Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

No 4045 Admission by Kea – Astounding!

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 August 2009

Cherry tree before and after

Cherry tree before and after

I cannot tell a lie; (semi colon!) this one was miles above the heads of the Junior 8X8 easy clues team. I should say treetops above our heads – and we were only encouraged to continue and helped to the wonderful solution by our very clever friend. And yet, there was never a moment of despair; just over two days of solid work that ended with the resounding crash of the tree, the laying down (or propping up) of the hatchet and euphoria and sheer amazement at the genius of KEA.

The preamble warned us that here, perhaps, was the Listener we have heard about and were told to expect, yet, with our habitual naive confidence, we began to solve, and fairly soon had the left half of the grid almost complete. Yes, even in an orchard we found our usual red herrings. 35d seemed to suggest CLUES and BLUES, so we proudly flagged our first misprint, but an obvious ACTS at 34ac. left us wondering whether two of the three letters could be the same – obviously not! We produced the same dilemma by opting for STAYLESS at 23d and MOX and LOX at 39ac. Not an auspicious start.

Needless to say, our problems had not even commenced. The difficulty for us was the immense erudition and complexity of the wordplay, coupled with the fact that we were being led to a misprint and a different grid entry, then had to add the correct letter to the two of them and produce a fourth letter.

It didn’t take many flawed readings of the clues to produce a quotation that would have been gibberish in any language – “I can t a…pic lieid …” or something of the sort. The object taking shape looked rather like a cactus, but there were no cacti quotes in the ODQ. I resorted to scrolling (scrowling?) through the on-line Chambers for likely words that would fit the few we had in the grid in that north-east corner.

Fortunately one or two of those fiendishly difficult clues yielded something; ‘Query language by a French feminine relative’. That ‘a’ was a giveaway. A compiler of this calibre is not going to include articles haphazardly – so we need UNE in our local language, and that has to ‘comprehend’ Q(uery) L(anguage). This must be UNCLE (the relative) with a Q misprint, and that seems to cross the R of CABIRIC (a lucky find in Chambers on-line!) Do some maths, and we get an L – which is the breakthrough we have been longing for. “I cannot tell a … George Washington!

It was still immensely difficult to sort out the wordplay, even working backwards, numerically, from the quotation via the known misprints and solutions to find the crossing letters. However, twenty-four hours later we had, to our amazement, GROUND CHERRY, BIRD CHERRY, WILD CHERRY, WINTER CHERRY and HAGBERRY, all grafted together to form a fairly convincing tree. This compilation was already spectacular enough for the junior 8X8 team but, of course, felling the tree was sheer magic.

As we realized that every single branch of our cherry tree was being absorbed into the grid and creating new, bona fide words, we were dazzled by KEA’s brilliance. We had to look some of them up: EUGE; SEEDNESS; SONE; ABIR – but, of course, they were there and some were amazing – QUANTITIES emerging from QUARTETTES and … Well, the astonishment went on and on, didn’t it?

It can’t have been pure chance that composed the ground of ASSESSEDAEDES with GROT and a STONY layer just above where our newly hatcheted tree was lying (though I am not sure I have understood the significance of all the S,D,E and As) – ah, but the magic was not completed yet. We propped up the hatchet in the only place it would fit and produced SADHE, TOEA, TEARS, HECATE, BEHIND, EIRACKS and TONYS.

Wonderful KEA. This by far surpasses anything I could ever have imagined as possible in a crossword. It was worth almost three days of agonising. All around me people are saying “However does he do it!”

6 Responses to “No 4045 Admission by Kea – Astounding!”

  1. erwinch said

    Bravo for the artwork Shirley, it beats my effort with Paint hands down!

  2. Shirley Curran said

    I couldn’t resist adding the cherries, leaves and blossom, Erwinch, but the clarity of yours outshines mine!

  3. Denis Martin said

    Yes, a lovely picture Shirley. And appropriately coloured too – red for cherries and brown for asses…

  4. Shirley Curran said

    Denis, I’ve been gazing at ‘asses’ in your comment and wondering what it meant – then went back to the grid and the light dawned. Was that really intended by KEA?

  5. Cathy van Starkenburg said

    I knew Kea was going to offer something special and he did not disappoint. 3 weeks later, wonderful to see your representation of the completed grid Shirley!

  6. Shirley Curran said

    Cathy, I felt that such a remarkable crossword deserved the extra touch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: