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Double Devilry by Pointer

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 September 2010

The numpties gazed with astonishment as those two little grids appeared on the screen. Great! A break from 13 X 13s. Wonderful! The Listener has given us a rest from the weekly slog with misprinted letters and letters to be added or removed, clashes to be resolved and all the hoops we are becoming accustomed to tripping over. Printer’s Devilry! What an exciting challenge. We enjoy those and they require a different style of thinking and much less of that fossicking in Chambers for the significance of obscure letter groups, Spenserian aberrations and arcane words we have never heard of and would never think of using.

We set to with enthusiasm and had soon spotted the natural break in most of those odd phrases and sentences – though Pointer did a sterling job of concealing some of them, didn’t he, especially the one about the robber stealing the cello! That’s the hint for solving Printer’s Devilry clues, isn’t it? It is extremely difficult for the compiler to conceal that tell-tale flaw in the original phrase or sentence.

We had found 18 of them before we even thought of attempting to fit them into the grid or started to worry about the other three letters in each row of nine – that could come later – and what a satisfactory penny-drop moment when it did!

Here’s our complete set:

Unlike most birds, eMUS CLEarly don’t fly (MUSCLE)

Any sensitive isSUE DEServes care from a counsellor (SUEDES)

In VenICE CAPtive audiences applaud the Gondoliers (ICECAP)

The robber steALS A CEllo for deals with a cellist (ALSACE)

The man in funny cloTHES IS to become a clown (THESIS)

Bob Cratchit’s tiM IS LITtle (MISLIT)

The shepherd hopes not to find WelSH EWE Dead in Snowdonia (SHEWED)

A displaced aLIEN ALways wanted to return to his home country (LIENAL)

A hungry boy will get to the taBLE AT Speed (BLEATS)

Was this bANGER Sold to the buyer wanting an old car? (ANGERS)

UnCLE VISits the house to give a present to nephew (CLEVIS)

The interval between high tiDES ALTers during a lunar cycle (DESALT)

Is a jockey CAP LINed to give head protection?  (CAPLIN) We originally wondered whether a jockey was HELMETed to give head protection, but, of course, fitting the clues into the grid revealed the problem with that plausible solution. That was our sole red herring this week.

These aRE GALSworthy’s words from The Forsyte Saga (REGALS)

The anaesthetist continued to uSE ETHEr during my operation (SEETHE)

My quiz team, through losing the round on triVIA BLEmished our record (VIABLE)

The ivy straggling over the roof topS – A TANGle of tendrils (SATANG)

Travellers on the wagons LIT RESt all through the night (LITRES) Aha – pointer even gave us a break from the usual Listener-compiler romp through the bottles of wine – we were ‘on the wagon’ this week!

Even when Sir John hummed and haWED GIElgud runs always had full houses (WEDGIE)

Muslims place their faith iN ALLAH’s divine power (NALLAH)

Almost as soon as we started to fit these into an interlocking set of words in the grid, the other half of the numpty team said, “Look, half of a word in the second grid corresponds with half of a word in the first – SEETHE and THESIS, SHEWED and WEDGIE, LIENAL and NALLAH and so on”.

At this point, our admiration for Pointer’s ingenuity knew no bounds. Can you imagine not only finding nine-letter combinations that intersected so competently, but also fitting them into a grid with only ten unchecked letters in the across rows to play with. We filled our grid and, oddly, seemed to get the same thing twice. Our bemusement didn’t last long; we wrote out those ten letters U C E I D S L T A P and they confirmed that we had DUPLICATES.

Magic, Pointer! What a polished little gem!

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