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Archive for September, 2011

Inn Joke by Mr Lemon

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 September 2011

Rumours said that we might be in for an easier solve this week as the coming weekend is a bank holiday. Yes, this coming weekend! Writing a numpty blog on a Friday is an unusual experience for me but no, I am not complaining or muttering that we solved this one as the coffee cooled. A gentle solve is a welcome experience and leaves a long wet weekend ahead for other pursuits. But an hour and a half! Yes, really!

The reason for the ease with which we solved Mr Lemon’s ‘Inn Joke’ is fairly evident. As so much of the grid was taken up with the perimeter and the unclued lights, the clues had to be impeccable and transparent. We filled the grid, as usual, from the south-east corner with no real hitches. RENO had us puzzled for a while as we were looking for a note (TI, for example, and RE) and the clue seemed to be upside down. Of course, the ONER was ‘about’.

Within an hour, we had a complete grid except for the perimeter. Our unclued entries gave  ???PISSIMUS , ?EMO, and F?IT and it didn’t take us long to work out that Juvenal’s ‘Nemo repente fuit turpissimus’ was the culprit. ‘No one ever became utterly bad all at once.’  

That was when we coloured our unchecked letters green and attempted to slot in the sixteen letters that had so obligingly appeared when we corrected some of those very obvious misprints. (…firmer kingdom historically, mirk over amount of radiation …, early bruit – lovely gifts from Mr Lemon!)

No numpty red-herrings then? Of course there was one. We wasted a few minutes attempting to fit the letters from corrected definitions into the perimeter. It has become such a habit to use those rather than the misprinted letters themselves (some editors prefer that don’t they?)

However, most of the perimeter made obvious sense – ‘It takes seven years to become a s?l??i?or’ and our remaining OICT soon completed Mr Lemon’s joke, and, of course, explained the INN of the title. I wonder what the solicitors amongst the solvers thought of the implication!

Thank you Mr Lemon for a gentler romp than some of the more recent nasties and for such flawless cluing.

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Listener 4151: Number or Nummer by Ruslan

