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Listener 4110: Contractions by Hubris, RIP

Posted by Dave Hennings on 19 November 2010

This puzzle was preceded by the announcement: “Hubris (John McGlashan) sadly passed away in August. This is his sixth and final Listener crossword.” His previous puzzles were:

  • 3817: Tom, Dick and Harry based on the Great Escape in 1944, with POWs (“more often than not in disguise”, ie jumbled) escaping from some answers;
  • 3836: Part Exchange, in which parts of some words were replaced by thier antonyms;
  • 3868: Discretion, with some entries entered right-to-left, and Rs and Ls changed accordingly;
  • 3911: Direct Action, with similar skulduggery based on North, South, East and West; and
  • 4040: In Shock, based on “the best club in London” … the House of Commons!

In Contractions, with twelve clues containing two definitions to be resolved, it didn’t take me too long to get 36ac TEM and TANDEM. This was a 3-letter entry, so the AND was to be used as a joiner and thus omitted. Soon after came B[AND]OLERO, SC[AND]ENT and STR[AND]ING. Luckily I got IMPISH from crossing letters reasonably quickly, and it was clear that other linking words were involved, the other definition here leading to IMPOVERISH. There turned out to be 7 ANDs, 4 INs and 1 OVER to be discarded. P[IN]STRIPED and R[IN]SER took me a bit of time to confirm.

I was a bit perplexed as to why it was necessary to highlight the affected words; guesswork alone would have probably resulted in an incorrect solution with many of the words having valid alternatives. As a result, I spent a bit longer than usual checking my solution to try and make sure that there were no red herrings lurking in the grid. I found none, but it was a reminder not to take anything for granted in a Listener.

All in all an enjoyable closing puzzle from Hubris, and a great shame that his setting career was so short.

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