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Demolition by Schadenfreude

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 October 2015

Schadenfreude donkey 001We downloaded this with a smile. A crossword by Schadenfreude is always popular. There was a short preamble telling us that letters were omitted from the wordplay of an unspecified number of clues and that these would spell the theme if read row by row. A proposition was to be discovered and we were to make some adjustment in the grid to demonstrate its fallacy. Of course, Schadenfreude was going to leave us with real words after the manipulation. We would expect no less from him.

Of course, I checked that Schadenfreude has reserved his place at the bar in the Listener Toper’s Club and he has, but with only a very small tipple, ‘Fraction of a dram Lord Mayor accepted (4)’ (Giving LMA round U for LUMA, a 100th of an Armenian dram and producing the first of our extra letters, the U). 36ac, ‘Irish fellow leads with many a Scottish measure (6)’ suggested that the situation might improve (F + IR + LOT) but then the drinking bout finished with ‘Afternoon Irish tea dish (5)’ ([S]A + TAY = SATAY giving us another of those extra letters, the S).

The grid filled very quickly. These were polished clues but not the toughest that Schadenfreude can produce (as in his CAM crosswords). I Solving page 001appreciated the economy of the words used. I once commented to an editor that I aim at never exceeding twelve words in a clue and he replied that he aims at an average of five! A glance at our solving page demonstrates that Schadenfreude belongs to that superior category – not one of those pages overpopulated with words that Listener crosswords occasionally produce.

That’s enough eulogy, Numpty, – get on with solving! We had only a couple of doubts which were resolved by the endgame. ‘Kidder’s lost the head of this shocking implement (6)’ suggested (T)RICKER to us, but we couldn’t find any taser-like thing called a ‘ricker’ in Chambers, and ‘Stuff mostly found in volcanic rock and sun stones (7)’ suggested ASHLARS to us but we couldn’t parse it and decided (red herring!) that the L had to be an extra letter.

Thus we had a full grid with a rather odd message that looked like BUILD AN S ASS and it was the discovery of that DONKEY gracing the non-Schadenfreudeleading diagonal and a couple of carrots that led us to Wikipedia and BURIDAN’S ASS. Well, here was our ass with the dilemma of carrots equidistant from him (though actually he had no real problem in Schadenfreude’s grid with the CAM to drink from on his left, a river (AE) by his right ear, SAGE, SEEDLAC, and a FIRLOT all around him!)

However, we demolished the proposition and allowed him to swallow the higher of the two carrots and smiled again when the grid removed our RICKER dilemma, by changing it to KICKER and suggested that ASHLARS was correct, as it changed to a variant spelling, ASHLERS. Not only that, we now removed the R from SHERDS, producing SHEDS, which, Chambers tells us, can mean ‘parts’. I wonder how many solvers will put an A into that unch since both SHANDS and SHENDS are Submission grid 001real words. It is just one more example of the need to understand every solution before putting the grid into an envelope addressed to JEG.

It was the finding of the real words both before and after the manipulation that, to my mind, added the polish to this most enjoyable solve. Many thanks’ Schadenfreude.

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Listener No. 4363: Demolition by Schadenfreude

Posted by Dave Hennings on 2 October 2015

It was Schadenfreude week again. Last year we had two: 4291, Maxon (snooker) and 4318, Wordplay (alternatives). I suspect this will be the one and only for this year. Unlike last week, when we were told how many misprints we were dealing with, here we were told that in “some” clues the wordplay omitted one letter of the answer, and these would put us on the right lines for correcting a fallacy.

Listener 43631ac Litter gone by end of week (4) was KAGO which I only got from the wordplay, and 1dn KESAR was easy to spot for the old emperor. 2dn Stuff mostly found in volcanic rock and sun stones (7) looked as though it could be ACRAMAS, although I’d never heard of it. This wasn’t surprising as it didn’t seem to exist as a word (ASHLARS would soon take its place, however).

11ac ESTRO and 18ac RAISES soon had the top left corner taking shape, followed by 3dn Flower dance doesn’t begin (5) for ORRIS and 13ac Gaps for some parts (6). For the latter, I stupidly entered SHARDS without a question mark beside the clue to indicate I hadn’t fully parsed the wordplay. This wasn’t surprising as the correct answer was SHERDS, with the R not given by the wordplay. Luckily I fixed this fairly early in my solving.

At this point, I assumed that a letter not given by the wordplay in one clue would not be given by the wordplay in a crossing entry. However, ORRIS at 3dn didn’t have a missing R where the missing R of SHERDS was. This wasn’t surprising either, as I was wrong in my assumption.

