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News Quiz, by Stan

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 Nov 2010

Amazing how writing a blog helps to clarify the understanding of these Listener crosswords. N E W S – I’ve just understood the title. It was clearly not going to be a crossword about the Treasurer’s latest austerity measures or the exploding Qantas plane, so I had shelved that word for later. Of course, now it makes sense! North, East, South and West!

Initially we took a very deep breath when we saw that we had our beloved jumbles AND misprints. Short of its being a numerical with jumbles and misprints, this is just about our worst nightmare.

However, solving went on at a cracking pace with some lovely moments. We had slotted in VITRIFACTION without much checking or thought and that caused some troubles. (It is amazing how one false solution can delay progress and cause trouble!) Finding KICKER put us right there (Panto lacking start of narrative loses us – an unfortunate turn of events in Tinseltown – Knickers, losing its N and S!) So we had VITRIFACTURE.

We are used to finding the correct letters from definitions, but these subtle ones hidden in elements of the word-play were a challenge – for example, the need to know that A can stand for AREA but not ARIA in Chambers (Singer furious after aria – alto recalled average tenor). That, of course, gave us our E corrected misprint in a question that was speedily appearing.

Again, ‘Look easy after accepted drug’ (A + LO + E) gave us the T misprint correction (EAST for EASY). The most subtle of these had to be AD REFERENDUM (Notice about Scots sound abuse now returning is to be considered again). We painstakingly broke this down to AD + RE + FERE (Scots sound) N (nOw becoming nEw and giving us our E corrected misprint) then DUM (abuse = mud returning). Wow!

P-CELTIC was probably the greatest challenge. No cheaty tricks with word-finding on-line versions of the Chambers completed that light. However, we soon had our question: “Can you name the most N,E, S and W states of the USA?” – (though, at first we had ‘States of TNEUSA, as nuclei could be nubs, as well as hubs. It was a typical numpty diversion – we were wondering which African country had renamed itself TNEUSA).

Well, yes, we can answer that old chestnut of a question. We’ve visited the most northern, eastern, southern and western states of the USA and were frequently told that we were doing so. It remained to find ALASKA and HAWAII in the grid. There was a moment of panic then, as I couldn’t see how we were going to decide which of our leftover letters was going into each of the unchecked lights, when we had used the SKA of ICEPACKS to put Alaska furthest north, east and west. But wasn’t Stan a subtle genius? When we had used the I for IN THAT, the P for PAEAN and the E for ENCHAFE, there were only two Cs left.

HAWAII gave us even less of a problem as DEAN and DERMIS left only the C of CHAINSAW to slot in, and NUCLEI, ASTIR and DEMOTIST had already used three of the letters of AIRT.

Great fun this. Thank you Stan!

3 Responses to “News Quiz, by Stan”

  1. Ratkoja Riku said

    Thanks for the blog, Shirley!

    I tried hard with this puzzle having given the Listener a wide berth in recent times. I solved almost all the clues, many of which I enjoyed (some clever misprints, especially, 31a – thanks, Stan!), although I had to resort to Gregson to understand PAEAN. I worked out the question, even spotted Pacific Ocean, and, although I didn’t realise how the date line might conspire to give Alaska as the most northerly, easterly AND westerly state, I knew I needed to get Alaska in there somewhere.

    I suppose I should have read the preamble, since the words “illustrate the answer” ought to have suggested that the states occupied gegraphically appropriate spaces in the grid.

    I think the main problem for me was that I thought I was looking for at least 4 states and as such wondered if I should be trying to enter the abbreviated forms of the names of the states, e.g. AK for Alaska. It never occurred to me that whole names (of just 2 states) might be needed, and even though I can now see that Hawaii is staring me in the face at the southermost point of the grid, I never spotted it when solving.

    This is typical of my attempts at solving the Listener, even a mild one: so near and yet so far!

  2. shirley curran said

    Dear Ratkoja,
    I sympathise with you. Over almost two years of blogging this crossword, I have slowly learned to generally get over that final hurdle. You put your finger on the spot when you say, ‘I should have read the preamble’.
    The three words, ‘Read the preamble!’ would be the most important advice anyone could give to someone who is determined to master these things. Perhaps the second piece of advice would be to look up every element of the clue and of the preamble in Chambers.
    Keep solving!

  3. Ratkoja Riku said

    Thanks, Shirley – I’ll definitely bear that advice in mind for future solves! Thanks for the words of encouragement – RR

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