Listener 4250: 2016111214 91885 by BeRo
Posted by Dave Hennings on 2 August 2013
Just from the title, you knew it was going to be another entertaining puzzle from BeRo, he of Fizz Buzz and Fizz pub games, as well as TS Eliot’s Four Quartets and others, over recent years. Here, definitions had been treated thematically, a letter then added, and then encoded using a simple numerical substitution. Decoding the title gave TPKLN IRHE, TAFAAUD IAHHE, or a number of other alternatives. It was fairly obvious that a shortcut to the theme could not be reached by playing around here
Luckily, 1ac wasn’t so tricky: Earth’s moved just a little to see a wild 11925211614 (10). I tried ASYUPN for the coded word, and removing the U was left with an anagram of PANSY, and HEARTSEASE was the straightforward answer. Not every clue had a coded definition, and it looked as though those might be the tricky ones since 11 and 12 across weren’t obvious. 14ac Doing “time”—to us that’s “182419” (8), with the definition being RXIA or AHBDIA or RBDIA…and, without going any further, BIRD looked likely and TITMOUSE came as the anagram of ‘time to us’.
After a first pass through the acrosses, I only had two answers (27 EXIT and 35 VOETSAK) that didn’t have a coded definition. These couldn’t be entered directly as they needed to be treated thematically, not encoded or with any spurious letter added.
The downs weren’t much more forthcoming. 7 AIMS and 22 ALIUNDE could be entered, but 4 TIRL, 9 MUTUCAS and 22 ALIUNDE needing jumbling.
I tried the title again, knowing that it was a simple jumble with an extra letter in the first word. TPAALN IRHE was what I came up with, but I felt sure that ‘Plant hire’ was unlikely to be a phrase attributed to anyone in particular. The same applied to ‘Natal heir’! It looked as though I would have to wait until the end, when the extra letters from the down clues would also relate to the thematic phrase.
I had a great deal of fun trying to decode and unjumble the numbers in the clues. It was interesting that the length of a clue’s numbers was no indication of how hard it was to find the correct definition. I don’t know if I was just lucky in converting the numbers to the correct letters, but many came out first time. For example, 3dn 225187151814151 came out as VERGORNOA with governor as the definition for ALDERMAN; 13dn 119221149122520 was ASBUNILYT, suitably APPLICABLY; and 20dn 1414259216 201519191895 was NNYIUF TOSSRIE giving funny stories for COMEDIES.
I had a bit more trouble with 10dn 371525141391 18415188, CGOBENMIA RDAERH becoming harder and STEEPENING, not to mention 18dn CIDEELEVARNH with deliverance coming from EXORCISM.
The clue that had me confused for a time was 6dn Pond originally featured with terrace in a formal arrangement of flowerbeds (8). On first run through, this looked almost certain to be PARTERRE, being P + TERRACE*, except there was no anagram indicator and there was a C and only two Rs. Of course it was P + TERR in ARE (a being the abbreviation for the metric measure ‘are’).
I think my favourite clue was 3dn With leadership changes and subsequent coalition, elder can become governor (8) which was a nicely misleading surface for ELDER CAN with first letters changed and then the two words run together. This was followed closely by 4dn Celtic’s fourth leads to imminent Rangers’ loss — it’s their turn (4) being celTic + Imminent Rangers’ Loss.
And so to that pesky phrase. The extra letters in the title and then acrosses was •UASRCHIET, a jumble of the name associated with the phrase, which, from the downs, was an unjumble of APTANHIRE. This tied in well with what I originally had, TPAALN IRHE, and showed the L to be the added letter. This meant the name was an anagram of LUASRCHIET and could be SH LUCRETIA or ITU CHARLES!
Nothing seemed obvious, so, after first checking plant hire in Chambers (it’s not even there!) I turned to the Phrases and quotations from foreign languages at the back of the book. With so few different letters, it didn’t take too long to find “panta rhei (Gr) all things are in flux.—a saying of Heraclitus.” In the ODQ, this is given as “Everything flows and nothing stays”. This means that the coded version of the answers to the normal clues would have no letter in the same place as its uncoded version. This resolved the ambiguity in entries like 35 VOETSAK which had to be SKAVETO rather than SOAVETK.
Finally, HERACLITUS had to be highlighted in the appropriately numbered cells. Converting to numbers, he became 8 5 18 1 3 12 9 20 21 and 19, and these clue numbers in the grid did indeed hold HATSUIERCL.
I was pleased that I had been correct at the beginning, and this was indeed an entertaining puzzle. Thanks, BeRo.