Listen With Others

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3987 – Fizz Buzz by BeRo

Posted by Listen With Others on 11 Jul 2008

Sherbert Zing…

Saturday night While chicken cooks very slowly in the world’s least efficient oven, I’m peering at a tiny BlackBerry screen and transcribing this week’s puzzle clue by clue. We’re on holiday in Galicia with a few friends (seven children under five – not everyone’s idea of relaxation. Not my idea of relaxation) and flew out yesterday morning so had no chance to buy the paper. I’m wondering whether it’s worth the effort of the transcription – I could wait till I got home and do the puzzle in the paper. I wouldn’t spend hours copying out a grid and the copying the answers back into the paper (and probably making a mistake). And my friends wouldn’t think I was a peculiar obsessive. Still, I think the boat’s sailed on that one.

Copying the grid is always the most aggravating part of copying out a puzzle. Fortunately I brought a print out of an old crossword (when I can, I’m working through the old Listeners archived on the website) and I can trace the grid from there. So that’s done. And in the end, copying out the clues is a good way of reading them through once before solving.

So, BeRo. I do vaguely remember solving BeRo before in the Listener, but out here, there’s no particular way of tracking that down. The preamble seems straightforward enough, and a fun idea. I remember playing fizz buzz at school, not that that really seems relevant. And it wasn’t a drinking game, obviously. A quick run through of the alphabet gives us E G J N O T U Y as the pertinent letters.

5 is the first clue to fall. A fairly clear compound anagram in Practise Mahler – not hard field of study. MAHLER less H = REALM. And one of the 8s is another anagram: A myth action? Could be! Some fiddling gets TITANOMACHY, a word I don’t absolutely know exists, but I have read the word ‘gigantomachy’ somewhere before and so it seems a plausible guess. Still, it has a lot of ‘active’ letters, so very hard to estimate an entry method for it (REALM being a bit more straightforward). I rather enjoy these kinds of puzzles that involve a little bit of theorizing and pencil work with the grid fill. Brings a great sense of satisfaction.

Nurtured mixed-up lad in quality of confidence looks like it will mean something to do with confidence, ending in –DAL. Can’t think what at the moment, though. CLAY seems to be right for churchwarden, and can CYNIC mean dog-like?

Sunday, 6pm A full day with beach, pool and barbecue. A chance to settle over the crossword now. Looking at the end of the clues, it’s fairly obviously BRAN concealed in ‘part of Alhambra? Never!’. And NORN is the nice answer to It’s Fate – no choice? – N OR N. Can I enter those two, given that they probably intersect? I need to establish how the rules of this work. BRAN doesn’t have any shift letters, but the perimeter has to come into play whether it’s across or down.
With NORN I can eliminate a lot of possibilities and come up with:

– ON

If that’s right, then the 38 answer that is PIER (At last, trump that is run provides bridge support can’t go down, so it must be an across clue turning upwards and then going left at the E. Oh no, hang on a sec, I’ve actually read the preamble properly now. Clues can go in any direction. So hang my original suppositions.

I get ZONE, DODGER (food, apparently, thanks to Bradford’s), IDEA (another concealed clue), and Bradford’s also provides me with COSEC, LAISSE and DENVER BOOT, a euphemism for ‘clamp’ I hadn’t heard before. Generally, the clues are not proving quite as hard as the worst, which is lucky as it’s proving to be pretty much a cold solve so far.

Anyway, the L of LAISSE (which I think might be entered conventionally downwards) means that REALM goes one of two ways and we have two potential starting letters, L for 13 and M for 9. And 9 looks like it should be MYRIAD. And of course, 3, which I’ve been looking at for ages (I know nothing about a lot of small broken images being destroyed) is not an anagram of IMAGES+SMAL(l), but means the breaking of images and is I-CON-O-C-LASM.

So we’ve solved a lot of clues now but I’m not doing a great job of filling the grid. Maybe I need to start making some assumptions about the grid fill and see where that gets me. Let’s start with REALM, where the options are limited, and LAISSE which almost certainly goes downwards. Which gives us a place for CLAY, MYRIAD and HAIRY (’poilu’). So 7 might begin with AY? AYMARA is the one… And SPEAR would fit very neatly for Pierce is brilliant, which I really should have got before.

