Inquisitor 1560: Phase Shift

The moon gets very bright in New Zealand, which I think has something to do with the quality of the sunlight.  It was full yesterday, when I was drafting this, and sufficiently awe-inspiring for a colleague to be sharing photographs at a meeting today.

You look up at the moon and you ponder the phases: first quarter, second quarter, third quarter…no, hang on, there’s no second quarter (that’s full), and the quarters are actually halves.  Astronomers, eh?  Well, that still gives me three options to play with, and then there’s always ‘new’ – anagrams, perhaps?

Anyway, only words with four, eight or twelve letters will have identifiable quarters, and if I’m going to be chopping and changing things in wordplay, I will readily encounter some strange mixes, however much I prepare some transpositions.  For example, swap the second O of MOON with the third quarter of PHILANDERING and, hey presto, MODERN.  Neat?

Except clues like ‘New satellite’ might be hard to hack into.  And I’d still be left with odd collations like PHILAN[1 to 3 letters]ING.  (Exercise for the reader: produce a set of six words where the first or third quarters are interchangeable so as to admit six two definition clues.  Let’s have them of different lengths, so that the shifted quarters are of different lengths as in my example.)

May as well face the complexities head-on.  So I looked out an old Beelzebub grid that had not been clued when the puzzle series ended (I still have a few more to work through when suitable ideas strike).  There was a little tinkering to get the right mix of lengths.  I left a few with odd-valued lengths for the New Moon treatment.

And that was?  It suddenly occurred to me that the new moon was invisible, which suggested ignoring letters in wordplay where relevant.  That even left the occasional entirely normal clue!

There followed a fair bit of footling around with lists of entries, transposing phases, and basically creating the wherewithal for clueing.  Clueing itself was intricate – full anagrams can be tricky as the output of an anagram wouldn’t tell the solver the order of the shifted set, which would feel a bit unfair if done too often.  And proofreading was torture, keeping track of the shifting components, although by that time the editors had been over it, so I was reassured that there wasn’t anything dreadfully wrong.

Maybe not again, but worth a try, I think.