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Listener 4243: Pipes by Samuel

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 June 2013

It was time for one of our more prolific setters this week and the man who is the new editor of the Enigmatic Variations series in the Sunday Telegraph. Hopefully that role won’t diminish his setting output too much. On top of everything else, Samuel seems to come up with novel clueing methods, and here we had a bit of shuffling required before the across clues could be solved. However, before that, I need to go back in time…

Listener 4243As I was ‘researching’ Skippers by Ifor, I googled ‘anniversaries in May 2013’. Not surprisingly, on one of the web sites that I visited was mention of the Dambusters raid by 617 Squadron in 1943 which was thte theme for that puzzle. Out of interest, I scanned other entries for May 2013 and came across 40 years ago (25 May 1973): “The album ‘Tubular Bells’ by Mike Oldfield was released. It was the first album released by Virgin Records.” Hmmm…Mike Oldfield, 12 letters; Tubular Bells, 12 letters; grid size of Pipes, 12×12. I resisted the urge to write to the editors and advise them against publishing thematic crosswords too near the date of any associated anniversary!

Anyway, back to the puzzle. Despite being on the lookout for an M and a T in the first row, I decided to tackle the down entries first. Here the clues were normal, and extracting a given letter (this seemed very generous) gave a thematic hint.

1 was MUMBLERS: well, that could be the M of MIKE, but the IKE didn’t fit. 3 ONRUSH and 5 TEXTER came next: that could be the T of TUBULAR, but again the other letters didn’t fit. 7 ORGY and 9 A-PER-SE finished my run of odd-numbered clues, 12 TRAINEE, 16 DOOMED and 20 VIAL coming next. Not a bad first trawl I thought, but my knowledge of the theme hadn’t helped at all.

What I did have, however, was the basis of the thematic hint: T•e•e•r•m••e•r•••t. That looked like it could start Theme from the, but I didn’t dash off to Google to see what our theme music had been used for.

On to the across clues. Here, apart from the six thematic entries, one or more words had to be moved from the beginning of the clue to the end before solving. My head spun! 4 King and unknown Belgian, often victorious in Tours, hired soldier (6). ‘Hired soldier’ shouted MERC, and Eddie MERKXC fitted the bill. That seemed too good to be true, and I put him in the third row and slotted MUMBLERS, ONRUSH and TEXTER through him.

The top half of the grid was taking shape as I pencilled in ORGY and A-PER-SE. I revisited 6dn Cut off control before eccentric Doctor’s first materialised (7;2) and, after a brief thought about the upcoming 50th anniversary of Doctor Who in November, I got REIFIED. This in turn led me to get 2ac Clubs finally fail following round (6) for the undefined CROTAL. Well, it didn’t need a definition as it was a bell, and all the thematic acrosses would probably be so too. I even pencilled LUTINE into the symmetrically opposite entry, but time would show that to be two rows too low.

The thematic tube that the grid represented (I didn’t submit the two edges stuck together) caused a bit of a hiccup with entries that started on the right of the puzzle and cycled round to the left: CLOSURE, TEASELED, FARRIERS and OBOISTS were the culprits here.

The grid was complete a relatively short while later, and the message spelled out from the across clue shenanigans was Rotate every row. Of course, I had the advantage of knowing the musical title and its creator, but those that were still in the dark were told by the down clues that it was the Theme from The Exorcist. If I had ever known that, I had also forgotten it.

We were told to carefully follow the across instruction — as if we don’t try and do everything in a Listener carefully! The preamble told us that MIKE OLDFIELD and TUBULAR BELLS were symmetrically placed, but this still gave two possible options for the finished grid. Rotating every row ensured that the title went on the left and the creator on the right.

Listener 4243 My EntryAnd so an excellent puzzle came to an end. I think I shall resist the temptation to google ‘anniversaries’ at the beginning of every month unless I get well and truly stuck on a puzzle. As it was, it didn’t take too much enjoyment away from Samuel’s offering, but that was more than made up for with the wonderful clue at 19dn:

Dash of Rum and Orange, say, in rough bar in Glasgow (4;3)

I felt a twinge of sympathy for overseas solvers who may not have known that Orange is the name of a European Internet Service Provider.


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