Count by proXimal
Replaced letters give THE NUMBER OF ENIGMATIC VARIATIONS PUZZLES TO DATE, indicating that SIXTEEN and HUNDRED should replace two entries.
When I noted EV1600 coming up, I decided that I’d bag the slot for one of my puzzles – I don’t get much in the way of editorial perks, but jumping the queue and bagging slots are a couple. I noted SIXTEEN and HUNDRED could fit nicely positioned in a symmetrical 13×13 grid, so that rather decided the ending.
I chose a message which would be long enough with some spaces to be generated by a full set of clues. As the theme is somewhat mundane, I wanted to use a letter-generating gimmick which would be new and interesting to solvers. I like the misprinted entries gimmick, which I’ve used before and is very underutilised by setters, but it is used in a novel way in this puzzle. I’ve also used it in a puzzle languishing in the Listener queue, so solvers who enjoyed it might get another chance to try it out.
I thought this gimmick with clues missing a letter, the entry misprinted with the same letter and the replaced letter being part of a message would give solvers quite a few ways to approach solving the clues and working out the entries. Solvers would be able to look at likely missed letters in clues, look at what was being formed in the grid entry and work out answers which could be misprinted, as a few ways of tackling the puzzle.
This was quite a quick production with a grid formed on one day and the clues written on another, then off to a tester. Feedback has been positive, so I’ll probably repeat the gimmick or some variation in the future.
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.