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Listener No. 4409: Hidden Philosphy by Xanthippe

Posted by Dave Hennings on 19 August 2016

Xannthippe’s last puzzle was only nine months ago and was the very enjoyable game of golf in which he allowed us to beat him 2&1. When I first saw the grid in this week’s puzzle, two thoughts crossed my mind: how was I going to describe it in my Crossword Database , and how difficult would my animation end up being!

Listener 4409From the preamble, it looked like we were in for a novel solve. There were three thematic answers in each quadrant clued by wordplay only and entered as suggested by an extra word in one of them. Moreover, the remaining cues in each quadrant had a different gimmick, quadrant A requiring us to remove two letters before they could be solved. That would reveal how to deal with quadrant B, which in turn…, well, you get the picture.

Each quadrant would need to be solved independently, since they were connected to each other by a single cell which formed part of an unclued entry.

Quadrant A clues were reluctant to be solved. This was primarily down to the devious requirement to remove two letters, not necessarily consecutive, before solving. The first two I cracked were 12ac Iron mover to wield discharge (6)Iron over to weld discharge (6) — giving EFFUSE, and 10dn Grand arena turn’s opening German district (3)Grand area urn’s opening German district (3) for GAU. The two letters dropped were MI and NT, and I immediaely saw that quadrant B would involve misprints. Not that that would help me with A, so I persevered and had it finished in 45 minutes.

The three thematic answers in this quadrant were all fish — SOLE, SANDER and SAMLET, and the extra word in 2dn told us they had to go swimming, so were anagrammed into LOSE, SNARED and METALS. I particularly liked the clue to 8ac Eg, role with stage actor making return (4) where L and E were dropped (although I wondered why Oliver REED was described as a stag actor before realising that stag was part of the definition!). Also, I felt sure that Boarders in wipeout in 3dn would end up being Borders in wipeout, WT.

On to quadrant B clues where we had to Amend a letter misprint and we were in familiar territory. These were somewhat easier, and getting 13ac UPRAISE set me on a good start. I wasn’t sure whether the original letters and corrections in the misprints would be relevant; in fact, it would just be the corrections. For some reason, I liked 21ac Some vitamin E, dense coenzyme (3) which needed vitamin E changing to vitamin A to reveal NAD (the abbreviation mentioned in the preamble). I’ll call that a ‘misprinted hidden clue’.

And of course, 16dn I will square ratio, neutron quantum number (7) was a doddle since we had ISOSPIN just a few weeks back. And so the thematic answers in this quadrant were trees — NUT PINT, MANGROVE and OIL PALM, all to be pollarded and entered without their first letter.

That went slightly quicker than the first quadrant, about 40 minutes, and quadrant C simply required us to Add a letter before solving. The smart ones among you would have twigged the theme for this quadrant from 26ac Meandering wife drinking, no good leaving (11), with meandering being a dead give-away as the extra word. Unfortunately, I was on the lookout for birds, mammals or plants, rather than rivers. Of course, the somewhat confusing numbering stopped me in my tracks and I wondered if Afrit had been at work!

The clues were quite solvable with 33ac Icy period — girl ditches Ike for Romeo (4) being my favourite with MISS having Mike being replaced by Romeo. I also liked 27dn Ancestor of CI, Iceland or East Germans (5) which had nothing to do with Guernsey or Jersey but the CIA.

At some point, 32dn OTTER steered me even further away from rivers. In hindsight, I’m sure this was a deliberate red herring from Xanthippe. Even so, I should have got 31dn sooner Me drinking one southern whisky and lime? (8) even though I like neither whisky nor lime (MI containing I S SOUR). MISSISSIPPI was the final one that wended its way through the grid.

The instruction for quadrant D clues was Remove a word, and a quick scan of the clues suggested that we had to Complete quote using letters… in the endgame. 41 and 43 down finally gave me my birds SPARROW and PARROT with REDPOLL also coming to light at 40. This had to be entered upwards as determined by up in 43.

The full message from the extra words read Complete the quote using letters from sprint, rover, catch, and a quick check in my ODQ under connections led to Adam Smith’s description of Philosophy, “that science which pretends to lay open the concealed connections that unite the various appearances of nature. (Sprint, rover, catch provided the unchecked letters in the quotation.)

