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Listener No 4282: Coordinated by Mr Lemon

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 March 2014

This week we had a puzzle from the late James Leonard in the guise of Mr Lemon, also known as Rustic over at Enigmatic Variations. His first Listener was back in 1989, and this will no doubt be his last.

Listener 4282In Coordinated, two extra letters in the wordplay for each clue gave the coordinates for the starting point of the resulting answer. Since the grid references were A–M for both across and down cells, and the references were given in either order, there could be two possible starting squares. Luckily, there was no mention of the grid being cyclic (where entries wrap around from right to left or top to bottom), so that should limit the possibilities.

Indeed, clue 1 Perhaps a Nigerian farm canid, barking led to AFRICAN with coordinates DM. This meant that it must start in the top row (DM) rather than the bottom row (MD) where it would have no room in the grid. Clue 2 Fear capital lost an early unexpected sequel was likely to be AFTER-something, and it didn’t take long to disentangle CLAP plus AI from the remaining letters of ‘fear capital’. This could also have its starting point positioned, this time in the first column of row I.

Clue 3 Thatched hut for Kenyans also gave AND, although I needed Mrs B to confirm the coordinates AB, ‘banda’ being a thatched hut. AND could start with the second A of AFTER-CLAP, but it was too early to be guessing. However, clue 4 Working abattoir men possibly catch it to Dover (two words) gave BOAT TRAIN plus EM, and that had to start in the top row, so AFRICAN had to go down from DM.

I didn’t really expect to be able to have entries confirmed so early on, and with the 180° symmetry of the grid, I had two bars as well. After a few minutes, 8 COIN, 10 CRIM and 12 EARWIG were the only I answers I hadn’t got in the first dozen clues. It took me some time to understand 9 French psychotherapist Jock’s sweetheart’s cuddled by eight, perhaps — again, Mrs B helped me to find COUÉ with [J]O in CU[B]E. Not having entry lengths given didn’t seem to be too much of a handicap this week.

Shortly after, I managed to fix BOAT TRAIN going down from the top row, and I was particularly satisfied that from 20 INCA through to 31 OPPO, I had only a couple of gaps. Unfortunately, there came an extremely long dearth of solving from clue 32 (which would eventually be PEEWEE) to the last clue (number 47), with only two clues solved: 42 THE and 43 TINAMOU. I briefly wondered whether 42 THE plus 3 AND would form part of the quotation that would need highlighting at the end.

The remaining clues didn’t take too long to finish, with 39 SPLINTERPROOF being surprisingly late to be slotted into the central column. Then, almost before my eyes made it over to the top right section of the grid where BO·T·EIM· was awaiting completion, I spotted COGITO ERGO SUM running down the leading NW-SE diagonal. I have to say, however, that BOTTLE-IMP didn’t stick out like a sore thumb. It looked like a German word was trying to get out, and I needed to leaf through Chambers to reveal the elusive word.

A quick google of ‘bottle imp’ and… hold on!… Wiki was telling me all about Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story. Interesting as that was (I haven’t read the story), a bit more research was needed to identify the René Descartes connection. Chambers just says “an imp confined in a bottle”. Thanks!

Listener 4282 My EntryIn fact, what it should have done was to cross-reference Cartesian devil. As with the likes of pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (which was the subject of a recent Enigmatic Variations puzzle that I blogged, Seaside Capers by Piccadilly), it is one of those entries that Chambers feels is worthy of special highlighting. As part of the entry for Cartesian we find “☆ Cartesian devil, diver or bottle-imp n a scientific toy named after Descartes, a glass container with a floating figure that sinks when the top of the container is pressed.”

And so, a long line of Mr Lemon puzzles comes to an end. Anyone interested in seeing a full list of James’s puzzles can find them alongside my fifteensquared blog of his last EV puzzle, Greetings… and Farewell from Rustic.


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