This is my second puzzle called Assistance for the Solver – and also my first.
Listener Crossword 3832 appeared with this title on 2 July, 2005 (my last birthday in the UK before moving to NZ, as it happens). It had a very different theme, about which I’ll remain silent, since there’s always the chance it will appear in a published collection. Not a strong chance, I concede, but still.
This puzzle is something like a decade older in its original conception – the grid is unchanged entirely. Back then I was interested in puzzles that were in some way self-referential. I recall devising one grid where the aim was to reconstruct the omitted preamble. The clues included misprints, latent letters and redundant words, each alerting the solver to one of the other manipulations, including a treatment no as self-evident as those already mentioned. I can’t remember what that last treatment was, and I couldn’t get the puzzle to work anyway.
Assistance for the Solver had more luck, though it sat abandoned for a few years. The idea of giving redundant definitions to the newly-created entries was a constant, but I recall one idea was to indicate how far bars moved and in what direction. That fell by the wayside as it was hard to make it work convincingly.
A while ago I hauled it out again, and cudgelled it into the version presented. Quite a lot of new clues, although there are still one or two from its earliest incarnation in the 1990s.
I should have another look through my old files – I might even find that one without a preamble!
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