Listener 4409 My EntryThere remained one outstanding clue to be resolved, 40dn Prone to vote Republican on a register (7) which led to REDPOLL. This seemed to be double wordplay, the second being RED (Republican) + POLL (a register). However, I was stumped by prone in the first half of the clue. My entry was posted without sussing it. And I’m still stumped!

All in all, about 2½ hours for this enjoyable puzzle from Xanthippe. But please, a nice simple grid next time!

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Hidden Philosophy by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 August 2016

Xanthippe 002What a fascinating grid! The Numpties admired and muttered then got down to solving.

Yes, I promised to stick to an alcohol search after the shock, horror, scandal of Serpent’s randy clues last week so no comment on the NAD that appeared in 21 across, ‘Some vitamin E dense coenzyme (3)’. That had to be an E to A misprint since NED was hidden in the clue and NAD is the Chambers definition. I got down to the third mini crossword before finding ‘Meandering wife drinking, no good leaving (11)’ What a lovely clue, using the US MISS for a southern wife, then IS SIPPING with the NG leaving. Of course, by the time we got to this crossword (as we did solve in A,B,C,D order on the whole), we had realized that MEANDERING had to be the key word so that MISSISSIPPI, obligingly clued as (11), OTTER and MISSOURI were the rivers that were thematic and wandered around their little grid.

That clue was a fine hint to the other Numpty that the sun was well over the yard arm and an even stronger hint followed: ‘Me drinking one southern whisky and lime? (8)’ giving MI round I S SOUR. So that’s what a ‘whisky sour’ is! These were superb clues: I couldn’t find anything to moan about!

The little A crossword filled fairly quickly with some doubt about those three thematic clues that we suspected were ‘swimming’ or anagrammed. Of course, we soon realized that they were fish with ‘The French (swimming) well in front (4)’ giving SO LE which swam to LOSE; ‘Son goes to peak in mountain range run (6)’ ANDES R with the S(on) going to the top, giving SANDER, entered as SNARED and ‘Is charm less universal? (6)’ giving ‘S AM[u]LET, which swam to METALS.

Xanthippe 003[M]ANGROVE, [O]IL PALM and [N]UT PALM prompted us that the B grid contained three ‘pollarded’ trees and the key phrase that was linking these superb mini crosswords now appeared. We had already spotted  OF NATURE at the end of it and CONNECTIONS THAT UNITE prompted us that this was Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy – ‘Philosophy only pretends to lay bare the concealed connections that unite the various appearances of nature’. Fitting that round the four grids made the remainder of the solve a gentle romp. How I like crosswords that give a visual image when they are completed.

Did I really say ‘romp’? We stared at the little D grid for a while. We had spotted that the A grid gave the instruction ‘AMEND A LETTER MISPRINT’ in the B grid. That one gave us ‘ADD A LETTER’ and the C grid instruction told us to ‘REMOVE A WORD’ from each of the D grid clues. We had already completed the Adam Smith phrase, thus it was clear that we were being told to ‘complete the missing using letters from …’ (ultimately we realised that the missing letters were being spelled out for us in anagrams of SPRINT, ROVER and CATCH) but what was the ‘extra word’ that suggested how to enter the three thematic, wordplay only solutions? And were they mammals, plants or … AAH (39d ‘I’m happy driving company 200 (3)’ AA + H) birds! PARROT, REDPOLL and SPARROW obligingly rose across the SANDBAR and we had four full grids.

This was a pleasure to solve from start to finish: a fabulous compilation, so beautifully tied together in all its component parts. Many thanks to Xanthippe.

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Listener No. 4408: Child’s Play by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 12 August 2016

I seem to be constantly running late with my Listener solving, and I only got around to this on the Saturday a week after publication. It was 7am. It was also the day of our occasional Listener get-together in London, and I didn’t want to turn up without having cracked this puzzle. It was Serpent’s first Listener, although he’s had about half a dozen elsewhere.

Listener 4408The preamble told us that we had to deduce the location and entry method of the across answers, all of which were 6-lettered and apparently listed in a logical sequence. I decided to give them a quick once-over to see how easy they were. Despite getting 1 DENTAL and 2 LARDER, only another half dozen came forward. I wondered if there were common letters between successive answers, but knew that was unlikely to help identify their location.

Proceeding with the downs, these had an extra letter in the wordplay not to be entered in the grid. I managed precisely half (eight) on my first pass, including REPENTER and TASSELED in the left and right halves respectively. Moreover ANTE and NAAN in the bottom left meant that DENTAL could go along the bottom of the grid, and LARDER could follow with the L overlapping. (Personal preference re clue p Anna’s kneaded bread: I didn’t like the way the extra letter S was indicated.)

