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Archive for February, 2013

Innings/Outings by Mohawk

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 February 2013

Our full grid before the final alterations.

Our full grid before the final alterations.

We were living it up in Barcelona at a fabulous party when Innings/Outings by Mohawk appeared on-line at the Times Crossword Club website so we didn’t get our copy until the following morning in a very bedraggled, rain soaked and flimsy edition of The Times that was on sale at an exorbitant price (just a euro added to the already ludicrous international price) in a kiosk in the Plaza de Catalunya. Here’s a whinge. How can those poor souls who are desirous of joining the Crossword Club but repeatedly told that ‘the club is accepting no new adherents at the current time’ be expected to complete complicated crosswords that require changes in the final grid and the recording of three different types of adjustment to answers when they have just that squidgy bit of tatty newspaper? Whinge over.

What a preamble! We guessed cricket (obviously) from the title but clearly that was too obvious. My iPhone with Internet access was stolen on the way in to Barcelona so this really was a cold solve and what an experience! It made me realize how much I depend on Anthony Lewis’s Crossword Compiler programme to sort out anagrams, and on Anne Bradford and, of course, the BRB, (Big Red Book). Naturally we hadn’t packed Brewer either so even when we had worked out that the theme was pub cricket, we were rather at a loss.

But we did get a grid fill from these lovely, fair and generous clues and realized that Mohawk (who is, I believe, a new Listener compiler) had already leapt to the first league of the Listener Compiler tipplers’ club – he even had OENOPHILE as a solution (the word fitted but I confess that I still haven’t understood the wordplay, ‘I help out on circle: opera glasses enable my passion (9)’) OK, I get the bit about glasses enabling his passion, which was confirmed by BEERY lower down, ‘Beg to curb rising anger, like lager louts (5)’ and by a surprising number of potential pub signs – a CAT and RAM to name just one.

Well, we needed Brewer to see which fitted together and to find out what pub cricket was all about. Back home, I consulted the Internet and couldn’t believe my eyes. Did the editors honestly accept a crossword that was about scoring points for the number of ladies’ boobs you men on pub crawls managed to bump into? Well, no, the second entry seemed to confirm those words, A LEG IS A RUN, NO LEG A WICKET and the other numpty remembered a radio broadcast he had once heard about how someone kept the kids quiet on long journeys by playing pub cricket (until one little horror saw the ‘HIVE AND BEES’ and brought the joy to a premature end!)

All that was left to do was to team those words together, according to Brewer possibilities (yes, what an appropriate source of information. I naively thought Brewer’s was a dictionary and eclectic compilation of arcane mythology and obscure information but not a Brewer’s annals).

The final adjusted grid (on a tatty bit of international edition Times)

The final adjusted grid (on a tatty bit of international edition Times)

We had no RAM and CAT but there were STAR and GARTER, SWAN and HARP, BULL and GATE, and ROSE and CROWN playing for the across league and we calculated that they scored 6 for 2 wickets.

The down team seemed to have DOG and DUCK, SHIP and SHOVEL, and BEAR and STAFF scoring a total of 10 for 1 wicket – clearly the winners so far (but what namby pamby Home Counties pubs – a few of our northern Huntsmen, Horses and Hounds would soon sort them out!)

Head-scratching time. We had to alter something to reflect SIX FOR TWO and TEN FOR ONE. TWO and ONE were evident in the grid (just like RED last week) so do we use those?  Scribbling in SIX and TEN revealed only real words with that astonishing XENOPHILE replacing the beery oenophile. One could only smile! What a superb debut! Thank you Mohawk.

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Listener 4225: Innings/Outings by Mohawk

Posted by Dave Hennings on 8 February 2013

This was Mohawk’s first Listener, although my records show he had a trip to the Lake District about four years ago in Magpie. I’m no sportsman, but the title seemed to indicate that we were in for a game of cricket. What’s more, there were three types of clue that each had 11 occurrences, and there are eleven on a side in cricket. There again, this was a Listener, so who knows.

The preamble was daunting: 11 had wordplay missing a letter, 11 had wordplay with an extra letter, 11 had a misprint in the definition, 14 looked like they were normal (with the answers containing thematic information), and the remaining 8 needed altering. It is, of course, important to identify where an answer needs altering before entry in the grid, and where they are altered afterwards. The eight that needed altering were of the latter kind, so there were in fact 22 normal clues. Regardless, it looked as though we couldn’t take anything at face value!

Listener 4225I also hoped that I would find the relevant page in Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, confirming the thematic pairs, a bit easier than I found last week’s Phonetic Alphabet page.

