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Table-turning by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 September 2010

With numbers due next week, we suspected that we might be given an easy-solve this week. Seeing ‘Kea’ at the head of this one put paid to that reaction, even if it led to a rush of excitement. All the other weekend tasks might as well be forgotten. I decided from the start that this would probably be a ‘Fail Blog’, so I kept a careful record of solving progress. ‘Might as well record the bungles.’  (Yes, I had Art Tatum the wrong way up in that one, and a putative H of Wordsworth in the wrong place, too!).

After 15 hours!

Friday midnight saw almost our habitual solving progress – 18 solutions in place and the bonus of the Wordsworth quotation: ‘Our meddling intellect/Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:-/We murder to dissect’. What a gift that title was and all the lines surrounding the key line that suggested we were going to dissect this crossword the way we chopped down Kea’s cherry tree last year? (Though I suspect Wordsworth was not even vaguely considering dissecting cryptic crosswords!)

Of all the crossword gimmicks, I would choose jumbles as my least favourite, but, with 5ac. we realized that Kea wasn’t exactly giving us haphazard jumbles. ‘Salvation Army, keeping quiet, blight parts of lords and ladies?’ (8) Well, the Sally Army doesn’t exactly keep quiet does it, so clearly we needed SH in S.A. and we had the …SSHAPEST of the quotation which would fit fine with THEBE and AUTEO (‘A truck down under old American car). What’s more, we had the realization that, in two-thirds of the clues, the wordplay – in wordplay order, was going to give us the grid entry, plus or minus one letter.

Despair almost set in as we laboured on, on Saturday and added solutions at a snail’s pace. I colour-coded normal clues, ones with additions and ones with removals but sometimes found it difficult to know which was which, even with that generous hint that ‘no two adjacent clues are of the same type’. Each clue provided its own individual challenge, especially the ones where a letter had to go in. 16ac, for example, ‘Receives a lot of cents US tax collectors uncovered briefly’ (8, two words) IRS + NAKED looked like an anagram of ‘Earns …’ but what had the cents to do with it? (Of course, it finally yielded RAKES IN with that vital C at the start of the message about what we had to do – which was what we had suspected; cut something up!

We slowly worked out the two-part message: CUT IN THREE ALONG GRID LINES: CONNECT AS NEW ? BLO??’ A pause and a drop of the AMOROSO needed here (Yes, even Kea apparently indulges in the Listener compiler oenophilic tipple!) as the numpties, of course, came up with a red herring. We naively decided we were going to connect as a T or H block – one of the letters of ETHOS – we hadn’t been able to sort out which one was superfluous in, ‘Eremites have sampled group’s character’ (4) I realize that with the 44 letters of the quotation and author, this would take some engineering (but that sort of reasoning is for next week!)

OBLONG! Daylight through the FANLIGHTS that at last appeared at 37ac. What’s more, it had to be 10 X 14 because of the ten letters of MISSHAPEST and ORMSOFTHIN on the top and bottom rows. The next part of the whole procedure

was pure comedy. This was almost as difficult as folding those quaint little paper wrens about nine months ago. I refuse to admit how much Scotch tape and paper I went through and I sent Mr Green a rather bumpy final version.

What a remarkable construction this was. I can’t even begin to imagine how Kea compiled it or how many times he had to begin again if one little word in the final grid didn’t appear in Chambers! (Yes, I had to look up IWI, TIU, GI and VAU but no doubt Kea uses them in everyday conversation).

When this one was all glued together and winging its way to Mr Green, a friend remarked that he should have noticed earlier the ‘discrete barring on the edges of the grid’. The what? I went back to the original grid and there it is! What a wonderful hint from Kea that I completely missed. (Is anyone else taking another look at his grid?)

Thanks to Kea for yet another spectacular challenge. I can barely believe that we completed it!

One Response to “Table-turning by Kea”

  1. Jake said

    Hi Shirley.

    Phew! that was a crossword and a half!!! Brilliant stuff. I finally made it to three cuts.

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