EV 1509 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1509

Enigmatic Variations 1509

Flow Chart by Ifor

Setter’s Blog

Wordplay misprints give I SHALL NOT PASS THIS WAY AGAIN (Grellet); definition misprints give GRELLET and EULER; the grid represents KONIGSBERG, its river and (barred) bridges.

Konigsberg and its bridges is by no means an original theme, but I think the idea of depicting the river using a restricted palette of letters, with bars “railing” bridges, has not been used before. Logical choices for these (E U L R or P R E G L) would, I thought, be too restrictive for me and too obvious to you, and as his parents were inconsiderate enough to give him a forename that used two of the remaining vowels someone else would have to play a part. Plenty of people have had something to say about rivers, bridges and so on, but finding a quote that had thematic relevance from someone with at worse only one other vowel (and ideally none) proved challenging. Eventually Grellet came to my rescue; the Gre / erg was a fortuitous bonus that I thought would compensate for his comment’s not being in ODQ, and make the final Konigsberg under the grid unambiguous.

Building the grid took a while, given that exactly 37 lights were needed (regular readers of my ramblings will know that I try to avoid “some” clues are…) with specifically 12 avoiding the key letters and others requiring them in defined places. Irritatingly some part-fills generated against these restrictions had to be abandoned because of the absence of a key letter (often a G) anywhere in the river cells. Incidentally I’ve long ceased to worry about grid symmetry, regarding correct unching and the avoidance of such horrors as ISN’T, IT’LL, PSST and so on as more important. I also try wherever possible to avoid proper nouns.

And so to the clues. It’s a while since I’ve used misprints for a message, so without any thematic alternative that I could think of at the time (although one has since occurred to me that might now turn up elsewhere) this was my chosen way forward; and it allowed the definition / wordplay differentiation that I used, as well as stretching my ingenuity. I do find writing clues against self-imposed restrictions to be a source of satisfaction. Clues completed and adjusted in the light of testing, it then went to the editor for his usual thorough vetting, with a few changes being mutually settled on (plus one egregious error that needed correcting). I hope newer solvers weren’t deterred by the barless grid presentation, which I don’t think has appeared in an EV for a while; that’s the main reason for the preamble’s starting with the reassuring implication that solvers could safely pencil in the bars if they so wished.

A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.

1 comment on “EV 1509

  1. Ifor
    Thanks for that interesting account of how this puzzle came into being. I was particularly interested in how and why Grellet became a part of it.
    I have said elsewhere that I was lucky to connect Grellet’s remark to Euler. I thumbed that excellent book Alex’s Adventures in Numberland and its sequel Alex Through the Looking Glass, by Alex Bellos, to remind myself of Euler’s various discoveries, and it was the instantly recognisable sketch map of Königsberg and its seven bridges that clicked with me, remembering the ‘seven cells’ mentioned in the preamble. Euler did not of course refute Grellet’s remark – what he refuted was the known false hypothesis in the Königsberg puzzle about crossing each bridge only once. The solver had to connect Grellet’s once-only journey through life and the journey crossing every bridge over the Pregel in the puzzle. I wonder how those without that familiarity managed to make the connection.
    It’s interesting, but not surprising, how often Euler has cropped in puzzles like these. I can remember a puzzle themed on the Euler Line in a triangle and another on the Euler Identity, and I’m sure there has been at least one other.
    I loved the puzzle and appreciated afterwards its depiction of the river and the bridges. I erased all my pencilled-in bars except the relevant ones, which I inked in heavily!

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