Dare I say I find myself at a loss as to what to say about this puzzle? I probably shouldn’t, yet it’s quite tricky to discuss its origins.
Someone emailed me after solving it, and asked where the idea had come from. And I had to say I had nothing to say. All I know is that for a few years I had MARMOREAL and MARE/MORE/EALE noted down in my ideas list. After a while I’d added PATRISTIC with a note to check whether you could pull the trick with a letter other than E.
One day I went exploring, and came up with a few more, and it became apparent that THE END might be formed from the discards, as long as I could find a set with H.
The next question was what else to do. It’s not only 4-letter words that are 3-letter words plus a letter. So in went a few like CAPOT(E). It might have been good to have a few more, and some longer ones, but six specific 9-letter words in a grid did rather restrict options.
But if you’re expecting me to say how I first thought of MARMOREAL, then I’m afraid I’m going to come up short.
It was, however, my first EV under the new arrangements. I did get a PDF to proofread, so there’s definitely one available. Quite how far it goes into the system, I do not know – but I’m aware the puzzle was printed with the wrong grid. This does happen (I had an Inquisitor suffer the same fate quite some time ago), and it’s a bit of a problem to sort out when the puzzle is distributed across several thousand paper copies. Much quicker with an online PDF, if you ask me.
I’ve been getting my EV fix via PressReader – well, mostly (there’s one supplement back at the start of September that still hasn’t appeared). It is rather pleasant to see a separate section for puzzles – presumably that’s a dead-tree thing too? What is a bit of a puzzlement is the method for choosing just a segment of the page – a green dotted-line rectangle, adorned with circles NW and SE. Use the mouse to slide the circles so that the rectangle captures the bit you want, press Print, press Fit to single sheet of A4 – and out comes a selection that is slightly smaller than the one you chose (often trimming the last lines of the clues), but which nonetheless extends to a second sheet by a centimetre or so. Annoying.