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Archive for October, 2013

Nuts and Bolts by Mango

Posted by shirleycurran on 11 October 2013

Numpties were travelling again so we didn’t see this till Saturday and then could hardly believe our eyes. What a preamble! We read it – and reread it – and re- reread it then simply decided to mow the lawn, do the laundry and mull over whether this was our Waterloo. One of these days, we have to return to the easy clues coffee-break (‘Stripey horse (5) Z???A’) crossword that is our natural level. There was just one niggling problem – that word MANGO at the head of the crossword. Who can resist a mango?

William Tell first 001All day long, as we caught up with essential tasks, one or other of us dabbled hopelessly, solving the odd clue and finding some astonishingly generous and all, as usual with Mango, impeccably set (with, natually proof of Mango’s membership of the Listener tipplers’ club – ‘Visitor sustained by a tickler — a colourless liquid (5) – must be vodka? No it’s Poor ET getting a thorough drubbing with a CANE = CETANE).

IONOSPHERIC was the first clue that we solved. ‘Hot pecorino is lambasted from on high (11) (H + PECORINO + IS*) Dilemma! Which way do I enter it? Across comes naturally so I entered it that way. Thinking retrospectively, this had the advantage that the IIIIIV that joined up to make a reasonable image of an arrow was fairly evident when all those letters appeared one after the other. But, of course, it was the wrong grid orientation for the final submission.

A clever friend tells me he simply completed two parallel grids. Why, oh why, can’t I see the obvious short cuts like that? Well, maybe the next time we have a Listener that could clearly be oriented in either direction. Yet another clever friend has pointed out to me that there was a clue which told us unambiguously which orientation to adopt.  AVIATE ‘Raised cheers in a contest to fly a kite (6)’ (TA< in A VIE) was obviously a down clue (even I know that I can’t raise things in an across clue). However, in my defence, I have to say that CHYLDE and AVIATE were almost the last solutions that we entered, so the damage was done.

We had almost completed our grid, with a fairly sound inkling that clues A, I and L were the ones with wordplay only. ‘Things Roman go wrong’ didn’t seem to have much to do with IIIIiVAP?LE that had appeared in our grid and ‘Queen accepted two bishops? No good — people of fashion’, with my rather careless solving, seemed to point at QUARRINGTON, a type of red apple (though there was an I missing and apparently an extra B or RR) At this stage, I couldn’t make much of ‘Edward Lear’s ultimate couple, the owl and cat getting hitched (11) – and even when I had realized that all three wordplays led me to apples, I thought this was CHARLOTTE (THE O[w]L CAT with an extra R for the W misprint) when, of course, all three apples had 11 letters: LEATHER-COAT ([Le]AR THE O[w]L CAT with an extra E for the W misprint). This one, in typical Numpty style, we worked backwards to, when we had spotted WALTER TELL, found his father and seen that the apple had to sit neatly on his head, with that arrow piercing it.

William Tell finalOf course, GRANNY SMITH produced the missing O when we knew that the device to propel the arrow was likely to be a BOW (THINGSR[o]MAN with Y for that O*)

With a full grid but not much idea what we were doing, I fed my top row of letters into TEA and was delighted to be given two choices: GRAVITATION and WILLIAM TELL. Light dawned (Well, I lie, it was almost midnight!) A TEA search produced ISAAC NEWTON at the other end of my grid, so clearly that apple I had falling at this mis-oriented stage (how clever that the core P was missing – clearly years of work have gone into this!) was landing on his head.

There was WALTER TELL, lying prostrate alongside the apple. Oh dear! The whole thing had to be swivelled and WILLIAM TELL placed on the left. So that was what that curious display of the unch letters was telling me. W[illia]M Left, N[ewton] Right? HELP! (an instruction to consult the help line; something was awry, as we were clearly told that we must use the ALTERNATIVE CHOICES (my caps) depicting the earlier event).

The earlier event was the legendary Swiss event (on home ground here, though last time we were in the Grutli meadow, I was aggressively pushed out by the resident cows – fierce brutes that think they own the place!)  On the right side of my grid I now had ? [SE] [AR] ? [CH] [NE] [ER] ? [TA] [ON} ? and had to use the letters MNR and H to find some way of identifying the other ‘passive participant’. It had to be GESSLER, that dastardly Bailiff and a visit to Wikipedia confirmed that he was HERR HERMANN GESSLER.

What an amazing feat! No, I don’t mean Tell splitting that apple. Nuts and Bolts was a remarkable construction with every stage of the solving producing more gasps of amazement. I now know that Newton lived part of his life not far from Quarrington – that apple might even have been a Quarrington – at least the one that fell in the more recent event. Many thanks, Mango.

