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When All Else Fails by Ottorino

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 August 2014

Ottorino Dorothy Parker 001Oh my! The preamble. Did it really say “All clue answers are jumbled before entry”? Perhaps I should give up now! I hate jumbles and have commented rather critically in the past that they are sometimes an easy way out for setters. However, I have even test-solved some of Ottorino’s very subtle and clever compilations and know that that will not be the case here.  Read on!

“The positions of any letters that stay in their original places are given after the answer length.” That is a lovely gift (though I confess that I really must have been an arch numpty last night, as it took me well over an hour to take in the fact that the other letters were NOT going to be in their original places so that some solutions, like TGE for GET,  KER for ERK and DORO for DOOR could almost be slotted in at once!)

The usual quick scan of the surface readings provided a wide-ranging field of material with a bit of an obsession with ladies, “Court old girl (3)” (SUE), “Female privates here in uprising (4)” (YONI), “Nice female enters special motivation research centre for crossword “stinkers” (8) What a fabulous clue – possibly appropriate for some solvers too. (SMR + (cros)S(word) round ELLE), “Give voice to old boy finally grasping woman (5)” (HARP + (bo)Y). Of course Ottorino confirmed his membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Society (well, we have sat at the same table at a Listener Setters’ Dinner so I had no need to check really but, of course, the boozy clue was there!) “Very nearly drunk after Australia won (5)”  (A + W + FUL(l)) Well, you would be, I suppose if Australia won, but A isn’t an abbreviation for Argentine, is it and the clue wouldn’t admit a German victory. DWFUL? GWFUL? Shame!

And so we solved for a couple of hours with growing frustration as our grid grew grubbier and grubbier with entire words, almost, like ELABORATENESS and ARTESIAN WELLS squeezed into single cells awaiting confirmation or deletion by crossing cells. I didn’t add to ease of solving, either, by neglecting to read the instruction that “In fourteen clues a letter must be restored before solving”, so that, although the answer  to “Set fire to gain pure lithium clasps (5)” was obviously RELIT, there seemed to be an A missing from the clue (Set fire to Again). It wasn’t until after we had completed the grid that I struggled through the clues to piece together ALGONQUIN HOTEL (though I don’t think that would have helped much, anyway, had we seen it earlier).

DOROTHY ???KER was the break through and our struggle suddenly became an amusing activity. The ODQ gave us part of HER POEM RESUME and, of course, GOOGLE provided the full poem. Razors pain you/ Rivers are damp/ Acids stain you/ And drugs cause cramp/ Guns aren’t lawful/ Nooses give/ Gas smells awful/ You might as well live! What a depressing set of options (but I suppose she didn’t have the Listener crossword to brighten her Fridays, Ho ho).

Of course that was when our admiration for Ottorino’s compilation (and forgiveness for an entire crossword of jumbles) saw light of day. The remaining tidying up took an almost enjoyable hour this morning. Thanks, Ottorino, for a brilliant compilation.


One Response to “When All Else Fails by Ottorino”

  1. Jaguar said

    Not really a fan of jumbling entries either, but it was more than justified later on by the amount of thematic content in the grid, so no complaints in the end really. Thanks, Ottorino!

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