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Listener 4160: Stress Gauges by Calmac (or Help with 11ac)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 11 Nov 2011

First of all, I thanked the setter himself for such a short preamble! Excluding the attribution to Chambers, only 28 words. It was possible that this brevity would disguise a long and tortuous solve, or perhaps it was one of the occasional ‘easy’ offerings. A number of clashes would need resolving helped by information given by the correct letters of misprints. Clashes often cause me problems, and this time we weren’t told how many there were.

My fears for a tough puzzle were soon dispelled as I solved seven across clues and eight down clues in about 30 minutes. These included 17dn ERGO, with the E providing my first clash with the L of 16ac TROUBLES. Before too long, I also had •ACT•L• at 32ac. The entry was obviously DACTYLS, but that didn’t help with the clue, so there were probably a few clashes floating around. Given that the down letters crossing TROUBLES shouted out TROCHEES, it was obvious what the theme was.

I finished the whole grid in about 90 minutes, and the correct letters of misprints were spelt out as: Five clues are to be regarded as exemplary. It took only a couple of minutes to see that the five clues which did not contain misprints in their definitions led to answers which were rhythmic stress patterns in poetic verse; the clues themselves used the same rhythmic stress patterns. These clues were as follows:

11ac ANAPAEST As I say …
three syllables, short short long; I spent quite some time trying to be certain about what the answer was, and I assume it is ELEMENTS, two examples being As for arsenic and I for iodine. All I will say is that I think it unfair, albeit clever. (Sorry Calmac! I can see I’m probably alone here.)
16ac TROUBLES Russian money backing tenor giving problems
T (tenor) + ROUBLES (Russian money) becoming TROCHEES: two syllables, long short
32ac DACOITY Period bracketing limited company, personal chemistry, Indian Brigandry
DAY (period) around CO (limited company) IT (personal chemistry) becoming DACTYLS: three syllables, long short short
37ac SPONSORS We vouch young kids pro’s sons put out
anag PRO’S SONS, becoming SPONDEES: two syllables, long long
19dn REMEDIES An army corps declines to make repairs
REME (army corps) + DIES (declines) becoming IAMBUSES: two syllables, short long

Listener 4160Some good clues, with many good surface readings and misleading misprints. Some of the best were:

24ac GINGHAM Material used in rug rag trade becoming less old and coarse
GOING (becoming) – O (old) + HAM (coarse)
1dn SLATTERN Ditty Dirty woman’s rendered rattles knight/td>
14dn SOLSTICES Extreme’s of run’s sun’s progression, attendants getting hopelessly lost just after starting
I like ‘just after starting’ being used to show that the anag of LOST goes after the first letter of SICES
21dn UNEATEN Upstairs at first to tidy loft left
25dn SHADE Lass Pass imperceptibly turning heads


Listener 4160 My EntryI suppose that my only gripe with the puzzle was that, as I alluded to in my criticism of 11ac above, the answers to the ‘special’ clues could have been absolutely anything! I tried to see if the letters that were lost in the clashes spelt out something that would enable me to be certain about 11ac, but nothing seemed obvious.

However, having said that, I liked the idea and the way the special clues were written using the correct feet, so it was an enjoyable puzzle nonetheless.

3 Responses to “Listener 4160: Stress Gauges by Calmac (or Help with 11ac)”

  1. erwinch said

    I am really surprised Dave but your answer to 11ac is confirmed by the Listener site as elements.

    I took the answer to be analysis with say the definition (= assay) and As and I given as an example of an assay (& lit.).  At least some of the letters check with anapaest in analysis so perhaps Calmac had forgotten his original wordplay when he wrote the solution.

  2. Erwin

    Thanks for your comment. I was a bit late posting this week as I decided, at about 3:45pm, to tone down my criticism of 11ac just a tad. As I said, I did enjoy the puzzle, but felt that being able to get a correct solution without truly solving any of the 5 thematic clues was a real flaw. And as you say, none of the letters in ELEMENTS tallies with any in ANAPAEST; that led me to believe that ‘elements’ was in fact wrong and I wasted some time trying to find an alternative.


  3. …and George at GvL had ‘aphorism’. It does seem to be a minor failing, not so much that you don’t need to solve every clue, but that once you’ve tumbled to the theme solving the exemplary clues is entirely counterproductive. Especially with ‘elements’ sharing no letters at all with ‘anapaest’.

    Anyway, I enjoyed this one.

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