Enigmatic Variations 1519
Satisfaction by proXimal
Correct letters of misprinted entries give ONE MAN’S MEAT IS ANOTHER MAN’S POISON; types of fish were extracted from clues giving FISH/POISSON alternative saying, with SURGEON (fish) changing to POISSON.
I can’t remember how I was reminded of the expression ‘one man’s fish is another man’s poisson’ as an alternative to the proverb ‘one man’s meat is another man’s poison’, but it was after the previous puzzle Satisfaction had been published earlier in the year. That first puzzle used the ‘joke’ of ‘why does a Frenchman have only one egg for breakfast?’ and the reply ‘because one egg is un oeuf’; the alternative version of the proverb using French in ‘poisson’, humorous (purportedly) and the fact the meaning of the phrase is about satisfaction reminded me of the first puzzle and gave me the thought of doing a follow-up puzzle.
I had quite enjoyed setting the first puzzle with the novel gimmick of misprinted entries and it was seemingly well received, so I wanted to use that gimmick again. As usual, I like to have the message generated using the spaces, as this helps the solver when it emerges and looks neat; I decided to use the original proverb as the message generated through correct letters in misprinted entries and use the clues where answers would be entered normally (where spaces occur in the message) to identify the fishy alternative. There are so many fish that it seemed likely I would be able to hide a few of these as letter strings in clues to remove before solving, giving solvers a hint to the modified proverb.
Instead of having POISSON in the grid for the solver to simply find and highlight at the end, I thought I would try to insert a seven-letter fish which the solver has to change to POISSON to show they have found the alternative version. Looking through the options, HERRING stood out and appealed to me as a misleading red-herring entry; likewise, SURGEON stood out as one which would only need a few letters changing to create real crossing words, as the ON is the same as in POISSON, and it would not be as immediately as obvious as HERRING. I designed the grid so that only changing SURGEON would create real words, so that solvers weren’t too held up by the red herring, as long as they knew POISSON was to be inserted. Putting them as symmetrically-opposite entries meant that it would minimise the constraints on the rest of the grid-fill.
Throughout the process, I’d been testing out grids in Qxw to check that each additional layer of complexity would still give a workable grid. Once I’d decided on the final structure, I just went around the grid filling entries with misprinted words where the misprint occurred in a cell checked by another entry until the grid was full.
That was about it, then off to the tester and set up for the EV. I’d started the year with a proXimal EV, so decided to end it with one too. I’d also already decided to compile a date-specific one for April 2022, so that would be a nice gap between puzzles. I hope solvers did find some satisfaction in the puzzle.
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.