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Listener No 4461, Dilemma: A Setter’s Blog by Aedites

Posted by Listen With Others on 20 August 2017

I like puzzles where a simple shape has to be highlighted; for example many years ago a Listener crossword displayed the copyright symbol. In early August 2015 it occurred to me that a question mark would make a nice image in a 13×13 grid, which led to “To be or not to be …”. If the seventh word is omitted (apologies to all purists), the beginning of the quote would fit inside the question mark. The grid would need about 45 clues and fortunately, as the “location” was 22 letters long, a concealed message could fit neatly into the across clues. I had recently started using Qxw for constructing grids, and with relatively little thematic material it was easy to produce an acceptable grid. A day to write the clues, think of a title and, hey presto, all done! I was surprised that this theme had not been used before.

Aedites

[The © puzzle was Listener No 3674, Duck’s 1886 and All That back in 2002. Ed.]
 

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Dilemma by Aedites

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 August 2017

A lovely short preamble (yes, I know that can be the precursor to a dastardly crossword but fortunately, this was not the case). We at once speculated – “What was the location of the Gettysburg address?” Well, Gettysburg, probably. “Where did Churchill make his ‘blood, sweat and tears’ speech?”, “… Chamberlain’s ‘Peace in our time’ was on some aerodrome runway wasn’t it?” The possibilities are endless. It was a rather misleading preamble; as usual nothing to do but start solving. So we did.

Of course I scanned the clues to check Aedites’ right to his Listener Setters’ Alcohol Promoters membership card and drinks were rather restrained but one of the earliest clues we solved produced an EWER, ‘Less without front container for liquids (4)’ FEWER minus the F, and the very next clue we solved produced the ‘red’ to fill it; ‘Red cover disrupted levees (6)’. LEVEES* gave us SLEEVE and we had found a misprint since that had to be a ‘rod’ cover. Clearly that red was being imbibed in quantities as  the next misprint we discovered came from another decapitated word ‘Fight thwarted without force (5)’ which must be FOILED without the F telling us that now he was OILED with a misprint giving TIGHT  So cheers, Aedites. Membership confirmed. Hope we’ll see you at the bar in Paris.

Solving was speedy and we admired the economy of the compilation. When I once said that a  personal maximum number of words in a clue was twelve, I earned a horrified reaction from an editor who said he aims at an average of six. Some difficult words oblige a setter to use eight or ten, and a device, like misprints, can add length but Aedites had three and four-word clues to give a fine balance: ‘Territory for stags (5)’ gave us STAGE producing the E corrected misprint and STATE (Surely definition was rather too close to solution? Ed.). ‘Safe to keep dog in sight (6)’ giving SEE round CUR – what a lovely surface reading.

Last week I spent about seven hours finding Sabre’s bees so I appreciated a relatively gentle solve this week. HAMLET quickly emerged at the head of the message produced by the corrected misprints. I love the play having spent my last year of uni studies focusing on it, and it was clearly going to be ACT THREE SCENE ONE that was going to produce a large question mark and ‘To be or not to be, that is the question’ with a word missing – and there it was. We had just one Numpty red herring; ‘Apparently raise temperature in dressed spud (7)’ had mystified us (and I still don’t understand the wordplay) but we had opted for CURRIED on the basis that a SPAD can be a horse and dressing a horse is ‘currying’ it. No, it had to be SPED!

The end game – creating that large question mark – changed that to HURRIED and SPED, which, of course brings me to the

Couple of existentially challenged hares

HARES. Obviously a Lewis Carroll-style white-rabbitty HARE had just sped off the lower left hand corner decapitated (by the grid margin), like those Aedites clues, but there were a couple in a typical hare boxing match up there in the centre of the question mark (possibly somewhat existentially challenged beasts). Good fun, thanks, Aedites.

 

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‘Dilemma’ by Aedites

Posted by Encota on 18 August 2017

Firstly thank you to Aedites for a gentle and accurate puzzle featuring the Bard.  Early on we find out that the ‘To be or not to be …’ speech comes from Hamlet Act Three Scene One, as we uncover the misprints in the Across clues.  Now that is almost ‘QI’ knowledge – the sort of thing you know isn’t important in its own right but is, well, Quite Interesting.

