Sunday, 3 January 2016

Box of Delight

In late 2014, Crossword Club magazine issued a challenge for a colour-based puzzle as a competition among setters, organised and conducted by D G Tallis.  Eclogue's response to the challenge is Box of Delight.

The grid is set in four numbered quadrants and a very laconic preamble only tells the solver:

"The correct letters of misprints in the definitions of each clue, in clue order, provide an instruction, which solvers should perform with reference to the order indicated around the grid."

These turn out to be:


This all refers to A Colour Symphony composed by Sir Arthur Bliss and both these names appear in the diagonals.  The solver of course has to colour the quadrants purple, red blue and green, avoiding those letters which contain the composer and the symphony.  As to the title, DELIGHT = BLISS

The title was designed to provide a red herring towards the perhaps more well-known work of "The Box of Delights" by John Masefield - we may come back to that one, you never know.

The competition required the puzzle to require solvers to colour some of the resultant grid, preferably in more than one colour.  To achieve this, Eclogue broke the grid up into four distinct quadrants to reflect the different (and distinct) movements of the work.  The four movements are Purple, Red, Blue and Green.

The conclusion of Red was used by the BBC in their television advertisements for the 2010 Proms, but despite that the work remains less well-known than it probably should be.

Eclogue heartily recommend readers to seek out and try this work, which is now a staple of the classical repertoire despite it's rather difficult premiere, which was described by Sir Edward Elgar as "disconcertingly modern".  We things there is a lot to like.

More detailed information can be found here:  A Colour Symphony

Arthur Bliss c 1922, around the time the work was composed

Solution grid to Box of Delight

 Much to Eclogue's Delight the puzzle was adjudged the best in the competition an was awarded first place by D G Tallis.  Box of Delight duly appeared in Issue 451 of Crossword magazine in November 2015 with a front page introduction by the editor and a full report by D G Tallis inside.

In due course a comprehensive list of solver feedback was received by Eclogue and the comments were overwhelmingly favourable, further adding to our Delight.

**** ~~~~ ****

·         Theme well realised – the only criticism I’d be tempted to make is the lack of connectivity in the grid which appears to fall into four quarters – but almost forgivable given the endgame.  Thanks Eclogue

·         We enjoyed our steady solve of Eclogue’s Box of Delight with no idea at all where this was heading until our complete grid finally gave us those key words ‘movement’ ‘composer’ and ‘title’ and, of course,  we found them in the diagonals.  I don’t know whether the marker hopes to read the solutions through our symphony colours.  I hope he can!

·         Enjoyable

·         A very enjoyable challenge with well disguised misprints.  Not sure the title helped very much.

·         Finished grid – saw COLOURS – then easily spotted them – no real PDM.  Cs Crossword Completer was a big help.

·         This was brilliant, though it took me ages to complete (housework was ditched).  Having finished it, I then had to try and find something of the right colours to shade it in.  Congratulations to Eclogue!

·         Bliss!

·         A fitting winner.

·         Really loved this.  Never heard of the piece of music, but I would expect NOT to love it!  Very clever.

·         Very good.

·         A colourfully brilliant puzzle!  Not as tough as it looked, for me at any rate.  The colouring is a bit of a chore but I suppose we must put up with it on this occasion as it’s an integral part of the conception of the puzzle.  Many thanks.

·         The comments from D G Tallis were entirely justified – an interesting challenge and a well-concealed theme.  We shall look forward to seeing the other puzzles from the competition!

·         Well disguised misprints.  12 across?

·         It was good to have a reminder of an unjustly neglected composer, who should be remembered for being the first to provide serious music for an SF movie (Things to Come).  The weakness of some of the definitions as forced by the requirement to give the message in the misprints was forgivable, as the unches left few ambiguities.  Favourite clues were 39a (for concealing of misprint) and 38a (for surface reading).

·         Very enjoyable!

·         An enjoyable crossword.  Did not spot the theme until we nearly finished.

·         Finding misprints was difficult at times, e.g. 1a.  At other times, following the definitions was just as difficult e.g. 13.  However, there were enough leads to assist completion.  The penny then dropped a farthing at a time: bliss, phony, colour, sir.  The Wikipedia to the rescue…

·         Quite hard to make all the letters visible; it is just as well that black wasn’t one of the colours!

·         Best I can do for purple without obscuring answers completely

·         I presume this is the winning puzzle – it doesn’t actually say so anywhere, but two and two seem to make four.  A good old-fashioned puzzle, i.e. a crossword puzzle, not a Mensa logic guess at the end of a perfunctory gridful.  Three ?s remained at the end:  I guess 37’s misprint is LIMP – is that really opposite of crisp? And 22 and 26 down, no idea and ‘spinet’ guess?  Can’t remember meeting CRUMPY before – a lovely word which really ought to mean something more interesting.  (I didn’t need to consult the archives to remember SQUARE-BASHING, where 1Ac was AHINGHINGERERE[ABBESS])

·         A fine puzzle.  For most of the misprints, the actual positioning of the misprints was only identified after the actual misprints had been identified!

