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Cool Places Only by Ares

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 December 2020

When we are told that ‘The title crypticlly represents the theme’ we, of course, anagram the title and TEA obligingly told us that ‘Cool Places Only’ anagrams to ‘Colony Collapse’. What a fine hint! I wasn’t given much time to check that Ares retains his seat or place at the bar with the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit, as the other Numpty was racing ahead and had already removed those poor bees from the first six clues and was filling the grid.

But then came ‘Dream of cocktail following major broad (7)’ We downed yet another poor bee and put a major road, AI, in front of SLING (the cocktail) and produced AISLING = a dream. I liked the next clue where ‘Terrier runs to hide in cabin (5)’ but yet another poor bee hit the dust and the R in CAIN gave us our CAIRN terrier. Then Ares earned his ticket with not just a cocktail, ‘Going west, sailor opening wine hamper (4)’ We removed the B from our AB (sailor) and put him into the RED (wine) – a whole ‘hamper’ of it! A drunken sailor? Ah well – the ‘hamper’ turned out to be DEBAR with the B removed but cheers, anyway, Ares.

There was a hopeful sign later on too: ‘Innings bordered local marker (7, two words)’ One more bee had to go and we ‘ordered’ or anagrammed theINNINGS to get the local marker we were looking for, INN SIGN. Nice one!

It was all rather sad for the bees but there were some amusing manipulations when they were removed. We smiled at BRAINSTORM becoming RAINSTORM, and SEBBAT/SEAT. When EDALE was the only word that would complete 4d we head-scratched to produce BEDABBLE (wet) and the Del (or NABLA ‘upraised’ producing ALBAN or ALAN with the poor bee eliminated) nicely completed our grid.

The resulting thematic group that we had to highlight after changing one letter had to be the APIS that appeared (surprisingly considering the rate at which we had been eliminating them) when we changed the R of LARIS to a P but we were halfway through dinner before we realised that those four letters appear in that order in ‘colony collAPse dISorder’. A gentle but enjoyable compilation on a sad subject. Thank you Ares.


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Listener No 4633: Cool Places Only by Ares

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 December 2020

The first Listener from Ares was at the beginning of this year and was all about chemical symbols in Mendeleev’s Periodic Table. This week, the title cryptically represented what was going on with clues or entries.

From 1ac Guard thrown around Blake (6), the only Blake I knew was Blake Edwards, he of Pink Panther fame, so that didn’t seem unlikely. It didn’t take long to work out that Blake becoming lake was a possibility. 6ac Poems with bit added to depict port (6) was obviously ODES plus SA with SA being ‘it’, so again a ‘b’ was dropped in the clue. I must admit that the wool [b]eater in 11ac looked odd, but [b]lock, [b]ill, [b]road and ca[b]in all confirmed the B theme.

17ac Going west, sailor opening wine hamper (4) was the first one in which a ‘b’ did not appear, so that must mean there was one in the entry (DEBAR becoming DEAR). 18 showed that there could be more than one ‘b’ involved, grabby becoming gray. All fairly straightforward.

It was sometime during the across clues that I noticed that “The Chambers Dictionary (2016) is the primary reference” was missing from the preamble and what did that have… a ‘b’. And it was nice to see VANESSA making another appearance and also SARD (with EL), both in Shark’s recent puzzle.

Meanwhile, half my brain was trying to unravel the title, not that I’m any good at multi-tasking! My first thought was something like ‘No justice’ — ‘No, just ice’ — but that didn’t relate to bees. Unravelling the title was still outstanding once the grid was complete. In fact, it was still outstanding for some time. Looking up bee in Chambers didn’t help either. Only one thing to do… sleep on it. (Not just yet though as it was only 1pm on Saturday.)

Luckily, 6am on Sunday put the idea of anagrams in my head, but a quick doodle of the letters in the title didn’t help one bit. Fifteen minutes of trial and error was fruitless, so I’m afraid I used Tea and that obliged by giving colony collapse and Chambers revealed the anagram indicator as disorder. In hindsight, I really think I should have got the anagram from my doodling.

It has to be said that all that did was to confirm that bees were the theme of the puzzle so all the doodling was a bit superfluous. Oh well. All that was left was to find the one letter that needed changing to give the thematic group. Obviously BEES wasn’t it since that would put a solitary B in the grid but perhaps that could be the queen — although was she already in 1dn? No luck with BEES, nor with HIVE.

Apiary obviously crossed my mind, and Chambers gives the derivation as “[L apis a bee, and api\-arium a bee-house]”. Perhaps that helped me to eventually track down LARIS becoming LAPIS at 27dn but it was all a bit tricky.

Wiki provides a long article on CCD. The section on Europe includes a reference to the UK government’s National Bee Unit! Who’d have thought? And there’s a nice picture of an abandoned hive in “Bromley in London”. Thanks for all that, Ares.

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L4632:’Heads and Tails’ by JFD

Posted by Encota on 27 November 2020

I found this one quite tough, if I am recalling it correctly. Eventually I had the well-disguised message from the eight extra words: COLOUR THREE CHARACTERS AND DROPPED CLOTH CONNECTING THEM. My knowledge of this particular Shakespeare play, OTHELLO, is non-existent, so I had to look up what was hiding in Act 2 Scene 1: THAT IN WISDOM NEVER WAS SO FRAIL, and finish it off with TO CHANGE THE COD’S HEAD FOR THE SALMON’S TAIL. A simple C <-> N swap everywhere in the grid allowed the completion of CASSIO, DESDEMONA and HANDKERCHIEF, whereas the villainous IAGO seems to remain unaffected. Was that part of the plot?