That Title by That Setter looks an ideal mix for possible anagrams, don’t you think?  And I am a fan of longer anagrams …

  • We had two ‘Greek’ clues, an ‘Eastern Church’ and a Title, ‘Dilemma’, that felt immediately based on Greek.
  • There was Miss America in 39a, no doubt gaining her ‘beauty sleep’ through the same daily bedtime.
  • There was ‘red’ in 37a, which I admit may be diesel.
  • In 12d we met The Times which, by definition, is timely-based media.
  • Or perhaps the politician in 29d isn’t Scottish at all but refers to the PM and May’s ideal bedtime.

And finally, in case you feel those are so short at 16 letters that they hardly even count as long anagrams, may I offer you one from one of my Posts back in March 2016:

This week’s anagram features as most of the following clue from the Guardian blog by Alan Connor (with enigmatically as the anagram indicator and everything else the anagram fodder):

Enigmatically, in one of the Bard’s best-thought-of tragedies
our insistent hero, Hamlet, queries on two fronts
about how life turns rotten (2,2,2,3,2,2,4,2,3,8,7,3,6,2,3,4,2,6,3,6,3,6,2,10,7)

There are some answers that can be biffed – and this has got to be the ultimate example!  Feel free to check my working…

12891704_1727854077430104_2006223418074610317_o

cheers

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4461: Dilemma by Aedites

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 August 2017

The previous Listener from Aedites was last year’s enjoyable romp around the pre-Trump American states and their nicknames. I don’t recall there being any dilemma about entering SHOW-ME (Missouri’s nickname) below the grid so I hoped there would be no endgame consternation this week either.

In fact, the whole puzzle came together nicely, with only definitional misprints in the acrosses to wrestle with. I did wonder why 23ac Leading character in case replaced by name like Ian in China? (6) led to a somewhat general definition of NATIVE as man in China?. I felt this was a bit vague (until I sussed it as Han in China?).

It was only when I was writing this blog that I noticed that I hadn’t crossed off the clue to 36ac Apparently raise temperature in dressed spud (7). I didn’t recall that it caused a problem, but as I stared at my entry HURRIED, I couldn’t work it out. Of course it was CURRIED (dressed) upped from Cold to Hot.

Before too long, I had the corrected misprints starting Haml t. I must admit to thinking “Oh no! Not again?” A scan of the database showed that Artix had used “These are but wild and whirling words, my lord” last year, with ‘Eck’s “I could be bounded in a nut-shell” in 2015.

Luckily, I could see that the remainder of the misprint corrections were trying to spell out Act Three, Scene one and “To be, or not to be, that is the question:” enabled TO BE OR NOT TO BE… IS THE to be pencilled into the grid in the shape of a ?, TH and E separated by one square.

After that, the grid was all finished fairly quickly, a little over an hour from start to end.

Not much more to say really, except thanks to Aedites. I hope, however, that there are a few years before the next Hamlet puzzle, although I suspect there are an awful lot of equally well-known extracts left.
 

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Listener No 4460, Four and a Half…?: A Setter’s Blog by Sabre

Posted by Listen With Others on 13 August 2017

The bizarre Longfellow quote came to light while browsing the ODQ, and its seventy-two bees immediately brought to mind a 12×12 grid with half the entries B. How to arrange this? Clashes seemed an easy way: but 72 clashes? I did ponder such, though it seemed a little unfair. But if every B resulted from a clash, a more serious problem would be that the solver could assiduously fill every such cell with a little furry black and yellow bee, and Sabre draws the line at this sort of effort. A compromise of 21 genuine B’s (enough to draw a solver’s attention) and 51 clashes was the end result. The consistency of clashing letters being two apart was intended to aid solvers and soften the trauma of a large number of clashes.

Now, how to ensure solvers correctly solved the riddle, since the solution is not given in Longfellow? Thus enters BLOB/BLOT and the “bathtub” clue: my psychology tells me a solver would at first sight solve this as BLOB, then be puzzled by a B-count of 73 in the final grid. The original submission did not mention this ambiguous clue, but the vetters felt this unfair, and that it should be signalled. I am glad this was done, the wrath-quotient might have been considerably greater otherwise. The vetters also pointed out the use of this quotation in a puzzle by Elgin in the Magpie in 2006 (“Prithee Pretty Maiden”), with a very different interpretation of the theme.

For the record, Four-and-a-Half is also a solution to the riddle if the negative square root is taken.
 

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