Listener 4159: Pointer’s Crovvword (or More Vs to Decipher)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 November 2011
No new setter this week, but an old hack, Pointer, with one under his belt! In order not to do him/her a disservice, I should mention that he has a whole slew of Magpie puzzles under his belt. These are divided pretty much equally between grade C and grade D, in other words at the more difficult end of the spectrum. His first Listener (4099: Double Devilry), had two 9×9 block grids side by side, both of which ended up with the same letter pattern but with different word divisions. Although that was a relatively straightforward puzzle, I was convinced that Crovvword would be much more tricky; the preamble almost said as much. Once the grid was finished, we would have to connect a number of cells (we weren’t told how many), and there was a hidden message which would help. Hidden messages always fill me with foreboding — after all, there are varying degrees of ‘hidden’.
At least the clues were normal. However, I found them fairly hard. The first pass through revealed just six! (I’m thinking of abandoning this method of starting a puzzle — it can make me feel a bit inadequate when I come to write these weekly blogs!) Mind you, I quite often find that a puzzle that starts well can be a real pig when it comes to the last dozen or so clues. Here, it was the other way round, and despite the poor start, things motored along quite nicely. For your information, the opening salvo consisted of 12ac NODDY, 24ac ESSENCE, 33ac ••••METERS, (OK, so that’s only a ½), 1dn VANADIC, 3dn AWDL (which I’d come across very recently, although then it was in the clue itself), and 5dn HEEDED.
|13ac||LEMONS||These fruits may be pressed in glass — Extra old-fashioned
MO (more, archaic) in LENS (glass), although why the E of Extra was capitalised perplexed me!!
|30ac||SICILIANA||Reversing collar in cottage is needed to go to a dance
[NAIL (collar) I (in) C (college) IS]< + A
|36ac||PILSNER||Run back, run way back the other way. Then you get a drink
SLIP< (run) + REN< (run, formerly)
|9dn||SEVENTEENS||Cardinals formerly cut up following synod’s first result
SNEE< (cut, obs) after S (Synod’s first) + EVENT (result)
|11dn||INPUTS|| On the spot, places keys in …
IN (on the spot) + PUTS (places); ‘keys in’ is the definition
|14dn||ROOM||… what might be old man’s money compartment
ROO (‘old man’ is an adult male kangaroo) + M (money)
|25dn||SCAMPI||Ordering this seafood meal could get you a starter of mussels and clam pies
Comp. anag: SCAMPI + MEAL -> A + M(ussels) + CLAM PIES
|30dn||SIST||Use force against vanishing sappers to stay for wakening?
RESIST (use force) – RE (sappers); SIST = ‘stay’ in Scottish law, and a wakening is an action in Scottish law
< = reversed
A bit of a long list there, I’m afraid. Anyway, clues solved it was time to get on with the endgame, which went like this1:
- Made a note of the unclued thematic entries: CORINTHIAN, DORIC, IONIC and CAPITALS.
- Read the definitions of each one in Chambers and identified the theme; not too difficult, columns in Greek architecture.
- Identified and decoded the hidden message from the initial CAPITALS of words in the clues; this took a bit of time to work out, but all the information required was given (including one aspect of the theme gives a hint in the preamble).
- Wrote out the hidden message: Construct eight quadrant arcs starting at the top corner of column [edited after post].
- Furrowed the brow a tad.
- Found two other thematic items in the grid to highlight; it didn’t take too long: ACANTHUS in the top row, and ECHINUS in the second.
- Read the definitions of these in Chambers and noted the references to ‘Corinthian capitals’ and ‘Doric capital’ respectively.
- Thought back to the definition of Ionic which includes characterized by the volute of its capital.
- Made a note to write to Harrap’s and complain about their spelling of ‘characterised.
- Looked up volute in Chambers and noted the 8-letter word volution
- Went back to the grid and saw the letter V immediately above the IONIC column in the grid and spelt out VOLUTION in increasing diameters of quadrant arcs.
- Drew a line through these cells and entered VOLUTION under the grid.
- Sat back and admired the work.
- Congratulated Pointer on an excellent puzzle.
Now when I said “which went like this”1 above, what I really should have said was “which should have gone like this”! As it was, my first port of call was the internet (damn you, Google). There was a wonderful exposé on Greek architecture including a rather fine picture of a nautilus shell. Well, that was easy, find NAUTILUS in the grid, obviously in its own shape, connect its letters, et voilà. Except that those letters, especially the two Us, just didn’t want to be connected. Even after 45 minutes of trying, they refused!
And how about this message. I’d already had a look at the first letters of the clues: CSTUCTIHTUAD, which was obviously rubbish. A few minutes later, as I was making a note under the list of clues, my eyes luckily spotted the initials of the last three: UMN. A quick scan of all the other clues and I finally worked out the hidden message … except that it didn’t really tell me anything that I didn’t already know!
Eventually, after far too long a while (and too much fumbling around), I allowed Chambers to guide me safely to the end as I have described above, and confirming that the solution to this crovvword was volution.
In conclusion, all I can do is echo and emphasise item 14 in the list above … a great puzzle and a candidate for the AGC, if I’m not mistaken.