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Listener 4134: Poat’s Cruciverbalism (or Can Anyone Lend Me a Red Pencil?)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 13 May 2011

Poat is a setter whose puzzles I look forward to with eagerness and dread! Anyone who remembers his Rules of Construction from August 2009 will probably agree with me on that.

So in Cruciverbalism we had a relatively small grid (10×8) and an even more relatively small set of clues (10 across and 12 down, the dividing line being between the second 9 letter word and the first 7 letter one). An extra word in each clue identified a letter to be omitted before entry in the grid, using its position in the clue as the position of that letter, which was the same as either its first or last letter of the extra word; a lot of help being given here … there must be trouble ahead! Actually, this method of clueing an extra letter rang a bell, but I’ve no idea where it may have been used.

Apart from the first and last across entries, which were 9 letters, the others were all 4 or 5 letters, and didn’t seem enough to fill up the six rows not occupied by the long entries. The same could be said for the downs where 12 entries had to fill ten columns. In a normal grid, this would mean loads of unchecked letters, but Listeners don’t normally work like that.

So, the first across clue, Has length of mirror cracked? Appalling show (two words) seemed to be an anagram of L OF MIRROR plus an extra letter. I must confess that the pretty specific help given by the extra word took a few minutes to sink in; yes, I was looking for H plus an anagram of LOFMIRROR or S plus an anagram of LOFMIRROR since Has was the first word in the clue. I was just about to move onto the second across clue when I saw FILM and then of course HORROR to give ORROR FILM as the entry. I couldn’t believe that all the clues were going to be this easy. And of course they weren’t!

The great thing about Bradford’s is that, under a particular heading, it doesn’t just give synonyms, but also gives words that are at a bit of a tangent from the headword. The second across clue, A Bacchic cry set Hythe resort aback (4) had me find Bacchanalian and this led to UPSEE or UPSEY. Counting each word in the clue for a letter matching its equivalent in one of these words meant that it had to be UPSEE with Hythe telling me that the final E had to be dropped. The trouble was that I couldn’t get the wordplay to fit. I pencilled it in the second row, but very lightly. (Of course it turned out to be that other cry, EVOHE!)

Following on from this hiccup, some answers came quickly, such as BREAS[T]DEEP and LYA[S]E, others quite slowly. I assumed that Eliza’s racecourse would be something like ‘ereford, ‘untingdon or ‘aydock, rather than a reference to her being taken to Ascot; I couldn’t get LEM out of my head for lunar module (it was [R]OVER); and No mobile giant, falling back asleep (5) refused to let me see that No was the definition of AIKONA even though I’d half suspected that NOKIA was in there backwards. And who would have thought that there was a word HEN[N]Y?! It’s a bit like What’s brown and sticky?!

Meanwhile, the help provided by the dropped letters was taking shape. I should have got it sooner, but when I could see HE.RYV, a Shakespearean reference seemed likely, and it didn’t take long to fill in some missing letters to give Act Three Scene One. This could only be one thing, and I had CRY in the first three squares of row 4. So at last in this year of Swiss flags, French presidents and Scottish underground maps, here we had CRY ‘GOD FOR HARRY! ENGLAND AND S[AIN]T GEORGE’. I managed to retrieve my much depleted red pencil, given the amount of shading required for the Swiss flag, and set to work to give the English flag running up and down, and backwards and forwards in rows 4 and 5 and columns 5 and 6.

Great stuff from Poat, and so obvious really since the puzzle was published on 23rd April, which is also Shakespeare’s birthday!

5 Responses to “Listener 4134: Poat’s Cruciverbalism (or Can Anyone Lend Me a Red Pencil?)”

  1. shirley curran said

    Thoroughly enjoyed that – but what is brown and sticky? (A sweet little French girl had us puzzling over ‘What’s invisible and smells of carrots’ this week.) Love the pencil stub, too.

  2. A stick.

  3. Shirley, excuse the brusque reply, it just seemed appropriate!

  4. clanca1234 said

    “What’s brown and sticky?” was my favourite joke for a long time, but Shirley’s has forced me to reveal my latest. What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? Answer below…..

    A carrot

  5. shirley curran said

    Aren’t we becoming trivial? I thought we were a serious crowd. That reminds me of ‘What’s black and white and comes out of cows? (hom) …

    The Isle of Wight ferry.

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