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Archive for June, 2013

Listener 4245: Ghost Story by Plinth (or I, DH, out; 1 Cat, 1 Lion, 11 Rabbits fun)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 June 2013

A debut from Plinth this week. About a dozen numbered clues and a load of unnumbered ones… that weren’t in alphabetical order. Oh dear! What’s more, each of the four quadrants of the grid was conected to its neighbour by only one entry. I hoped this wouldn’t cause too many problems.

Listener 4245The numbered clues were relatively straightforward. Across we had 4 ELI•• (turned out to be George ELIOT), 5 DRUIDIC, 7 KISLEV, 8 ANODES and 10 TRIOR. The one that stumped me until much later was the excellent 11 Put back stopper on claret that’s turned and last of Sauternes (7) and was DERNIER: REIN< (stopper!) on RED<, defined by ‘last of Sauternes’, France.

I got three of the downs as 1 LIAISES, 2 OLOGY and 6 SLOVENIA, although I couldn’t find the river (turned out to be SLAVONIA!).

On to the unnumbered clues. They also came fairly quickly, and when I got to 13 AGAMOID and 15 EMAILED it looked as though they could intersect in the top left corner, so I pencilled them in lightly. A few minutes later came 18 ORDINARIES and I could slot that into column 2 since KISLEV forbade it in column 11.

After that, everything went fairly easily and the grid was finished in under a couple of hours. The mysterious ‘fragment of text’ eluded me for quite a time during the solving process since it seemed to be gobbledegook. However, once I had got honor…, a quick check in Chambers showed honorificabilitudinity with the etymology revealing ‘LL honorificabilitudinitas, preserved in the ablative pl honorificabilitudinitatibus as a superlatively long word, in Shakespeare, Love’s Labour Lost V.1.37 and elsewhere‘. Where the elsewhere was, I never found out. This finally helped me to clear up clue 7 Drummer internalising anger makes more hell (5) which had obviously been DIRER, but almost seemed to have no misprint. It turned out that a definition under fell3 was ‘dire’.

And so to put these letters in conventional grid order, although it puzzled me why the preamble felt it necessary to spell out ‘(across entries followed by down ones)’:


… but this left me none the wiser! Now Brewer’s has some weird entries (although the preamble didn’t mention it as a useful reference), so I looked up ‘honor…tatibus’. I was rewarded with an entry which described how Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence supported the theory that attributed Shakespeare’s works to Francis Bacon. He even discovered that the long word was an anagram of Hi ludi F Baconis nati tuiti orbi. Even my basic schoolboy Latin could see that this was the translation of ‘These plays, F Bacon’s offspring, are preserved for the whole world’!

John Sladek, an American science fiction author also ‘proved’ that Ben Jonson wrote Shakespeare since the word is also an anagram of I, B. Ionsonii, uurit [writ] a lift’d batch!

Listener 4245 My EntryAll that was left was to change W SHAKESPEARE in the bottom row to FRANCIS BACON and highlight the thematic phrase, symmetrically disposed. My first thought was LOVES LABOUR’S LOST, MESS FRANCIS BACON, but it seemed a bit odd to use Mess, meaning ‘master’. It was only as I used my marker pen to highlight LOVES LABOUR’S LOST that I noticed BY next door, so it was BY FRANCIS BACON.

So thanks to Plinth for an enjoyable puzzle and its fascinating revelation.

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Ghost Story by Plinth

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 June 2013

LLL 001Can this really be Plinth’s first? There is no record of any other compilation by Plinth on Dave Hennings’ first-rate Crossword Database. Perhaps this is an experienced compiler lurking under a different pseudonym. It certainly was an impressive compilation. No, that doesn’t include the grid. The Numpties were moaning vociferously about what looked like four mini grids linked by just four letters that crossed those daunting boundaries. We realized that there must be some sort of reason for those and that the endgame might well explain all. (And, of course, it did. Plinth needed all those bars in order to include the words that so astonishingly changed their endings when we performed the heretical task of allocating Love’s Labours Lost to Francis Bacon! I don’t think I can bring myself to do that and will probably submit with Shakespeare in his rightful place!)