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Listener 4260: Nuts and Bolts by Mango

Posted by Dave Hennings on 11 October 2013

I was staying in Norfolk on the day that Mango’s latest puzzle appeared. Although I’d be home that evening, the following day would be occupied by a trip to the British Museum for the Pompeii & Herculaneum exhibition. On the Thursday I would be off to Portugal for some golf, so that basically left me three days to complete a puzzle that would almost certainly be a tricky little blighter! (Remember Mango’s previous puzzle, 27, last December?)

Listener 4260At first glance, it looked worryingly odd: there were clue letters instead of numbers, and the symmetry was mirrored about the NW-SE main diagonal. Each clue was actually two clues, an across and a down, three clues had wordplay only, and a number of other answers would be too long for their entry length. Finally, two events would be revealed, and one would take preference for the entry submission.

I solved the first part of clue B Glum perhaps after one’s club throw away point after comeback (3). The break between the two clues was club/throw, and the answer was IRON. Although ‘Ron’ is given under Glum in Mrs B, I just don’t know how the clue could be solved without having heard of the old radio show Take It from Here or resorting to Google. Ron and Eth Glum were characters in the show, which was at its height when I was still in short trousers. As it was, I never heard the programme but had just ‘come across’ it. I hoped that not all clues this week would be that tricky.

I skipped over clue C as I’m not an expert on Bantu phallic symbols, but got the first part of D, a simple answer hidden in mISTLEtoe. E was next, with LOVE reversed plus VE and I was feeling quite positive that Mango may be solved before I had to pack golf clubs and suitcase. I entered EVOLVE horizontally although it could end up being a down in the finished grid.

Progress was steady but relatively slow, and I found myself working up from the bottom right, having got CHYLDE, SHEATHE and WHATEVER fairly quickly. It was, however, some time before I twigged that the extra letters were all appearing in the first and last columns. For you, that may have been the top and bottom rows! That bit of information certainly helped finish off those clues a bit more easily.

The other thing that was confusing was the weird entry appearing at horizontal I (although it could end up being a vertical). It seemed to begin with a load of Is and a V! The light began to dawn as I looked at the choice of extra letters in the right-hand column: ·SE  AR  ·  CH  NE  ER·TA  ON  ·. Although it doesn’t stand out here, seeing it running down the page in front of me, ISAAC NEWTON stood out, although it was a mystery who somebody HERMANN.

Looking to the left, GRAVITATION was in the first column, and it took only a few seconds to realise that the alternative was WILLIAM TELL. And what was the common theme? Apples! And so it was that APPLE could be slotted in at the end of I across to confirm the preamble…”a common definition will appear in the completed grid.” This enabled me to solve A1 as QUARRBNGTON (QU+A+RR+B+NG+TON), I1 as GRANNO SMITH (anagram of ROMAN NIGHT), and L2 LEATHWRCOAT (anagram of [LE]AR THE OWL CAT), none of which was to be entered anywhere in the grid. The misprints spelt BOW, the device to go under the grid.

Finally, the six characters to be reoriented were the first six of I across: I-I-I-I-I-I-V, which would become ——————> to represent the arrow piercing the APPLE on the head of WALTER TELL in column 10. On the right lurked HERR HERMANN better known to TV viewers of the 50s as Albrecht Gessler, played by the superb Willoughby Goddard. OK, so I watched the telly in the 50s rather than listened to the radio!

Listener 4260 My EntryOf course, the grid could be rotated about the NW-SE diagonal to represent the apple falling on Newton’s head, but we were told that the grid would depict the earlier event. In case we really weren’t sure, we were given the unchecked letters in the unclued entries of the finished grid. Although they weren’t really necessary, they confirmed the HERR HERMANN entry in the last column.

And so, after nearly five hours, another superb puzzle was complete. Thanks, Mango, especially the one of you who came up with the delightful title.

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Redraw by Nod

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 October 2013

Redraw by Nod 001Nothing too threatening in Nod’s preamble.  That device of an extra word seemed to promise a relatively generous route to the cryptic statement (as indeed it was; half way through our solve, we worked the message out then worked in reverse, in typical Numpty fashion, to the words that were likely to be the extra ones).

After reassuring confirmation that Nod is a confirmed member of the Listener setters tipply club, ‘Take short step with designated driver in drink WADDLE = W(ith) + DD in ALE, and ‘Diner ordered aperitif very late – starters unavailable’ EATERY = (v)ERY (l)ATE*, solving continued steadily with some clues producing a smile. ‘Euro-MP sets forth from old road in the middle of Brussels’ had us wondering for a while until we realised that the ‘old road’ was a TART in (Bru)SS(els). What, I ask, was the Euro-MP doing in that situation? OK, I realize that he was providing the extra word and giving us the E of A NOVEL TWIST REVEALS TWELVE NEW WORDS.

