4067: Mr E’s Be My Guest (or It’s a Snip)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 22 January 2010
So here we are with the first puzzle of a brand new year … a clean sheet as it were, for an all-correct run. Fifty-two puzzles lie ahead, and what a challenge it is again to try and achieve 100%.
First on the list is Mr E, the setter whose golf puzzle from last year was quite a struggle. Part of me hopes that this will be equally enthralling, but without the chance of a silly slip-up at the first hurdle. A quick read of the preamble, and it’s just the sort I like … almost incomprehensible! Two answers, X and Y, plus nine other words spelt out by the initials of extra words in clues, give instructions on what to do once the puzzle is completed. The grid itself has a large square instead of the 5×5 block in the top left corner; at least that means there aren’t as many clues to solve as would be normal in a 13×13 grid. As with many Listener puzzles, the best thing is to start solving and hope that it all comes out in the wash.
ROAM at 18ac and SOLEMN at 14dn give me a good start and enable me to complete the lower left section of the puzzle fairly quickly with ASPIDISTRA, PARTNERED and LENTAMENTE, each requiring two letters to be entered into one of their squares which are to be split in two, like the central one. I’m thinking that these diagonally split squares must represent something to do with the theme, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the large square needs to be similarly divided. Nothing immediately springs to mind though.
ITALIOTE comes next followed by CREMATION with its definition a burning; it reminds me of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, although there it was a stoning that all the women took pleasure to participate in! AUBERGE at 28ac gets me started on the bottom right corner. 32ac takes some analysis: Who will bother the queen about measure by [eastern] prince: ER about STERE by P; it is annoying how often I get tripped up by by, where, so frequently, X by Y appears as Y + X. INVITEE and TOGETHER lead me to solve the first of the clues without an extra word: CUT IT at 27ac. Don’t tell me another bit of grid manipulation is going to be required, this time with scissors, and following close on the heels of last week’s origami treat. (I can’t believe how many people at the Crossword Centre found the paper folding exercise so taxing, supposedly never having tried it as a kid. It just goes to show the advantage of being brought up in the 50′s and 60′s when TV was so much less of a distraction.)
BEST-SELLING leads me to string the first three of the double squares together, and a leaf through Chambers reveals CONTESSERATION. This is the dividing of a square tablet in two to form a friendship. So everything’s coming together nicely. The last few clues take a bit of time: HALF, the other clue without an extra word, [FLASH (like a criminal) - S reversed, gives HALF meaning imperfectly]; and ASSOCIATE (AS + SO + A in CITÉ, although I think this deserved something stronger than a ?); and SEGNO which needs reversing with SP (for spelling) on the front to give sponges (sots). The initials of the extra letters reveal OUT IN KEEP ENCLOSE WITH YOUR NAME ON IT.
The full instructions are finally revealed as CUT IT OUT. CUT IT IN HALF. KEEP HALF. ENCLOSE HALF WITH YOUR NAME ON IT. Which is precisely what I did, and again felt sorry for John Green having to store all the odd bits of paper that Listener puzzles are degenerating into!
All in all, bloody marvellous, and another puzzle where you’ve got to ask yourself “Where the hell did he get the idea from??!!” Keep ‘em coming, Mr E.
I have completely forgotten to check the last four entries for last year, but Mr Postman delivered something this morning that means I don’t actually need to!