You where actually correct in that turning the engine CCW will put the slack in the correct position, tensioner side. The spring loaded tensioner will then take up the slack and being it is ratcheted will lock in position. I just didn't want you to turn the crank without the timing gear set and move the timing mark position.
Optimistically, you're past the half point on disassembly. Hopefully it will be solved with the head and cylinder removal and there will be no need to go deeper.