Listen With Others

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A Birthday Surprise by KevGar

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 April 2014

KevGar 001There was Numpty consternation when we saw that title, A Birthday -A-B-C(E-F) by KevGar, then read the word ‘numeric’ in the preamble (quite a pre-ramble this time!) ‘Seven clues are numeric expressions in which the letters A to F represent the first six numbers in a series. The answers to these clues are members of another series, deduction of which will allow solvers to translate the answers into the corresponding grid entries’.

Nothing to do but solve. Well, there was the initial read through the clues to see whether KevGar qualifies for the Listener Setters Tipsy Crowd membership and he is one of the rare setters who doesn’t! Not a single alcoholic clue: that is truly rare! Ah, wait a minute, that was sly! DEPOT at 33ac – he TOPED in a revolutionary way.  However, there were quite a few musical clues: we had SHELLAC from ‘Uproar in endless pillage – 78 for example (7)’ (HELL in SAC[k]), INCISOR ‘It cuts poor Rossini missing start of sonata with four beats in a bar (7)'(ROSSINI* less S[onata] round C), and RECREATIONAL ‘Amusing record, well-balanced, covering half of extended play (12)’ (REC + RATIONAL round E). The penny didn’t drop yet.

Those seven extra words stood out, especially the Q of QUEEN’S (after all, what a kinky surface reading! Whatever would a king be doing in the queen’s cat litter?- The mind boggles!) That was probably going to be followed by a U, and URETHANE stood out (Intermittently spray this URETHANE on garden feature – (we are learning to look for potential extra words hidden in clues which use the ‘regularly’, ‘now and then’, ‘oddly’ or ‘intermittently’ device – clearly that is the subtle place to hide such a word). SHODDY, AUTHOR, RESTING, ENGRAVING and SCOTTISH completed our set, all of them being obviously redundant in their clues, and we had the indication that we were to use SQUARES.

I have to kick myself that it took so long for the penny to drop. We soon had enough letters to make DRUM-ROLL, SCHOOLMASTER, PHILOSOPHER and MERCURY the only options (or almost) in those clues with the lines of letters. All the same, it wasn’t until the letters in circles spelled out HAYDN that it all came together.

CLOCK, BEAR and MIRACLE filled our remaining empty cells and, in well under two hours of happy solving, we had a full grid. The math Numpty did some speedy calculation: 1² +2² +3² +4² +5² = 55 and Symphony 55 was the Schoolmaster, and so on. The Internet confirmed that the Clock was 101, Mercury 43, Drum-roll 103, the Bear 82, Miracle 96 and Philosopher 22. and we didn’t even need to check on the Internet that Symphony No 94 was the SURPRISE, giving a birthday Surprise.

We had that rather intriguing ECCO at 35 across and wondered why there was the odd clue ‘Beginning of eighth chapter about [AUTHOR] over there (4) when B + C + E would give ECHO. Perhaps KevGar will honour us with a setter’s blog and explain that strange omission (was it an editorial deletion or requirement?)

All done, with not a single groan! That is rare for the Numpties. Well, not quite all done. We had to find another three-letter symphony and convert it to a numeric expression. The HEN stood out, (poor little thing, who would write a symphony to a hen!) and was quickly converted to the expression A-B+C+D+E+F.

Thank you, KevGar, delightful!


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