Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Listener 4167: Lawbreaker by Stick Insect (or Split Personality)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 30 Dec 2011

Stick Insect’s second Listener, his/her first being with the theme of Henry VIII and his wives. Here we had a “Right and Left” grid, with the interesting difference that the join was made by two entries across the middle of the grids. There were twenty clashes to be found (grrr!) to illustrate the success of a potential lawbreaker.

1ac was straightforward, leading to AFAR and ASPS. I decided to enter AFAR on the left and ASPS on the right, a 50-50 chance of being correct (and as it was to turn out, I was). 4dn came next, and was also easy: POMADE and ESTEEM. I was faced with the same left/right problem of course, and decided to deviate from my initial run through all the clues and work my way from the top lefts down to the bottom rights. 1dn ASCI and AIDE was followed by 2dn FIANCHETTI and something else. 9ac SILENI/INSTAR came next, and it seemed that ESTEEM would go on the left side since 4dn was more likely to be EN•••/PA••• than EA•••/PN•••. Indeed, they were ENIAC and PATTE. At this stage, I could still have been wrong about which side was which, but until the two entries at 14ac were solved, it didn’t really matter. It was still vaguely possible that some of this positioning could be wrong if clashes were involved, but I ploughed on regardless.

Listener 4167 LawbreakerThe first two clashes that I got were SHAH crossing ACNED and ECU. Both were C/H clashes, and I wondered if they all would be. Indeed, would all Cs cross with all Hs? If so, 1dn ASCI would lead to 11ac beginning with H and yes, it was HASHING. And that second H would mean 3dn began REC … RECITER. I was on a roll, and it meant that the clues became that much easier. The central two entries were still a bit tricky: Relationship of sales to investment shown by amending price ratio per cell can transform hen feed to get hen with density — small start for a significant development (20, two words; 20, six words). It seemed obvious that the first half was an anagram of price ratio per cell can and the second was an anagram of hen feed to get hen with D. It needed a bit of untangling to finally get THE THIN END OF THE WEDGE and ACCELERATOR PRINCIPLE.

As I have said many times before, it is difficult to get good surface readings for double clues. However, in this case, I found them enjoyable to solve, with some of the breaks between clues cleverly disguised. Two clues were especially noteworthy, I thought:

10ac RIMA
Retired prince creating gap has confused principle of hereditary monarchy
with its nice image of a prince mucking up the line of accession
21dn ONE
A joke concerning East German with a bird — not socially acceptable for a person one can admire
a somewhat racy joke being frowned on, with the break between the clues being East / German!

All that was left was to find the lawbreaker. I soon got PATTEN and wondered what George Patten had done during the World War II. As George S Patten, he would have the requisite 13 letters, but I couldn’t find George anywhere in the grid. DEAR and UPON in the seventh row also had me thinking, but they were also soon discarded. Surprisingly, it didn’t take too much long to identify the culprit. I’m sure there are many of you who took a lot longer than my twenty or so minutes. Down the rightmost column of the left-hand grid I saw MAXW••ELL, broken by the two central rows. The only reference that we were given at the end of the preamble was Chambers, so a quick check, and I found Maxwell’s Demon, an imaginary demon who, by opening and closing a tiny door between two volumes of gas, suggests the possibility of concentrating slower molecules in one volume and faster in the other, thus breaking the second law of thermodynamics.

Listener 4167 My EntryThe DEMON was completed in the adjacent column, again broken by the two central rows. And there in those two central rows could be seen the letters DOOR. The preamble finishes with the words “one entry shows which side is which”, and at 13ac, HEAT indicated that the right-hand grid contained all the Hot molecules, while the left-hand one contained the Colder ones.

A very entertaining puzzle from Stick Insect with a nice idea and a cleverly constructed grid. Hopefully nobody was fooled by the non-contiguous demon that had to be found.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: