Friday, 14 May 2010

Cross-over: Setters' Blog and Feedback

The gimmick behind this one revolved around the idea of hiding a supplement to the main puzzle, to be discovered by the solver and a feature thereof to be included with a final submitted entry. The model for this idea was that feature incorporated into many DVDs - an unlisted 'extra' piece of footage to be discovered and winkled out by the viewer. For some reason this type of thing is known as an Easter Egg.

Well here we were in January and Easter was not too far away so why not get up a crossword as an Easter Egg? Part I would be the main puzzle and would feature a seasonal theme. Extra letters and words in clues were to spell out firstly a seasonal greeting and then an online location to Part II which would be a much smaller grid yielding the final requirement. It would definitely have to be an online project because of the method of directing the solver to Part II. The requirement for the Easter Egg side of the puzzle was for a website to host this ancillary puzzle. Eclipse set this up in double quick time and was then able to interweave the full web address into the clues. At the same time, Logogriph was producing a thematically appropriate grid for Part I in tandem with a mini-grid for Part II and then it was back to Eclipse to produce the two sets of clues.

In constructing the grid for part 1, Logogriph had a very clear idea of what he wanted to achieve. This should be essentially a religious themed grid based upon the crucifixion. INRI should be at the top and GOLGOTHA at the foot. It was then, the use of STABAT MATER in a vertical position looked promising, and that dictated that the width of the cross would be 5 and not 4 (as for INRI). So split INRI at the top and work out how to get JESUS CHRIST onto the cross-section. Only the Ts of the possible 'TABAT' look hopeful - the choice being to do CHRIST JESUS, or to reverse CHRIST on the right hand side. Various latin or similar alternatives were ruled out as being disproportionately long or too lop-sided for this grid. Opting for the latter solution also took the J away from the central spine of the puzzle and the bare bones of a grid were well established. GOLGOTHA could now be split 3:5 at the foot to maintain symmetry. Bar symmetry always looked unlikely with _GOL_; GOTHA at the foot, as the unch count would be too high - the aesthetics of the highlighting looked good enough for this not to be a serious problem for this puzzle. After that, grid fill progressed remarkably smoothly, with only one rewrite for a dead end on the right hand side, but ultimately maintaining a minimum Ximenean unch count throughout.

The Part II grid was to be more of a problem (although it was completed first), as it needed to contain the letters to CADBURYS CREME EGG (helpfully 16 in total, thereby yielding a promising 4x4 grid). However a 100% checked grid eluded Logogriph, and he had to settle for the finished version shown, which contained two unches (but still 8 lights). Maybe we should have set an ancillary challenge for anyone to improve on this?

The internet offers an opportunity to take solvers on a tour of the web in order to complete
an ancillary part of the puzzle. The Crossword Centre offers an ideal platform for such a venture as it is entirely internet based, and therefore by definition solvers should have the necessary access to complete the task at hand. As we had previously had a puzzle published for Christmas 2009 on Derek Harrison's Crossword Centre that was top of our list. As it happened it was our one and only port of call as Derek kindly accepted our offering for publication on 26th March 2010, just in time for Easter.

In the end there were 33 solvers and a good number of comments / plaudits for our offering - the full list of which are below:-
  • Thanks for a Krafty puzzle (Sorry!) which kept us occupied and entertained all month. Still have not worked out what Friday 22 January has to do with Easter
  • This puzzle really was jam-packed with thematic material,and could it be the first to include a hidden link to a web page containing a second part ? ( This was an extra bonus, the letters in the 4x4 mini-grid rearranging to CADBURY CREME EGGS.
  • solution attached, a cute idea sending us to the blog for the second task: what would Ximenes have thought about it?
  • Nicely rendered with the odd tricky clue. Lovely finish which made me exclaim out loud when I saw the second grid! And the significance of the '33' cells to highlight struck me out of the blue just a few moments ago.
  • Very enjoyable puzzle from Eclogue with a lot of thematic material in a small space. It took me a while to find STABAT MATER because of the PSALM in the lower part of the grid. The web link was also an original twist. 15 across was an especially clever use of the extra letter.
  • Many thanks for another great crossword.
  • Please accept my entry for Cross-over: a well-crafted puzzle with some delightfully misleading clues. 4-down was obviously ‘steer’, until corrected to ‘reset’. Currently it is ‘reest’!
  • Enjoyed this one apart from the needless(?) April Fool look up - HEHE?! What was that about?
  • Here is my entry. A friend did the final anagram for me, as I don't think Iwould ever have found it for myself. I think it is most inappropriate and reminiscent of the Listener puzzles where sometimes you have to spend far more time and effort on the last little bit than on the rest of the puzzle.
  • A fun puzzle, although some of the clueing was pretty loose, and I'd never heard of the phrase, which I think is CADBURY CREME EGGS.
  • ( An eggscellent gimmick )
  • I thought this was a splendid puzzle, and enjoyed hunting in unlikely places for the easter egg!
  • We thought this was great fun and the final step most ingenious. Like Eclogue's Christmas one, there was an astonishing amount crammed into a very small grid -
  • I take my hat off to Eclogue. What a wonderful crossword(s)!
  • Truly a unique puzzle!
  • ingenious
  • Brilliant!
Many thanks to all solvers and of course to Derek for publishing our puzzle.

In case anyone is wondering how to get hold of the original puzzle here is the link:

Cross-over by Eclogue

May 2010