Tim / Encota

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Heads and Tails by JFD

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 November 2020

JFD’s relatively short preamble gave us three instructions and promised a fourth. We learned that most of the clues had a ‘letter wrong’ in the definition and that those ‘wrong’ letters were going to spell out a line from a work and the title of the work. We at once agreed to nudge each other as it is all too easy to accidentally record the corrected misprint, as is conventionally required in this situation. The next line was going to suggest changes we would have to make in our completed grid. The third instruction said we must complete the unclued bottom row of the grid and then perform an instruction that eight extra words in clues would give us.

Clearly we needed a drop of alcohol to stomach all of that so, of course, I read through the clues to see whether JFD retained the entry ticket he earned with his first Listener crossword about ‘Potatoes’ last year. He confirmed it fairly quickly. ‘Soak in visit turns Ian’s steaks rapidly (7)’ We turned RET in STAY and produced YATTERS.

More convincing for that soak was ‘One can be ordered to collect ancient liquid and measure around three pints (3)’ CAB, we learned, was the double definition for the taxi we can order, and that measure. (We noted the rather suspicious redundant ‘and’ there that was soon added to seven other words to produce COLOUR THREE CHARACTERS AND DROPPED CLOTH CONNECTING THEM).

I know the play really well having ‘taught’ it rather unwillingly on many occasions. I wonder why an examination board would select it when Macbeth is so much more exciting and understandabl for teenagers, and Hamlet is so far superior with its stunning use of language, for the older students.  Ah well – back to the alcohol – and there was more. We solved the next one without the wordplay, ‘Frenzied expression after many wives feud and toil endlessly (4)’ That crossword favourite [f]EU[d] [t]OI[l] had to be the Bacchic EUOI after many wines. More wine in the next clue ‘Volume going across ordinary wire (5)’ We put a PINT over O[rdinary] producing PINOT. Next came ‘Old call for help upending half of Arabian wine (7)’ We turned half of MAYDAY around after O getting OMAYYAD and decided that this spilt Wine was a Line – no wonder it was spilt with such a mixture of wine and beer, but ‘Cheers, anyway, JFD.

With some obvious and some subtly concealed ‘wrong’ letters, we had a quotation from Othello, “She that in wisdom never was so frail …” and Google provided the following line, “To change the cod’s head for the salmon’s tail.” So we knew that there was some shifting of C and N to do in our final grid. HANDKERCHIEF had already gone into the bottom row so we had to do a little back-solving to reason that we had already changed TORC to TORN and ACTIN to ANTIC. All that remained was to find the three characters. IAGO and DESDEMONA appeared at once but I wasted time hunting for poor EMILIA. Imagine being the wife of a villain like IAGO! Of course the only other C/N in the grid allowed MINAS to become MICAS and CASSIO appeared. Many thanks to JFD for a little literary relief after a stressful week watching ex-President Trump’s 35 downs.


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Listener No 4632: Heads and Tails by JFD

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 November 2020

JFD’s first Listener was last year and had André Gide’s The Fruits of the Earth as its theme with every emotion becoming an intoxication. This week, we had eight clues with an extra word, the rest having a misprint in the definition with the wrong letters giving an extract from literature, and we were even told that it was “in the fourth of its 15 parts”. Almost certainly I would note down the correct letter in a few cases since that was the norm.

I was fairly slow in solving the across clues, although I was chuffed to get 13ac Minute coin in the Forum makes three sums in the Agora (5) (with extra word three) giving MINAS. A long pause before 23ac What sadly could be the end of ICI (4) gave THAW although I thought shouting ICE was a bit OTT! 29ac just below gave DEMO and revealed another extra word, characters.

A few more acrosses went in (not many), and the downs were almost as reluctant to be forthcoming. I suspect that was because there were some devious little misprints lurking. Fairly soon, 1ac Difficulty with changing colour of coreless pearl in artwork (12) beginning SE… went in as SELF-PORTRAIT — extra word colour, STRAIT about (OF + PE(a)RL)*. Things sped up a little then.

Those that know me (if only from these blogs) will not be surprised that my favourite clue was 6dn Internationals including English goalies? (6) with goalies being the misprint for goolies to give TESTES. I also liked 24dn We British stand for one in a winding sheet? More like a bog roll made of paper (7) — WE + B + BIER with bog becoming big. One of the trickier clues was 5dn Old call for help, upending half of Arabian wine (7) giving OMAYYAD — wine for line and O + MAYDAY with the second half inverted!

Eventually, we had the wrong letters (once a wrong correct letter was corrected) giving: She that in wisdom never was so frail. Othello. The fourth of its fifth parts now made sense since most Shakespearean plays have five Acts, each with three Scenes. This was needed since the extract is not in the ODQ. Scanning the relevant scene soon revealed the next line as “To change the cod’s head for the salmon’s tail”.

Thus three Cs in the grid had to change to Ns, one being in the bottom row to enable HANDKERCHIEF to be completed. Except that would need an N changing to a C, so that and another got swapped as well.

The extra words in the clues gave Colour three characters and dropped cloth connecting them. Well the handkerchief was obviously the dropped cloth, and a quick check of the grid revealed IAGO in row 4. So that was one character in the play, and having changed the Cs and Ns, there were CASSIO in row 3 and DESDEMONA in row 7. It appears that a handkerchief plays an important, but no doubt metaphoric, role in the relationship between the three.

Thanks, JFD.

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