Listen With Others

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Listener 4302: When All Else Fails by Ottorino

Posted by Dave Hennings on 1 August 2014

Ottorino’s first Listener was no. 4247 Yod Jsyv Dox with its Caesar Cipher encoding (the title is Six Four Ten in the three ciphers used). This week, it was everybody’s favourite… jumbles! There was an ingenious twist here that the positions of letters which ended up in the same positions after ‘jumbling’ were given after each clue.

Listener 4302The final grid would reveal an author, a description of the theme… and most of the theme itself. A missing word would need highlighting, and the last line of the work entered below the grid. Blimey, that sounded like a lot of thematic material in one grid!

After my first pass through the acrosses, I had solved just ten clues. Even more depressing was the fact that I could enter only sixteen letters, less than 10% of the grid. The downs were just as reluctant to be solved, with another ten succumbing and only a few more cells that could have letters entered. The only plus was that they included the two 13-letter answers, ARTESIAN WELLS (for which I needed some help) and ELABORATENESS (for which I didn’t). The down side, of course, was that each had only one letter position specified so the grid didn’t look much less scant than it had after the acrosses.

This was going to be a slow solve but I made gradual progress before being interrupted by a busy three days in the middle of the week.

Coming back to the puzzle after a break worked wonders. I saw AND DRUGS CAUSE in the central column and that rang a distant bell. I held back on investigating this further — for about five minutes† — and then decided to key ‘drugs’ into my Crossword Database.

I was rewarded with two puzzles, the first being Inquisitor 25 from 2007, Conclusion by Zero. This gave the complete text of DOROTHY PARKER’s poem, RESUMÉ… and pretty much most of the rest of my grid! I felt very guilty — for about five minutes† — at having taken a sneaky short cut, and then proceeded to quickly†complete the remaining holes in my grid.

Listener 4302 My EntryI finished everything off by highlighting AWFUL in column 11 and entering the last line of the poem, “You might as well live”, underneath. I was amazed at just how much of the grid was filled with the thematic material, which you can see from how little of the grid above right is just black. And how obliging of Mrs Parker to provide suitable letter counts for Ottorino.

So finished a tough but very entertaining puzzle. Thanks, Ottorino.

†  time sequences have been shortened for dramatic effect 


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