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Panta Rhei by BeRo

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 August 2013

Panta Rhei 001Consternation was the Numpty response when this 2016111214 91885 slid out of the printer and consternation was the state about two hours later when just a few words had appeared in our grid. We had immediately attacked the title and dredged something like TAPLNA HIRE or HEIR out of it but that was not very promising, were we going to be involved in some sort of A PLANT HIRE? (Shifting big trees around?) Clearly we had to cold solve.

There were some tough clues here, since, for half of them we might work towards a solution but had to enter them in a thematic way. This was likely to be a jumble (and I have expressed my loathing of jumbles here before and promise never to use that device, which I think is a cop out for a compiler – snarl over!), but even that posed problems, since there had to be some way to tell us how to deal with the unches in a clue like 11ac which yielded LAPILLI, or 22dn (ALIUNDE) or even 35ac (VOETSAK).

What about the other half? Fortunately we could solve a few of them from just the word play, but then we had to work backwards and attempt to decipher those numbers to obtain a word which was only a definition of the solution. Horror of horrors, these numbers were jumbled too WITH AN EXTRA LETTER concealed in A 0 1, B = 2-style jumbles.There was only one hint of relief when we realized that the solutions to those words could be entered normally, giving us a tiny toe-nail foothold.

Well, there was just one other slightly reassuring touch. BeRo is evidently a member of that elite Listener setters’ tippling club. I took a break from the hard grind, to scan the clues for evidence and found not one but 50 Spanish pubs in his repertoire and he was intoxicating some dated gypsy man in 24ac. ‘Stop gypsy man being content to intoxicate dated one (8)’ What a lucky solve that one was: Mrs Bradford gave us a word for a STOP with ROM in it (CROMORNA) and we could work out that the ‘dated’ CORN and ‘one’ A had the ROM as content.

Fortunately, a few of the longer words, HEARTSEASE (giving a numerical code for PANSY with an extra U), STEEPENING (BECOMING HARDER with A), APPLICABLY (SUITABLY with N) began to provide a framework and, over a period of seven hours, we laboured to work backwards to those letters and to get enough letters in our grid to enable TEA to produce some suggestions. The trouble was that TEA produced rather a lot and we were working through lists of a couple of hundred words to convince ourselves that ‘Antique book covering folio concerning Will’s final letter (5) was FOREL and not RELIC, for example.

It was one Numpty’s sudden realization that the title could give PANTA RHEI that led us to Chambers ‘All things are in a flux’, and HERACLITUS. Doesn’t he sound like one of those grumpy ‘And another thing’ old men on the village liars’ bench, complaining about the modern world! So that explained the method of entry of those ambiguous words. No letter had to go into its original cell. Progress speeded up and we were soon able to establish that the letters provided by extra code numbers did indeed anagram to HERACLITUS PANTA RHEI.

All that was left to do (and it was after midnight by now) was to highlight squares 8,5,18,1,3,12,9,20,21,19 HERACLITUS, and, sure  enough, there was an anagram of that name. As usual, we learned something and this certainly kept us quiet for a long time. On reflection it was an achievement on the compiler’s part to ensure that all that ambiguity could be resolved by simply ensuring that a light with two unches (like ALIUNDE) could be filled by simply never having any letter occupy its original cell or, as in the case of MUTUCAS or LAPILLI putting the same letter into both of the unches. Thank you BeRo.

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One Response to “Panta Rhei by BeRo”

  1. Jaguar said

    I thought the coding method was somewhat inelegant, I’d have preferred a simple substitution cipher, but otherwise a fine puzzle.

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