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Listener 4176: Small but Perfectly Formed (or •)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 2 March 2012

The first thing to strike you when seeing this puzzle is that the preamble takes up almost as much space as the clues! This was also the case with Quinapalus’s first Listener back in 1997 (#3147, Brick Wall) with the video game of Tetris® as its theme. Here, only three or four readings of the preamble, and all was clear. Last week, we had clues under the headings Rank and File; this week, the headings were Width and Height and Depth.

Basically what it all meant was that answers were 7, 8 or 9 letters long, with the Width clues being Letters Latent running across the grids, and the Height & Depth ones being entered in two segments of four and five letters. In hindsight, I wished that the four small grids had been printed in a clockwise arrangement; once or twice an eraser was needed to rub out a letter entered in the wrong grid. (God, I’m getting fussy in my old age!)

As it turned out, the entry methods were very entertaining. I think I was lucky to find that the initial bit of cold solving that was required soon gave me enough letters to make reasonable progress with a lot of the entires. A number of the clues were pretty straightforward, although 28 C[H]ESTED and 15 R[E]CR[E]ANT were the only width clues I got at first. The HD clues came to the rescue with 7,20 INTRICATE, 11,4 STAR-CROST, 31,36 MARSEILLE and 35,14 AEROLITHS. It took a bit of time to realise that 1,2 Curse tatty tokens in paper had ‘paper’ as the definition, rather than ‘curse’ as I first thought (with the Sun as the paper); BANKNOTES was the answer.

After about fifty minutes, I had hape as the omitted letters in the middle of the Width clues. I guessed that I would discover the quotation under shape in the index of my ODQ, but I thought it was too early to get that extra help. (Little did I realise …!)

All in all, the clues were good, including 6,19 With second of bar stressed, waltzing dance (not common time) as a fine &lit. for SARABANDE and one of the last entries that I got. I was somewhat surprised at 8,13 Is spinning frame failing to start extremely troublesome, Mr Arkwright?: although I understood the reference fairly quickly, I can imagine there are many, even in this country, who have never seen Open All Hours, an old British sitcom starring Ronnie Barker as the stammering Mr Arkwright.

And hands up those who thought that the quotation was going to end up being My shape is true? Having I instead of A as the omitted letter of 20w distracted me for a long time: Electrical current flowing backwards restricts swinging end of pointer gave INDEX[A]L.

And now it’s time for my main gripe! Not against Quinapalus, but against the people responsible for building the Keyword Index of The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations! Take the full quotation from King Lear, that is our theme this week:

Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam’s issue?

Listener 4176 My EntryThe index in my edition (5th) has entries for bastard, base, dimensions, not compact, not mind, generous, not shape, true, honest, not madam’s and finally issue! Oh well, it keeps us on our toes!

A bit of highlighting around the edge of the grids completed the puzzle: my dimensions are as well compact Lear. It took me about 2½ hours in total for this very enjoyable puzzle from Quinapalus.

Listener 4176


3 Responses to “Listener 4176: Small but Perfectly Formed (or •)”

  1. Andrew Fisher said

    The Arkwright referred to in 8,13 is probably the 18c inventor Richard Arkwright! (

  2. Andrew Fisher said

    Apologies, that was an idiotic comment given that the answer is STAMMERER

  3. What I find amazing is that even Arkwright the stammerer has his own Wikipedia entry … Arkwright (Open All Hours)!

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