Listener 4251: Unchless by Corylus
Posted by Dave Hennings on 9 August 2013
Corylus’s Listeners go back to 1982, but this is his first for over twelve years. Moreover, he seems to have forgotten that Listeners generally have a few unchecked letters (unches) scattered round the grid. Here there were no unches, “so three clue answers must be treated thematically before entry”.
That little word “so” unfortunately gave the game away immediately, indicating that three occurences of the letters UNCH in the answers had to be omitted before entry. It strikes me in hindsight that “and” would have been equally suitable—as Chambers says, “indicating a consequence or aim”—and more misleading.
Not to worry, it looked as though the puzzle was going to be a bit tricky anyway since we were only provided with clues to alternate entries. Luckily, the clues seemed to be slightly easier than average, with 8ac GAEA being straightforward initial letters of ‘governments are exterminating aliens’, and 9ac was hidden in ‘tentativE PEIRAstic’ (although I nearly missed it at first).
A few more acrosses—well there were only a few to start with—followed by a smattering of down entries and I had a half-finished grid after only 40 minutes. Unfortunately, it was predominantly the right-hand half with the left being quite sparsely populated. What’s more, there was no sign of the three answers burdened with the letters UNCH.
Eventually, the left side of the grid began to fill out, including the three UNCHless entries LUNCHING, PUNCHEON and PUNCH-UPS, entered as LING, PEON and PUPS respectively. I was particularly impressed that the editors allowed 4dn DIAGEOTROPIC Wine picked up I see after drinks company plant’s flattened to the ground with its reference to the alcoholic drinks company DIAGEO which owns Guinness, Johnnie Walker and Tanqueray among many others. I’m sure that I was only aware of this name having done some work for Johnnie Walker about 20 years ago…and not because I spend so much time in pubs!
All that remained was to identify the unclued normal entry that could be considered thematically treated, ie without UNCH in its heart. It didn’t take long to identify SCRUNCHY, in the grid as SCRY. Nothing too difficult this week, but an enjoyable puzzle nonetheless, so thanks to Corylus—and hopefully not too long before your next outing.