using qxw I created a grid with 35 answers (the number of letters in (most) of the definition of Beaufort Scale) and then by trial and error created the clashes, while also ensuring that the resulting lights would be real words minus the clashing cells. Making sure that resulting lights would be real words did reduce the possibilities thrown up by qxw, but nevertheless it did produce five clashes which I thought would be sufficient.
So then, on to the clues which I did my best, but they still needed a lot of tidying up by Steve to make them fair and legal. However, it soon became clear that the combination of clashing cells and extra letters in clues made the puzzle much more difficult than what I intended. To give solvers a fighting chance and to make the puzzle a more enjoyable experience we decided to give the answer lengths to clues rather than the grid lengths, thereby narrowing down the locations of where the clashes occur.
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.