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Pangrams, by Sabre

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 May 2010

The preamble was daunting to say the least: two different pangrams! How were we going to find them? Could Sabre seriously be expecting us to spot an entire pangram from ‘seven across clues’ that ‘contain an extra word, hinting (in no particular order) at one of the down pangram components’. I was full of misgivings, especially as I read that ‘hinting at one of the down pangram components’ as precisely that – seven obscure words were going to give me ONE pangram component.

We started solving and dismay turned to pleasure as the grid filled beautifully with some obvious anagrams: ORESTES (Ros tees), WAISTCLOTHS (Scottish law), DEFRAUDMENT (after Edmund), BARAZA (bazaar); a few hidden words, TWI (exporT WIcker), SKRY (inventS KRYpton), TYG (busTY Girl) and alternate letters, FOZIER (FlOoZy I hEaR – nicely deceptive one that!).

From that encouraging start, we beavered our way through all but eight of the clues (the north-west corner) before midnight, trying to remember to read our diagonally split lights in the right direction. I don’t think two grids would have helped this time, but one became very crowded! Where a week ago, we had four solutions in place by the end of Friday, this week we had forty! That indicates, I think, that this was far more accessible wordplay for learners than Radix’s fiendish split clues last week. Still, we had trouble with MOTET, where we assumed that the ‘Choral piece’ was made up of ‘may’ or MOTE and ‘start To’, leaving the last word, THRILL as one of our extra words. Clearly such errors can lead to lots of floundering later 0n!

There were some superb moments. What a magnificent clue: ‘Beast seen in French committee getting kiss’. So we have VU (seen in French) QUANGO and a kiss X. Well worth a kiss any day! We found that ‘Ping Pang, Pong’ is a Japanese drinking game, so thought there was the usual bit of oenophilia, but no – they appeared simply to be comic opera clowns – BUFFI. Two more useful Listener words to drop into this week’s incidental chat – the VU QUANG OX and a few BUFFI!

The pleasure continued on Saturday and with EXOMIS and a TYG SKRYED, we were all set to hunt for the element of our down pangram. We had CHARACTER, VALLEY, DRUSE, OUNCE, STAB, GERMAN, BUREAU, and THRILL. Obviously the thrill had to be ditched. Out came the Scrabble (old rules!) and it was soon evident that if we used the obvious CWM (valley), LYNX (ounce), FRITZ (German), DESK (bureau), JAB (stab) and QOPH (character) we would be left with a strange word for ‘druse’ – GUV? Could he be some kind of Syrian governor?

Light dawned. A VUG is a hollow rock, lined with crystal, just like a DRUSE (two more conversation-stoppers!) and we were there! Or almost. FRITZ was the only five-letter word so he slotted into place immediately. Obviously one of the four letter words was going to share first place with one from the other pangram and share three letters. It was luck that led us to try the LYNX first (or perhaps favouritism – I have a soft spot for him since we saw one loping up the ski slope above the house this ski season – they are said to have kittens up there – Lynxlets?) By elimination of possible first letters, we were led to JYNX and the rest slotted into place one by one. JYNX, VELDT, GOWF, ZIMB, QURSH and PACK. Success!

Hmmm! The worst was yet to come.  I am prepared to bet that there will be fewer careless errors than usual in Mr Green’s postbagful of entries, since this one had to be completed carefully. It was evidently all too easy to take the wrong letter from one of those many rows.

But it was a very rewarding crossword – tremendous fun. Thank you, Sabre!

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