Solving began in earnest and proved to be great fun as clues from the officially numbered set and from the ‘Unnumbered’ ones yielded up their goodies with just about the same frequency (and reassurance that even if Plinth is a newcomer, he participates in the tipply Listener setter confrèrie. His first essay was disappointing as he ‘Put back stopper on claret that’s turned and last of Sauternes (7)’ [RED< after REIN< = DERNIER], but the wine seemed to recover with ‘Waiter with drinks for audience (4)’ [A Baiter = TEAS (heard)])

We were surprised by the number of Is that were appearing as corrected misprints and before long had what looked like a suspiciously familiar HONORIFICABILITUDINITATIBUS. I was on Numpty home ground and it didn’t take long to see that LOVE’S LABOURS LOST was appearing at the top of the grid and symmetrically in the centre with BY and W SHAKESPEARE on the bottom row. So this was a reference to Costard’s word and the Baconian theory of authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. We had the theme.

I began the laborious task of sorting out those clues into conventional order but soon abandoned and let the Internet tell me (again) about that silly theory that there is a long convoluted anagram that informs us that Francis Bacon wrote all of Shakespeare’s plays. HI LUDI F BACONIS NATI TUITI ORBI (I wonder what else that could tell us if we were willing to fiddle with it!)

This was great fun and all came together so well. It is certainly one of my favourites of the year so far. Many thanks, Plinth.

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At Spes Non Fracta by Chalicea

Posted by clanca1234 on 23 June 2013

Right, Friday night, Listener time – and time for a blog! It seems a long time since I’ve written one of these, which just shows how time flies. It was only a few years ago when I used to blog every Listener. I’m sure that readers are grateful for not having to struggle through my entries any more! But tough luck for those who fall into that category, because here goes. Chambers at the ready, pencil in hand, and… let’s go!

Okay, it’s Chalicea, which makes this her solo debut – despite her being incredibly prolific elsewhere. Latin title, it seems – At Spes Non Fracta. My schoolboy Latin tells me that this means ‘hope is not yet crushed’. Hmm. That could indicate anything, really. What famous people called Hope do I know? Bob Hope? Unlikely. Hope Sandoval, singer with Mazzy Star? Even more unlikely. Let’s just get on and solve.

Quick scan through to see if any clues fall easily. Well, 14ac gives us our first misprint, with a fairly simple to spot EATERY dying to get out from AT in EERY. 15ac looks like an anagram… hmm. Anagram of OR EASTERN gives me, after a couple of minutes of playing, ROWAN TREES, which seems to fit the definition. So there’s a W missing from the wordplay. Interesting. It’s always hard when there’s a mixture of clue types to cope with – in this instance normal clues, misprint clues, and clues where one letter isn’t generated by wordplay. I’m sure this good start won’t last.

Forty minutes later, and despite my misgivings, the good start has continued, and we have a half-full grid.  Oddly we have another three clues where W is missing from wordplay – AVO[W]ABLE at 37ac with another easyish anagram, ATWEEL at 44ac, and JOWL at 2dn. We also have something that looks suspiciously as if it might be BLUESTOCKING at 27ac – at least I can’t think of any other word that has the pattern BL??ST?CK??G. Chambers gives the definition of BLUESTOCKING as ‘an intellectual woman’ – perhaps this means that we are missing W(omen) from wordplay in those where we aren’t generating W? That would make sense, I suppose. Just imagine, a world without women! Hmm, that doesn’t sound great to be honest. Things would be a lot duller. Speaking of women, there seems to be the sounds of cats fighting outside, and my wife shouting for me. Sigh. Time to leave the puzzle for a few minutes…

Hmm. What is it about cats? Ours are never happy unless they are sleeping, fighting or killing small mammals. Unfortunately, in the summer months the latter two are far more common than the first, and barely a day goes by without a mouse or bird being deposited somewhere in the house, or our cats emerging scarred and bleeding from some scrap or another. Even more worrying is the fact that we occasionally find small pieces of animals, or simply clumps of feathers, but never anything more. I have a grave suspicion that somewhere in the house is a stash of animal body parts that will slowly rot until the smell gives it away. Despite all searches, however, this hasn’t yet been found. I suppose the cats could just eat the remainder of the corpses…

