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Listener 4677 Variety Show By Enigmatist

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Hagen | 12:25 Sun 19th Sep 2021 | Crosswords
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I can't find another thread even though this puzzle has taken me 15 hours over two days. So here goes. I have never spent this long on any crossword - not even when I started with the Listener 25 years ago as a much poorer solver and without electronic wizardry. I'm a great fan of Enigmatist in all his guises, and it's great to see him make his first appearance since 1993 (according to the Listener site). But a puzzle that takes this long has to have a pretty special theme, and for me this theme is far too trivial to warrant spending so much time on it, clever though the construction undoubtedly is.

I expect to be in a minority here - in a way I hope that's the case. Sorry to be a grouch!

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Hagen, I'm somewhat relieved to read your post. Having solved a bunch of clues but with no idea what to do with them, I dreaded seeing posts from successful solvers all saying "Well that was not too hard". Clearly I'm not alone in struggling. I shall carry on, but I very much doubt that I'll make the finishing line.
Thanks for that, Enigmatist! It was a puzzle unlike no other.

I've no problem with the theme. I'm immensely relieved there was a theme. What I found particularly difficult was the ambiguity throughout in terms of letters missing or extra to wordplay. I lost count of how many I found, and this made the character identification impossible through that route. Things eventually made sense after a grid stare.

The endgame was very clever, but the placings of the final word and ring needed a bit more for me. I have an answer which I think makes logical sense, but I have little confidence.
We didn't get the PDM until the very last moment.

A virtuoso construction - thanks, Enigmatist.
I'm genuinely relieved that it took you that long, Hagen. There are very few puzzles that have taken me so long.

I actually loved the theme when it popped out, very late indeed in a solve that lasted over several days. And I loved how the implementation unfolded. I don't want to give anything away, but the toughness of the implementation was a nice contrast.

I'm paraphrasing, but a very clever person once said that life has to be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards. That pretty much sums up this puzzle for me.

Thanks, Enigmatist. The difficulty reminded me of Radix's "Boxes" puzzle several years ago - but this was harder, I think.

Hope everyone who visits here is well.
My experience was much the same as Hagen's though I suspect I spent longer than 15 hours spread over three days and a bit. There were very few concessions to solvers to compensate for the carte blanche grid and wordplay omitting anything up to 75% of the answer's letters. Even Sabre relaxes his tough clueing style when there are abnormalities in clues or entries.
My main complaint was with the wording of the distinctly unhelpful preamble. By following a sequence of steps as suggested by the presentation in the preamble, I made it virtually impossible to detect the synonyms. There is more than one way to to create larger-than-life characters using 42 cells - and I chose the wrong one to begin with, which added to the difficulty of seeing actual or potential synonyms.
Well - no easy stroll this week. This has become a rather extended hike and despite having most the answers - although some I have only rather flaky justification for so far - and quite a lot of cells occupied in the grid I still have no idea of what is going on or how to get the finishing line. Oh well. Happy to pick away at this for now
Sorry I'm a bit late taking part but I have only just finished 4677 and signed on to your illustrious site to record my relief. I thought this was excellent. Sure, the preamble was fairly meaningless to start with but what is new about that? Chipping away at the clues started to provide other surprises and eventually, after all my (and my wife's) spare time this week, we landed the major PDM and it all fell beautifully into place. The way it is all structured at the end is amazing. I hope we don't have to wait another 28 years for Enigmatist's next offering because I probably won't be here to enjoy it. I thought there might be a hint of ambiguity at the final stage but I'm happy with that now.
For me, one of the very best and not just of this year.
Not the best puzzle to coincide with a week away in Northumbria. At least it wasn't Florence, as I could just sling all the necessary extras in the boot of the car. Was it unfair in places? Probably, but who cares. The preamble only made real sense when I had blindly stumbled through everything else. But it is finished, so it can't have been impossible. Thanks (PS actually finished at 21:13 last night)
I will get the excuse in first - I have been staying with friends on Sark for the last couple of weeks, with a lot of time allocated to walking and socialising, so I could only dip in and out of it during the week. Anyway, I have only just finished. The pdm finally came while walking this morning and I just couldn’t believe that I hadn’t seen it earlier. Excellent construction, as you might expect. I do relish a toughie like this, though I would prefer such a challenge when I am at home.

Thanks very much, Enigmatist.

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