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Dec. 19th, 2008

Mystery Clock


Listener 4010 - Euclid's Algorithm by Aedites

Just a short one for my final LiveJournal blog and I shall drop the pretence of writing in real time. 

Aedites is a familiar Listener setter for me and I was surprised to see that he has only being going since May 2000 with this his eleventh puzzle (second this year), about half of them numerical. His most memorable puzzle has to be the first, Special Agents' Cipher, but not for the usual reasons although it was excellent – it was published in the paper with all the down clues missing. I did not have Internet access at that time and contacted my brother but he couldn't find the missing clues on The Times Website. Anyway, the clues were published in the paper the following Saturday and entrants were given an extra week's solving time. That was a most frustrating week for all Listener addicts.

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Nov. 28th, 2008


4007 - Songspiel by Dysart - Setter's Blog

Songspiel – Blog


Listening to Nashville Skyline (the later, mellower Dylan) I cast my mind back to some of his earlier music, recalled The Times, They are A-changin’, and saw potential for a puzzle. I assumed there had been other puzzles on the theme of time but hoped this particular song hadn’t featured.

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Nov. 21st, 2008


Listen With Others - The Future

As some readers may be aware, there's been some doubt over the future of Listen With Others. Several of the regular bloggers, all of whom are to be thanked for their work over the past couple of years, would rather now post less regularly, or feel that they have said all that they can say after so many contributions.

Having originally decided that the blog would cease at the end of 2008, I now hope to have come up with a method by which it can continue, albeit on a less formal basis.

Rather than having regular contributors and allocating a timetable in advance, the new blog will work by having as many members as possible, all of whom are allowed to post and edit their own postings to the site. There will be no formal timetable as before - rather, any member can blog any puzzle - and will be able to decide to at any point, whether before the puzzle is published, after publication, or even after publication of the solution. This gives contributors the choice of how many puzzles they write entries for - none, an occasional one, or all!

I've already had a good amount of correspondence from people interested in contributing either occasionally or regularly, so hopefully there'll be a good amount of interest.

If anybody interested could mail me at

, then over the course of the next few weeks I'll send out details of how to register, and instructions (in non-computer expert terms) as to how the whole thing works, and how to post entries.

The new site may well have a new home away from LiveJournal, as I'm at present considering other options. If anybody has any thoughts about this, ideas about how the new process might work, or any other questions, then please don't hesitate to get in touch. Hopefully we can get a good number of people involved - and, just because you've shown an interest or registered, there's no obligation to write any blogs at all should you change your mind. Any setters who wish to contribute pieces on their own puzzles will still be able to send them to me for posting, if that is preferred.

I'm hopeful that, on this basis, the blog can continue forward into 2009 and go from strength to strength. I look forward to hearing from you.


4006 - We Interrupt This Programme... by Phi - Setter's Blog

This time I can be perfectly clear where the idea came from – my desk calendar, which recorded the 69th anniversary of the broadcast last year.  ‘69,’ I thought, ‘how ungainly’ – followed by ‘But that means a more suitable anniversary next year’.  (If there’s anyone sniggering about 69, by the way, they can stop right now.)


The next thing that came was the Welles/Wells link – I couldn’t think of that being exploited anywhere else before and in the context of this radio show it seemed unmissable.  (It also seemed the sort of gimmick that might well fall out of the gridding process without too much work – choose that unchecked letter, and that light becomes a word you can either add or subtract an E to or from.)


What else?  Well, ‘broadcast’ was an obvious anagram indicator, so anagramming the title of the book/show was indicated, and with it the idea of ‘…the programme broadcast’ in the preamble.  The final component took a little longer to mature, but felt particularly pleasant when it came – the types of programme that might be interrupted, with the interruptions forming the same message picked up by listeners to the Welles broadcast.  (And it has only just this minute – here, in this blog - occurred to me that here I am blogging a Listener puzzle about the radio.  So now you know what didn’t go into my thinking.)


Once the interruption idea had been hit upon, it only remained to choose the types of programme - actually quite a limited list if you wanted generic one-word descriptions.  I was pleased to note, however, that the descriptions I chose all had ‘other’ definitions.  I fiddled a little with the mix of programme and interrupting letters till I’d got a selection that looked reasonably friendly for DLM purposes (they weren’t, of course).  And then it occurred to me that it might be fun to make each of the DLM clues refer to a different type of interrupted programme – which proved to be quite a tricky thing to do.  I kept struggling with a DLM and allowing myself a few ordinary cryptic clues for relaxation, and in the end I still had two DLMs as the last two to write.


Perhaps this is why the puzzle’s progress felt odd – a lot of the way through I felt rather gloomy about the puzzle, but as I finished typing it up for submission, I looked through it, and suddenly thought it held together pretty well.  Off it went, and the first editor sailed through it, spotting the theme perhaps a little too early, and asking for one clue to be modified.  The second editor emailed back to say it had been accepted.  When I replied saying I thought having to alter only the one clue was my smoothest acceptance yet, he said that I’d see that he’d had a much different solving experience from editor No. 1, principally through not latching on to the theme quickly (and having a less clear recollection of it when he did).  But as he’d filled the grid correctly before resorting to Google, it had got through. 


So that rather whetted my appetite for seeing what the broad mass of solvers would make of it…

Nov. 14th, 2008


Signal Boxes by Ploy - Setter's Blog


Listener No 4004    Signal Boxes  by  Ploy

I’d been aware for some time that Chambers 2003 contained entries for five logic circuit elements or “gates” (AND, NAND, NOR, NOT, and OR), with clear explanations of their functions.  Having spent my working life in electronics research, this appealed to me as a promising theme for a Listener crossword.  If it were not for simple electronic items such as these, many of the everyday devices we now take for granted would not exist.


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