Listen With Others

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Fore and Aft by Poat

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 January 2014

Poat Fore and Aft 001Two little grids for the price of one – that looked promising, but the preamble of Fore and Aft had the Numpties seriously concerned. We re-read it several times, attempting to understand what it told us.

We noted that there were going to be two complete sets that were identifiying which grid the solutions had to be entered into. We also noticed that we had two sets of 13 double clues. Now that was promising; was this somehow going to be pangrammatic? The words ‘Fore’ and ‘Aft’ suggested, too, that something was going to be adjusted at the start and end of solutions.

A quick check confirmed that Poat still qualifies for the Listener Setters’ Tipsy Club – even if only just. His ‘Speak of old chap, gone without a drink (4)’ gave MAN + G[one] so that drink was missing. There was vintage further down: ‘This local variety could be vintage with good [fruit] (6) VINTAGE less G* = NATIVE. Then there was a cocktail: ‘What cocktail of lye and bleach could give you (9)’ LYE + BLEACH* = BELLYACHE. Indeed it could! Cheers, Poat!

That generous clue was our first solve and happily I placed it in the second grid and progressed from there to SARABAND, DIGITALIS, PENNYWORT, ALME and NAAN before realizing what was going on. It was when we began to pair off what were obviously extra words or phrases, like ‘Convert to binary’, fault-finder’, and ‘a small sum’ that we suddenly made sense of the preamble and recognised that words in the ‘aft’ grid were going to add a letter ‘aft’ or at the end, so that we would get PENNYWORTH, BELLYACHER, and  DIGITALISE. (Of course, it was only after completion of the puzzle that we were able to pair off our dangling definitions and lengthened words and be sure that all matched.)

Obviously, then, a number of words in the ‘Fore’ grid were going to add letters at the front.  This was helpful as it placed words for us. Clearly, for example, UNDRESSES (Regularly clean off washerwomen’s strips [c]L[e]A[n] removed from LAUNDRESSES) could only take an S at the start and become ‘Summer attire – SUNDRESSES and thus belong in the ‘Fore’ grid.

Filling the grids now became an enjoyable task and was soon completed with some lovely finds like QAJAR for a ‘Dynasty’ and JASPEROUS for ‘Quartz-like’. Of course, we now realized how our complete set was going to be formed. With ZESTER, QAJAR, JASPEROUS, VIDEOPHONE and UPAS in our list of lengthened words, Poat was evidently taking us through the entire alphabet. What a feat of construction! Not only to manage to find 26 words of which half would add a letter in front and half behind, but to be able to fit them into two grids! This was truly astonishing.

We had full and convincing grids but had somehow overlooked that final sentence of the rubric. ‘In ambiguous cells, the letter must be chosen to match a modification from the same grid half.’ We Numpties always have quite a lot of ‘ambiguous cells’ so there was the usual head-scratch before we realized that we had entered PAVO and PACO without a second’s hesitation. Could this be the ambiguity? Of course it was, and, for once, we had struck lucky, solving VAVS and PAVO as our final clues and fitting them into the first grid (where the V was already going onto IDEOPHONE)! Thus the C in PACO was going to match the C that we were adding to LENTI to give LENTIC (swamp-dwelling).

This was undoubtedly a stunning creation but possibly far more complex for the setter than the solver.  (Well, I suppose that is true of any Listener puzzle!) However, to do justice to Poat, I have carefully worked through the definitions and extended words, right to the final one, where GELATI had to add my only remaining letter, N and had to correspond with the definition ‘size’. That took a bit of lateral thinking. Many thanks, Poat.

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