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Listener 4133: All New from Tiburon (or Many a Mickle Makes a Muckle)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 May 2011

This is Tiburon’s sixth Listener; his last was 4086 Back Gate, and was based on the discovery of the structure of DNA by Wilkins, Watson, Franklin and Crick. Most enjoyable it was too. Having had an easyish one from Augeas, a real toughie from Ten-Four and a straighforward one from Llig in the previous three weeks, I detected a trend, and was expecting this puzzle to be on the difficult side. Certainly Back Gate wasn’t a doddle!

It turned out that my prognostication was pretty accurate. The misprints in over half the clues were, for the most part well camouflaged. The remaining clues had to be entered thematically, based on a quotation differing from another by only one letter. Hands up those who sussed it out from this alone?! It seemed from early solving that the first letter of answers to these non-misprint clues were to be entered in place. It took me a bit longer to realise that the last letters were similarly entered.

I considered myself fairly lucky that after about two hours I noticed that the misprints in the second half of the down clues spelt out A…N.DA..NEND. “… and an end” could only refer to the Philip Larkin quotation about the formula for a novel — “A beginning, a muddle and an end”. This was a corruption of Aristotle’s comment about a whole being that which has “a beginning, a middle, and an end”. The central letters of each thematic word were therefore simple jumbles, presumably in any order as dictated by the down entries. There were ambiguities ahead, but they were to be resolved by both of the authors … interesting!

It was easy to see that NOVEL was in unchecked letters in the bottom left quadrant, and symmetrically opposite was WHOLE. A short while later and I could resolve 43ac C{RANKIL}Y which had three unchecked letters and could therefore be entered several different ways. Except that RANKIL is a jumble of LARKIN, and so was entered CLARKINY. At this stage, I had yet to solve 1ac, Macedonian battles not being my forte. Once I got PHILIPPI, however, I could see PHILIP trying to get out of the central letters and so it became PPHILIPI. Plus I had already identified a place for ARISTOTLE running down the main NW-SE diagonal, and he thus resolved the ambiguities in IMPASTO and COTINGA.

A few clues later and the grid was complete. Here are some of my favourites:

14ac SCOOSH Special: my son’s hot duck soup
duck soup being the definition
9dn ARMAMENT Misguided men-at-arms briefly worship weapons
with worship for warship
23dn SCOTSMAN For Sheila, Georgie dressed mascot uniting Hearts and Hibernian finally
Geordie being an Australian (Sheila) word for Scotsman; how on earth did Tiburon spot that in Chambers?!
24dn PIASTRE Pirates dancing eight reels
with reels for reals

So another thoroughly entertaining puzzle from Tiburon. And how many of you spotted how symmetrical the puzzle was? Apart from the grid having 90° symmetry, the thematic entries were placed with 180° symmetry, as were PHILIP/LARKIN and WHOLE/NOVEL (from where the title comes).

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