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Listener No 4714, Run to Seed: Link to a Setter’s Blog by Phi

Posted by Listen With Others on 26 Jun 2022

Phi’s setter’s blog on his recent Listener can be found on his own website at Run to Seed by Phi.

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Listener No 4714: Run to Seed by Phi

Posted by Dave Hennings on 25 Jun 2022

Last year’s puzzle from Phi gave us Lennon and McCartney’s When I’m Sixty-Four. If you remember, there we had clues to 8-letter words coiled together to form eight 8s. Another interesting trick this week with double clues (in thematic order of course) which led to two answers that needed to be unjumbled to reveal two successive unclued across entries.

Not much time this week for the ups and downs of my solve, except to say that I really wondered what gobbledygook the unclued acrosses were trying to reveal. Of course, most of the letters that the down entries gave for those would soon be overwritten by the unjumbled answers to those double clues.

I was somewhat lucky when it came to the endgame. [Not unusual for you. Ed.] Mind you, having seen that the unclued entry in column 2 started OUA, I assumed that it was another word that had been somehow encoded and consequently dismissed it for the time being. Consequently, I didn’t get the nudge that Phi obligingly put in front of me with OUANANICHE.

Having eked out the answers to most of the double clues, I had a go at unjumbling them into two separate thematic words. Starting with GRIPPE KITBAG, I had KIPPER pretty much staring me in the face and that left GITBAG which swiftly resolved into BAGGIT. Twenty minutes later, and the SAMON LADDER was in place with GRILSE, LIGGER, SAMLET, BAGGIT and KIPPER rising through the grid and making new words in the process.

Thanks for a good workout, Phi.

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Listener 4714: Run to Seed by Phi

Posted by vaganslistener on 25 Jun 2022

It’s over a year since we last saw Phi in the Listener (the queue seems to be getting very long) but this is his 51st contribution to the series: quite a total! A Guardian interview last year adds in 150 Inquisitors, 60 EVs, 1500 Independents and 300 in the BBC Music Magazine. Wow. In real life Paul Henderson also manages to be a mathematical analyst for criminal justice systems and has written a paper on black holes.

So welcome back Phi, and with such a broad output and not much given away in the preamble, I’ll have to start solving to discover your theme this time.

In fact it emerged rather quickly. The clueing standard is high but not too hard (thanks!) and since I didn’t really understand what was happening with the double clues’ answers I started with the ordinary ones – and after four or five and a word-pattern search I found the wonderful OUANANICHE as the unclued down entry. Salmon then – and (looking at the pattern of those unclued acrosses) how about a SALMON LADDER? I tried a few clues in the bottom left corner and SALMON was looking likely, so over to Mrs Bradford to note down lots of 6-letter words for the fish and see if they would fit.

Fit of course they didn’t, as they were going to overwrite some but not all of the downs that crossed them, and eventually I realised (a) that the answers to the double-clue pairs would anagram to a pair of salmon words, and (b) that we needed the information given that the words were adjacent in the ladder to sort out the order they would come in, as the letters involved in the clue answers were rather similar. I did note the wonderful BAGGIT (a ripe female salmon that has failed to shed her eggs, poor thing) as a possibility for 16a, and so it proved.

The final ladder for reference was

LADDER

KIPPER

BAGGIT

SAMLET

LIGGER

GRILSE

SALMON

You’d think we ate nothing else. (Actually I love it and that would be fine, though PETA – who do have a particular position on this – do warn that only two servings a month can mean you have difficulty recalling information you learned just 30 minutes earlier. That would be me then.)

Just three clues proved difficult for me:

14a “Without gathering, Scottish cattle lay as before (4)” where with KY, KYE and KYNE all available as Scots words for cattle I got caught in the headlights of uncertainty, until crossing letters led me to AYRE for “lay” in the sense of a song. And the cattle were in fact AYRSHIREs with SHIR for “gathering” removed. Doh!

6d “French artist’s enclosure including head in elevated style (7) where definite letters before the substitutions were ?E?A??? which wasn’t much to go on. With the substituted letters in place I had DEPAINT which was at least a real word, but that didn’t add anything to job of finding the original entry. CEZANNE would fit if “French artist” was the definition, but the wordplay took me a lot longer to spot than it should have done: NAZE for “head(land)” in ENC(closure) all “in elevated style”, i.e. upside down. Nice one, Phi!

