Update 8 March

A puzzle from the BBC Music Magazine this time – my thanks to them for permission to republish.

I did promise to say something about Testament.  There was an absolute storm of one emailed comment, and nothing at all on the site itself.  (But in all seriousness thank you to the one person who did comment.)

I have accordingly worked through the response, and can say that the remarks there were pretty much what the Listener vetters at the time said – the intricate conclusion of multiple anagrams added little to the puzzle other than an extended coda to a completed grid.  To some extent (and I have to be careful of not adopting too much retrospective self-justification here) that’s what I intended – it is comparatively easy to devise such an end-game, but rather harder to stitch it successfully into the ongoing solving process.  So it achieves the status of an add-on.  (I do inveigh against this sort of thing: I ‘finished’ a puzzle yesterday in which I’ve filled the grid and identified the theme, but cannot determine how to extract the required final message.  Am I going to bang my head against this particular brick wall?  Well, several other puzzles have already swum into my ken, some of which I have to write clues for…  And there’s this blog to write.)

To escape from the parentheses: if I am going to inveigh against such puzzles it does seem reasonable to be able to construct an example, and Testament does attempt that.  Though it was rather a lot of self-indulgent fun getting all those long anagrams into a single puzzle, and I’d probably do it again if the thematic notion turned up!

The usual Independent puzzles are coming up, and there’ll be a setter’s blog this week on the recent Inquisitor, Illusion.  I’m still a bit flummoxed as to how to explain the inspiration for this one, as the blog will reveal.

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