Keeping the Numbers Up

I find myself between the appearance of an Enigmatic Variations puzzle and its setter’s blog, so this week’s puzzle is an earlier example from the series.

Back in 1998, you had somewhat longer to submit your entries, so the solution grid is for No. 308, which was clearly some sort of exotic Playfair puzzle.  (In fact – thank you, Mr Hennings – it was Nvvdsitssm by Radix, which simply screams Playfair, doesn’t it?  Artaxerxes, if you think that will help you decode it.)  What intrigued me was the names of the winners.  

First of all, they were in reverse alphabetical order, so I presume that reflects an order of drawing out of the hat.  The names were also all quite familiar: H J Bradbury (not sure I ever met him other than in winners’ listings), J E Green (who also gets everywhere) and P Henderson.

Which is curiously embarrassing for some reason.  I have, on the Beelzebub page, mentioned a curious coincidence around entering series one is a part of – I managed to win (albeit under a nom de guerre) the last Beelzebub my predecessor produced.  That felt ever so slightly wrong.  (I have subsequently seen a list of winners to a particular puzzle which included the setter’s real name – that did look fishy, but turned out to be a typo where the wrong week’s winners were printed.)

But it shouldn’t have – the crossword solving world is not so large, and newspapers count the entries to determine popularity.  (This is misguided, as a newspaper that omits its crossword will find there are plenty of non-submitters out there.)  So entering is a good thing to do.  But I have rather let it fall away since moving to New Zealand, though I note that the Enigmatic Variations series now has an email entry address (perhaps I should stop filling them in so scruffily…), and I do enter Magpie and Crossword Club puzzles ‘remotely’.  It involves a lot of scanning (especially of unusually shaped puzzles) so there still feels as if there’s a step or two to go to make the process as smooth as possible.

The EV blog will be along on or around Thursday, which is the day before there’s a Pedro in the Times Quick Cryptic slot.  

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