I think my first clue should have been 6ac Dog docked twice, like a pointer? (5), which is SHARP, but that had to wait some time before I solved it. 13ac, and I think I’ve said before that moths are, like sport, not an area of my expertise (“What is?” I hear you ask!), and Mrs B needed consulting for TINEA. Next was 14ac KIA-ORA and I wanted 23ac Messenger maybe going after Howard in book (4) to be TOME with a misprint for ‘toward’, but its reference to Howard’S END would also have to wait to be solved correctly. Although the only other across clue I got was SARONG, half a dozen down answers gave me a fair smattering of entries around the grid.

Back to 11ac Passes were a possibility with a change of suit (4), and it began with C. 4-letter passes are nearly always COLS, but how did that work? Not easy, but COULD has D for Diamond changed to S for Spade with U as an extra letter. 10ac Shrewd mortal was •••H, courtesy of 3dn THAW, and with portal for mortal I had ARCH. I initially wondered if the anagram of ‘bald uncle’ at 38ac was descriptive of me: BALL DUNCE. A bit more thinking, and BULL DANCE seemed more likely.

At this point, I had Pub cr… at the start of the message which gave “the game’s name and summary of the rules”. Now the only pub games that I know are Bar Billiards and Fizz Buzz, the latter basically involving … not to put too fine a point on it … getting drunk. Here it looked like we were indeed off for a game of cricket, but I failed to see how that could be played in a pub, let alone be the theme of a Listener crossword.

The clues in this puzzle were of a fine standard, my favourites being:

18ac OENOPHILE I help out on circle: opera glasses enable my passion! (9)
O (circle) + ENO (opera) + (I HELP)*
28ac OWES Is a debtor to take young man’s advice, avoiding G&T (4)
GO WEST – G and T
45ac SARONG Perhaps Mrs Batty’s back-to-front beachwear
NORA’S<, wordplay missing the G
24dn EWES Crones perhaps use hearts in brewed spell
hearts of brEWed spEll, wordplay missing the S

Everything finally became clear once the message was complete:

Pub Cricket; a leg is a run, no leg’s a wicket.

Not that I recall ever playing it in the car, but I had obviously heard it described somewhere … probably in a pub. The game revolves around spotting the names of pubs, and thankfully Brewer obliges with a long entry under Public house signs. Each pub name scores runs equal to the total number of legs that the people and/or animals possess; a pub with no person or animal is a wicket.

So here we had to find 14 entries which, when paired, gave seven pub names. They were:

Across Down
Pub name Score Pub name Score
21ac START and 1ac GARTERED Out 27dn MATESHIP and 12dn SHOVELER Out
35ac ASWAN and 5ac SHARP 2 35dn ABEAR and 20dn [RAGGED] STAFFAGE 4
49ac ROSET and 50ac CROWN CAP Out 38dn DOGMA and 26dn DUCKS 6
39ac BULLDANCE and 46ac AGATEED 4

Listener 4225 My EntryAnd so the final scores were: Across: 6 for 2 and Down: 10 for 1. SIX therefore had to be substituted for the TWO in row 4 and TEN for ONE in column 3.

Great fun, thanks, Mohawk. I just hope that we weren’t supposed to use the RAMI and SCAT or the CARO and ARKED!

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How to —– by Colleague

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 February 2013

How to Hotel

How to Hotel

Just one trailing little red herring peering over the edge this week. We Numpties were expecting a real stinker after last week’s relatively gentle start to the Listener New Year and, instead, got one that was a pleasure to solve with an informative and satisfactory endgame that didn’t leave us raging and wondering all weekend. (And of course, Colleague shares the Listener compiler enjoyment of tippling with a rather over-loaded glass, ‘Balloon, eg: its contents succeeded carrying half a ton (5) [GAS + S(ucceeded) carrying L – half 100).

Clues were slotted in quickly though it is fortunate that the other Numpty had heard of KARNO – a ‘comedian with an army’ (‘Dubious RANK O(f)*). There were a few new words for us to drop into dinner conversation this week: SYSSITIA – a Spartan way of eating in public, (it is a good thing that we were given a generous anagram, ‘Silly ass, it is you to start with …’), BIDARKA, ‘Invite large floater to join a smaller northern one (7) (BID + ARK + A) and JAEGERS, ‘Huntsmen square behind doctor shunning plant fibres (7). We had no trouble with the definition but it took us a visit to Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable to work out that this was a reference to the original wool merchant who had a thing about plant fibres.