Posted by erwinch on 9 September 2011

Ruslan’s third Listener but this was not so much a numerical puzzle, as were the previous two, but a riddle in the form of a preamble.  For a long time I could not make any sense of it at all, with good reason as it turned out, but finally managed to struggle to a finish.
The key for starting here was a quartet of four clues with entries in the SE corner of each grid:
24ac  D^2 (3)
19dn  A^2 (3)
15dn  BD^2 (4)
21ac  ABI (4)
We were not told in the preamble but soon learnt that checked cells could sometimes contain different digits which had the same first letter.  So, for any one cell we had to consider across, down, German or English – I found it all terribly confusing, worse than working in three dimensions.  Anyway, D and A must be greater than 7 for the square to be three digits and the squares crossed at the final digit.  So, D^2 and A^2 were found in {121, 361, 841} or {169, 289, 529}.  I went wrong initially by assuming that BD^2 (15dn) meant B squared times D squared – there was a fit with B = 2 but ABI was then too small.  The final digit of BD^2 crossed the middle digit of D^2 and nine possible fits were found:
Now looking at ABI (21ac), for any one value of BD^2 there were two possible values of A and seven of I.  ABI also had to fit with crossing BD^2 and A^2.  Two fits were found: {ABI, BD^2} = {2233, 2527} or {5423, 6137}.  So, B = 7 or 17, A = 11, D = 19 and I = 29.  With the T at cell 21 in the left-hand grid given, we could now make our first confirmed entries:
21ac ABI = 2233(TTTT or ZZDD) and 5423(FFTT or FVZD): TTTT is the only fit with the left-hand grid:
21ac ABI = 2233(TTTT)
19dn A^2 = 121(OTO or EZE) but must be OTO to fit with ABI
24ac D^2 = 361(TSO or DSE) but must be TSO to fit with A^2
15dn BD^2 = 2527(TFTS or ZFZS) but must be TFTS to fit with ABI
For the right-hand grid:
21ac ABI = 5423(FFTT or FVZD)
19dn A^2 = 121(OTO or EZE) but must be OTO to fit with ABI(FFTT)
24ac D^2 = 361(TSO or DSE) but must be TSO to fit with A^2
15dn BD^2 = 6137(SOTS or SEDS) but must be SOTS to fit with ABI
So, our first entries were all in English:
As far as the numbers went, the remainder was plain sailing starting with 1ac (lg = left-hand and rg = right-hand grid):
1ac  (Z + I)^2 – AZ – F – T (3)
The maximum available values of F and T for both grids are 23 and 19 giving F + T = 42.
If Z = 2 then 1ac is greater than equal 31^2 – 64 = 961
If Z = 3 then 1ac is greater than equal 32^2 – 75 = 949
If Z = 5 then 1ac is too big
So the first digit of 1ac and 1dn is 9(N) and Z = 2 or 3
14ac  (A + Z)(A + B + I + Z) (3)
(lg) 14ac = ?T? so must be English
If Z = 2 then 14ac = 13 × 49 = 637
If Z = 3 then 14ac = 14 × 50 = 700 so Z = 2 and 14ac = 637(STS)
(rg) 14ac = ?S? English or German
If Z = 2 then 14ac = 13 × 59 = 767
If Z = 3 then 14ac = 14 × 60 = 840 so Z = 2 and 14ac = 767(SSS)
22dn  B + A + L + Z (2)
(lg) 22dn = TT = 20 + L so L = 3 or 13
(rg) 22dn = FT = 30 + L so L = 13 or 23
18ac  I – B – L + ZA (2)
(lg) 18ac = FO = 44 – L = 41 or 31 so L = 3
(rg) 18ac = OO = 34 – L = 21 or 11 so L = 23
Things appeared to be going very well until I looked at the NW corner of the grids:
8ac  Z + ID^2 – (B + L)(I – D + AD) (4)
(lg) 8ac = 8281(ETEO or AZAE)
(rg) 8ac = 1711(OSOO or ESEE)
1dn  I(A + D) + B(A – 2Z) (3)
(lg) 1dn = 919(NON or NEN) but had to be NEN (German) to fit with 8ac ETEO
(rg) 1dn = 989(NEN or NAN) but again had to be NEN to fit with 8ac ESEE (German)
But this would mean that we had German entries in both grids, which I had not been expecting from the preamble:
Solvers must identify the English transcriptions of the answers entered using German in one of the grids …
With hindsight I can see that this is ambiguous but at the time I naturally assumed that German entries would appear in one grid only leaving the other as the intended solution.  How could there possibly be a single solution with German entries in both grids?  At this point I came to a standstill, agonising over the whole thing for ages.  I regret not pushing on immediately to see how it came out.  Eventually of course, I did go on and all became clear.  Mostly it was just straightforward substitutions required to complete the grids so it is unnecessary to give any more working but here are the full assignments for the two solutions:
And here is the full solution:
Some entries such as 6dn (765 777) and 10ac (65 75) in both grids were the same in either German or English but those that could only be German gave in clue order:
(lg) FEE/ZNEZA NEN/SANSA  511/29128 919/78968  FOO/TNOTE NON/SENSE
(rg) ESEE EZNNF  1711 12995  OSOO OTNNF
I was annoyed at having been tricked by Ruslan but can see the funny side now.  It was all nonsense – there was no local solver in Germany and there would have been no solution without the German entries.  It was a bit like those weak dramatic plot-lines where it all turns out to have been a dream.  One thing that was not weak was the construction, which appeared to me to be mind-bending in its complexity.  I feel as though we have been given a glimpse of life at Bletchley Park – I doubt that I would have been of much use there but am certain that Ruslan would have been and indeed perhaps was a valuable asset.  Anyway, this was sometimes frustrating but still tremendous fun – many thanks R!
Will Elap be able to continue his impressive run and produce a numerical Listener for a ninth consecutive year?  We will find out in November.

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Number or Nummer by Ruslan

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 September 2011

There was going to be no numpty blog at all this week as there is one total number numpty in the team. Two small grids and a very long preamble that explained that letters were to be entered rather than numbers did seem intriguing. Being a  German speaker didn’t really help, in fact, I would say it hindered, leading me, later on, to have trouble remembering whether I was entering Null=0, Zero=0, Z= two, or O=one. I imagine mathematical minds would not have such mental confusion.

I did wonder, though, at once, why we had such a strange set of letters in the clues and not the more conventional A to K (omitting I with its ambiguous role). Could it have been to add to the German flavour of the whole works, giving us a handful of newspapery-sounding words (BLATTES, BILD, ZEITFAZBILDSDS and ABTEILS)?

One thing was immediately obvious. We were going to be playing with the fact that Z could be zero or Zwei, N could be Null or nine, T could be two or three, F could be Funf, four or five, S had the wide range of Sechs, Sieben, six and seven, E could be Eins or Eight.

The south-east corner was the evident way in. I wrote myself a list of square numbers and contemplated. One digit was evident – the squared numbers that had three digits all ended in 1 or 9, so an O, an E or an N was going into that square. The rest of Friday evening was spent flailing with numbers, trying to find the elusive D,B,A and I that would fit that corner.

If I have any advice for solvers, with regard to these tri-monthly numericals, it is, ‘Keep a careful record of what you do!’ I was absolutely convinced that we needed 19 and 29, but must have gone over the same ground at least three times. Once we had those elusive figures, the other numpty, who had already seen that Z was very likely to be 2, soon had a full grid, using the fact that (919) Neun Eins Neun in 1dn could tie in with (921) nine two one, and so on.

It didn’t take long to see that our solutions where German transcription had crept in read FEEZNEZA NENSANSA (FOOTNOTE NONSENSE) Well, I have to agree! Say no more!

Several hours of work had gone into getting so far and there was a gaping white grid on the right. Did we honestly have to go through all of that again? We were under the false impression that this time, we were dealing with an entirely German transcribed grid. Why, otherwise, would we be filling in the whole thing a second time?

