Monday, 31 January 2011

Seasons Greetings II

Following the successes of Seasons Greetings on the Crossword Centre in December 2009 and its Easter follow-up, Cross-over in April 2010, Derek Harrison broadly hinted that another seasonal offering from Eclogue would be received favourably. And so it was that sometime in late May 2010 it was decided to compose another Christmas-themed crossword, also called Seasons Greetings. Logogriph got to work on a grid which was to be populated by entries subject to the Letters Latent type clue and constructed in such a way that highlighting vowels in a central square spelled out the letters XMAS and letters omitted from the entries gravitated to the perimeter to read "Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the new-born king." The final twist was to reverse the word TO in the perimeter so that the four corners, instead of spelling LENT (the wrong season!) spelt NOEL.

Next, the task of writing the clues fell to Eclipse. As well as the requirement that they be of the Letters Latent type it was also necessary to provide a misprint in the definition part of each clue in order that the corrections to the misprints provide a necessary instruction with regard to the highlighting and shading requirements. With no real deadline to adhere to Eclipse went at this task with all the speed of a Christmas pudding being cooked. After two months and a fair few re-writes a list of clues was finally ready for Logogriph's perusal. A spot of fine tuning saw a couple of last-minute problems resolved and with that Eclogue deemed the puzzle ready for submission.

So off to the Crossword Centre went the latest Seasons Greetings for consideration. within a couple of days the verdict from the checkers, Derek and Frank, was good. Seasons Greetings would be acceptable for publication without any further editing. Excellent news - but Derek went further, saying it reminded him of an Apex puzzle. Praise indeed.

But what did the punters think - well, 24 made it over the finish line and made the following comments:-
- Apologies for leaving my submission to the eleventh hour - I think that indicates this was a stiff challenge from Eclogue, and one that was certainly worth the effort for the endgame. I did struggle at first with the letters latent, and I think that if I hadn't struck lucky with the first three letters I entered at the top (ARK) enabling me to guess the entire perimeter, then I may not have got much further. With the extra help the latent letters gave I was able to make progress and was delighted to see the Seasonal Message appear with the highlighting of all vowels and letter Ys in the central 10x10 section.
- Wonderful puzzle. Thank you.

- Thank you for an enjoyable contest.

- Thanks for this. I like a hard puzzle, but with the LL and misprint in every clue I thought for a while it might defeat me. Very clever construction.
- Misprints AND letters latent - are you a sadist or something!! Add to that some (to my mind) very tough clues and you have a surefire recipe for indigestion at Christmas! This took HOURS and HOURS of slog. And why highlight AND shade? Do you think we have nothing better to do? (I bet it was just to get a message of the right length!).
- Still haven't solved all of it (27 across - cascara? - that seems to be the only possible answer, but why?) but I have had ENOUGH already!

- Happy new year and all that. Must go back and find my life. (Only kidding - I think).

- Good fun – and a bit harder than some recent ones. Many thanks.
- Brilliant grid construction.

- This took much longer than it should have done - an excellent thing in these snowy times.

- I enjoyed this puzzle. It seemed terribly hard at the beginning, but once I got going I continued swiftly to the end apart from a few struggles with some of the very short words with convoluted clues.
- I enjoyed this fairly challenging puzzle and wish you and Eclogue a Happy Christmas.
- Some fiendishly difficult cluing until the plot began to unthicken.