Listen With Others

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Elm by Quinapalus

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 March 2013

Grid BWhere do I start? Well, we reassuringly started with that dinky little Grid B and after about ten minutes, had a convincing 5X5 complete grid. No, of course we didn’t realize that it was a mirror version of the top left hand corner of the grid, though that is perfectly obvious in retrospect isn’t it!

What came next? Seven hours of Numpty head-scratching and hard solving, with just time to remove the packaging from some ready-made deep-frozen pies and stick them in the oven and pour a couple of glasses of wine (the usual Friday evening Numpty fare) which reminds me that Quinapalus, of course, is in the Listener Compilers’ Tipsy Club with his ‘Lousy gins one found in Russia (RUI[N]S)’, ‘Party? I’ll get things started, getting down to Prince, possessed by drink’ (GLUG round LOW P), ‘Place for thinkers: booze knocked back (EL[E]A)’.

It is amusing to run through the surface readings of clues in retrospect and find ‘sodden dogends’, ‘ancient pie’, ‘ruins’, ‘porn’, ‘pot’, ‘refuse’, ‘go bad’, ‘liquid discharging’, ‘torrid cavorting leaving one gasping’ and ‘fermenting new yeast’. I award Quinapalus the Numpty trophy for low-living clues.

But seriously, what a solve. The highlighters came out as we realized we had to be systematic. Our first problem came when we solved a pair of relatively easy clues, ‘Complete Hebridean island’s moved east (E[N]TIRE – E(ast) has moved in TIREE), and ‘Damaged sodden bits of cigarette (DO[G]ENDS*) but had the perplexing situation that the E solution came before the D one. Numpty rule no 1: READ THE PREAMBLE! Aaaah, clever Quinapalus (well, I didn’t need to say that – we are invariably amazed when we resort to his website to solve our advanced crossword problems).

It became clear with another couple of solves that the solutions with the misprints in the definition were in alphabetical order of their solutions but the other 20 were in alphabetical order of the first letters of their clues. I wonder how many other solvers were led up the garden path for a while by that clever twist. 

Elm3This was undoubtedly the most difficult Listener puzzle of the year so far. We were cold solving for several hours before we teased out the message ‘CUT ALONG GRID LINES BY SKIPPED LETTERS: PYTHAGOREAN TRIPLE’. “Oh, how clever!” said the other numpty, “That explains ELM – those are letters 5, 12 and 13 of the alphabet, so clearly we have to do some cutting to convert our 5 and 12 grids to a 13.” and with that he went to bed (it was almost midnight) and left me to fit the letters into a grid and work out how to do that cutting. (Oh what an ominous word that CUT is in a Listener crossword, even though we had the delightful Christmas snowflake – it is nearly as threatenting as Jago’s origami wrens where we produced a range of turkeys, geese and other avian aberrations!)
IMG_0040Surprisingly, the gridfill was easy, even though I still had gaps for the eight and nine-letter clues, and, of course, once the other words fitted into the grid, those difficult ones became solvable.

Rather desperately, I began to draw lines in the words where a letter had been skipped and all became clear. I’ve included my watch in the photo, just to show how obsessed I am with these solves. Any sane person would be happily dreaming by now!

Listener 4230 (final)I have attempted to compile a crossword where the grid could be cut and recompiled to form another with only real words, and, even though it was a relatively simple affair, had to admit defeat. My admiration for Quinapalus is unbounded. There is so much involved in this astounding construction; two sets of solutions using a different device and producing two different alphabetical orders, the initial grid with those cutting places  strategically placed, then the mind-boggling endgame with a 13X13 symmetrical grid resulting. I am lost for words!


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