Enigmatic Variations 1474
The Mover and the Lover by Ifor
In Disney’s version of Cinderella, the FAIRY GODMOTHER waves her WAND to create the original COACH (and) HORSES in the middle row; she and PRINCE CHARMING are given by extra letters.
The genesis of this puzzle was my pondering on instances where a movement in one part of a grid might cause a change elsewhere; where Cinderella then came from is one of those inexplicable connections that we all make. The identical lengths of COACHHORSES and PUMPKINMICE, plus the discovery that the former could be a single word, meant that I had my theme. Experience told me that with these changes and the wand-waving as the only constraints grid construction would not pose a problem, so the next step was brainstorming (or more precisely Googlestorming) to look for connected concepts. When FAIRYGODMOTHER and PRINCECHARMING decided to cooperate as regards their lengths my next move was to build the grid, after which I followed my usual practice of finding a defined subset of clues to gimmick. Further checks told me that using the specified pair of letters in any extra word left a reasonable choice for all these clues, so construction could proceed. (In passing let me remark that my opinion is that after a clue has been modified it need no longer either have a meaningful surface or conform to standard grammar; at that point it’s become simply a coded instruction whose only requirement is that it obeys the rules of cryptic grammar. Feel free to disagree, of course)
Ideally, I suppose, the wand-waving would generate rather than replace the coach and horses, but the inclusion of pumpkin and mice adjacently in the initial grid seemed too revelatory (also posing the problem of what to do with the bar that would need to be removed) and I did have what I thought was a decently misleading clue to coach-horses. I did consider preamble wording that referred to “after midnight” or some such to justify the change, but again that proved to either give too much away too soon or to be impossibly convoluted. The final decision was which way the wand should wave, which I made on the basis of the clueability of the resulting words. And that’s it! Something from the more straightforward end of the Ifor spectrum, I think. Two incidentals – the appearance of CINDERS was purely fortuitous, and you were due to be offered the puzzle earlier in the year until the editor spotted the possibility of its appearing on Valentine’s day (perhaps prompted by the title) which I was happy to go along with.
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.