EV 1555 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1555


The Rules of The Game by Ifor

Setter’s Blog


Synonyms give PAR/SONS and PERK/INS, hosts of JUST A MINUTE; groups of three across answers have no HESITATION (ER removed), no REPETITION (repeated letters removed) and no DEVIATION (letters of SIN removed).

I’m not a devotee of the programme, but it seemed ideally suited to one of my favourite types of puzzle, wherein all of one set of clues lead to words that require systematic modification to form the entries. So – what should these modifications be? Hesitation looked fairly obvious; I did contemplate a mixture of ERs and UMs but decided on the former exclusively. Likewise repetition, with its deleted letters, came to mind quickly. Deviation took some more thought. I briefly contemplated a sort of misère version of the game, wherein successive clues gained ER or repeated letters, and remaining answers “deviated” by turning at right-angles into adjacent rows on reaching a bar, but eventually decided that the end result would be unfairly complex and potentially ambiguous. Omission of SIN was therefore investigated and proved to be acceptable in terms of possible entries. For those interested, grid construction for this sort of puzzle proceeds in stages. I first construct lists of words matching the criterion selected, using a program that in essence takes a source dictionary, modifies each word in turn and then looks for the result in that dictionary (ie is the outcome a real word?). Here some further restrictions were needed; for example, to avoid deletions of a terminal S in a plural. The gridfill program is then instructed to draw on the list to fill the relevant lights, and then its kill facility used to remove entries with the same etymology as the source word, as far as is possible. The final Parsons / Perkins touch follows my usual self-imposed restriction of telling solvers where to find gimmicked clues. And that – apart from the usual testing, submitting, tweaking and checking, is about it. I hope it proved to be an interesting challenge.


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