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Listener 4126: Arthurian Legend by Corvettes

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 Mar 2011

Here we had the second circular grid of the year after Hedge-sparrow’s Hadron Collider puzzle. This time though, the answers could be entered in either direction; there were no jumbles here, so hopefully it wouldn’t be as tricky as most. The main problem that lay ahead was the rotation of four rings and the highlighting of a quotation. Still, it was a 10-worder so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

Starting on the arc clues in the rings, I soon got to 16 Puzzle tester: a role for our dedicatee (6). I don’t know whether I got my suspicion from the title in the first place (unlike some, I really don’t pay much attention to it), but it seemed that here we had a puzzle dedicated to the late Derek Arthur, Listener Crossword vetter and setter (under the pseudonym Viking). Arc clues 40 and 41 also confirmed this, the Grimshaw in 41 being a reference to another Listener stalwart, John Grimshaw.

I won’t dwell on the clues too much this week, except to say that it became fairly obvious that they were not the work of a novice setter!! Just look at the following:

36ar EAU Evian or Perrier? Vive la différence — with their sources it could become valued (3)
EAU + V(ive) L(a) D(iff) = VALUED
2ra EQUATE Make the same mistake, ultimately, as what neighbours do
E (mistakE ultimately) + QUA (as) + TE (what is next to ‘do’, the musical note!)
5ra TOWHEE Flyer delivered two for the price of one, not once for profit strangely
anagram of (TWO FOR THE PRICE OF ONE) – (ONCE FOR PROFIT); ‘delivered’ is in the sense of distributed
24ra DE SOTO Does crashed disc involve closure of Internet Explorer
anagram of DOES + O (disc) containing T (closure of interneT); Hernando de Soto was a Spanish explorer in the 16th century
40ra DECK Compliance required where one of Derek’s notes is covering the ground
DEREK with C (compliance) for RE; the break between wordplay and definition is between is and covering


That just left the endgame, and those of you who attempted it will know (I hope) what a little so-and-so it was! The six letters misprinted by the wordplay were, in order, VIKING, and the correct letters, in order, were GRLYEA. The four rings of the grid then had to be rotated so that these letters lined up to give a thematic word. Without using an anagram solver, it seemed to me that ARGYLE or LAGERY were the likely candidates.

I didn’t give that much thought, but moved on to working out how to carry out the rotation of the rings. It seemed obvious that I should magnify the grid using my scanner and then cut out the rings … like so:

Well, that turned out to be a total waste of time: rotating one ring at a time without distorting the remainder proved impossible. So, a different approach was required. I decided to use an Excel worksheet and key in the letters in a series of strips and then cut them out … like so:

I began to get just a little disheartened as I randomly shunted the bits of paper left and right without finding anything at all useful. EXCEPT: GRAYLE suddenly appeared in front of me. How lucky, and how inanely short-sighted of me not to see it earlier. But this was getting me nowhere fast, so yet another approach was needed, and logic needed to be brought to the table.

I decided that I would have to try all the possible grids one by one. There were 2 Gs in the outer ring, 3 Rs in the second, 3 As in the third, one Y and one L in the fourth and fifth rings respectively, and 2 Es in the innermost ring. That meant 48 combinations. Oh good grief!! Now whether this was the intended sequence of trying, I don’t know, but I fixed the outer G and the inner E in place; after all they were there already. then rotated the other four rings so that the first R and A were in place together with the Y and L. Filling the grid with the remaining letters then took less than five minutes. Only another 5 hours 55 minutes to go!!

But luck (if that’s what it was) was on my side: grid 4 produced SSWORD at 11 o’clock, and there nice and symmetrical in the other segments:

from Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur

A great puzzle, and a worthy tribute to Derek Arthur from Corvettes. Fairly early on, I noticed that Corvettes was an anagram of CO-VETTERS, and was probably Roger Philips and Shane Shabankareh, the two current vetters of The Listener.


2 Responses to “Listener 4126: Arthurian Legend by Corvettes”

  1. Kea said

    I don’t understand your difficulty with lining up GRAYLE. The locations of the letters misprinted in wordplay gave you the exact cells to be aligned. Since only four rings were to be rotated, two of the letters must already be aligned (G and E), forcing GRAYLE to appear at the top.

  2. Kea
    If only I’d highlighted the misprints like Shirley did (and read the preamble a couple more times), I might not have made such hard work of it! Thanks again for a great puzzle; at least I got one of the three vetters right.

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