Suffice it to say that we did and, once we realized that English transcription was going into that south-east corner again, with the one change that there was a 5(F) in that critical square at 21, rather than the given T(2/3), things went well. This time, Numpty 2 fed the figures into an Excel spreadsheet as we got them. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprisingly considering the constraints of the grid) half of them obligingly stayed the same.

For me, the three-monthly nightmare is over and I am left with the feeling that Ruslan’s idea was very ingenious (though I wish he had given us only one grid and the word NONSENSE underneath it, for that preamble that I found pretty misleading).

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Listener 4151 Ruslan’s Nummer or Number (as in Make Numb)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 9 September 2011

Our three-monthly journey into the mathematical world of numbers seemed, this week, to be into the mathematical world of letters! Ruslan’s third mathematical Listener required that we enter the initial letters of the digits (O, T, T, etc), rather than the digits themselves. Not only that, we had to get our heads round the German equivalents as well (E, Z, D, etc). And then we had to put ourselves into the head of this dummkopf** solver who couldn’t separate the two languages!

It sounded easy-ish, although I think I read the preamble about six times before I realised that what seemed a fairly obvious job was “doin’ my head in”!! Were the answers to the clues the same for both puzzles, with two letter-equivalent puzzles being different, or could the whole thing be different for the right-hand grid, with different answers and different letter-equivalents. I decided to solve the left-hand puzzle first and see what transpired.

After 20 minutes, all I had was that 21ac began with a 3 or a 4 … and I’d been given that by the T in the grid. 30 minutes later, my brain still hurt; I was totally stumped. It seemed likely that the entry-point would be in the bottom right corner. The last letter of 24ac D2 was the same as the last letter of 19dn A2, and 21ac ABI and 15dn BD2 intersected, but there seemed to be too many possibilities.

From 17dn 2(2I-B-Z)(I-D), I was pretty certain that I > D. However, what about 6dn: D+A+Z+I2-(F+T)(D-A-Z)? Could I rely on (D-A-Z) being positive and that D > A and D > Z or could the subtraction be of a negative number to give an addition: D+A+Z+I2+(F+T)(A+Z-D)? (Remember 1ac in Arden’s Square-bashing last year?) I naughtily made the decision to treat D as the largest of the three numbers.

After about 15 minutes, I realised that, although there seemed to be a lot of possibilities ahead that needed calculating, I had to plough on. In fact, it wasn’t quite as daunting as I had thought. However, a self-induced trap nearly derailed me before I realised my error: even though I had been told by the preamble what the spellings of the 10 digits were in German, I had been using F for Fünf and for Vier (**)! I mean, fancy having two letters give the same sound! Was it just in German? It certainly seemed unlikely! I made a list of number-letter combinations which I had originally thought superfluous, making sure also that the German for 2 gave Z, not D like the romantic European languages.

Plain sailing comes nowhere near describing my progress on this puzzle, but miraculously I got there in the end. Well, I got to the end of the left-hand grid. Looking to see what the English equivalents of the German entries was, I found Footnote: Nonsense soon enough, indicating that the “adapted from a version in a German newspaper“, as stated in the preamble, wasn’t true. Well I guessed as much, so back to the right-hand grid.

Listener 4151 My EntryIt was soon evident that 21ac could not just be a different encoding of the same answer since it led to anomolies fairly quickly in that corner. It was back to the drawing board, and I took pretty much the same route as first time, but without restricting 21ac to 2••• or 3•••, and without assuming that D was larger than A in 6dn. As with many mathematical Listeners, I expected to find a mistake in a calculation as every entry was slotted into the grid, but amazingly, everything went well on the second puzzle and it was completed just as my stopwatch read 5 hours! A long time then, but nowhere near as long as some other recent mathematical puzzles.

A fascinating idea from Ruslan that caused me quite a few headaches, and I was glad to get there in the end. I’ll make sure I have a supply of Ibuprofen® before I start on Ruslan’s next puzzle.

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Listener 4150: Garden Scraps by Colleague

Posted by erwinch on 3 September 2011

Just a quick one.  I was intrigued by the two precise angles given in the preamble and it was pleasing to see that the rotated D’s formed the handle and guards of the crossed swords:
I too found Dales and Pennines at 6dn before solving the double clue and once the battles were spotted, Tewkesbury (1471) and Blore Heath (1459), the puzzle was all but over as a contest.  Two clues gave some trouble, the wordplay at 37ac:
Descendant of Merry losing Troy to a beloved of Amadis (6) Oriana – ‘O + A for T in RIANT  That capital M in Merry weakens the clue.
And 8dn:
Clary, out of date, but not very, taken through the mouth (4) oral – OR(V)AL
So, a Listener with a highly competent representation of the theme in classic style.  I only comparatively recently learned that the term The Wars of the Roses was probably coined by Sir Walter Scott over 300 years after the events.

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