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Arthurian Legend by Corvettes

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 March 2011

Perhaps the title here was a bit of a giveaway; but what an appropriate title to go with a round table, thoughts of the holy grail and the sword in the stone. We are very fond of the circular crosswords and this one had the added advantage of arcs, though, like the CERN accelerator a few weeks ago, the clues were running in both directions.

What tough clues! After working solidly until midnight, we still had a handful to solve. Finding words that fitted the definitions was not impossible but oh, the wordplay!

EAU ‘Evian or Perrier? Vive la différence — with their sources it could become valued’ I don’t like composite anagrams and here we had one: VLD are the sources of Vive la Différence + EAU = VALUED.

If that one was difficult, what about TOWHEE? ‘Flyer delivered two for the price of one, not once for profit, strangely’. We have to subtract ‘once for profit’ from ‘two for the price of one’ and we are left with the letters of TOWHEE!

EQUATE ‘Make the same mistake ultimately, as what neighbours do’  I tried knocking on the neighbours’ door to ask what they were doing but they were out. It was a wise friend who ultimately explained to me that TE or TI neighbours DO in the tonic sol fa (Doh, indeed!)

I am still not sure how we got to DECK from ‘Compliance required where one of Derek’s notes is covering the ground’. Are we putting C where a note (RE) is, to get ground covering?

We fought our way through these clues and produced five misprints that confirmed our initial suspicion. We had VIKIG which converted to GRLYA. I still don’t know which N gave me the final E of GRAYLE but the theme was evident. We weren’t fortunate enough to know Derek Arthur, but know how he was loved and esteemed in the crossword world, so here was our Arthurian legend, very appropriately honoured in a round table with the thematic GRAYLE.

We needed a ten-word quotation and had to perform a kind of combination lock manoeuvre on our grid to produce it, so I set to with the scissors, produced six concentric circles and fiddled, then gazed in confused dismay at the muddle of letters facing in all directions. Sense finally emerged (correcting a few flawed solves at the same time – now we knew which was to enter TOKOS!) and we saw a phrase from Arthurian legend emerging – Malory’s Morte d’Arthur, Sir Ector to Sir Launcelot, “Thou wert the kindest man that ever struck with sword”. Except that here, our Arthurian knight struck with “crossword”.

Rumours are rife about the nature of Corvettes; clearly no newcomer but probably a group of very able setters who were familiar with all the Listener crosswords set by Viking since 1999. That’s why we found BUMPS in 45arc, EASY in 9r, ISLE in 32arc, HOME RUN in 23r, CRACKERS in 6arc, TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE in5r, (just imagine the sort of brilliance that saw that ‘once for profit’ could be subtracted from that to get TOWHEE! – or did the towhee come last?), FACTORY in 8r, LOTS in 41r (perhaps that explains what initially seemed to be a most unsatisfactory clue for ASIA – ‘Lots of land’), MASTERWORKS in 27arc and PRIMORDIAL in 14r.

What a stunning construction and how appropriate that such a kind person should have such a fine crossword constructed in his memory!

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