Listen With Others

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Aramis Tetris (Tilting at windmills)

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 June 2014

Aramis Tetris 001What enormous fun this was! It looked almost like a carte blanche with just that rather curiously inverted set of clue numbers and just the twelve across clues. We counted twenty-nine ‘shape’ clues of which thirteen were going to lead us to 8-letter words and the other sixteen to 4-letter words. There were going to be misprints but all the correct letters were restricted to the L,I,O,R,S,T and Z s of the shapes (with L and R mirroring each other and S and Z mirroring each other.

A character and his sobriquet – well, that could be anyone, but a ‘sidekick’? There is Doctor Watson, there’s Batman’s Robin, Tonto for the Lone Ranger but who comes up first if you look up ‘sidekick’ on Google? Sancho Panza, of course.

With that suspicion in mind before we even started our solve, I scanned the clues to see whether any other hints appeared and, of course, to confirm that Aramis has his entry ticket for the next Listener setters’ tipsy tipple. I didn’t have to look far. Only five clues down (or up) I found ‘Regressing, use plastic to unlock alcohol, mixing gins, beer, short – it might be alarming’ (LOID< giving DOIL and GINS* + AL(e) giving SIGNAL). We didn’t need to be told in one of the shape clues that Aramis would ‘Move contents of public house’ (Misprint for Love and CHOU was in that public house!)

It made sense to attack the across clues and we did so with some trepidation but the first few solves were generous and we tentatively, after a bit of a Numpty spat about where to put them, slotted in PONE/IN-TRAY, TRUTHS/FLEW, WALLA/TERSE, OUST/INDIGO, SIGNARY/AIM and OSIER/SUITS. I think Aramis got this just right as those clues were almost at the Numpty ‘Stripey horse (5)’ level and allowed us to hope that we would complete the centre part of the grid and be able to drop in some Tetris shapes.

Tilting at Windmills3The head scratching followed with a moment of sheer delight when I looked up lemurs (Those following a career in military intelligence answer “aye-aye” etc) and found the word PROSIMIANS. (OPPO from the shapes, had already appeared as the clue has figured three times in crosswords this week, so we suspected that the word was going to begin with a P.)  Another solver has commented to me that that was his clue of the year. We teased out SCLATE/RANK, MOLYBDENUM, DJEBEL/IRID and with only NOES in clue 1, decided that it was worth while attempting to fit in our shapes.

There was more generosity when Aramis told us that the shapes were dropping into the grid in listed order (though it took us a while to absorb the fact that we could place our solutions with that in mind). We began by spotting ANALYSTS, WEIR, ZEST, IRONPANS and OPPO and inserting those at the foot of our grid confirmed our initial suspicion. It had to be SANCHO PANZA emerging there.

There was a moment of discouragement as, when we inserted SAAR and GUES and EFIK where they clearly had to go, we had the unlikely ARUGIFE climbing round our perimeter. Where we doing the right thing? A dinner date called and lasted till after midnight, so we slept on it.

Tetris 001Dawn brought daylight (well, obviously!) and when I fitted in IMMORTAL, LA TRISTE FIGURA appeared. Poor DON QUIXOTE! That unusual word CABALLED had been spotted earlier and now we could complete our perimeter with DON QUIXOTE on high and his sobriquet completed with EL CABALLERO DE …

Of course the other Numpty at once said ‘TILTING AT WINDMILLS’ and there it was in the shape of the sails of a windmill. We could almost have stopped there but we entertained ourselves over breakfast, fitting in the remaining words and finally breathing a happy sigh when WOORALIS, JONQUILS, ENORMOUS and SCIOLIST completed our brightly coloured grid. (It took me five colours and some of them touched so I didn’t produce a very effective demonstration of the minimum number of colours one needs to illustrate a map – but it did look ever so cheerful!)

“What has Tetris to do with tilting with windmills?” somebody asked me and I gather that when you are playing the Tetris game, you are ‘windmilling’ the shapes when you start. One more bit of useless knowledge to store away in case someone else does another Tetris Listener grid in a few years’ time.

Many thanks, Aramis. This was superb.

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