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Listener No 4307: Spiral of Salami and Walnuts by Wan

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 September 2014

Wan’s first Listener had us switching the symbols of chemical elements in the clues. Here, we had to remove non-thematic elements from words in thematic clues. Surely we weren’t dealing with elements again! (Of course we weren’t.)

Listener 4307Starting on the across clues, I got 6 Quartet nervous in Edinburgh Festival, switching places (6) TETRAD, although I wasn’t 100% happy with RAD (afraid, Scottish) equating to ‘nervous’. 10 EDAM, 21 TUAREG, 26 DEATHLY, 38 TONG and 39 OYERS were quickly slotted in with no sign of any clue tampering. 1dn was REPAST and then 2dn Puma at foot of diva very animated and lifelike (7, two words) had ‘puma’ becoming UM to give AD VIVUM. So first and last letters were to be dropped, or alternatively the central letters were to be kept.

A few more downs were solved, including 29 Defect just after greeting a Trotskyite’s leader (6) where ‘just’ became US after HI (greeting) A T[rotskyite]. My initial supposition was still possible… but not for long.

Next came 3dn Marzipan and toffee’s first served up for weasel’s cousin (5) and ‘marzipan’ had to become ARIA requiring letters 1, 4, 6 and 8 to be dropped. A bit later, 13ac was VIVRES with ‘greasy’ becoming RES, again with 1, 4 and 6 being discarded.

I must confess that it wasn’t until a short while later, and a couple more clues with dropped letters, that I had a cup of tea and realised that, if 1, 4, 6 and 8 were non-thematic, then 2, 3, 5 and 7 were thematic and prime numbers were there for the asking. Much later (with about half the clues solved), I realised that ‘thematic clues’ weren’t just those with dropped letters, but were the prime numbered clues, no across and down entry sharing the same number. This certainly sped up the solving process. Perhaps a pint of London Pride would have enabled me to see all that sooner!

Once the grid was complete, it didn’t take long for me to identify the relevant spiral: H-I-G-H-L… and it looked like a bit of highlighting was going to be necessary, perhaps the discoverer mentioned in the preamble. But that was not to be. Instead we had HIGHLY SEASONED SAUSAGE AND EDIBLE TREE SEEDS. Well that just gave the definitions of ‘salami and walnuts’.

Listener 4307 My EntryWe were told in the preamble that the discoverer was ‘represented’ by ‘salami and walnuts’ and an anagram seemed likely. Alan, Ian or Will somebody perhaps? I soon ran out of ideas and needed to cheat to get Stanislaw Ulam. I then needed to google him to see that he was a mathematician who had worked on the Manhattan Project. That hardly seemed relevant, and it took a bit more research to discover the Ulam spiral which, according to Wiki, was “a simple method of visualizing the prime numbers that reveals the apparent tendency of certain quadratic polynomials to generate unusually large numbers of primes”. Thought so.

So thanks to Wan for a tough and enjoyable puzzle. I’m glad that I didn’t have to identify Ulam by scrabbling letters on a bit of paper!


One Response to “Listener No 4307: Spiral of Salami and Walnuts by Wan”

  1. […] 4307: Spiral of Salami and Walnuts by Wan […]

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