EV 1542: Battle by Stick Insect – a Setter’s Blog
Extra letters give FIGHTING WITH HIM WAS LIKE TRYING TO SOLVE A CROSSWORD, from Red by TAYLOR SWIFT; the line ends ‘…and realising there is no right answer’, hence SWIFT is removed with the cells shaded red.
Some crosswords come from a subject dear to the setter’s heart, which he’s keen to share with others. This is not one of those crosswords – I’m afraid I found the quote while idly looking for anything crossword-related and had never heard the song before then. I’m sure Ms Swift will be devastated, or more likely totally unaware.
The quote though seemed too promising to overlook, especially the “no right answer” part which immediately suggested a possible thematic treatment. That in turn led to the idea of the clue device with half a word disappearing. I should I suppose have made it always the right half, but it was a little tricky to implement even with the choice of both halves, so I hope that will be forgiven.
My first submitted grid was rejected as some of the answers intersecting with the unclued entries had too many unchecked letters when you took the unclued entry out of consideration (ie a six letter word with two unchecked letters would be fine but the original entry with five letters wasn’t). I hadn’t thought about that enough but the editor kindly suggested fixes to the grid, which involved some clue rewriting.
I was glad that I got on with that rapidly as it meant a June publication slot, which then seemed to mean I’d slipped in just in time with my last EV, given the threatened demise of the puzzle. Like everyone else, I’m very pleased that has been reversed. Now all I have to do is come up with an idea for the next one …
My thanks to all who’ve commented about the puzzle. It seems the endgame wasn’t clear enough for some, which I’m sorry about as I also dislike endgames that leave the solver in doubt. I’d thought “no right answer” indicated removing the right unclued entry clearly enough but others thought swift should become (red) shift, which is clever and not something I’d considered, though I think it doesn’t quite give “no right answer”. With hindsight, maybe the endgame was underwhelming and so left solvers wondering if they’d missed something, so my apologies for any frustration caused.