Listener 4304: Warning! by Ozzie
Posted by Dave Hennings on 15 August 2014
Ozzie’s last Listener was back at the beginning of 2012 and featured a game of tic-tac-to(e). The endgame was quite tricky, and there were some equally tricky clues along the way. I expected nothing less with Warning!, especially as the preamble looked quite devious. Ten clues, and their entries, needed tampering in some way, and the final grid had to have exactly 73 bars added.
Luckily this week, we were told that there were only ten clues where tampering was required… it wouldn’t have been unusual for us to be told that “some clues” needed tampering. I decided to ignore this warning until I came across a clue that didn’t make sense.
1ac Four roods occupy a position about entrance to chancel (4) just needed a check in Chambers to find that four roods make an ACRE. A short while later and my run through the acrosses had revealed only six more answers, and three of those were puny three-letter entries: 15 RES, 18 RIN and 28 EAR. I also had 32 TYPE O and 37 STATING and I suspected that 19 Part of The Castle, second to Der Prozess’s start, follows their protagonist, one at mercy of state? (4) was KEEP: the E of dEr and the P of Prozess following K, the main character in those two Kafka novels (Der Prozess is The Trial); however reasoning behind the first E, presumably “one at mercy of state”, eluded me.
The downs proved equally tricky, although I did get 2 CHERIMOYERS and 14 TRISECTRIX so things looked promising. Also, 9 It’s excellent finding Republican wit in Onassis, say (3) was obviously ARI (from Aristotle Onassis) and it looked as though “wit in” needed to be tampered with to become “within”. Going back to 14ac The kind of river an earl enters later (10), that became THEREAFTER, with “river an” becoming “riverman”. I put 14ac in my grid with THERE on the left and AFTER symmetrically opposite on the right… well, why not, it fitted with EFT at 11dn.
I read through all the clues looking for others where a letter would fit between two words and help the clue make sense. 27ac had “Miss on” which was “Mission” and led to EMBASSY without SS to give EMBAY. Those two letters that needed restoring to the across clues were M I, and MIND THE GAP sprang to mind. I have been lucky recently that a lot of potentially tortuous head-scratching has been avoided by things just popping into my head. A short while later, and I identified most of the other letters in the downs… some would have to wait until I actually solved the clues. They would end up as follows:
A few minutes later, after I solved 16ac ERYTHRITOL, I saw that MIND would go in between the THERE and AFTER, and THE GAP could fit between the EMBA and Y of EMBAY, after all, it would have to be nicely in the centre of a row. This gave a future EMBATHE and GAP YEAR for when I got to the endgame. It also became evident that entries crossing the space where the theme phrase would fit jumped the gap, in some cases jumping both gaps and having two missing letters in their corresponding clues..
Some time later and the grid was complete. It was time to fit 73 bars into the grid and ensure that I ended up with 44 entries. Words like THEREMIN, CARRIAGE, PLATFORM and ENDOSTATIN, all formed from bits of other words, got the jigsaw off to a flying start, and I soon had all the entries placed but 75 bars — two too many!
It took a bit of time to see that ARS at the bottom of column 8 could become TARS with SIT being extended to SITA in column 7. I identified GAP YEAR and KEY MAN as the two phrases, and ADRIA and IROISE as the two place names. This left ARI and LAING as two of the personal names, and a quick check at the back of Chambers (2008) found SITA lurking there. I felt sorry for new solvers who may not have the First Names section of the 11th edition available. It has, apparently, been restored to the new 13th edition.
That just left the two singularities which needed to be made clear “(so the warning still applies)”. This obviously referred to the boxed-in T in the top row and L at the bottom. I erased the two letters since that seemed to be what was required, but part of me felt that there should be words jumping over these two gaps in the same way as TYR and THRIFT had in the original layout. I tried to see if my grid could be rejigged, but that got nowhere.
So thanks to Ozzie for a really fun puzzle — two in one really!