Enigmatic Variations 1528
Finish by Xanthippe
Extra letters in across clues give SIX FISH, which must be replaced by SIX SHARKS, given by letters added to down clues; two lines go through GREAT WHITE in the shape of a fin.
I’m not sure of my original inspiration for predators consuming prey but settled on sharks and fish pretty quickly. There are many fish and plenty that have other meanings; important for clueing purposes. Originally I planned to have fish and sharks being spread across more than one entry. H-ERRING and B-ASKING worked well for this but others didn’t seem to work. I then looked for sharks that had a fish of the same length with as many coinciding letters as possible. At this point I had the idea for adding the shark’s fin. I played around for a little while with how the I or G of the HERRING could fit with the fin before settling on the final positions. After fitting as many pairs in as I could, it was then time for how to relay the message – adding and removing letters fitting the theme.
It was only on resolving the proof that I realised the fin could have been symmetric, which would have been preferable. When setting I’d assumed the lines would need to meet in the centre of a cell but moving WHITE down one cell position would have given a better result.
Our editor was happy with the puzzle but had noticed a more common fish , which could have misled, so a small rework and a few new clues.
My apologies for the error, quite annoying!
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.