Aircon by Ifor
In The Great Escape, IVES and HILTS (with baseball plus mitt) occupy adjacent cells in the “cooler”. Omitted letters spell SEDGWICK, WELINSKI, DICKES, the only successful escapers.
I’m always on the lookout for square or rectangular images that can be used as the basis of a pictorial grid, and it might be the association with “bars” and “cells” that led my thoughts to this iconic scene. Hilts, his baseball mitt and the linked Os representing the ball’s path were obvious inclusions; the next step was to read around the film to identify ways in for the solver. Ives, with his handy 13-letter name, and the three successful escapees (collectively with name lengths that would match my preference for gimmicking a defined set of clues) came to me quickly, as did the obvious approach of allowing their letters to “escape” from the puzzle. Thereafter construction followed its usual course. It’s worth pointing out the various grid restrictions to demonstrate the power of the software that’s available to (grateful) setters; the need for 13 rows and 22 down clues (to accommodate Ives and the escapees), the only Os being those in the required cells, the cells around VIRGIL and HILTS not containing those letters so as to avoid the potential for ambiguity and 13 across entries being mutilated by loss of a specific letter. The title, incidentally, references not only the occupants of Stalag Luft III, but “cooler”, their name for the isolation cells. I hope that the solving experience proved satisfying.
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.
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Thanks, Ifor. In a nice bit of scheduling, on the day that Aircon was published, the similarly named AireCon analogue gaming festival was taking place in Harrogate — presumably a co-incidence, but a fun one.