Anyway, back to more cheery matters. Let’s look at what’s left… Aarrgghh! How did I not spot that before? I’ve literally just sat down, and seen that the bottom row reads SEMI?YDAVISON. I’m not an expert on suffragettes, but wasn’t EMILY DAVISON a famous member of the movement? Let’s go and have a quick Google, shall we? Okay, EMILY DAVISON threw herself under a horse called ANMER on June 4th 1913… June 4th being next Wednesday. That must surely be what we are celebrating then! And yes, at the top of the grid we have ANME? in the centre… yep, if I put RETE in at 8dn, that completes ANMER. Excellent! After that moaning, thank-you to Emma for calling me, and thank-you to Bill and Boris (the cats) for fighting, and meaning that I went outside, and came back to the grid with a fresh pair of eyes. So what else have we got, then? Well the Ws omitted from wordplay must be WOMEN, as I suspected. What else do we have to do? The misprints tell us which of ANMER and EMILY DAVISON must be highlighted, and there’s then two phrases through which lines must be drawn. If in doubt, look at the diagonals… and yes, from NW to SE there is what must turn into VOTES FOR WOMEN. Not so sure about the other phrase, though, although the other diagonal ends with WORDS. WORDS, or is it SWORDS? I suspect my lack of knowledge about the history of women’s rights is an issue here. Let’s solve some more – I’m still conscious that I need to work out what to highlight. Actually, no I don’t – I’ve just realised that CHERCHEZ LA FEMME can be obtained from the corrections to misprints (and ties in with Chalicea’s expert knowledge of European languages). It looks as if the words aren’t split wholly between across and down clues, though, which is a shame. Unless I’m being thick, it would have been better if, for instance, CHERCHEZ had been obtained from misprints in across clues and LA FEMME from those in down clues, rather than CHERCHEZ being split between across and down. Oh well, can’t have everything. So we know what to highlight – EMILY DAVISON. What about this other phrase, though? Let’s solve the remaining clues.

Ten minutes later and we’re done, so about 75 minutes all in all, plus whatever time the cats took up with their antics. The other phrase is DEEDS NOT WORDS, and drawing lines through this and through VOTES FOR WOMEN makes a cross, presumably to represent a cross on a ballot paper. That’s a really nice touch!

A fairly straightforward puzzle, but lots of thematic touches in there – the Ws omitted from wordplay were a nice thing, and the significance of the cross in the final grid was a joy. Excellent stuff from Chalicea, and proof that a puzzle doesn’t  have to be super-duper hard to be enjoyable and a good Listener. As a friend once said to me, it’s harder to set a really good easier puzzle than an average puzzle of average difficulty. This falls firmly into the ‘really good easier puzzle’ category, and I enjoyed it greatly. Here’s to seeing more of Chalicea in the future. One of the cats – I can’t tell which. they look the same – is now on my knee purring, so perhaps he feels the same way.

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Listener 4244: At Spes Non Fracta by Chalicea

Posted by Listen With Others on 21 June 2013

Shirley Curran, whose weekly and often very artistic blogs normally grace this site, is unable to blog this week’s Listener — for obvious reasons! — so asked me if I would be kind enough to cover for her. I owe her quite a lot, as a solver and perhaps even as a new regular setter, so I suppose it’s time I returned the favour.

This isn’t my first blog for the site, and I hope you enjoyed (or at least weren’t too bored to death by) my solution to last time’s entertaining card puzzle. This is my first bash at a Word Listener so… here goes!

Chalicea is becoming a regular setter for EV, Inquisitor and the Magpie, and also sets jointly as Rasputin, so that this is technically her second Listener after No. 4188 Painless (which was anything but for me!), but first solo effort. I was promised “lots of thematic material” but “nothing too difficult”. Well, I’ll be the judge of that.