Ah yes, Brewer’s. Am I allowed a whinge? There are three copies on the shelf (two of them won years ago in lucky crossword draws) and although they make for very entertaining reads with arcane and esoteric knowledge, they were about as much use in the context of this crossword, even with that helpful hint in the preamble, as a chocolate teapot. I realize that an effective alphabetical index would be almost as long as the book itself but how else may we use it as a reference book? I challenge you to find the collective word for a group of antelopes or aardvarks in under five minutes! My conviction is that this was just a cynical move on the part of Colleague and the editors (even with that ‘received and understood, leading us to the definition under ROGER). Hooray for the Internet.

Whinge over. We had our full grid with a bit of doubt about TALA, MULE and LUTE (clever clues those!) We finally understood that ‘Apian sugar, thanks indeed (4)’ was a reference to the TALA of Samoan coinage, since Apia is the capital of Samoa. Chambers furnished us with the explanation that a LUTE is an ‘old stringed instrument shaped like half a pear’ (well, of course it is!) and we finally understood that our MULE was concealing cocaine and wasn’t some new form of Polyfilla (‘Use the other side in old wall for crack concealer? (4)’ MURE with L for R).

NOVEMBER, X-RAY, OSCAR, TANGO and ALPHA had been an early breakthough so we felt that we had confidently recognised the theme. The Internet (yes, Wikipedia, not Brewer’s) produced information about the shift in 1956 to what we now generally recognise as the radio code and a few minutes of searching produced those letters of NATO separating the old version from the new (NOVEMBER from NAN, ALPHA from ABLE, TANGO from TARE and OSCAR from OBOE) Finding the four that remained the same (CHARLIE, X-RAY, VICTOR and MIKE) took just a few more minutes – so why the Numpty red herring?

How to RADIO? How to SPELL? We were opting for that and I wonder how many solvers will! Somehow, though, it didn’t seem quite right and, after rule no. 1 for Listener solvers, ‘Read the preamble!’ there is rule no. 2 ‘If you have any doubt, it’s wrong. Think again!’ We thought again. ‘HOW’. Wasn’t that in the orginal alphabet? And what did it become? Aaaah.

Many thanks, Colleague. What a lovely compilation.

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Listener 4224: Colleague’s How to ____ (Tango?)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 1 February 2013

Colleague’s fourth Listener, and the third that I have attempted. 4093, Times Group, related to the three Rs, five Ks and 15 Os found in Chambers, and 4150, Garden Scraps, was about the Wars of the Roses. Here we had four members of a group who survived a 50’s line-up change. All the clues were normal butthe final grid (quite large at 15×13) would reveal all.

The first two clues I solved, 12ac CESTUI and 16ac EASE, were in rows two and three of the top left corner. I decided to concentrate my efforts there for the time being rather than give the clues a quick read through. 1dn ACERB, 21ac BWANA and 13dn ULNA wre next, followed by 19ac KARNO. I’m not really sure how I got to learn of Fred Karno (he was way before my time), but I suspect it was my father who used the phrase ‘Fred Karno’s Circus’.

Listener 4224Anyway, I was off and running. My solving route turned out to go down the left-hand side of the grid, across the bottom to the end of CAPELLMEISTER, which provided a ladder back to the top and then down the right-hand side to the end. This sounds straightforward, but there were some tricky clues on the way. I had a real tussle trying to get 43ac and 38dn whose second letters intersected and were ••TE and ••LE respectively. 38dn was Use the other side in old wall for crack concealer? It was a long time before I sussed ‘mure’, a Shakespearean word for wall, changing to MULE, a drug smuggler. This enabled me to get Set reduced by half — it’s shaped like half a pear leading to LUTE, being half of ‘resolute’. Luckily not all of the clues were this tough, but they were all fine. I particularly liked 22dn Fast reptile — zoo’s 500 becoming 250, which was ‘Whipsnade’ changing to WHIP SNAKE.

And so the grid was finished, in about a couple of hours I think, and it was time for the endgame. It didn’t take long to find the four members in the grid, with a quick scan of the rows revealing NOVEMBER in row 4, ALPHA in row 6 and TANGO OSCAR in rows 8 and 10 respectively. The theme was therefore phonetic alphabets, but it needed Google for me to resolve them all, since my Brewer’s didn’t seem to help much, despite the advice in the preamble. It turns out that the Nato phonetic alphabet was the successor to the British Forces alphabet in 1956 and the grid reflected those that changed and those that stayed the same. In particular, NAN became NOVEMBER, ABLE became ALPHA, TARE became TANGO, and OBOE OSCAR. Additionally, CHARLIE, XRAY, VICTOR and MIKE stayed the same and needed highlighting in the grid.

Listener 4224 My EntryFinally, what went under the grid? I pencilled Tango in, but that was hardly thematic. It required another look at the chart that I had found online to show that HOW pre-1956 became HOTEL afterwards. Great fun, and thanks to Colleague for a thoroughly enjoyable jaunt.

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