Listen With Others

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Listener 4221: In Season by Lavatch

Posted by Dave Hennings on 11 Jan 2013

Here is a list of Lavatch’s Listeners:

3865 18/02/2006 Fallout J Robert Oppenheimer and the atomic bomb
3989 05/07/2008 Key: Cutting Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and a combination lock endgame
4033 09/05/2009 Beat It! Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum
4078 20/03/2010 The Fragmentation of Reality Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon and Seven Samurai
4161 29/10/2011 To Have and Have Not Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and The Communist Manifesto

I remember them all, and they were thoroughly entertaining … and tough! This week, we had a circular grid. Clues were of two types: one letter of the answer omitted by the wordplay, and an extra letter in the wordplay not entered in the grid. The spurious letters spelt out instructions and thematic material. The endgame seemed to have a lot going on, but that was for later.

Listener 4221The main problem that I faced was that, like many circular grids, it effectively became twelve little separate grids, each of which needed cold solving. The only link was that the second grid would contain a quotation, its author and a thematic word. I decided to work my way clockwise around the grid from noon. That way, I thought, there was more chance that I would come across a word that I would find in the index of the ODQ that would led to the required quotation. If I found the quotation early on, that would at least give me an extra letter in many of the remaining entries in the grid.

I really did struggle around one and two o’clock (in the grid), and didn’t stray very often except to provide a bit of variety. After two hours, I pretty much had the first four blocks completed, and there, apart from the I and the T, was LISTENER. Luckily, there was only one entry under listener in ODQ, and it led to The Snowman by Wallace Stevens:

…Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

I suspected that ‘nothing’ would be important in the endgame … if you catch my drift! Anyway, for now, it enabled me to complete all but the last eight cells of ring 2, and my early efforts had borne fruit. I also had CUT GRID OUT F••D as the beginning of the instructions from the extra wordplay letters, so I could see that cutting the grid up and decimating it was going to be required again.

Well, of course, my relief was relatively short-lived. I worked my way round the grid, seemingly at a slower pace than my early cold solving. The last block I finished was 21-24 consisting of STOVER, REVIEW, ANTLER and RELISH. Don Revie isn’t high on my list of famous people but at least I’ve heard of him.

At times, I found this really hard-going, but I guess that is what one should expect from a difficult puzzle. I think the hardest clues for me were 17 and 43:

17 ULCERS Causes of suffering: painful clouts leaving Bachelor of Surgery reeling
(S[O]RE CLUBS (clouts) – BS (Bachelor of Surgery))<; O being an extra wordplay letter
43 NUNCLE Before getting cut, lewd address to old man from bard
UNCLEAN (lewd) – AN (before); the first N not being given by the wordplay

I would also like to query something that I’ve come across at least once elsewhere recently. The clue to 8 HIEING is Horse in local field dashing poetically, H (horse) I (in) + ING (local field), the E not being given by the wordplay. This use of H to mean horse puzzles me. It is given in XWD, but I cannot see any reference to it in Chambers. The only thing that I can think of is that it is being used to mean ‘heroin’, but that would be an indirect abbreviation. Can anyone help?

This puzzle proved that having two clue types consisting of extra letter and missing letter in wordplay causes me most difficulty. Eventually, after nearly eight hours of solving, I had a complete grid, with LEUCOJUM, the snowflake genus of amaryllids, as the thematic word at the end of ring 2. I also had what was spelt out by the letters from the two types of clue:

From extra wordplay letters: Cut grid out, fold into six, cut out pattern

From missing wordplay letters: The snow bunting

From the preamble, we were told how to replicate the letters in the grid not given by the wordplay to give the pattern that needed excising. And so it was that much of my hard-fought work disappeared under the surgeon’s scalpel! A final highlighting of a further thematic quotation was needed, from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s The Snowstorm:

The frolic arichitecture of the snow

Listener 4221 My EntryAs I cut the grid out and prepared to send it off to St Albans, I suddenly wondered whether the central ‘hole’ needed to be cut out as well. From images on Wikipedia, it seemed that a snowflake can be either be solid or empty in the middle. The instruction read ‘cut grid out’ and I decided that the central hole didn’t actually form part of the grid, so the scissors made one last flourish.

The preamble also stated that ‘solvers must submit only the part of the grid that illustrates the theme’. I assumed that that was to avoid the dilemma that some people have had in the past with this sort of puzzle, namely whether to send all the cut out bits as well.

I thus came to the end of a long road, and take my hat of to Lavatch for a superb puzzle. I dread to think how long it took to construct, but he has my thanks and admiration.

2 Responses to “Listener 4221: In Season by Lavatch”

  1. erwinch said

    Real snowflakes always grow from a nucleus and so must have a centre but I am sure that a centreless stylised snowflake would be acceptable here. A most memorable and novel puzzle, as you say.

  2. shirleycurran said

    I loved the little snowman in the final frame of your display!

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