Of course, in typical Schadenfreude fashion, there were a couple of twists to this clueing. 8dn Contact advances (5) was LENDS, although the D missing from the wordplay Contact was unchecked. And at 12ac Unionist inside sheltered the local bird (7) was BLUE-EYE with the U omitted from the wordplay in 7dn, and the unchecked B omitted from the wordplay here — U (unionist) in LEE (sheltered) + YE (the, local).

The top of the grid was finished fairly quickly, but the rest took a bit longer, partly because I was unfamiliar with CAMANS (shinty sticks), PLEBE (first-year US naval cadet), PRAD (horse) and BYEND (subsidiary aim). All in all though, the clues were solid and straightforward.

On to the endgame, and BURIDAN’S ASS was spelt out by the letters omitted from the wordplay. This refers to an ass which dies of starvation because it cannot choose between two equally distant and equally desirable sources of food. This contrasts with the modern day Macdonald’s humans who, when faced with two equally desirable choices, just have both.

Listener 4363 My EntryAfter a bit of time looking at OAT in the bottom right and trying to find an ASS elsewhere, the CARROT in the top left quadrant soon enabled the DONKEY and other CARROT to be found. Replacing the first of these CARROTs with DONKEY was the only option to enable all entries in the final grid to be real words.

So many thanks to Schadenfreude for a fine puzzle and an entertaining theme.

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Spots by Colleague

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 September 2015

Spots by Colleague 001We immediately noticed that Colleague’s Spots had a 12 by 13 grid, so clearly his 26 cells to be highlighted were going to somehow twice do the vertical trip – maybe round it. I also scanned his clues to confirm that he remains a member of the Listener Setters’ topers’ club and he left me in no doubt with ‘Drinking bout without us about to make packets (6)’  (SESSION less (u)S< = NOISES so that ‘packets’ gave us ‘rackets’ with the P and R converting to H and producing the first of our letters of the hidden name). The following clue pronounced that ‘spirit’ was not needed,’Brilliant discovery – spirit not needed accommodating Chinese wish (6)’ (EUREKA less KA round CH giving EUCHRE and producing our second hidden letter since ‘wish’ had to convert to ‘dish’ – outwit, giving an A). However, later we found ‘Celebrate drinks as relics (9)’ (KEEP + SAKES) confirming that all was well and this was a fairly boozy crossword.

These were not easy clues but we solved steadily and, in a couple of hours had an almost full grid with JOHN AUB??Y appearing as the hidden name. We Spots 001needed an R and an E to complete AUBREY and obviously the clue about flexible sex was a candidate. ‘Sex being flexible – is it clean? (9) (Crikey what sort of clues are the editors allowing through these days!) Of course IS IT CLEAN* gave us INELASTIC and back solving produced the misprint SET and the required R – and no rumpy-puppy after all.

The necessary E to complete his name was even more difficult to find but we eliminated clue by clue of the six potential ones and finally opted for the clue to SNORER, ‘Maybe a nuisance who’s put rook with large bird in Stepney before sun rises (6)’ and decided that the nuisance had to be ‘out’, giving us P + O = E.

Clearly a visit to Wikipedia was needed now, and what we found there suggested that we were somehow going to find the Aubrey holes represented in our grid. However, Wiki told us that there were 56 of those within the circle of Stonehenge and we were to highlight a mere 26 cells. A bit of Numpty head-scratching until we spotted Stonehenge in a diamond shape in the centre of our grid. That occupied only 10 cells. We hunted further and smiled when that diamond shape was echoed by 26 cells further out in the grid giving us Gleneagles, Hoylake and St Andrews. Eighteen holes on a golf course X three golf courses. The next numerical crossword is due in November but we don’t even need a calculator to tell us that we have 54 holes there, falling two short of the Aubrey 56 holes.

Very entertaining, thank you Colleague.

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Listener No. 4362: Spots by Colleague

Posted by Dave Hennings on 25 September 2015

Eighteen or so months since Colleague’s last Listener with its Animal Farm theme. Before that, we had the Nato communications alphabet with How to Hotel being required under the grid, rather than How to Spell or How to Tango. This week, just ten clues with a misprint to deal with, spelling out the name of a discoverer of something. (I found myself wondering what decided whether the preamble would give the actual number of a certain clue type rather than just ‘some’.)

Listener 4362I failed on both 1ac and 5ac, so decided to tackle the down clues. 2 IRENE, 3 PIRATIC and 4 EGG were slotted in. They enabled PIPE to go in at 1ac, although I’d never thought of PPE as a university school. 11 TRIGLYPH and 13 TERGUM found me starting down the left-hand side of the grid and, with INELASTIC going in at 18dn Sex being flexible — is it clean? (9), I knew I had found one of my favourite clues of the puzzle!