Those extra words were used effectively by Nod to improve the surface readings of some of the clues weren’t they? We usually solve by focussing on the word play and sometimes do not even consider whether the surface-reading is plausible but, when writing a blog, I tend to look at those surface readings and frequently a pattern emerges. As well as the ‘undressing’, ‘drink driving’, ‘aphrodisiacs’, ‘violent record’, ‘light-fingered squad’, ‘ecstasy’, and ‘obscenities’ that suggest that Nod has rather strange preoccupations, there was a series of unlikely words in ‘Redraw’.

Miles, Jessel, Flora, Quint and even Henry James (albeit separated by a comma) are in those clues and I claim to be the literary Numpty but did I spot it? I seem to operate selective cognitive dissonance when solving a crossword. I wonder whether Kathryn Friedlander has noticed this in her research. We, for example, who use French daily, rarely spot the obvious references to French words in our solving, as we have deliberately closed off that part of out thinking. The same was true of Henry James in this case, even though MISANDRIST was our first solution. ‘Henry, James, etc, administers fluid without ecstasy’ (ADMINISTERS less E*). Perhaps the hint was just too blatant to be believed.

We were lucky in that our next three solves were those long words ICOSANDRIA ‘Hope this [event] might produce one aphrodisiac class of plants (clever subtraction here! HOPE + ICOSANDRIA* = ONE + APHRODISIAC), RINGLEADER and COMPANY MAN. The grid filled speedily after that and in a generous hour, it was full. I need to apply for membership of the Listener Grid-starers’ Club as Numpty head scratching began at this point. We knew that we must be looking for a NOVEL in the grid and that we were going to ‘TWIST’ it but the obvious solution escaped us for a while.

We were living it up in Dubrovnik, down in the quiet little backstreets away from the milling masses (three cruise-liners a day admitted, giving an average of 6000 happy tourists from the Costa Packet or Costa Fortune) so we took time off for a plate of cevapcici and a bottle of Mali Plavac and, of course, on our return the light dawned. Of course it was Henry James THE SCREW that we had to turn. A couple of fiddles and it turned satisfactorily (as did, of course REDRAW, to produce a different type of SCREW – a WARDER).  I had thoroughly enjoyed the relatively gentle clues but Nod’s final touch earned the real smile. What mastery to make those twelve changes all producing real words. Thank you Nod.

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Listener 4259: Redraw by Nod

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 October 2013

This week we had Nod’s second Listener, following on from Toga with its Caesar Cipher puzzle two years ago. Nod has also had several Magpie puzzles published since then.

Listener 4259Here we had extra words in most clues, their initial letters spelling out some shenanigans required once we had completed the grid. The preamble also told us that hints would be found among the clues, the sort of phrase that makes me wonder if they were going to be too well hidden for me to find.

I started off well, with 5, 10, 12 and 16 across being slotted into place. Both 10 Miles away from mobile home, units are better than nothing and 12 Champion gymnast [vaulter] losing sight surprisingly might turn to firm supporter (10, two words) were simple compound anagrams. The first was (HOME UNITS – M)*, the second (CHAMPION GYMNAST – SIGHT*)* and both were easy to deduce with a bit of doodling.

I don’t mean to be dismissive of the puzzle; I find that the occasional relaxing and straighforward Listener is a pleasant change, although I know that some solvers want to be heavily taxed every week! Nod’s offering appeared at a time when I was travelling quite a bit, so I was thankful that it wasn’t a tough one. Indeed the clues were solved in well under two hours.

The initial letters of the extra words in the clues spelt out A novel twist reveals twelve new words. I suppose a brute force approach to identifying possible grid changes that would lead to twelve new words could have been a method of identifying what was required, but I’m sure that all of us were put on the right track by the hints in the clues.

I had wondered why there were so many proper nouns in the clues, such as Jessel, Darwin and Charlotte Church! Of course, it was 13dn Hater of Henry, James, etc, administers fluid without ecstasy that gave the game away, as Nod must have planned. Henry James’s most famous work is the ghost story, The Turn of the Screw. I expected to find the title in one of the diagonals, but was amused to find just THE SCREW in a circle around the centre of the grid, and a simple turn through 180 degrees gave the changed words required.

I read the book too many years ago to recall the characters’ names, but Wiki showed that Miles, Jessel, Quint and Flora were the main characters in the novel. Darwin and Charlotte Church, not surprisingly, were not! Have I missed any?

The title Redraw is just the reverse of Warder, a screw in prison parlance.

So thanks to Nod for an entertaining puzzle. I suspected that Listener 4260 by Mango would prove to be a little more taxing!

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