Listener 4194: Ben Trovato’s Two Little Ducks (or Backwards or Forwards?)
Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 July 2012
Another new setter, with a pseudonym that could just be his real name, although a more likely explanation is that it is taken from the Italian for ‘well invented’. This week, all across entries were to be written thematically, but I didn’t know whether to expect them to have, for example, one or more letters misplaced, or for them all to be entered upside down. There were eight unclued entries, which were members of a thematic set, with more members to be found later.
I had a nice start with 12ac African leaper cycling to train with mate for IMPALA (where ‘cycling’ these days means revolving the letters, in this case AIM PAL), followed by 13ac ALATE and 14ac ESTER. These three in the top of the grid meant that when I came to the down clues, the method of entry became fairly obvious. 3 LAPSE, 4 ASMEAR, 7 EFTS (where I’d not come across the ‘newt’ meaning of ‘ask’ before) and 9 STAND all enabled the across entries to be slotted in backwards.
The exact nature of the theme took a little while longer to be revealed. I found that, for some reason, I was working my way down the right hand side of the grid. Consequently, getting down entries 11 NANOGRAM, 22 DAY-GIRL, 25 PELTED and 28 PEISE, gave me G•MEL in row 9, and the Hebrew letter GIMEL manifested itself (although not before GEMEL, a twin, had crossed my mind). The thematic nature of the acrosses became clear, and I flicked to the back of Chambers to see the full list of twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
I was thus able to fill in most of the remaining unclued entries, and then finish off the grid in double-quick time. Identifying the two letters that apeared in the finished grid didn’t take long: they were NUN and MEM in rows 4 and 9 respectively. ‘Thematic reading of the clues provides leads to yet more members’ enabled me to find ten more Hebrew letters spelt out by the last letters of all the clues … or the first letters if they are read right to left.
Finally, BETH and AYIN got slotted into the space at the bottom of the grid captioned ‘Two members’. But should they be entered left to right or right to left? ‘The remaining two must be entered below the grid’ was all that the preamble stated. Did that imply thematically. It began with ‘all across entries are entered thematically’. Is an entry defined as what goes into a grid space before any shenanigans like jumbling, or is it the entry as it finally appears? I’m not sure I know the answer to that question.
Anyway, it seemed obvious to me that the two remaining months needed to be entered like all the others, namely from right to left (the two in rows 4 and 9 could be read either way) … NIYA and HTEB.
Unfortunately, this whole discussion with myself only took place as I was writing this blog … well after the time I submitted my entry with the two letters written the English way. I think a bit more of a hint should have been given if right to left was the required method for these two months, although I’m sure that this will prove to be the preferred way. Whether my way will be marked wrong, only time will tell, but part of me thinks it should be.
All in all, a good puzzle from Ben, with a well-implemented theme and good clues, my favourite being:
33ac Resistance: by its own nature it may colour one’s shock (5) for RINSE!