27 by Mango
Posted by shirleycurran on 18 January 2013
Surely not a carte blanche for our last of the year? Well, I’ve said before that I rather like cartes blanches, especially if there are those reassuring words in the preamble, ‘The clues are listed in normal order and the entries exhibit 180-degree symmetry’. If it’s a Mango production, we can count on impeccable cluing too, so there is no real cause for Numpty concern. That 27 appears four times in the preamble, once telling us that it has no definition, once that it can be ‘achieved’, once that the 27, ‘at each juncture’…is … ‘in different cells’ and finally that we need not even enter a clue number ‘the thematic 27′.
In retrospect, we realize that this told us a great deal but we didn’t immediately link 27 to the number of points you earn if you pot all the six coloured balls in snooker. Surprisingly, though, with the extra letters in the down clues emerging so seamlessly as we worked downwards in our grid, POT THE SIX CO… was soon apparent and we had our first inkling of the theme.
For a while, we almost solved the clues in order as AMAZE, EXALT, MELANOMA, MU-MESON and STAYS appeared in that order, of course establishing the pattern of bars at the bottom of the grid too (for, of course, we were inserting them to make our task easier). I did like ‘Oedipal pair repressing a bit of eroticism? A very tiny bit (7)’ with MUM and SON embracing an E(roticism). Of course Mango did not let us down on the alcohol front either as there was ‘Time to crack a bottle full of spirit (5)’ VIAL round T. What lovely clues both were.
I liked ‘Provincial set on catching a chill? Like ****! (8) too. (STELLATE + A[C]HILL = A TELL* inside SET*)Rasputin have a similar use of * in their current IQ and, intriguingly, the use of six colours too, with their A*te – ASTARTE – producing the star on the top of the Christmas tree and the colours for the baubles. I like to have a graphic element introduced into a grid too.
I think we were lucky in solving AMUSEMENT and having the anagram finder suggest WHITE LIES to us (NU[I]TS WITH ELSIE) very early in our solve, so that we had a full grid after a couple of hours of very pleasurable solving. We knew, too, that we had to POT THE SIX COLOURS IN SEQUENCE. I haven’t played or watched snooker since our nightly sorties to the A BOMB in the Australian ski resort of Mount Buller when I was working there over forty years ago but the other Numpty obligingly listed the colours in order: Yellow, Green, Brown, Blue, Pink and Black and all that remained was to work out how to pot them.
At first we hunted for colours but, of course, all we found were initial letters and seven examples of W for white. Now, logically, in order to score our 27, we have to pot those in the correct order, but the white ball should stay on the table. This was a bit of a head-scratcher and we returned to the preamble, knowing that that gang at Mango were going to be very careful about spelling out how we had to proceed. So we read step by step.
The thematic items (our six coloured balls and the white that is being cued into each of them) stick to the defined paths, so clearly only five pockets are being used. ‘In appropriate cases’ these thematic balls have to disappear. Well, even I remember that I didn’t want to pot white, so, clearly, the appropriate ‘cases’ are the six colours. Presumably, then, my six white cuing positions and the white itself will still be on the table at the end of our game.
We are told that, ‘at each juncture the 27 (WHITE LIES) in different ones (CELLS) and we are instructed to circle the thematic item in the first and last of these – presumably the ball that sends the first yellow into its pocket, and the white ball that is left on the table at the end. That took me a few attempts of putative playing before I managed to sink them in sequence and always have a white ball conveniently placed for the next shot. It seemed like a rather improbable game (especially with me playing it) However, we managed to produce a convincing solution. So there we are! Thank you Mango! That was quite something!