I’ve come across the nacho/Na3C6H5O7 equivalence at various times but only tagged it as a crossword idea a couple of years ago. And there it sat waiting for me to work out how to use it.
Chemical elements have always been something of a gift to setters. The formulae yoking elements into molecules add a numerical component. So it was clear to me that somehow you would have to amass three lots of sodium, six of carbon and so on. That could be done by omitting them – but the puzzle is called Additive, so let’s omit them from the wordplay and have the solvers add them back into the diagram. That was sealed by the discovery of ANACHRONISM with them all nicely lined up in order.
Sodium citrate had a lot of reasonably friendly letters to act as ‘additives’ to clued words while making new words in the grid. It would be the final additive along the bottom row. The two-character nature of Na meant some potential confusion over omissions, but the length of the unclued central entry, and the information that there were four spaces would automatically indicate that one (and, indeed, which one) was of two letters.
The editor was concerned that the positioning of one of those four spaces added too many consecutive letters to the central down entry. He suggested a slight tweak to the symmetry, noting that the grid was already asymmetrical. I roundly denied this, only to find he was right: one bar does not have a symmetrical partner. Everything else (except the added amendment around 16 down) has a symmetrical oppo, either in mirror or rotational symmetry. Of course, crossword software will view that as asymmetric, and failing to note an adjustment in an opposite quadrant is clearly the way I overlooked things. I also managed to clue HAIRST with the definition for HAIRST-RIG, and, while a replacement clue was provided it became detached during the proofing process.
Now, what’s for supper…?
I’m putting this up just after another announcement that the EV series will be ceasing. This time at the end of July 2022 because it cannot be solved interactively, and all online puzzles are going to be solely solvable that way. I do wonder at the wisdom of that: I almost never solve online – much easier to print off a sheet and sit in a cosy chair, with or without reference books and cats (without cats is easier). That goes for blocked puzzles as well as barred. It’s easy enough – as the Guardian and Times show – to offer a print option – heavens, even I manage a PDF!
Still, EV will be going out with a bit of a splash, as (what looks likely to be) my final EV blog in early July will attest.