Saturday, February 16, 2013

Murder (93)

Well those might have been the hardest 93 letters I've ever had to fill into a grid.

The June 3, 1968 New York Magazine cryptic by Stephen Sondheim was called Vicious Circles.  It's a format I've seen and solved before: don't recall whether it was Hex or Maltby, maybe both of them have set a puzzle of this type.  It's a series of five concentric rings, the first having three letters, the second six, the thir twelve, and on to 48 letters in the outer ring.  The letters in each of the 48 radii make up a word, though you have to rearrange them, while the outer ring spells out a quote and the third identifies its author.  As additional assistance, you're given an anagram of the 24 letters in the fourth ring, and are told that there are no duplicated letters in the first or second rings respectively.

Eventually, I solved it, but it took over a week.  A couple of sections fell quickly, but I got bogged down.  Fortunately, the first section was one of the ones I had, and that led to the quote and the author.  Another ten words or so followed, and Wednesday I was to the point where getting two words in a day was considered success.

There was one pair which would have been a nice cross-reference in a conventional puzzle, but here was just a quick way out for Sondheim, since he needed two words differing by a single letter.  I have to believe he could have done better today, with an anagram server available.

23  Not very highly strung player in Red group with nothing else...
24  ... put more of the same in a little room with one

look below the fold

23  CELL | O  CELL ("red group": communist cell) + O ("nothing else")
24  CELL | I  CELL ("little room") + I ("one")

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