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Elementary by Wan

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 April 2013

One of the numpties has all the elements, even the newer ones, at this finger tips and that should have helped us to get going on Wan’s Elementary but it didn’t. I would say that we spent about two hours miserably teasing out our first ten clues. (I won’t say how long we stared at the clues at first without solving any). I did notice that Wan was not applying for membership of the tipsy Listener setters’ club with only one mildly boozy clue (Tense alliance for PUbs – even that turned into ‘Tense alliance for CAbs – T + AXIS – the first clue we solved). What a wealth of food in his clues, though. It was facetiously suggested to me at the Listener Setters’ dinner last night that there should be an award of an ash tray or something like that for the setter with the most low-down, smutty and plain grubby clues. (Take another look at Quinapalus Elm three weeks ago! He’s the outright winner so far.) But there is no limit to where that might lead – a bottle for boozy clues, a donut for the foodies?

Elementary by WanWan had ‘Prince aTE a protected animal … (turning to Prince aND a protected animal … clearly he scoffed a PANDA), ‘Two halves of pie for child’s tREk (tALk) on departure’ – giving TA[rt] TA[rt], ‘SIck (NI[ck]) bag for a picnic’ (giving the double definition COOLER), ‘Skinned CAt (PUt) on table having eaten outside’ (FED round LAY) – clearly the panda was somewhat stringy and he had to devour the cat too! There was a ‘Greedy helper …’ and ‘mashed bran’ (no wonder he needed the sick bag!)

We did one of our usual back to front moves and guessed immediately that ‘the full name of someone whose creation might have proved helpful’ was going to be DMITRI MENDELEEV but that name didn’t exactly jump out at us as our solve progressed. In fact, we had a full grid before it became apparent that the relevant rows were the second and eleventh and even then, a visit to Wikipedia was needed to find out whose son he was (IVANOVICH).

The pleasing thing about this solve was that it became progressively easier as we progressed. (Well, they usually do don’t they?) With the grid two-thirds full, we were able to slot in our remaining words (ECHO, NUCLEUS, JUMP, HELM and so on) and then work out how the clues fitted our solution.

Risky you’ll say. Indeed it is! “TORCHWOOD”, said a numpty and in it went. It was only later when we were carefully checking our elements that we wondered how that fitted the clue, ‘Perform aRT (aCT) with supposedly supernatural power from tinder’. I am still not sure about that one. Is it ‘Perform act with supposedly supernatural power’ = TOUCH WOOD – a double definition clue?  I can’t justify TORCH but I wonder how many solvers will decide that TORCHWOOD is pretty convincing tinder and insert that.

Periodic TalesFull grid: DMITRI IVANOVICH MENDELEEV highlighted and, of course, like good numpties, we had kept a careful check of our elements as we went along and had managed to pair those that were coming out of a clue with those that were going in … with minor problems. There was an extra CE, an extra TE and we needed an AT and an AC. I slept on it and a laborious slog through the elements the following morning revealed the culprit, ‘A lot of nerve securing nonsensical poetry’ a plaCE (plaTE) in the print world, should, of course, have been parsed ‘a plATe’ for a ‘plACe’.

As so frequently happens to us, some built-in instinct must have warned me what the theme was going to be this week and, sitting on the table next to the computer, was the book I am currently reviewing. (It ranges far and wide with lots of intriguing information but I have to admit that I preferred Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table. I would, wouldn’t I, though. I am a Primo Levi fan.)

Of course, it wasn’t absolutely necessary to check that all 36 elements had appeared twice, but with some of these sneaky Listener puzzles, it makes sense to check every letter – and we did. I wonder how long Wan spent hunting for convincing places he could hide those elements. Quite a task! Thank you Wan.


3 Responses to “Elementary by Wan”

  1. Wan said

    Thanks Shirley, I haven’t set that many puzzles, ten or so perhaps, but in answer to your ‘wonder’ writing the clues for this puzzle probably took as long as all the others put together! It isn’t hard of course to write the first half or so but trying to get the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ towards the end with some degree of sense I found very difficult. Good practice though as afterwards writing normal clues seems a doddle.

    I look forward to the next Chalicea puzzle.



  2. jim360 said

    Thanks for an entertaining idea, Wan. I never did track all of the replacements, but the ones I did see were well-done and made for some lovely new surface readings. So yes, thanks!

  3. […] appearance in the Listener this week after a scientifically-themed debut last year, Listener No 4233, featuring Mendeleev and elemental symbols moving between clues. For this puzzle the first thing I […]

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