Listen With Others

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A(nother) Game of 1 by Glow-worm

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 Dec 2010

I concluded my last Listen With Others blog with a plea for a rest from horrendously difficult puzzles (after Pieman’s ‘Liberty Bell’, the ‘triangular numbers numerical’, and Sabre’s ‘Invisible Ink’).  Just a bit more ‘Stripey horse (5)’.

Right from the start, Glow-worm’s puzzle looked promising with ‘Game’ in the title and a 3 X 3 board in the middle; and what a delightful game it was right up to the final requirement to highlight the winner.

I started off by highlighting all those stages that were identified in the preamble: some transferring of letters in 9 across clues using words we were going to identify in 1dn and 22dn; double completion of that little game board with letters that spilled over from words; a missing hint to find at 39ac, linked with (rare, as 1 is often 42); an edited quotation running right round the grid; and, lastly, two five-letter children’s names that were going to be ‘formed’ – one a winner, one a loser (abc def ghij).

Before even starting, I suspected that we might be playing noughts and crosses (40dn, 13dn) and that, with typical male chauvinism,  Glow-worm was going to make sure that ‘The boy wins’ – surprise to come!

We thoroughly enjoyed the clueing. This puzzle will go down as memorable for me – definitely one of my top ten of the year and the kind to encourage us less-able solvers to have a go at Listener solving. For once, we understood all the wordplay – (yes, it is a good thing we don’t have to prove, each week that we have understood it all – I would have submitted about five solutions!)

The penny-drop-moments came thick and fast as the solutions slotted in one by one. DAVENPORT was an obvious solution to ‘Boy’ (DAVE) ‘left’ (PORT) ‘around noon’ (N) and the nine clues that were producing odd letters seemed to be giving us an unusual sprinkling of Ts, vowels and a C – TIC-TAC-TOE?

Our red herring (yes, the numpties always have one of those) was that feeding ?I??ING LIN? into a word-search programme produced ‘MISSING LINK’. However, putting NOUGHT (40dn) and CROSS (13dn) into place resolved that and gave us ‘WINNING LINE’.

The quotation leapt into view, ‘LITTLE BOXES MADE OUT OF TICKY-TACKY AND THEY ALL LOOK JUST THE SAME’ and we were able to make sense of abc def ghij. The boy lost! Well well! What’s more, in most un-Listener-compilerish style, Glow-worm was distinctly not indulging in the usual libation. ‘No alcohol’ appeared at 10dn. – not even that convenient hint of ASTI that seems to creep into crosswords of all types.

What was left to do? Play the game and find those children. We had,

(cary)aTid – leading to ‘AVID’ – producing a T (though we were mildly thrown by the ‘crazy’ definition for ‘avid’)

a KatrinI anagram leading to ‘KatrinA‘ – producing an I

(V)Est I a…. leading to ‘Ostia’ – producing an E

an anagram of ‘crOcs a oison’ leading to ‘occasionErs’ – producing an O (We had to go to Kindred and Knight’s ‘Chambers XWD’ to find that P was the medieval 400 that had to be removed from ‘poison’)

sPam, hidden in antihisTamine – giving us a T

Cyder anagrammed to ‘yDred – providing the C

The initial letter of Twist providing the N of coNga – another T

Rich hidden in (Dub)Ai ch(allenger) – an A

and, finally, ‘Copin(g)’, badly (anagrammed), producing pinTo and giving us our last C.

The final game of tic tac toe, with the consonants converted to crosses, and the vowels to noughts  produced that winning line of crosses, and the girl clearly had the advantage, as she played first.

Who was she? Well, she must know whether she’s TANIA or ANITA (an identity crisis? Only perhaps for solvers.)

This was sheer delight from start to finish. Wonderful Glow-worm. Thank you!

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