Monday morning Theoretically we’re getting ready for the beach, but as it’s a minute’s walk away and we don’t really have much to take with us, I’ll sneak a quick look at the puzzle and see if the morning brings any new insights. Which it does, seeing the light with the rather fun clue Amphibian causing two changes in direction in golf meaning FROG. And Special exercises about title bar put back means ‘special’, which is PECULIAR. PE + C + U + RAIL reversed.

Monday afternoon A lovely day on the beach and lunch in the garden. The youngest children are having a sleep, and we have a chance to relax a little (the elder children have got a very complicated game going on involving cushions and pieces of paper).

Trying after hanging is disturbing wordly fad would appear to be an anagram of WORLDLYFAD, meaning a trial after the punishment has been enacted, I would assume. I can see LAW in WORLDLYFAD. Which leaves us ORLDYFD. Forddly? Lydford? Dylford? We’re on holiday with a lawyer and I ask him if any of those names mean anything to him. Which they don’t. Turning to technological aids confirms that LYDFORD LAW is the one we want. I’m now beginning to piece things together in the grid. COSEC is a solid answer to Chief of Staff, Executive Committee, abbreviated function but would appear to check itself in the way it’s entered. I wonder if that’s part of the rules.

Also, glory in Bradford’s gives us ICHABOD, which does fit with the wordplay: In church, absent man has deserted. I suppose it must mean ‘the glory is departed’ somehow but I can’t check it. I’m happy to go with it for the moment. And incense in Bradford’s gives ONYCHA. And incidentally, I finally get round to looking up ‘series’ which gives us CONCATENATION for A series of dependent things to show man’s outgrowth (CON + CAT + ENATION), something I probably should have got a while ago. That’s going to be a wiggly one to enter.

Still, getting the long clues is probably worth doing as if I can fit them in, they reveal a lot of the grid. It’s nuts, etc, tossed far as allowed – did for energy reads a lot like an &lit clue, namely an anagram of FARASALLOWDD. Which is not the world’s trickiest anagram – WALDORF SALAD. That would seem to fit in with LYDFORD LAW nicely, so I think I can enter that with some confidence given that there are few ‘active letters’ in it.

The grid is really taking shape now –and I can begin to make more standard crosswording assumptions looking at available letters and making guesses about the shape of words. SENA for example now occurs to me as an answer for Army without single piece of ammunition where I hadn’t seen it before, thanks to the letters that I can see. I’m still somewhat troubled by Some that appear as crane raises building without them. THOLOS, possibly?

Unfortunately, and with apologies to avid readers (hah!), my notes now drift off into nothing. I blame the quiemada to which the charming local restaurant owners invited us – a flaming brew of home-distilled ‘aguardiente’, sugar and lemon. Like a very alcoholic cough syrup – I rather preferred the aguardiente itself, which was a very smooth grappa, really. Anyway, none of it helped me take care to note what I was doing with the crossword.

I know that the very last thing I got was SERIEMAS (i.e. it wasn’t THOLOS or anything like that), but before that the grid had been pretty much filled and I had concluded that the second thematic word was DRAIN (that was simply by looking at unches) and that first word almost certainly began with C. CHAMPERS followed as a guess soon afterwards, which I was pleased to confirm. Nice to have a little extra thematic element given that there was little else in the way of surprise in the puzzle. But despite that, highly enjoyable to solve – and a satisfying conclusion.

Hasta luego.

PS I should put an apologetic shout out to Fresco too, whose puzzle Politics I was meant to blog as well but I was foolish enough to agree to blogging during the Cannes Film Festival. I just about managed to solve the puzzle, but that was about it. I remember struggling with it quite a bit at first, and the French message in the extra letters meant early guessing was not straightforward. Fortunately, I am a big Marx Brothers fan and in the end MONKEY BUSINESS and DUCK were enough to clue me into the theme, by which time I had enough of the grid filled to see the shape of MARK BROTHERS in the diagonal. So far so straightforward – but it still took me ages to work out the message and complete the grid. But I will admit to being fairly distracted – and once more, sorry Fresco for not blogging more completely.

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