Listen With Others

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Breach of Contract by Ron

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 April 2012

Three different types of clue . Now that was a challenge. One numpty attacked the across clues, almost immediately working out that some clues were leading to words that were longer than the allocated space, so clearly something had to be removed before they were entered into the grid. The first of these to yield was ‘Bats leave tree and move skywards again (6)’ That was a lovely surface reading (though our bats roost within the boxes that hold the roller blinds – not in trees) but we have that bad (or good?) habit of seeing beyond the surface reading. That word ‘bats’ led us to REELEVATE, which clearly needed three letters removing. We opted for VAT and suspected that this crossword had something to do with this week’s budget.

MAX appeared in ‘Split after military intelligence embraces game theory, looking to temper worst case scenario (4)’ We had MI and AX around NIM – three extra letters. (MAX tax increases in the budget – our first numpty red herring was already beginning to stink!)

Meanwhile a rather odd set of extra words was appearing; KIND, ERA, BAN, DON, HOME, SPUR, SUING, PER and FORMER. With delight, the same numpty triumphantly said ‘Kinder abandon homes pursuing performer’.

This dazzling pdm. corresponded almost exactly with the other numpty’s sudden understanding of the mention of a diacritic, as the phrase revealed by the misprints in definitions in down clues produced ??? RATTENFAN??? VON HAME?? I had beavered away at the misprints and some, of course, like VOGUISH/ROGUISH, SHOUTS/SCOUTS, HERALD/HARALD  and TREE JUICE/FREE JUICE could hardly hide their correct letter.

So there we were, under two hours and a delightful theme revealed. Our children used to be very distressed by the story of the Pied Piper who undertook a contract to rid Hamelin of rats and mice and enchanted them with his magic pipe, leading them through a door into a gloomy mountain. Of course, the stingy bureaucrats of Hamelin refused to pay him his due and he led all their children through a door into the dark mountain. Thus the door at the south-east corner of our grid.

Clearly the rats, mice and children had to head that way but we still had to find the victims. EVA (not VAT, of course) MAX, OTTO, ANKE, ELSA and ERNST were hidden in their ‘homes’ or words, (REELEVATE, DOUBLE-BOTTOM, MINIMAX, FLANKERED, INTELSAT) and we saw, with delight, that these words were forming a chain of children produced by the astonishing three empty rows at the bottom of the grid, but there was a minor red herring as we attempted to fit LARA into the triple column of children. We were still hunting for our last two Kinder, too.

But no! There are no Kinder called REF and SLEXA. Working backwards, as usual, we saw that we needed a RALF and an ERNST and that our children would be winding in boustrophedonic style behind the PIED PIPER. Thus we had to fit RALF into SUCAT? (this week’s conversation stopper – a soothing remedy, a SUCRALFATE!) and ERNST into BEIN (BERNSTEIN, of course). Eureka!

This was a fabulous compilation – a crossword with a complete tale neatly woven into it, with the pdms appearing just in the right order and a fine sense of satisfaction when it was completed. I am sure it will remain one of my favourites of the year. Many thanks, Ron.


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