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Unchless by Corylus

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 August 2013

ScrunchyI don’t think the Numpties have solved a Corylus Listener crossword before, though I see from Dave Hennings’ Crossword Data Base that he has set a fair number. I have just looked up PUNCHEON so I am, anyway, reassured that Corylus is a healthy cask-consuming member of the Listener setters’ tipsy club (that’s if I needed any proof after that clue about ‘Wine picked up I see after drinks company plant’s flattened to the ground? (12)’ DIAGEOTROPIC: PORT rev. + IC after DIAGEO) With only 22 clues to go at, that’s a fine stock of booziness.

Only 22 clues indeed. My first reaction was one of glee after last week’s struggle. Then I coloured all the lights that had no clue and woke up to the reality that we were going to have to solve almost all of those 22 clues in order to find the unique entries that completed the grid. There were three thematic clues too. Our only hint at a theme was ‘UNCHLESS’ and we at once discussed the possibility of finding words that had lost their UNCH. (Not a bad H…., as it turned out! We now have PUNCHUPS, LUNCHING and PUNCHEON entered as LING, PUPS and PEON – what fun it must have been to find those words that could go in as real words. There were not a lot more possible four-letter ones MING, BIER, DING maybe and a few others?

Our solve moved astonishingly fast but the reason is fairly evident. This was rather like that amusing one with half the clues in invisible ink a couple of years ago where the clever key to the solution was the fact that only one word would fit the NONSENSE pattern. The editors clearly needed to be convinced that all the remaining clues were solvable by relative numpties in order to make this a successful compilation. But what a brilliant piece of setting that could assure the solvers that ‘the other entries will then be uniquely determined’. Of course, they were and, with only 1ac, 6dn and 20ac to understand, we had a full grid.

That was when we remembered our original HUNCH and one Numpty bellowed “PUNCHUPS! It’s PUN + C + HUPS” LUNCHING, of course, followed suit and PUNCHEON, but those two were clued so we had to find an unclued word in our grid that could include UNCH. SCRY, perhaps? Would that produce SCRUNCHY? Eureka!

This was tremendous fun from start to finish. Just what a Listener should be, I think. Many thanks, Corylus.

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One Response to “Unchless by Corylus”

  1. Jaguar said

    I thought it was a bit of a shame that the thematic modification leaped out early on, the preamble giving just a bit too much away, but an otherwise excellent construction.

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