Inquisitor 1731 Retro by Encota

January 4, 2022

Christmas Eve, and thoughts here would be generally occupied with:

  • Preparing a mountain of vegetables;
  • The viewing of a number of appropriately festive movies;
  • Frantically hunting through the attic for old wrapping paper come 11PM on realising that most of the kids’ presents had yet to be wrapped, with only a couple of sheets of paper and scraps of sellotape remaining. Happily, all was well that ended well.

So it would be that I would only have a chance to spend a little time with the minesweeper stage, at first optimistically, and then with a gathering sense of gloom as it became clear that this sort of thing is really rather difficult and probably not my thing. If only one of the many online Minesweeper solvers could help – but no, what we’re playing is a cunning variation on the game designed to stymie such shenanigans.

Never mind, what about the clues? Straight definitions that, once I spotted on Boxing Day the bit in the preamble regarding the jumbled letters in the clues, and realised that the secondary Sudoku element meant that we were dealing with a set of 9 letters only, fell with little ado.

Though the Minesweeper stage would stubbornly refuse to do so.

The unclued entry did though, by the simple matter of applying a little logic to the 81 letters required in the grid, and those we were missing from the set. ASTEROIDS, another retro game to add to our collection.

And so would ensue several days of trying to do something with the above. A betting man would place ASTEROIDS across the NW-SE diagonal, and the 8 letter answers in the right hand column and bottom row, and so I did, but that still left a lot of possibilities, and no starting spots courtesy of the unsolved Minesweeper to help.

In the end, having thrown in the towel several times (I have a picture on my phone of an empty grid ready to “blog”), my MO involved:

  • Calling on the services of an online Wordoku solver;
  • Inserting the longer answers where I could, gradually, into the grid;
  • Looking at the suggestions the solver threw out and acting on them;
  • Continuing with the above until there was only one possible grid left.

Confirmation via the Minesweeper stage? Well, of course I’d jumped the wrong way regarding the placement of the 8 letter answers, with several of my shorter answers in the grid starting in spots marked 0.

Erase. Start again as per the above, swapping the two 8 letter answers, though with the advantage of knowing that several answers entered diagonally could be mirrored the other side of ASTEROIDS.

And check the Minesweeper again against the completed grid, which looks good to me, though I will admit to being that relieved to finish that I haven’t checked everything thoroughly.

When I first spotted this I figured – this is a light bit of fluff suitable for the festive season, but, well, no, this turned out to be as tough as they get, probably, but too it must be said lots and lots of fun to tease out. Even for those of us who ended up cheating, as I was forced to do. There being no such thing as a bad landing, though, I will sit back content with a job well done, and tuck into the remaining beer, whisky, Christmas Cake and mince pies, of which there are plenty.

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