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In Season by Lavatch

Posted by shirleycurran on 11 January 2013

SnowflakeThere was delight as we downloaded yet another circular grid. These are Numpty favourites and this one accompanied the solution to Stick Insect’s System Analysts where we flew into outer space in the Voyagers 1 and 2. There was the Rupert Brooke clock face earlier this year and we have had them on Derek Harrison’s message board, in the Magpie and in Crossword. Some themes clearly lend themselves to a circular grid. This one was entitled ‘In Season’. A mince-pie? A Christmas bauble? (Obviously not, what could a setter do with those two as themes? But with two trayloads in the oven, it’s difficult to concentrate on more serious matters!)

Concentrate we did on these flawless and very challenging clues (noticing, of course, along the way, that Lavatch fits into the tipply Listener setter mould with a CARAFE appearing in almost his first clue (Fear a rustic with copper bottle FEAR A + C[U]* ) and being greedily consumed in his last (Drink, imbibing litre, then have to take it easier). Indeed, SLOW UP! was an appropriate solution for that one (SOUP round Litre and OW[N]).

Snowflake2We found these clues very demanding, since initially they could be entered either inwards or outwards, came in pairs so that we didn’t even know which we were entering first, and, in addition, had either an extra letter or a letter missing from the wordplay. This was not really Numpty Stripey Horse (5) Z???A country at all and we sneaked off along flooded North Yorks roads for a Christmas drink when we had solved our ‘break even’ point. (It doesn’t take us quite as long as it used to to solve half the clues; experience is a great advantage, and we now feel that we have the courage to continue when half the clues have yielded their secrets.)

Saturday saw us back at our Bradford and Chambers and we struggled on. There were some tough ones here. ‘Irish girl travels around mount’. GANDHI had already provided NAG or GAN and we had just spotted a very useful FOR THE LISTENER (well, where else would Lavatch be sending such a gem of a crossword?) which the helpful ODQ expanded to ‘For the listener who listens in the snow,/ And nothing himself beholds/ Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.’ (The Snow Man, Wallace Stevens 1920) That gave us an E and, to our Snowflake3amazement, we learned that SEONAG is an Irish version of Joan. (So this was & lit too!  She GOES round her mount or NA[G])

A full grid produced the usual Numpty head-scratching and quite a lot of rethinking to sort out CUT GRID OUT, FOLD INTO SIX, CUT OUT PATTERN and THE SNOW BUNTING. We had already worked out that we were going to produce a snowflake, (I wonder what will be decorating the Listener dinner tables in March this year. I shouldn’t imagine it will be origami wrens!) but how were we going to work out which part ‘illustrates the theme’ and find ‘a further thematic quotation’ that ‘must be highlighted’?

We had an idea how to proceed and had seen that those letters that spelled out THE SNOW BUNTING were distributed around the six sections of the grid. Clearly the LEUCOJUM, with its eight letters, occupied a sixth of the circle and we were going to fold our cut-out circular grid to produce six sections like it.

It took me two attempts to perform a task a six-year old would have done with ease, and work my way around the grid, echoing the highlighted letters in the six sections. And there was my snowflake and, even better, a new Snowflake4 030quotation (and a new visit to the ODQ to find  that Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote ‘[THE] FROLIC ARCHITECTURE OF [THE] SNOW).

All that remained was to cut out those bits I had coloured. You should have seen the mess I made – Well, here it is! Do we really willingly jump through these weekly hoops (with the eternal hope of winning yet one more copy of the Chambers Dictionary)? Yes, for such a beautiful creation we clearly do. I am left wondering how Lavatch performed this miracle. Did he begin with the quotations? I was all set to be critical because he had only one in a ring but, of course, the second one appeared, neatly broken up on the crystals of his fourth ring. Masterful! I hope he will give us a setter’s blog.

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One Response to “In Season by Lavatch”

  1. […] by two — I may have submitted an entry for his Christmas snowflake puzzle, In Season (No 4221), but I needed rather a lot of help for that one. And his Carte Blanche (No 4252) was also far […]

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