There is little to say about this one – no major trials in getting a complex grid to work, no curious clue gimmick to traverse. And it’s even a little hard to recall where the initial idea came from.
Or perhaps I mean why the idea came at the time it did. The tale of the Pied Piper is very old and very familiar, lurking at the backs of the minds of nearly every solver and setter. I don’t recall ever formally jotting it down in my list of puzzle ideas for future reference (presence on the list generally implying that an idea hasn’t quite gelled yet).
So I suppose it must be Terry Pratchett’s fault. We watched the recent animated film based on The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, which was his take on the Hamelin legend. (And the film is a pretty good representation of the book, too.)
From there it’s a short step to considering how many words you can take RAT from and leave another word (lots: makes list…) and then how many words you can take a hypocorism from ditto (also lots: makes second list…). Then use one set in the across entries and the other set in the down entries.
PIED PIPER being nine letters, you would want an odd number of rows and columns, and 13×13 was too big, so 11×11 it was. Nice to have a small one, for once. Which diagonal? SW -> NE is not so common. Do I bar off the central square to give a dirty great hint? Why not?
And finally the title. The event occurred in two phases for sure, so that’s fair enough, while ‘Phases’ nonetheless gives almost nothing away.
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