·         A really good puzzle.  A lot of the misprints I found hard to spot at first but this only added to the challenge.  Like your judge it was interesting to look the theme up and discover more about the subject.

·         Initially I couldn’t solve a single clue but on further study I surprised myself and managed to complete a good half of the grid.  I was able to solve some of the clues though I wasn’t sure what the misprint was.  I doubt if all my answers are correct.  Not enough misprint letters solved to be able to complete or even guess the instruction.  I enjoyed what I could manage.

·         All round excellent puzzle.  I might have found it easier had I read D G Tallis competition notes before solving instead of after! (Do you realise how rare purple highlighters are?)

·         I didn’t enjoy the colouring – I hope you can read the letters through the colours, and see the unshaded diagonals?!

·         Excellent!

·         Quadrant 1 is supposed to be purple

·         I much enjoyed the ‘delights’ and only had trouble colouring in with my ancient highlighters.  Hope my attempt at purple is acceptable.

·         An exceptionally high standard of clue-writing, though I’m baffled by 10 down.

·         Splendid puzzle composition – most enjoyable.  Needed to solve every clue to confirm the instruction, given the difficulty in working out the misprints.  I’m not familiar with the work, but will now look out for it.

·         Brilliant

·         A nice puzzle in a rather 4 component quadrant puzzle.  Note sure about 12a or 10d or the reference to Jonathan in 23a.  The PDM came at just the right time.  Good stuff.  PS V. tricky both finding the necessary colours and shading in…..!

·         I enjoyed the cunningly veiled definitions and the plentiful new words.  23 – does the syntax of the clue really work?

·         There seemt o me some more ghost words in the completed grid, with a (partial?) message “Appalled by sin” – am I missing some more?  33a : Who is Jonathan?

·         I agree with the Judge: an excellent puzzle.  I hope our Editor doesn’t find it too hard to discern the letters of the entries

·         Excellent!  The colour theme took a long time to become apparent, but the journey was well worthwhile

·         Excellent!

·         An excellent puzzle!

·         I can understand why this was a winner – great fun and good cluing

·         Brilliant.  Great fun thought finding ‘purple’ was testing

·         10d – don’t understand wordplay.  Difficult to find the right colour highlighters for this sort of puzzle.

·         I enjoyed the crossword element, but failed to interpret the instruction.  So I did my own thing.

·         Rather unimpressed by my artwork – the ‘red’ highlighter is a bit on the pink side!  And the felt tips for purple and green are on the elderly side!  A splendid puzzle though

·         BLISS-FUL!

·         There should be a law prohibiting solvers from being required to use particular colours for highlighting.  I’ve never seen a purple highlighter.

·         A worthy winner.  I’m not normally keen on small crosswords loosely linked, but here the end fully justified the means, and the serendipitous diagonals have a Blissful conclusion.

·         (I apologise for the poor quality of my artwork)  That was interesting!  It was quite difficult finding any information of the respective colours of the 4 movements (as I’m still a dinosaur technologically) so had to enlist the family to look this up.  Very original puzzle – I really enjoyed it!  Congrats on your well deserved prize & I look forward to more like this!  Thank you! 

·         A very good puzzle that maintained its standard of difficulty and interest to the end.  Many well concealed misprints (39,21,40ac;6,7,10,29,34 down) and impossible to guess the instruction until puzzle nearly complete.  The emergence of the title and the composer came late and was the icing on the cake.  [I think my grandchildren would have made a better job of the shading!]  Many thanks to Eclogue and DGT

·         Some rather loose definitions: 17,43,46ac,8dn.  23Ac and 10Dn still rather puzzling.  29Ac I started with DRAYMAN.  9Dn I don’t think an Essene is a hermit.  Those few caveats apart, an enjoyable puzzle with some unusual words.  I hadn’t heard of the work.

·         A superb puzzle, both in concept and construction.  Without seeing the other entrants’ work, I would agree that this one was truly deserving of a gold medal.  Many thanks.

·         A worthy winner.  Who possess a purple pencil?

·         Yes, a Box of Delight from start to finish

·         This is a very elegantly put-together puzzle, with some excellent clues, and it was a pleasure to solve.  Even the initial observation that it seemed to be four puzzles in one due to the lack of interconnection turned out to be relevant.  However, I can’t say I was gripped by the underlying idea itself, and the need to put 1,2,3 and 4 around the perimeter was a slight drawback.  Each movement has (inter alia) a 7-letter word in its subtitle; perhaps that could have been incorporated?  And very annoying of Sir Arthur not to have another letter in his name to allow the full title of his work to appear!  All the best