Translation by Sabre
Posted by shirleycurran on 24 August 2012
I have just put our list of knights in the bin. We had 33 translated knights including RYTIR, BRUNINIEKS, SOVALYE, LOVAG and of course PAARD, KOHb, CAVALLO, CABALLO, CAVALIER and SPRINGER. We had guessed fairly early on, when we found LAVALIER clashing with CHOCBAR that a series of knights was going to provide the six thematic entries in the completed grid (though we hadn’t immediately realized that they were specifically the names of the chess pieces). One numpty went off to amuse himself compiling a potential list, while the other struggled with the knights’ moves.
On second thoughts, maybe I had better retrieve that list, as this was the second time I have jousted with Sabre’s knights and that list leaves him many more for a few more entries into the lists. Fortunately, this bout wasn’t quite as fraught as our last joust which, if I remember right, was my longest solve ever. However, like that one, we were unable to begin shifting our knights until we had almost completely cold-solved the crossword and that was after midnight last night. I slept on it!
Sabre had lulled us into a sense of false security as, even though I was entertaining visitors, I was able to sneak off and fill in a few clues and they were surprisingly approachable. I imagine the editors had rejected any real Knight mares, (sorry – nightmares – they came later) as too many gaps would make this crossword impossible to solve. We were left with 7d ‘Empty Bierkeller, maybe one character seen there regularly (4)’ What a stunning clue! The Bierkeller maybe (BAR) has the character E that regularly appears in it (BiErkEllEr) and gives us BARE or ‘Empty’. We also had 36d to solve (and still have, though the endgame confirmed that the ‘duds’ of the definition were RAGS). Hah – a postscript; a fellow solver has explained that ‘in fine‘ is Latin – the endings, of course of ’foR operA goinG dresS. I should have seen that, I had the joy of teaching Latin to young Americans many years ago. (You should try reciting the declensions putting the accusative just before the ablative, as they do – it is on a par with knights’ moves!)
Of course Sabre provided us with the inevitable Listener compiler alcoholic clues with ‘Australian wine bottles Sabre mixed up, being old (10)’ A + HOCK + SABRE all mixed together producing AHORSEBACK, meaning ‘up’ once. A nicely thematic clue though the Bierkeller was empty and Bars in North Carolina too (those DOGGERIES). There was ‘Sparkling wine without limit lifted fish’ as well, in CAVA followed by ALL (rev) so it is not surprising that a couple of Johns and a lavatory appeared.
However, more to the point, a few potential knights were also emerging. I had to make a new little see-through bit of plastic (I should know better than to throw away such devices; a third knights’ moves feast is likely to appear one of these days) to isolate the potential moves of those letters that had appeared as clashes. I began work, putting to one side the concern about ABYE which had no inherent misprint and the obvious problem of that D/L clash in TOWELGOURD and STELE which clearly provided nowhere for the knight to go.
And work it was. We have learnt our lesson; I painstakingly traced every move of the correct letter that was leaving a word, and listed the original words and the misprints and laboriously worked through the grid. The joy when it all fitted together was unbounded as was my admiration for Sabre. How on earth did he compile this? Did he start with his knights (they were a great help, as putting them into the grid put correct letters into each corner)?
I hope he will tell us.
Of course, we encountered a problem (the numpties always do!) There was that issue of the Cyrillic script transliteration of the Russian Knight into English. Apparently it needs a lower case ‘b’ , but we had the original clash with PROB ‘Small difficulty for classical bass — KEEP IT DOWN! Was that telling us to enter KOHb? No, as you can’t ‘keep’ something down that isn’t already down and ‘Bass’ in Chambers is an upper-case B. So it must be a rather salacious clue about BASS losing ASS. Anyway, any information about entering lower-case letters would be in the preamble wouldn’t it, not in a clue? (Like that contentious issue of Arsenal Manager and the silly business about the accent that appeared in this week’s solution – are our editors losing the place?) We took the risk and entered our upper-case B cursing these ambiguities that appear.
The worries that had been shelved resolved themselves. With almost all the moves worked out, there were still some words that needed misprints and some errant ’correct letters’ to allocate – that Z from BAZAN had to create a misprint in ROZES, sending the little S knight into CHOCBSR, to create a misprint there. The spare P of Prat, had, of course, to give us one of our knights, the PAARD, and that worrying D/L clash was resolved by creating clashes in CIRCUS where it met DEGRADE.
At three o’clock on the dot, our grid was complete and I calculated that a total of eight hours had gone into solving this. Sabre’s last errant knights took us 24 hours of solving – if anything, I enjoyed this one more. Thank you, Sabre!