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Listener 4178: Confused by Tea Leaves (or At Least It’s not Jackson Pollock Again!)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 16 Mar 2012

A nice little 9×8 carte blanche this week … except that all the answers exceed their allocated spaces. In fact, some answers very much exceed their allocated space, since we had (13, two words), (15, two words) and (18, two words) entries to fit into this small grid. Plus, and I rubbed my eyes to make sure that I was reading the preamble correctly, there would be “a clash between an across and a down entry in every cell”. I mused for a while, and then realised that what it probably meant was that one specific entry had a clash in every cell, with the crossing entries just one cell long. Except that would mean that the word would be completely barred off from the rest of the grid, so that seemed unlikely.

Confusion certainly reigned supreme, so I got on with solving the clues.

Listener 4178All across clues contained an extra word which would suggest some sort of violence that needed to be carried out. We were told that they were in the usual order and it seemed that they started off with a few simple ones.

Well, 1ac Coach against applying plays with simple left winger behaving inappropriately (18, two words) would have been simple if I could have worked out the 18-letter anagram, probably of ‘coach against simple’, with ‘applying’ as the extra word, and with a possible football reference (not my strongest suit). Some quick doodling failed to reveal an acceptable answer, but the next clue One bite destroyed rubber fist gave EBONITE with ‘fist’ as the extra word. Well, I suppose that had something violent about it.

About half an hour later and I had a smattering of answers, including GREENFORD, BLONDIN, IMPEACH, SUNCURED and BLUE MURDER. I had also managed to get CHAMPAGNE SOCIALIST and GOLDEN TRIANGLE by, yes OK, devious means. It didn’t take a Dali or a Hockney to realise that they all began or ended with a colour, and I was guessing that these needed to be omitted. Up to this point I hadn’t entered anything in the grid as I hadn’t been at all sure of what to enter.

But what was it with all the clashing? Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to pencil SOCIALIST in across the top of the grid, with ITE and MURDER in the next row. Hmmm… it seemed that TRIANGLE could fit in the last column and a smattering of other answers could be tentatively positioned. The more I solved, and the more everything seemed to fit. That wasn’t what I had been expecting.

After about an hour, I identified that the division bewteen the Across and Down clues was between the 15- and 13-letter words. A bit of intuition, and I had sussed all the extra words:

Applying fist to title suggests two colours. Use second for every letter apart from ten as described by Henry

I was getting more and more convinced that my single across/down clue with all its letters clashing would turn out to be what was needed. My money was on the bottom row which had the clue Craven [Henry] to lend money to soldier for film. I was expecting the answer to be CLOCKWORK ORANGE, but there was no rationale to that. (Of course, it turned out to be YELLOW SUBMARINE, more widely known, I suspect, as a song than a film, but hey-ho.)

Listener 4178 My EntryThe preamble had told us to interpret one of these words cryptically, and F-IS-T fitted perfectly to change Confused into Contused and enabled me to make the obvious jump to ‘black and blue’. Thus, ten letters had to be entered in black, with the remainder entered in blue. And there in the middle of the grid was MODEL T FORD which was required to be entered using black ink as per Ford’s ‘take it or leave it’ assertion.

I am not sure now at exactly what point the scales fell from my eyes and I finally realised what all the clashing meant: The answers had to be entered using the colour that had been omitted! Indeed, all the words that I had pencilled in, and had been expecting to have to rub out, could be left intact. It was only on my entry that the colour was to be relevant. I suppose it is possible that some solvers managed to submit the puzzle without realising what the ‘clashing’ was all about, but for most of us, this was icing on the cake.

In all, it took me the best part of 3½ hours to complete, but a lot of that time was trying to satisfy myself on some of the clues, especially those leading to single cell entries. I will gladly admit that one of the last I got was the twelfth down clue:

Twist handle conversely, holding in motion (6)     [OLIVE]R     LIVE in OR

What a superb puzzle from Tea Leaves. All that remained was to fill in my entry, against which I always put the puzzle’s title and setter, this time wondering whether JEG would mark the following wrong:

Confused by Eaves.

… not that I tried it!
PS A final thanks, Tea Leaves, for causing me at least ten times the normal effort to create my little animation!

One Response to “Listener 4178: Confused by Tea Leaves (or At Least It’s not Jackson Pollock Again!)”

  1. shirleycurran said

    Second attempt – below the correct blog this time. Your animation was worth the time and effort but one needs to linger over your grid for it to become acitve!

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