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Listener 4140: Jumping to Conclusion by Sabre (or A Day in the Life)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 June 2011

You know that you’ve got a bumpy ride ahead of you when a Sabre Listener greets you. Although I am filled with a terrible feeling of foreboding, I am exhilarated in knowing that a real challenge lies ahead.

It all started well enough1. Acrosses 14 PLIE, 18 EWT, 19 RORTERS (oops!), 27 OPTER, 29 TURBINATION (oops!!) and 42 DONNA set me off reasonably well, or at least, so I thought! It wasn’t until much, much later that I realised the two mistakes. In copying the letters for the anagram in 19 Reno’s first casino in resort; they allow varied bets I wrote down the letters R and RESORT instead of R and CASINO. Although RORTERS (con-men) were vaguely associated with betting, the clue didn’t really convince me, but it was the only possible answer … apart from RACINOS!! And as for turbination, well, that’s not even an anagram of Buonarotti!

The down clues were fairly generous as well, starting with 1 Cycle around Macedonian capital, finding small bergs for KOPJES, ie Skopje cycled one letter backwards … what a great find. Another ten or so down clues later, and there I was with only 35 minutes on the clock and a fair smattering of Sabre clues solved. Unfortunately, only three of my answers started in the central 6×6 zone. That didn’t bode well, there were eleven of them, and eleven more that strayed into it from outside.

Moreover, it won’t surprise you to know that the next couple of dozen clues took another three hours! There were some entertaining ones along the way:

25ac SOUTHERNWOOD Old man confused when outdoors (12)
I needed to look under old man to confirm this answer
38ac BLOODIED Lecturer’s boring moped badly damaged in collision? (8)
Even suspecting that moped did not refer to the motorcycle, not having come across boodied before held me up somewhat
26dn NUCHAE Nancy’s naked children are taken inside, the scruffs (6)
Luckily I had come across Nancy’s before to indicate a French word
32dn AIRNS In Faslane, gives publicity to nuclear ship
I think the parsing of this goes something like: gives = gyves = fetters = irons = airns!?

 

Like we were meant to, I looked at the main NW-SE diagonal, and what did I see but KNIG…..ANT. And, like we were meant to, I lightly pencilled in KNIGHT ERRANT. I was deeply suspicious that it was a trap, and if I’d looked at the title at this point, I would, like we were meant to, have known that it was.

The next three clues (I won’t tell you which) took about an hour, and the one after that (OK, it was MAN-MILLINER) took another. And the final few were slowly teased out of their clues, including IXTLE, which I suspect a lot of you got straight away, but it eluded me for an aeon! And so on to the last three. I finally realised my mistake with RACINOS; I got CAPAS, not CAPES because it was SCAPA with the S moved down, and lastly … 23dn Fossil elephant — tips of decayed ivory missing (9).

Now, when I say lastly, I mean even more lastly than this point in the solving process, ie the point at which I embarked on the endgame. For it resolutely refused to be solved. Was the defintion fossil, fossil elephant, missing, ivory missing? Were the tips of decayed ivory DI or DY or just DD for the tips of decayed?? Bradford’s, for once, wasn’t helping.

So I had all but one of the numbered squares in the central area and decided to try and fit in the ten words that I had solved, hoping that 23 would finally manifest itself. During this process I was drenched in self-doubt as to what was possible. Could the central bit be resolved without the start of 23, or did that clue need solving. I flitted between trying to fill the grid and trying to solve the clue. Whichever one I was doing, I was convinced that the other needed doing first. It was a nightmare. Even filling in certain letters logically, such as the first E of BORDEREAUX which had to go in square 7,5, and the R of OBTURATION at 7,6, it took an age. I was constantly surprised at how difficult it was to spot the moves of some words. I even shaded the grid like a chessboard, which certainly made it easier to see some word jumps since the letters had to alternate colours.

It was indeed the knight’s moves that I solved first, a D being required in the first square of 23dn. And so the scales fell from my eyes as I finally managed to trace out DINOTHERE in the grid.

I have very little doubt, but a great deal of embarrassment, in revealing to you that this puzzle took me in the region of 24 hours of actual work, not just elapsed time, to finish. I would be very interested to know of anyone who took longer, or indeed took less than let’s say six. Come on … own up!

And if I’ve made a stupid transcription error, I will, very loudly, screeeeam. If you have, my commiserations.

I’m not really sure what message to send to Sabre, but “Thanks” seems appropriate, “Thanks for filling a day of my life!” 🙂

1 This reminds me of a snippet from Not Only … But Also with the late, greats Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Voiceover commentary about the making of a film begins: “It all started well enough. A magnificent replica of Bodiam Castle, Sussex was built on the former site of Bodiam Castle, Sussex, which had been demolished to make way for the reconstruction.”

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