The puzzle I’ve just put up today is almost exactly ten years old – from the Church Times of 1 December 2006. My thanks to them for permission to republish.
Saturday is getting under way in the UK as I write, so there may still be time for you to try today’s Jumbo in The Times. If you miss that then the quick cryptic there on 29 November will provide a shorter amount of sustenance, as will the daily on 6 December.
This site will get an earlier-than-usual update around the start of December, with a couple of setter’s blogs for recent Enigmatic Variations and Inquisitor puzzles. About that time, too, the postal copies of this year’s APEX puzzle will go out to meet the last posting dates in NZ (earthquakes permitting, of course) – the e-mailed copies will go out shortly after the next formal update in a fortnight.
There has been something of a kerfuffle around Poat’s recent Listener puzzle. I must concede that I am regularly among those who miss a subtlety in the final step, or devise a subtlety of my own. It is often hard to divest yourself of the conviction that your solution must be right – hitting on something that works is a big obstacle to looking further for something that works slightly better. Sometimes that ‘slightly’ feels like a hair’s-breadth of difference, too.
So in this instance – well, actually, I got it, so, yeah, I’m feeling pretty smug… The clincher for me was the contorted wording in the preamble, with the very specific omission of a count of the number of cells involved. Do we not usually get that? Yes, we do. Then it might not be cells we’re highlighting, no?
To be fair, I was only 90-95% convinced, but nothing else was reaching 60%, so off it went. It was an attractive puzzle, after all.
I have been at the other end of the process, when a puzzle of mine generated a lot of spurious solutions – and one which I actually thought was equivalent to, but aesthetically better than, my own. And it was marked wrong with the rest. As the man said, the editor’s decision, however perverse, is final.