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Chefs by Cubic

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 October 2013

CharmAfter last week’s Mango challenge, we were hoping for some charming little easy-solve; and we got it. I particularly enjoy the device where the wordplay in each clue indicates the answer with an extra letter that is not entered in the grid. It is easy to forget, when you are solving, that the extra letter is in the wordplay, but, nevertheless, the device gives a cumulative effect as the quotation or message develops.

We were particularly lucky this time, as, starting from ANI (which appeared as I printed out the grid) ‘Bird specimen from VenezuelAN DIstrict (3)’ – hidden with an extra D – we soon had enough letters to guess at ROUND AND ROUND, and the ODQ helpfully completed the quotation from TS Eliot’s The Family Reunion: ‘ROUND AND ROUND THE CIRCLE COMPLETING THE CHARM’.

At this stage, we should have thought about THE CHARM and related it to the title CHEFS but it was, sadly, some time later that we realized that CHEFS was simply ‘F in CHES’. Oh what a clever and sneaky little title. Charm was there in the second clue too, and it wasn’t until I read through the clues to see whether Cubic was a member of the Listener Tipsy Setters’ Club (sadly, he doesn’t seem to be; there wasn’t much alcohol in his clues!) that I noticed how the birds were flying to and fro. There was that ani, and he had Egrets and a Brown bird, as well as other wildlife, one pig, a shot deer, jellyfishes and a repellant snake as well as a headless old skeleton (of what, one wonders!)

Perhaps those birds in the clues were a hint. They were certainly thematic but we had an hour of happy solving before we had to grid stare for a while to find that out. It was quickly evident where those cells had to be left blank as the intersecting clues provided the other letters. Clearly we had six blank cells in what could, with a stretch of the imagination, be warped into a circle. The Numpty imagination was not stretching very well and we had to have a dinner pause (and a glass to compensate for Cubic’s TT mode) before light dawned. We were looking for a charm of finches.

The Finch family of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird came first. There were SCOUT, JEM and ATTICUS. Clearly another finch family had to be symmetrically opposite and, with a bit of lateral thinking, there they were: REDPOLL, TWITE and SERIN. All that remained was to attempt to convert those 32 squares into an appropriate shape. The quotation said ‘Round and round’ so I did my best.

A gentle and enjoyable solve. Thank you Cubic.

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One Response to “Chefs by Cubic”

  1. Jaguar said

    Now that I know that a charm is the collective noun for finches, everything makes more sense, and a puzzle that looked a bit of a mishmash of different ideas only tenuously connected has become a much more elaborate and well-constructed puzzle. So thanks Cubic!

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