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Archive for October, 2011

V by Parsnip

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 October 2011

It isn’t until I am without my Big Red Book and my computer that I realize how essential they are to my attempts to solve a Listener Crossword.  I don’t go very far without Anne Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary and indeed, she gives GENTLE under MAGGOT and MAGGOT under GENTLE but Parsnip’s V posed a number of problems to anyone suffering from BRB withdrawal symptoms.

We were in Uppsala, admiring the Codex Argenteus and a copy of Newton’s Principia Mathematica, made in its year of creation, but that didn’t help me work out the reason for RAD at 32d ‘Clear a dumpster to hide a New York cop (3)’ One needs the Large Burgundy Brick to find out that one meaning of RAD is excellent (in NY).

In other words, for the numpties, this one was more than usually challenging. We had NOT? for ‘Short-haired fashion returned to thrive endlessly (4)’ It was all too easy to assume that we were dealing with the Eton crop, and enter NOTE, but that was clearly not quite fulfilling the clue’s requirements, even if  THRIVE was one of our words involved in the substitutions (as it turned out to be, so that we had to return TON and use T(o) endlessly in NOTT). I think that was a rather sneaky trap and wonder who else fell into it.

YAMA had us floundering in a similar way ‘According to pundit, divine one may take up acting (4)’. We had ?AMA, and RAMA seemed fairly convincing with the D removed from acting (drama), yet, again, that didn’t seem quite right. BRB later confirmed that we could reverse MAY, followed by A leaving us another of those words involved in the substitutions.

AROW was yet another deceptive one and even more difficult to resolve, since the substitution that we finally unraveled gave us ‘THEY (A) TAKE (R) ON (O) Wickets (W) to produce a word we could guess at (AROW = one following the other) but not confirm without that Bulky Vermilion Volume.

We struggled our way to an almost complete but very dubious fill with a putative WORTH at 4d and WAGGON at 4ac but what on earth had that to do with Dylan Thomas’ ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’? (Yes, the theme had appeared fairly early in our solving when we saw that our misprints were producing ‘Rage against the dying of the light’ – an old favourite.)

As usual, we worked backwards. ‘Old age should burn and rave at close of day’ suggested that the Y of daY was where we were to look for OLD AGE raving and burning. Sure enough, GAOLED* gave us our old age, and there was storm, right down the centre column, sitting on a Y. The initial letters of those ten extra clues had given us DYLAN HOMAS and we obviously needed a T, so back to where I began, MAGGOT had to be our GENTLE that went into HOW (that) and BYE (Good Night!) – with MORPH, of course, for the shape – but I still don’t know how ‘thanks to CGT’ gives us our I misprint.

Furthermore, I still have no idea at all why this was V, so I suppose I haven’t completely solved Parsnip’s very challenging crossword. Working backwards, I was able to pair off some of the DO and GO words to make reasonably convincing substitutions but that came after the discovery of the cryptic representation. In other words, for hit and miss solvers without their Massive Mulberry Lifeline, Parsnip set us a snorter, but thank you, anyway, Parsnip.


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Listener 4156: Parsnip’s V (or Five Clues in Search of a Substitution)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 October 2011

This was Parsnip’s second Listener, his/her first being a couple of years back featuring the nursery rhyme “What are Little Boys Made of”. More versification this week, with the opening three words explaining how or why words removed from five clues replace words in five others. So, ten clues which aren’t to be read as they’re printed. That doesn’t sound too difficult, only 1 in 4.

Starting, as is usual, with the acrosses, I solved four in the first pass: 1 HOW, 17 HIGH-LEVEL, 22 CARIES and 36 DYE. Not very many, and the odds favoured (justifiably as it turned out) that none would be a special clue. Four down answers came next: 3 WEE, 6 GREAVE, 17 HECKLING and 32 RAD. Not very many, and the odds favoured (justifiably as it turned out) that none would be a special clue. (Sorry to repeat myself.)

