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Listener 4129: Letters Lament by Tangram (or Back in Time, Sadly)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 8 April 2011

Tangram is the second setter this year with a debut puzzle, following on from Navajo (and not counting Corvettes, who was a collaboration between three old hands). Three clue types this week, Normal, Letters Latent and Misprints; the misprints could be in either the definition or in the entry itself (so four clue types really!). In fact, the Letters Latent clues could be identified straight away because the number of letters in the answer, as opposed to the entry, were given. All this would lead to a quotation, four words of which would be missing and would be represented by two clue answers requiring further treatment in the grid.

I found the across clues quite tough, with only 14 HORNI[E]R, 18 SENSA and 25 ANISE (for ANIME) coming to light first time through. If I had solved 35ac at this stage, it would have made life much easier later on. The entry was obviously an anagram of LOVE THEM WET, and looking at it now, I can’t believe I didn’t get it!

The down clues were marginally more forgiving: 5 [W]AITERS (not that I was 100% sure of that, as they may recommend fillets was a bit vague), 6 INDICAN, 11 FOS[T]ERING, 13 TELE-something (?), 16 ESOTERIC, 19 SERRATE and 24 LEETLE (second time in three weeks). At least I had a presence in all four quadrants. From there I gradually finished the grid with some tough clues on the way. I especially liked 22ac OR E’EN Before even a surprise declaration, ruff King and 4dn ROARED One, about to tuck into perch, chundered (for thundered). It didn’t help that I originally entered LANDGRAVINE at 1ac!

And so back to 35ac, and in the process 29dn which had been causing me problems. I had finally got TWELVEMONTH (but with an E for the N on entry), and that fitted nicely with the last E of SERRATE, the last E of LEETLE and the E of MISS[H]APE. However, it didn’t fit the M of INT[E]RIM, the last L of LOCAL or T of [Y]OURT! It all worked nicely, though, if it were entered as ETEOMEVLEWT! The seasonal quotation that had emerged was “Winter is come and gone, But [grief returns] with the [revolving year]” from Shelley’s Adonais. So there was the revolving year at 35ac, and the word for grief in reverse appeared as I resolved my problem with 29dn. This was TENE (with T for the second E on entry), an old word for grief, that didn’t mesh with the E of [G]I[G]LET unless it was to be reversed (upwards) on entry.

So the “further treatment” required by the preamble was to reverse the two entries. However, part of me wanted to correct the misprints in the process! After all, we weren’t really returning the year and grief, but misprints of them. There were, I thought, two reasons for not doing this. Firstly, it would result in two other entries being changed: 28ac into ENERNT and 19dn into SERRATN, and secondly, “further” implied doing more, and not also undoing what had already been done (the misprints)!

So, a good debut puzzle from Tangram, although I feel sorry for those solvers for whom Bobby Darin’s La Mer caused problems … especially if they opted for GAMER instead!

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