Saturday, 27 October 2012

Deaf (alias Hollow)

This began life in October 2010 as a prospective submission to the Magpie. Its theme would be difficult to detect and so the approach would be to make the clues hide their hidden message as well as possible. Corrections to misprints would spell out the message but these would be confined to each clue's wordplay rather than its definition. Clues were presented in their normal order but did not refer to the enumeration of letters. The grid was presented as an asymmetric Carte Blanche with no bars and no numbers, bars being required in solutions.

Finally, on 20th December, the puzzle was submitted to the Magpie for approval. Given that the checker would have to find time over the Christmas holiday to assess the submission the response was very swift indeed; rejection out of hand on a number of points not considered by Eclogue.

And so it was set aside for  quite a while until it could be resuscitated for resubmission. In the end it was a complete re-write while retaining the core theme - the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Originally the intermediate grid featured the word BIBLIOTHECA occupying most of the main NW-SE diagonal and changing the letters of this allowed the word CONFLAGRATION to be seen along the whole of that diagonal. The central G of this allowed the novel's main protagonist MONTAG to be seen on a minor SW-NE diagonal.

The re-write required a new grid and thus a new set of clues. It would no longer be a carte blanche and would be symmetrical this time (the asymmetry of the original being a major sticking point). This time the name of the author himself would appear in the intermediate grid, along the central column. Again all these letters would be replaced to allow the word CONFLAGRATION to appear in its place and again MONTAG would link up with the central G.

The new improved HOLLOW was duly sent in April 2012 off for consideration by the Magpie and this time there was no rapid rejection, much to Eclogue's relief. Indeed, it was accepted for publication after some customary adjustments and re-writes and was scheduled to appear in the September 2012 edition of the Magpie. The original significance of the title HOLLOW was that HOLLOW is a synonym for DEAF which in turn may represent 451F in alphanumeric transliteration. This HOLLOW to DEAF link was deemed a step too far and so the word HOLLOW was dropped and the word DEAF was then used as the title.

Some feedback has been received, with thanks from Eclogue:

Obviously the preamble is deliberately written so as to not require 14d to be changed to a real word, but I didn't really notice this until after I had worked out what it should be changed to.

I worked out what the title meant after I had finished solving.

The clue to 19a requires the F of FELLOWS to be changed to a Y, and then the endgame requires the Y to be changed back to an F. I think that this is a slight weakness in the puzzle, but complaining about it is probably unreasonable. At least it is the only across entry crossing 14d that is clued in this way.
Grid fill not too hard; heard of the book and author but haven't read it, and not being e-connected, had to find someone who was familiar with the details. Didn't need him to work out 14 down changes, but he knew the name (after I mentioned a few possibilities from gridsearch).


Luckily most of the early clues I solved intersected 14, so I got Ray Bradbury quite quickly. I dug out my copy of F451 - it was even older than I expected, a 1960 Corgi paperback priced at 2s6d (Do you understand this 'old coinage'?)
Very neatly worked, getting round the problem of differing lengths in Ray Bradbury and conflagration.
Enjoyable if none too difficult. The theme came fairly quickly although the full message took a little longer to appear, and working out the changes was a slow process until realisation dawned.

I didn't understand the reference to Jonathan at 13a, but it didn't much matter.
A famous book - except I remember trying to read it 20-odd years ago and getting bored. Maybe, now I'm older and .... er, wiser ? .... it would make more sense.
Good fun, although I was unsure of one or two clues.
I don't understand the relevance of the title, but everything else has fitted together beautifully. It's a good thing I send in the solution electronically, though, because all of my paper has just gone up in flames. Must the heating down a notch.
I enjoyed this puzzle very much and admired the misprints being confined to definitions. I'll be interested to find out why it is called Deaf.
In flagrante, if correct, needs explanation of all the crossing words being real. Spotted the theme pretty quick but the title, Deaf, 451f, came late on. Another enjoyable challenge from Eclogue.
This was mostly a very good set of clues with highly impressive misprints (much better than the norm where all the misprinted words are very short); 'Leftiness' and 'crocks' were two of my favourites (and I loved 'Western Highlands' in 43dn!). A few quibbles: 25ac was faulty ('...must involve... gives...'), 'pay' means 'apply tar to' (not just 'apply tar') in 16ac, I didn't like 'may be' in 1ac or 'was' in 44ac and in 45ac I'm not sure 'essentially' is fair to indicate a hidden word except when centrally located. Remembering a previous Magpie puzzle involving this author helped, but I needed Google for the protagonist. Excellent title!
A most enjoyable puzzle about a well-known theme.