11ac came next AREOLAR, helped by the E of WEE and the R of GREAVE: E (European) in AR (arab) SCHOLAR (student) – SCH (school), so Parsnip was in tricky mode with this puzzle! This was the first special clue with a superfluous word, fiddle. 33ac NOTT came next, where thrive seemed to be an extra word (although it may have needed replacing). There didn’t seem to be anything that fiddle and thrive had in common. Another extra word, treat, appeared in 12ac, but I still had no idea as to any clue that definitely needed a word to be substituted. The first of those came with 34ac Journey Marg did for the world of men (a clue that firmly planted the world of the Simpsons in my head!). Journey needed to be replaced by an anagram indicator, perhaps fiddle or treat.

And so I found that progress was relatively slow, which was hardly surprising given some of the tricky misprints that were used! When the grid was finally completed, after about 3½ hours, these were the ones that I found most cunning:

21ac ENABLE Make double doable bass participant in English national antique festival
27ac LAVATORY In Perth, took toot possible slag to track
toot is an Australian word for toilet
35ac HOYDEN Boisterous gaming gamine room on boat
4dn MORPH Money or personal wealth at the very outside is to change thanks to CGT CGI
M (money) + OR + Personal wealtH
15dn AGGRAVATE Matter Hatter (as it was) very active in silver jar
You need to look up hatter to see its “trouble, annoy” meaning

Listener 4156The corrected letters of the misprints were finally revealed as Rage against the dying of the light from Dylan Thomas’s poem Do not go gentle into that good night. The first three words thus revealed the rationale for the removals/substitutions: words meaning do replaced words meaning go. Thus:

11ac fiddle goes to 2dn
12ac treat goes to 34ac
33ac thrive goes to 18dn
34ac journey becomes treat
1dn short becomes note
2dn game becomes fiddle
9dn take goes to 28dn
18dn harmonise becomes thrive
28dn bet becomes take
29dn note goes to 1dn

I think my favourite substitution was in 18dn, where we have Harmonise Thrive unexpectedly in cunning, ousting five with smooth movement: THRIVE (anag) – V (five) in SLY (cunning).

The cryptic representations of the remainder of the verse were MAGGOT (gentle) in HOW (good) BYE (night) in the top row; GAOLED (anag of old age) and STORM (rave) + Y (end of daY), both in column 6. I actually had a bit of a problem justifying BYE for “night”, but I was convinced by the final representation of a large letter T suitably augmenting the initials of the answers to special clues to give Dylan Thomas.

All in all a fine puzzle from Parsnip, one which took me the best part of four hours to complete. It just remains to explain the meaning of the title, but I’ll leave that to someone else!!

Listener 4156 My  EntryAs a postscript, I only discovered the following as I was writing this blog: the poem is a villanelle. From Chambers, it is “a poem, on two rhymes, in five tercets and a quatrain, the first line repeated as sixth, twelfth, and eighteenth, the third as ninth, fifteenth, and last.” Alternatively, à la Wiki: “The first and third lines of the first stanza are rhyming refrains that alternate as the third line in each successive stanza and form a couplet at the close. A villanelle is nineteen lines long, consisting of five tercets and one concluding quatrain.”

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Body of Evidence by Jaques (Did the Earth move for you?)

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 October 2011

There was a sense of déja vu about the start of this preamble. Weren’t we dispensing with letters before entry into the grid, with wordplay leading to the downsized entries, last week? This has the disadvantage that real words are rarely appearing in the grid, so no electronic help will provide the solution. However, we set to work and the grid filled steadily.

It is a good thing one numpty knows about ATOMISTS (Followers of Democritus dismantle Statism), that the TUATARA can also be called the HATTERIA (“Wedge-toothed” lizard – one that strikes dropping to the floor) and that a TRANGLE is a band in heraldry (Small band learnt in an unexpected way). With URETERITIS (Trouble for the waterworks – solvent is on the river) and THEURGIES (Concepts of divine action acceptable though not ordinary in scientific explanations), we soon had the grid nicely criss-crossed with long solutions.

Of course, it was seeing GALILEO GALILEI in those extra letters that was our real break-through. We wondered whether this was a book about him, since his name is perhaps not really part of the title of his work, ‘Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo’, but the letters in our margin made sense and progress speeded up.