Having completed an anti-clockwise tour of the grid, it didn’t take too long to plug the remaining gaps, and a finished diagram was staring at me in about two hours. I enjoyed being reminded by 39ac of a hideous fashion while I was at school: “One designated Kipper is broad and loud”, an Asian said (3) with reference to kipper ties which were almost as wide as they were long. Elsewhere in the grid, I was left wondering what the hell was molar latent heat as referenced in 33dn.

The sum of the misprints and their correct letters gave JOHN AUBREY. I was immediately reminded of the great Roy Dotrice, now aged 92, in the fantastic one-man show, Brief Lives. I’ve seen it twice, once way back in 1967 and then again at its revival in 2008.

Of course, this had nothing to do with the theme of this puzzle. Instead, WikiGoogle told us that the Aubrey Holes at Stonehenge were named after him. On a visit there in 1666, he noticed five circular holes, but now a total of 56 have been discovered. Unfortunately, I was now being asked to highlight 26 cells which were thematically arranged and whose combined total fell short of the discovery by two.

Listener 4362 My EntryIt didn’t take too long to find STONEHENGE in the grid, but I needed 16 more cells to highlight. Luckily, I spotted EAGLES running diagonally SW to NE in the top left quadrant and all became clear as I traced HOYLAKE, ST ANDREWS and back to GLENEAGLES in a diamond shape in the grid. So that gave three rounds of golf and a total of 54 holes, two short of the 56 (somewhat different sort) named after Aubrey. Stonehenge didn’t need highlighting at all.

A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle from Colleague, thanks, and a shame that the editors couldn’t get sponsorship from the three courses for a free round of golf for all correct solvers.

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Listener No. 4361: Two for the Price of One by Monk

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 September 2015

Nearly four years have passed since the last Monk Listener with its Morecambe and Wise / André Previn theme. However, if you enjoy this puzzle, he can frequently be found elsewhere, including The Independent and Financial Times. This week, we were treated to a crossword based on the Train Tracks puzzle which appears in the Saturday edition of The Times. I enjoy that little diversion, even though it never takes more than a few minutes. I have often wished they would do a larger grid than the 8×8, and this week Monk provides it.

Listener 4361As the preamble says, the first puzzle is a crossword, although some needed specail treatment to fit in the grid. 1ac Keep sight of tug of old on ground, then harbouring it (15, four words) looked as though it should be easy with its (15, four words), but it was not to be. 13 Chairs damaged spine (6) came to the rescue with RACHIS and some of 14’s first letters provided IAGO.

1dn Cheat, getting nettle, not about to reveal “three of a kind”? (8) with its second letter as R looked like it would be TRI…, and a little peak at Mrs B provided TRIM for cheat and the BRB gave me TRIMURTI (the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Siva). I was off, and determined not to use Mrs B again this week.

Because of that (probably) the rest of the grid was comparatively slow to fill. A lot of my problem lay with Monk’s sneaky clues, like 1ac above where “keep” isn’t a verb, and “diamonds on top of this” refers to MOH’S SCALE. My favourite clue was probably 12dn Old Scandinavians run into neutral territory, avoiding capture (6) with R in NO MAN’S [LAND]. The one that I found toughest to parse was 29ac Family famous for hangings turn soft, confused about losing last vestige of hope (7) — GO (turn) + B (soft, as in pencil) + SENILE< (confused) – E (last letter of hopE).

It became evident fairly early on that some cells needed to contain two letters, and they were compass points indicating which sides needed to be connected by a track come the endgame, which didn't present me with too many problems since, as I mentioned above, I complete the puzzle most weeks in The Times. It’s a fairly simple exercise in identifying those cells which must contain a track, and those that cannot. The former are either marked with the required track, or, if the exact type is unknown, with a dot; the latter I mark with a cross. Take the bottom two rows in the grid:

Listener 4361 Example

We are told the bottom row has only two tracks, so these must be vertical north-south. (In fact, these do not need to contain N/S since the track starts and ends at these two points, but by convention these two tracks are given at the start of the puzzle.) All the other cells in row 1 can be marked with a cross. Those immediately above the tracks can be given a dot, but it is not clear yet whether they are straight or curved.

Listener 4361 My EntryThe puzzle is solved by repeated use of this and other tricks. For example, a track cannot be surrounded by three crossed cells (a dead end), and if there are the same number of empty cells as the number given for that row or column, then all of them can be marked with a dot.

Thanks to Monk for an enjoyable couple of puzzles, and I hope the size of the graphic (nearly 2mb) doesn’t cause anyone a problem!

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