Listen With Others

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The Fragmentation of Reality, by Lavatch

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 April 2010

The preamble was daunting, especially that line about choosing between 65,536 possible solution grids. Was Lavatch determined to ┬ádiscourage solvers like the Stripey Horse (5) easy clues crew from even beginning? I colour-coded the four remaining divisions of the preamble and got a rather unconvincing tartan grid when the lights were coloured accordingly – and got precisely nowhere.

Group A with one letter difference between the solution of the definition and the solution of the wordplay produced nothing glaringly obvious. Group B was even more threatening with the length and location of each word to be determined. Only clashes to be resolved in Group C. That gave us a little hope. ‘Group D is normal!’ (My exclamation mark!)

Fortunately, Group D was the largest and the clues were lovely and even fairly transparent, so that we were soon feeling slightly less glum. In they went: REDISTIL, OLOGIES, SERICON, SISTRA, AFFEARE, ORVIETO (there’s usually a drop of wine in a Listener crossword isn’t there? These compilers must be a set of oenophils!), DRAPE, STEATITE, INSERTS, TAHRS. Ah, but we had them in as THARS – see later! STEWERS, AMELIA – poor struggling lass – MIDOFFS, RESIT, ASTEISM, STRAND, SHLEPER, AUFS, ONAGERS, DECEIVE, STOEPS and OVATE.

Yes, there is one missing – a very significant one, and for that reason, that north-east corner was to cause us a real headache later on. Still, Group C now yielded their secrets and the four obvious clashes appeared. Were we dealing with WIFE or NIFE? BANDIT or PANDIT? WOOD-CUTTER? The first p.d.m! A wife, a bandit, a woodcutter, a Samurai warrior and even a potential RAPIST hidden at 27ac. if we had some sort of error there (of course we didn’t – was this another of Lavatch’s deliberate garden paths?).

If this was RASHOMON, then we were probably looking for KUROSAWA. Group A began to yield useful letters. Clearly we had to use KELPER over HELPER. We went up the blind alley of looking for the correct letter of two in clue-number order. Only about an hour’s diversion (and what’s an hour in Listener solving terms? What indeed – why don’t I get out and weed the garden?) then we sorted out all the clashes and almost completed group A (MIRES, EDDA, NAVEWS, ARISTA).

We were left with that dastardly group B and realization slowly dawned that these clues were going to resolve themselves into pairs. RASH and HASH (of course, our THAR goats had to shift region and become TAHRS), NEAREST and DEAREST, SAMURAI and SAMARAS and what?

How often the lack of one word can render the concluding stages of one of these crosswords a nightmare. We even knew which lights were going to yield the U and O of KUROSAWA but that missing ORIFICES left us floundering for SORUS and MINOR: I put the word in, in desperation in the end, concluding that an orifice, or opening, had to be a break – anyway, it was the only word that fitted – how often that is our reason for opting for a word – sadly!

Even then, we weren’t on safe ground as we needed our second title. IN A GROVE appeared in a little block of letters but surely Lavatch was not expecting us to ‘ring’ that. It would have been most unsophisticated. It finally dawned that, if we put SAMURAI at 7 and ringed that character, we had SEVEN SAMURAI.

I have one remaining problem: I have no idea what the title has to do with the theme. I hope Denis will explain! It is a good thing that there isn’t a little slot under the grid each week: ‘Explain the title in this space!’

Wonderful stuff this. Very challenging, great fun and very rewarding!

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