Reduplicative compounds are a fascinating class of words, a sort of onomatopoeia squared. They’re also called ‘ricochet words’ and I used that principle in a puzzle for the Inquisitor series a few years ago (November 2016, which postdates this site so you can see my blog on it here: http://phionline.net.nz/setters-blogs/wattwhip/ and the fifteensquared blog on it here: http://www.fifteensquared.net/2016/11/30/inquisitor-1465-wattwhip-by-phi/).
When the idea resurfaced in a different form, I felt I couldn’t use it there. The idea was distinct but – well, in any case, it struck me that the words involved were composed of halves that were identical except for minor variations. And we have a puzzle series with Variations in its name, do we not? So off to The Sunday Telegraph it would go.
The actual construction of the puzzle was nothing special – start with a list of words that fitted the theme, some clearly reduplicative (LOVEY-DOVEY), some probably not except in transmission to English (TERU-TERO), and some definitely not (POSTPOSE). Get a good dozen or so, because you want a few options, and build a grid. I recall this one as a bit fiddly, with a lot of realignment of bars to get a decent average word length.
It’s definitely a penny-drop idea – ordinary clued words that are a letter too long, which turn out to cross the unclued entries, and eventually it clicks that the U and O of TERU and TERO will supply a means of entering FLUORINE. Though it might be interesting to find out which word was the way in. I was very happy to get the wonderful word FRAMPOLD in. I hardly dared look it up – I wanted it to be an adjective (“I feel a bit frampold today”) and was half-afraid it would turn out to be a verb (“you frampold the horseshoe with the scroving-iron before plunging it into the quenching-butt”). But I was in luck and was spared feeling frampold (1).
It was sitting in the Enigmatic Variations pipeline when the balloon went up – the EV series was to end in August 2020. The editor advised that those with puzzles in said pipeline should reallocate them to other outlets. I had already ruled out the Inquisitor, and it occurred to me that I had never offered the Crossword Centre a puzzle. Derek Harrison was kind enough to receive it eagerly.
And then the EV was saved, by which time we were well into arranging for publication on the Crossword Centre site and, while Derek offered to return the puzzle to me to put back in the pipeline, I felt it was now destined for the Centre. I have actually been around some time now without making my debut there. Any reappearance will have to be on a shorter timescale if mortality isn’t to win.
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