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Listener 4153: Rhythm for a Dance by Brimstone (or As I Like It)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 September 2011

According to my records, Brimstone is one of a handful of setters who dabbles in the mysteries of the mathematical puzzle as well as the standard crossword. This is his third Listener, his last being a maths one, namely Base Jog and its Ruth-Aaron pairs of numbers (714/715). He has also set a number of Magpie puzzles, again with a mixture of word and number offerings.

This week, we had 15 clues requiring modification before entry with a similar change being required in 5 other clues. There were extra words in 17 clues which defined the modified entries, and 14 entries ran through squares with circles, and these were normal; I circled the clue numbers for these. What I didn’t realise until I was way into the puzzle was that 15 + 5 + 17 + 14 did not equal 54 (the number of clues), but 51. There were 3 entries that fitted none of the categories listed and turned out to be normal clues.

1ac eluded me, but 6ac was POKE and was an entry requiring modification as it needed to be fitted into a five-letter space. 16ac ALARM came next, and then 22ac European denies bathos in part (4). Almost certainly a hidden clue, and probably one of the five that needed modifying before solving. It seemed likely to be ESTH, with the ba of bathos needing to be removed. Looking again at the PO in POKE at 6ac, and reversed consecutive letters seemed to be involved … perhaps.

Precious few clues were solved in my initial run through them, the last being at 36dn which was HOURIS, and bang went my reversed consecutive letter theory! And unlike POKE, it had to be fitted into an entry space that was shorter. Soon after came 32ac ERGO which had a 6-letter space, 38dn LAMETER which had 5, and 43ac LAVOLT that had no change in entry length. It did, however, give me the answer that I was looking for, since VOLT stood out like a sore thumb. A fairly early discovery of the theme I thought … until I looked at the stopwatch to see that it had taken about an hour and a half to get to this point!

So it looked as though units of measurement were involved, and LAVOLT looked as though it would become LAMINA, being defined by plate at 39dn. What’s more MINA was also a measure, being a Greek weight. So one unit or type of measurement needed to be replaced by another. I thought, of course, that it would be plain sailing from then, but Listeners can be deceptive little blighters, and it took the best part of two more hours to finish the grid.

Listener 4153The final change required to complete the puzzle was to change BELCH at 9dn into MILCH, changing NODE to NODI in the process. These two entries were defined by the extra words milky in 43dn and complications in 35dn.

Another tricky bit was working out the thematic changes required to five clues before they could be solved:

12ac chinless becomes careless
22ac bathos thermos
23ac potent rodent
27ac pinter butter
7dn radial cranial

Some further clues took a bit of unravelling:

19dn SACRED Rarely hated bag put in order
SAC (bag) + RED (put in order); with ACRE as the measure to be replaced by EN for the entry
11dn FAT-CAT Rich, having note and cents hidden in shabby clothes
FA (note) + C (cents) in TAT (shabby clothes); it’s normal to think of fat cat as just a noun, rather than adjective
47ac REPENT Regret lying on the ground and rooting
a simple double-definition; who would have thought that ‘lying on the ground and rooting’ would be a meaning just lifted from Chambers

Listener 4153 My EntryIt didn’t take long, of course, to suss the title that was required to be entered beneath the grid: Measure for Measure, and from there to discover the two characters ELBOW and FROTH given by the letters in the circled squares. The title gave two definitions of measure.

A good puzzle from Brimstone, not too difficult and thoroughly entertaining … just as I like them.

For the record, the full analysis of clue answers, entries and measurements is as follows:

1ac PICAMAR becomes GRAMMAR defined by school (10ac)
6ac POKE PLINK pluck (37dn)
14ac LIST MOLEST harry (24dn)
18ac UNBAR UNCHAIN release (36ac)
19ac SACRED SEND dispatch (2dn)
24ac PLAYED PREMED student (42ac)
32ac ERGO STEREO sound-system (5dn)
39ac FLUX FLEA insect (17dn)
43ac LAVOLT LAMINA plate (39dn)
46ac CORN YEARN desire (41ac)
47ac REPENT TORRENT outpouring (29dn)
6dn POUNCE PINCH crush (40ac)
11dn FAT-CAT POLECAT fitch (15ac)
36dn HOURIS TUNIS capital (21ac)
38dn LAMETER LAKIN lady (8dn)



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