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Listener 4184: Claim by Raich (or You Could Have Knocked Me over with a Feather)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 April 2012

Listener 4184 AnimationA Raich puzzle this week, so we were assured of a good, solid puzzle and hopefully a nice PDM at the end, perhaps of a Titanic nature. Raich’s last Listener was Les Six and was all about the presidents of the Fifth Republic. A 14×14 grid, and 58 clues, 17 of which had an extra letter not to be entered. These would spell out something to be written in the space below the grid captioned Claim. Then a contest and two protagonists to highlight. What could be simpler?

A positive stampede tthrough the clues this week, made relatively easy by over forty of them being normal, ie unaffected by extra letters in the wordplay. I managed to solve over twenty in the first half hour. Even pencilling 32dn ODOMETER didn’t hold me up for too long, and I soon managed to rationalise it as ODOGRAPH.

I then slowed down significantly. This was primarily because I didn’t highlight the bit in the preamble that said “Numbers in brackets are the length of grid entries”. This should have alerted me to the problems I was having with the four sneaky clues in the top left. I suppose one rule to adopt if things are going a bit slowly is to reread the preamble, and I eventually did this. After that, BARONESS, NINEPINS and NETWORK fell into place, and my suspicions of a Titanic theme seemed to be confirmed, with 19•2 near the top of column 4.

Well, a few clues later, and I found that we weren’t back in 1912, but much more recently in 1992. There in column 4 was 1992 ELECTION, and one of the great surprises of recent British politics. This meant, of course, that the two protagonists were winner John MAJOR and loser Neil KINNOCK, to be found in a couple of NW-SE diagonals. It seemed strange that we just had to enter the extra wordplay letters under the grid, exactly as they were spelt out in clue order It’s The Sun wot won it. No special intuitive leap required there (thank goodness).

The other Sun headline, which I think was even more well known, was the one on the day of the election: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights”. By the way, no need to feel sorry for Neil Kinnock. Along with his wife, Glenys, they both landed cushy jobs in Europe and are now firmly ensconced in the House of Lords.

And so another entertaining puzzle by Raich, showing how a simple theme can be made into an enjoyable puzzle.


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