A couple of weeks ago we were guilty of jumping straight to the PENNINES and DALES without the intermediate step. We did the same again. We could see EPPUR SI MUOVE across the centre of our grid, and, of course, naively slotted it in. Numpty consternation ensued when our almost complete grid had problems at the left and right but EARTH clearly doing acrobatics in the rest of the grid.

An added problem, for us, was that we didn’t have the Oxford English Dictionary, to check those clues at 1 down and 21 down. It is now, of course, obvious why Jaques had to include two non-Chambers words in order to get his earths to chase each other in a fine orbit right around the grid, neatly including the sun in an ‘elliptical’ situation.

When we had spotted that, our consternation was not over as there seemed to be some ambiguity about what to highlight. Clearly we had revealed the ‘evident truth’, ‘EPPUR SI MUOVE’, by moving the Earth one light round, and obviously that phrase had to be highlighted to show that we had seen it. However, the really evident truth, in Galilean terms (when the body of scientists, the powers that were, and the religious bigots were against him) was the actual movement of the Earth around the sun, that we had just performed. If we didn’t highlight that, how were we to demonstrate that we had even seen that sun lurking off-centre? We decided to highlight all the evident truth.

What a fine Listener debut for Jaques!

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Listener 4155: Body of Evidence by Jaques (or Good Old Galileo)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 7 October 2011

I don’t believe it! Another debut Listener setter, although Jaques has set 20+ EV and Magpie puzzles over the last few years. In Body of Evidence, we have a Letters Latent puzzle with the omitted letters spelling out an inconclusive title, and then, a lot of letters need moving in the finished grid. I guess it’s obvious here that solvers are advised to use a pencil, although that bit of advice was last specifically given back in September last year. So, pencil sharpened and off we go.

As you may have come to expect by now, my first pass through the clues resulted in a fairly puny harvest. I don’t know how much more difficult LL clues are than normal (or indeed where misprints, extra letters in wordplay, etc all fit in the difficulty hierarchy) … that’s for another day, or indeed an OU thesis! Anyway, getting 15dn HYPNOTIS[M], 19dn ASTON[I]SH and 22dn AE[T]HERS in my first run through enabled steady progress to be made from west to east.

18ac Perhaps object of religious support at Celtic Park abbreviated degree course (3) led to PPE, although I sloppily thought that an O was missing, rather than an A. (As an aside, I know that Rangers and Celtic football teams are religiously divided, but I haven’t found an easy way to remember which is which … is Rangers Roman or Celtic Catholic?) Because of this slip, it took some time for me to recognise Galileo Galilei in the omitted letters; this was compounded by the fact that I wasn’t expecting the author to be in the title.

Listener 4155I suppose my favourite clue had to be 12ac Noises emanating from ancient cabinet, maybe chief private secretary which led to CH[EE]PS, and needed us to look up cabinet in Chambers to find that it can mean a bird’s nest. Also up there were 33ac Musical or stage show investigating ABBA’s origins ([O]SSIA) and 22dn More than one means of light transport? Customise hearse (AE[T]HERS).

Listener 4155 My EntryFinally, I had Galileo Galilei Dialogo dei Massimi Sistemi spelt out by the latent letters, referring to Galileo’s book comparing the Copernican and Ptolemaic theories of the solar system. And now it was time to move a considerable body of letters to reveal the evident truth. I looked up Galileo in my copy of the ODQ and found Eppur si muove. But it does move. Since the ODQ wasn’t mentioned in the preamble, I checked the back of Chambers to make sure it was there as well. Across the middle of the diagram was appur si muova with an E below the first A and above the last A. So did they just swap round? Unlikely. Letting my eye roam across the grid, I eventually spotted HEART in the first and last columns, and ten seconds later, all the Hs, Es, As, Rs and Ts around the grid. Of course, they were Es, As, Rs, Ts and Hs.

So, the entire circle of EARTHs needed to be rotated to align the first and last Es correctly, and represent the earth going around the sun. Indeed, the EARTHs formed an ellipse, and even the S was there slightly offset from the centre of the diagram to show the sun at one of the foci … or was that just coincidence?

A quick bit of highlighting and the job was done. Just over three hours for the grid and endgame, so not too tricky, but thoroughly enjoyable. I, for one, am looking forward to more from Jaques.

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