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Listener 4201: Sabre’s Translation (ou Merde!)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 Aug 2012

Those of you who are regular visitors here will probably be fed up with my bleating about the major hassle that I found moving house. I will therefore not mention it again … until a bit later!

Sabre’s last puzzle was number 4140, Jumping to Conclusion in which entries had to be entered in knight’s move fashion. To say that I found that difficult would be an understatement. One of the problems was not being able to solve one of the clues: Fossil elephant — tips of decayed ivory missing (9) which turned out to be DINOTHERE, D(ecayed) I(vory) NOT HERE (missing). Not being sure which clues ‘crossed’ other clues was a real nightmare.

This week, a knight’s move also made an appearance, but luckily only one per clue. Each answer had a misprint, with “the correct letter being translated by a move to another cell”. Well, did that mean that the correct letter was to be found a knight’s move away, in which case why not say so. Obviously “translation” was a key word. And so, the Tuesday before the deadline (or, to put it another way, the Tuesday after I moved in) I started Sabre’s puzzle. I knew that I was taking a huge risk leaving it so late, but I only had myself to blame. The week leading up to the move, as well as the move itself, had been hectic (and that really is the last time I’ll mention it).

I didn’t get 1ac: Typo in new version of Lear (7), which seemed like an anagram, but of what — TYPO IN N or IN N LEAR? I was pleased to get 13ac fairly quickly Excellent grips on front of Meissen jugs (6) for BOSOMS … outrageous! And 18ac Checked bag’s gone astray containing piano (9) gave SPONGE-BAG, but that looked like a noun, and having ‘bag’ in the clue meant it was unlikely to be the answer (hey, what do I know!). Answers continued to come thick and fast, and I wondered if I had been worrying unnecessarily.

Obviously, I could initially only enter any answer lightly since each contained a misprint, but after 50 minutes I had nearly a couple of dozen clues solved, with 12 letters in bold (where across and down agreed). Eight clues later, including TOWEL-GOURD and SPONGEBAG and my first real worry occurred: I had ABYE at 21dn, but there were no clashes with the crossing entries spongebAg, caBalle, Yacht and doggEries. Help!

I ploughed on, as did the day around me. It looked likely that SPRINTER and LAVALIER, with a crossing G and C respectively, would become SPRINGER and CAVALIER and were presumably two of the six thematic entries that would appear in the grid. They were two types of spaniel. I looked around for other possible dogs in the grid, but none appeared.

And so, the final clues that I had to solve:

1ac LITERAL Typo in new version of Lear (7)
LIT + LEAR*; even now, I have no idea where the LIT comes from
7dn BARE Empty bierkeller, maybe one character seen there regularly
Nothing to do with emptying BierkelleR, but BAR (bierkeller) + E (letter seen regularly in biErkEllEr); a staggering bit of composition
10dn OVERGOT Local recovered from failure to play in public
I tried to fit OVERACT in for ages (with OVER being ‘recovered from failure’, albeit not ‘local’, + ACT for ‘play’), before seeing GO (play) in OVERT (public) … easy?
… and finally …
4dn 😕 Small difficulty for classical bass — KEEP IT DOWN!
To put it bluntly, I HAVEN’T A CLUE!

And so the endgame began in earnest as I tried to identify which letters went where in the clashing cells. I found a few anomalies where neither of two clashing letters could be found a knight’s move away from the square, so presumably were replaced by a third. Perhaps I had misunderstood the preamble after all. All I can say is that, since I had very little time left, at least I didn’t spend 24 hours on it, like Jumping to Conclusion had taken me. The following day, Wednesday, was a work day in the big city, but the half hour I had for lunch didn’t enable me to progress very far and so the blank grid I had for my solution remained blank.

I have no idea what was going on here. Was it staring me in the face all the time and I just couldn’t think outside the grid. Whatever … Sabre beat me, so well done for that. I find it quite interesting to look forward to seeing the solution to a puzzle that has defeated me. It’s almost as good as the PDM, just nowhere near as satisfying. Can’t wait…


Commiserations to Simon Long on the end of his all-correct run of 412 Listeners. A staggering achievement, let down by putting TAYRAS for TAIRAS in Shackleton’s recent Olympic puzzle. It makes my best of 126 look positively puny!

One Response to “Listener 4201: Sabre’s Translation (ou Merde!)”

  1. David said

    1ac : in = alight

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