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Listener 4202: Talking Scouse by Lato (or LMN tree)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 Aug 2012

A short follow-up on last week’s puzzle, Sabre’s Translation. I failed miserably on this as I was still suffering from house-moving blues (and that’s the only time I’ll be mentioning it this week … probably). Even if I’d identified the knights, I have no idea whether I’d have resolved the KOHB/KOHЬ dilemma. I did spend an inordinate amount of time on the clue: Small difficulty for classical bass — KEEP IT DOWN!. It never occurred to me that the ‘KEEP IT DOWN’ was an instruction to be followed after the first bit had been solved … and I never solved the first bit as I never took it in isolation. A bit of lateral thinking needed there that totally eluded me. I have to say that having read all the comments, I think that KOHЬ is the only acceptable answer, especially with the definition of keep down in Chambers. It’s almost as though Sabre devised the puzzle just to make use of it … as if he would!

However, is b = Ь?!

Now on to this week’s puzzle. Lato is a well-established and fine setter who has a long line of puzzles going back 20 years. He has used the ‘pairing’ idea before, primarily in his Inquisitor puzzles and I’m always worried that I won’t be able to make the requisite connections. Here we were told that “unclued entries correctly paired, suggest…”, and I wondered just how suggestive I would find them.

Like last week, I was starting this on the Tuesday before the deadline, a fatal mistake for a Sabre puzzle, but, I was hoping, not for Lato. The only clueing device used was for 17 clues which had an extra letter in the wordplay not entered in the grid and spelt out a hint. I hoped that it was a strong one.

Half a dozen across clues and twice as many downs were solved in the first thirty minutes, so I felt happy with progress. I was helped by ANI at 17ac, who has been around a lot recently, and T-CARTS at 3dn, thanks to Mrs B. Being a frequent listener to the Shipping Forecast on Radio 4 helped me with 31dn Votes for turning over south coast town (with Bill) giving YESES and its reference to Selsey Bill (between North Foreland and Lyme Regis in the Inshore Waters).

Having put off 7ac for some time, I now had A••L…. It was an anagram (plus an extra letter) of ‘charlie meant’, and trying AMAL… then AMEL… in Chambers soon revealed AMELANCHIER, and the top half of the grid was well under way.

The unclued entries in columns 3 and 8 seemed likely to be GERMAN and CHINESE so I suspected a country theme. Not having solved 13ac Swell — good spirits in evidence here? (6) (it was SEANCE with SEA + N[I]CE), I thought 1dn might be MATCH, although that didn’t seem to tie up with any country that I could think of. Finally solving SEANCE made 1dn MATHS, and sitting right above what could be VARIABLES planted XYZ and consecutive letters firmly in my head. This was confirmed by CLARIFIED in the last column and BUTTER in row 11 which gave GHI. (I will again mention how awkward for bloggers it is that some puzzles do not number unclued entries!)

The extra letters in wordplays spelt out Think sequentially, and for once I had. The final set of pairings linked in this way, with QR and VW being the two cases less so than the others (ie only two characters), was:

QR FOURTH PART (ie quarter)

Listener 4202 My Entry“Disregarding the only character neither appearing nor suggested in the puzzle”, which was J, this left STU to be highlighted in column 2. Sounding like stew, the meaning of scouse, we had the significance of the title. I’m not sure that it was necessary to give the unchecked letters in the preamble unless it was to put us off with its “Liver birds” reference.

So another good puzzle from Lato, and a welcome respite between Sabre’s offering and the following week’s mathematical with its misprints (aaaargh).

One Response to “Listener 4202: Talking Scouse by Lato (or LMN tree)”

  1. RR said

    I found the unchecked letters extremely useful. And very clever.

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