I must admit that the clues were a bit slow coming, but after about 90 minutes I had •n•••s•nd•add•rs, and knew we were dealing with the children’s game of Snakes and Ladders, or as Americans would say (always different, and hopelessly PC) Chutes and Ladders. I could leave for London feeling happy.

Listener 4408 My EntryThe following day, all the snakes and ladders could be utilised to fill the grid running logically from bottom left to top left. Entries overlapped when they ran consecutively. There were five ladders and four snakes on the way, not to mention some tricky clues to resolve. I particularly liked clue a The ultimate pair of cojones is framed by dog’s legs (6) with its sneaky definition for STAGES.

Thanks to Serpent for some entertaining childhood reminiscences. And not for the first time this year, I pitied JEG having to check that all the ups and downs were drawn correctly. Also, apologies for my somewhat pathetic drawings of snakes, but I’m sure Shirley will make up for it.

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Child’s Play by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 August 2016

SerpentChild’s Play by Serpent? There was a moment of instant recognition – surely not Dysart under a new pseudonym producing another version of his Snakes and Ladders game that delighted us when we were just new solvers and bloggers? Wasn’t that called ‘Child’s Play‘? I remember drawing all those snakes and ladders that were spelled out by the remaining letters when we had deleted the irrelevant ones. (That was in 2009, have I really been blogging Listen With Others for seven years!) But Ilver has produced two versions of his demoniacal Child’s Play in the Magpie, Rasputin gives us difficult chess games for precocious children and Wan had that winning game of Ludo in the Magpie too, so maybe this is some other game.

Nothing to do but solve. Well, of course I must first re-establish Serpent’s membership of the Listener Alcohol Imbibers’ Outfit so I scan the clues for evidence and find a rather scanty ‘Drinkers may pull on these old hats (6)’ STRAWS, obviously, and ‘Several measures taken by Bohemian county once to protect king from the east (6)’ SALOP< round K giving POLKAS. Not much alcohol – I’d better look for some other obsession and oh dear! The evidence is alarming.

He starts with the underwear: ‘Change article of underwear to start to eliminate odours (6)’ gives SMALLS with E(liminate) for A giving SMELLS. Then we get the NUTS: ‘Aquatic plants and fish colonising nuts(6)’ AYU or AI in NADS (by this time our Editor would be telling me ‘We have to avoid offending the more sensitive solvers’). Serpent hasn’t finished yet: ‘The ultimate pair of cojones is framed by dog’s legs (6)’ STAG[S] (or dogs) round ES giving STAGES (or legs).  It gets worse: ‘American with dangly bits set saddle askew (8)’ SET SAD[D]LE* giving TASSELED (US spelling).

It would be unladylike to comment on ‘I must blow divine instrument (7)’ CELESTIA[L] dropping I to give CELESTA or on ‘Perhaps African does lap dances with maid (6)’ LAP + MAI[D]* giving IMPALA. Indeed, I am going to have to rethink the Listener imbibers’ club if our initial clue scan has to be a hunt for louche, lecherous, raunchy and scurrilous clues so I solve ‘Nude art represented nakedness (6)’ NU[D]E ART* giving NATURE, suggest Serpent get his coat and resolve to stick to the drinks next week.

With all those solutions in place and some fine gifts like ANTE, NAAN, PILLOW, EARS and DENTAL, we quickly establSerpent gridish that this is indeed a board game with the words entered boustrophedonaly, most starting on the square where the player’s counter landed as he shook a series of sixes and, obligingly, Serpent has confirmed this as SNAKES going downwards and LADDERS rising fill our centre column. That was a clever touch that left us with little doubt about the endgame (though we did wonder whether, in Dysart style, we had to search for snake names or ladders – but the only type of ladder seemed to be that STEP at clue g ‘Fuel blocks up stage (4)’ PE[A]TS<).

The preamble was clear – ‘The extra letters identify the thematic items, which must be drawn in the grid to complete the puzzle’ and reading the across clues in order gave us a clear sequence of game moves. Following those clues told us where, for example, we had to climb the ladder from the end of SALUTE to the start of POLKAS.

I thought my final grid looked rather a mess with all those ladders crossing but we did enjoy the theme. Thank you Serpent.

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Ad Nauseam

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 August 2016

Nash Billboards 001

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