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Archive for September, 2010

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!


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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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Listener 4099: Double Devilry by Pointer (and Not ‘Y/es, Tin Gone’!)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 3 September 2010

This is, as far as I can see, Pointer’s first Listener puzzle. He/she has had a few in Magpie over the last few years, and about half of those have been of difficulty D (ie tough). Also, and I’m not sure if this bodes well, but the preamble has almost as many words as the clues! There are just twenty clues, and two very straightforward diagrams. The only minor worry: it’s printer’s devilry.

I quite enjoy PD clues, although they don’t come along frequently enough for me to become particularly adept at them. And Azed’s can be quite tricky.

My eyes flit from clue to clue, but my brain just gets confused … and worried. So a more concentrated approach is called for.

Grid I
1 Unlike most, bird’s early. Don’t fly! Eagles perhaps; or ‘clearly’ with a word ending ..cle? Yes, MUSCLE with emus. A good start.
2 This starts Any sensitive? I serve … which reads badly so that is probably where the break is. How about ‘sensitive issue’? That leads to SUEDES.
3 The Gondoliers sounds like a Venice clue, but nothing immediately obvious, so I’ll come back to it.
4 A complete blank with The robbers tell of an ordeal with a cellist.
5 The man in funny closet must be ‘funny clothes’ leading to THESIS. Slightly non-Azed here with a break between words: ‘funny clo/thes is/ set to become clown’ but no harm done.
6 Tim was tiny, but nothing else; well, OK, Dickensian!
7 The shepherd in Snowdonia reads vaguely sensible, so no obvious place for a break. Come back to this one.
8 Starts Ad is placed which shouts out ‘a displaced’, and LIENAL comes fairly quickly with an alien always wanting to go home.
9 The hungry boy will get to the ‘table’ first, so we have ‘table at speed’ and BLEATS.
10 Last of the Grid I clues, and Was this bold … with its car theme must be ‘banger sold’ giving ANGERS.
Grid II
1 This one ends a present tone phew (you can ignore all punctuation in a PD clue!), and that must be ‘nephew’; what goes with nephew … ‘uncle’, and he’s at the beginning (well, Unit is), although I have to look in Chambers to see words beginning cle.., and there’s CLEVIS.
2 the interval between high tiers and lunar eclipse, shouts out ‘high tides’ and ‘alters’ seems logical: DESALT.
3 Is a Jock eyed … must be ‘jockeyed’, but I’m not sure what else.
4 Who wrote The Forsyte Saga? John Galsworthy. So the seaworthy swords become ‘Galsworthy’s words’ and REGALS.
5 A blank with the anaesthetist!
6 There’s always a quiz round called ‘Trivia’, so here we have Trim I shed our record leading to ‘trivia’, VIABLE, and ‘blemished’.
It was here that I realised that the normal order in the preamble meant that VIABLE didn’t necessarily go in column 1, which is where I initially put it, but meshed with CLEVIS and DESALT in rows 1 and 2.
7 ? (straggling ivy)
8 Another ? (wagon train)
9 ??!! (John Gielgud?)
10 Finally, Muslims place their faith … ‘in Allah’, giving NALLAH.


A bit of a disappointing ending with a few missing answers, but a quick glance at the grid, and MUSCLE-CLEVIS and SUEDES-DESALT leaps off the page … BOTH GRIDS ARE IDENTICAL! From then on it is plain sailing, although the robber, the cellist and Sir John Gielgud take a bit of unravelling.

The full versions of all the clues are therefore:

Grid I

1. Unlike most birds, emus clearly don’t fly
2. Any sensitive issue deserves care from a counsellor
3. In Venice, captive audiences applaud The Gondoliers
4. The robber steals a cello for deals with cellist
5. The man in funny clothes is set to become a clown
6. Bob Cratchitt’s Tim is little
7. The shepherd hopes not to find welsh ewe dead in Snowdonia
8. A displaced alien always wanted to return to his home country
9. A hungry boy will get to the table at speed
10. Was this banger sold to the buyer wanting an old car

Grid II

1. Uncle visits the house to give a present to nephew
2. The interval between high tides alters during a lunar cycle
3. Is a jockey cap lined to give head protection
4. These are Galsworthy’s words from The Forsyte Saga
5. The anaesthetist continued to use ether during my operation
6. My quiz team through. Losing the round on Trivia blemished our record
7. The ivy straggling over the rooftop is a tangle of tendrils
8. Travellers on the wagons-lit rest all through the night
9. Even when Sir John hummed and hawed, Gielgud runs always had full houses
10. Muslims place their faith in Allah‘s divine power

So there we have a nice compact Printer’s Devilry puzzle. And the unchecked letters in the across clues which need to be unscrambled to go beneath the diagram … UCEIDSPLAT? It doesn’t take long to sort out DUPLICATES. Not a difficult puzzle this week, but entertaining all the same. And no typo! Interesting one, thanks Pointer, especially for not being grade D … at least not for your first Listener outing!

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