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Listener 4234: 9 to 5 by Zag (or Maths for Beginners)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 12 April 2013

This was Zag’s sixth Listener. The first (number 3105) was back in 1991 and the last one at the beginning of last year with its Seven Sages theme. Here we had a lengthy preamble with unclued thematic entries to be determined, two normal clues and … Lawks! … five other different clue types to unravel. There was also a single sentence consisting of the definitions of the six 2-letter entries.

With so many clue types to sieve through, I began to panic a bit. After all, I find it a challenge with just two types, say misprints and extra wordplay letters (or in the case of Mr Magoo, Pieman and Sabre just a single clue type). I made a table with the clue types as headings, ready to list the clues fitting each one and the various letters that each type would reveal. These would be slotted into the unchecked letters of the unclued down entries. I approved of all the help we were being given.

Listener 4234The clue types were:

– wordplay gives the answer plus an extra letter
– misprint in definition with the incorrect letter being relevant
– normal clues with their initial letters being relevant
– definition contains an extra letter
– wordplay leads to an answer with one letter wrong, the wrong letter being relevant

I started on the acrosses and was reasonably happy to get half a dozen on my first pass. This included 15 DANDELION and 16 ENERGY near the top of the grid. Of course, the unching (unchecked lettering) was a bit tough. The 9-letter DANDELION, for example had its first letter unchecked, but the first N, the L and the last N only checked by the unclued entries; I suppose they could be called semi-unches.

Only six of the down clues came to light in my initial pass through them. These included the lovely little clue at 4 Posh one’s outside of aristocracy (4, two words), with ‘Posh’ being a misprint for ‘Gosh’ giving I SAY. At this point I read the Definitions clue The writer’s not any hate, thanks to Sun’s representative, and I thought that ME, NO, ??, TA, RA and MP would fit the bill.

As it turned out, the puzzle was an enjoyable romp, and the clues were fairly straightforward such that, after only an hour, the grid was looking quite healthy. I focussed on 5dn which began N•N•M. I wondered if that could be something like nine minutes past ten. This reinforced the working hours reference given by the two italicised clues and, of course, by the 1980 movie, 9 to 5, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. Perhaps the unclued entries would be something like START WORK AT 9, COFFEE AT TEN, LUNCH AT MIDDAY, CUPPA AT THREE and KNOCK OFF AT 5.

Listener 4234 My EntryOf course, it was nothing of the sort, and about another hour later I had THREE SQUARED, FOUR PLUS FOUR, NINE MINUS TWO, HALF OF TWELVE and TEN INTO FIFTY. These gave, respectively, 9, 8, 7, 6 and 5. I hadn’t been too off course with the Definitions clue, which gave The writer’s (ME) not any (NO) hate (UG), thanks (TA) to (AT) Sun’s representative (RA).

The full list of the various clue types turned out to be:

1dn 3dn 5dn 7dn 10dn
Wordplay + 1 Misprints Normal Inits Definition + 1 Wordplay Wrong
23ac – R 30ac – F 16ac – I 6ac – F 1ac – F
27ac – E 4dn – P 19ac – W 9dn – W 11ac – I
2dn – Q 17dn – U 22ac – N 20dn – L 15ac – F
12dn – A 18dn – U 26ac – S 25dn – A 17ac – E
14dn – E 24dn – U 29ac – E 26dn – F 13dn – T
21dn – I

It’s very satisfying to see a simple phrase implemented in an enjoyable and entertaining way, so thanks to Zag for that.


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