So, to start with, reading the preamble led me to think that there might be some clashes somewhere. Not a promising start, I’m still a beginner so rely a bit too much on crossing answers to help me. Still, the first few clues came quickly, and after filling in 27d BRUSHES [(E+shrubs)*, graZes], 29d KIWI [kai -A about I, missing W], and 3d NEW LEFT [Net about (L + E + F)], I already had some idea that all the thematically missing letters were W’s, that the message revealed by corrections to misprints was going to be unusual, and very soon after that 27a was BLUESTOCKINGS. So that would suggest that the missing W’s are standing for Women? No women in University, perhaps, and maybe the two “clashing characters” were going to be arguing about that? Close but no cigar.

Having entered BLUESTOCKINGS and with many of the clues around it, the grid was split into two pieces. I worked my way through the top half first, from right and then along to the left. It took a while — I puzzled for some time over 12d (where’s that C fitting in?) before realising that it was “See” in De(e)ds for DESEEDS; and while 7d was ETNEAN [(Teen)* + An] the definition eluded me– must be a misprint, no idea what though (Cone, it turned out). Some of the missing W’s in the top half of the grid took a while to find — it was only towards the end of the grid that I cottoned on to the rule “put a W wherever possible” that would have helped a bit with JOWL and WELD.

Time for a quick break… well, a long one, that geoguessr is very addictive. But Anyway the top half was finished, although I was surprised to have found only six of the misprints so far, with well over half the clues solved — but the bottom of the grid was empty, so they must all be lurking there. I didn’t really know where to begin yet, and I hadn’t ignored the bottom few clues entirely, but couldn’t seem to break into them. 28d for example, had to begin with CRO but I couldn’t finish it (CROTALA, cLackers [CoRn + o[u]t + à la]).

Let’s glance around for those two phrases, maybe, that will help. Then I spotted “VOTES FO. W….” down the leading diagonal and a few seconds later in went VOTES FOR WOMEN and DEEDS NOT WORDS along the other diagonal, which would make a cross. My earlier internet research had led me to an 18th Century “Blue Stocking Society” so I was on the hunt for something completely different and about a century too early. Oh well.

Finding the two phrases gave me enough to finally get a move on in the bottom half of the grid — and start finding those elusive misprints: 40d forMer not Forger for OSSI [crOSS-Indexing, hidden], 41d Mates not Rates and 42d ShEd not Shod (nor Shoe, as I tried for a few minutes!). So the misprints read “CHE..HEZ .. ..MME”. Hmm… oh, it’s CHERCHEZ LA FEMME, courtesy of Quinapalus. 36d held me up for a bit longer before I found CORAM [C/O + ram] with Ere instead of ire, and after that, there wasn’t much more left.

Listener 4244 Finished GridShirley Curran’s blog includes a hunt for the traditional Listener Setters’ tipple. So I was naturally on the lookout for her own reference in the clues. And was naturally surprised that I hadn’t found any yet. Surely she wouldn’t break her own rule? Oh no, there is it — the last clue, 31d TAWNEY which is defined as Port. How fitting that it should be my last clue.

Finally it’s time to find that woman “clashing character” to be highlighted. Thankfully not too much grid-staring required, as there is Emily Davison sitting as the bottom of the grid, after throwing herself under the King’s Horse. So, what was that Horse’s name again? A quick search on Wikipedia to find that it was Anmer, found at the top of the grid of course.

Final assessment? Certainly a lot of thematic material, to be sure. One, two, three, four, indeed five key words covering all over the grid, and as more Ws in a grid than you can shake a stick at. And, of course, a large and prominent Vote to complete the thematic content. And as to difficulty — well, a few clues were tough but they came at a fairly regular rate. Perhaps I was lucky to guess that all the missing letters would be Ws early on.

By no means the toughest puzzle in the world but choc-full of the thematic material and some lovely clues. What a Listener should be. Thanks Chalicea.

No wonderful artwork on offer this week, unless Chalicea provides some in a setters’ blog. Still, this image courtesy of my trusty Crossword Compiler is fairly colourful so maybe that will make up for it.


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At Spes Non Fracta by Chalicea

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 June 2013

At Spes Non Fracta 001At Spes Non Fracta 002

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