16d “Joyful girl, in short, having endless smile (3)” was tricky because it was going to be based on the meaning of a girl’s name which was then shortened, and with only ?E? as a secure pattern. Crossing fish gave BEA and Beatrice is a bringer of joy, so that will do – and I remember that not all the crossing words get changed, A final check of the grid shows that just six have been, so all looks OK.

All in all it was a game of two halves, since filling the ordinary parts of the grid and finding the ladder words were pretty independent of each other, but they did then need to be used together to get the final version of the grid right. And while it was one of the quicker solves, the construction round the ladder was very nicely done, and OUANANICHE is one to remember. I see some fun clueing possibilities in it too. Thanks Phi! We know there’ll be more!

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Run to Seed by Phi

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Jun 2022

The word ‘jumble’ leaps out at me as I print this crossword and I groan. I study the preamble with a little more care and sigh with relief when I read that this only concerns the double clues and that those will give five thematic examples and a two-word description of what they thematically represent (of a kind with the unclued down answer) – that is clearly going to be a helpful hint.

As usual, I use my highlighter and that proves to be puzzling since we have been given the example of 16ac and 19ac functioning as a pair but are somehow going to get seven words out of the cells I have highlighted. I guess that Phi is being somewhat sly and that those double clues that we are jumbling are going to be used more than once – at least, some of them are.

Those clues are pretty generous and we decide that they give LISSOM/ANGLER, GIRLS/LEGGIER, LARGE/GIMLETS, BIGGEST/MALTA, GRIPPE/KIT BAG and RIPPLED/DRAKE but those letters scarcely resemble the BISZM? or the CACLEE that are appearing in some of my highlighted lights.

However, we get our clue when OUANANICHE turns up in the unclued down entry and Chambers obligingly tells me that it is ‘a variety of salmon found in SE Canada’. SALMON has almost appeared in my lowest light and we suspect that we have the theme. (Don’t they do salmon runs in order to ‘seed’? The title!)

With a full grid, we decide we have to create jumbles of those twelve words of the double clues to fill those empty cells with salmon and that our new words will be ‘thereby changing six down answers’.

Perhaps we are lucky that LISSOM/ANGLER clearly gives us SALMON and GRILSE, and we realise that our LEGGIER GIRLS are going to produce LIGGER and GRILSE so the method is evident. LARGE GIMLETS give us LIGGER and SAMLET; BIGGEST MALTA produces SAMLET and BAGGIT (yes, it does sound ike Tolkien, doesn’t it!), then we get GRIPPE/KIT BAG giving us the KIPPER and finally we get to the LADDER and see what the stepped shape was all about. We have created a fish ladder and the salmon are climbing up it!

I am reminded of being taken by a gamekeeper to the new salmon ladder at Pitlochry. They were proudly explaining how it worked in a set of written instructions but no fish were leaping. “Och, weel, ye ken, the fish canna read” he said sadly.

I didn’t need to worry about Phi’s retaining his place amongst the Listener oenophiles did I? ‘Liberal and Republican in time to get substantial cocktails, tricky shots containing one small amount of liquid (5;7)’ gave us those large gimlets (cocktails with gin or vodka and lime juice) – then there was …island area following a drink of whisky (5)’ We added A to the malt to give MALTA. Next we got RIPPLED DRAKE from ‘Lightly disturbed loch circled by drunken libertine that’s taken after dead naval hero (7;5)’ There was gin there too! ‘European put up expired gin for test (4)’. We found that MAX was an old word for a gin so that gave us EXAM. Rather a tipsy “Cheers! Phi.”

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Listener No 4713, Telstar: A Setter’s Blog by The Don

Posted by Listen With Others on 21 Jun 2022

This was my debut as a setter other than as a schoolboy and, more recently, as a junior partner to David Giles (Ottorino) who invited me to help with a Listener (No. 4579, Skywriting, with its Nevil Shute quote) about 2 years ago. I think that would have been my lot had the pandemic not arrived to provide me with a lot of time to devote to something and it was David who urged me to have a go myself, although he did hold my hand all the way.

I had read the subject book after seeing the Peter O’Toole film in the early 60’s and the title had stayed with me — ideal for a thematic crossword.

It took a long time to get to the finish line with the puzzle and I see with hindsight the flaws in it but by the time I had produced a grid that worked and written the clues I was keen to get it submitted so apologies to anyone who thinks it in any way unsatisfactory. I must thank my friend and mentor Shirley (Chalicea) for all her invaluable help and advice during the process.

Hope you enjoyed it.

Don.

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