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Listener 4310: Net Book Agreement by Charybdis

Posted by Dave Hennings on 26 Sep 2014

This week, we had Charybdis, he of the quirky themes. Remember his last Listener based on the phrase “unexpected item in bagging area” with its tarantula eating the angel food?! I am sure that he has come up with some tricky clues as well in the past, so I dipped my toe into the acrosses with some trepidation, every clue having an extra word that needed removing before solving.

Listener 4310After about 20 minutes, I was wondering whether this really was a Charybdis puzzle… I was solving the clues at breakneck speed. 1ac was ILLS, 2dn LET IN, 15ac RUINERS, 1dn ITERATIVE, 4ac ACCADIAN, and so on. I even solved 11ac Five in variation of whist drive dividing 50 per cent of Dulwich people (5) which was PEDRO. This is given in my 12th edition of Chambers as “see sancho-pedro” which, in turn, is a starred entry in grey highlight, and consequently, I assume, missing from the infamous 13th edition.

The answers continued thick and fast and, after about 90 minutes, the grid was complete. I had identified the meaning of the “Solvers must follow the thematic character…” about half way through, and this enabled me to identify words in unsolved clues which contained the letter L. This certainly helped with some of the trickier clues where the extra word had been cunningly inserted.

And so to a simple endgame where we had to identify an author, her work and perform some mental shenanigans. The letters in each clue which followed the L in extra words spelt out Draw net. Total area 34. Wrap title to make walls. I found LYN NEREID BANKS, thinking what a strange name Nereid was, although not really so in today’s world of celebrity weirdness.

Of course, it turned out to be LYNNE REID BANKS and her first, and best-known, work could be found in the second row — THE L-SHAPED ROOM… except the final OM had dropped off the right-hand edge of the page! The O and M could be found in rows 6 and 7, but there seemed no obvious way to put a net round them to give an L shape, especially one containing exactly 34 characters and with eight faces.

And so began a tortuous hunt on my part trying to work out what Charybdis was doing. The “sort of DARK SCREEN on a higher level, and possibly PRESS FLATS below” were easy to identify, each being in an L shape or reflection. Strangely, however, the flats were above the screen. Moreover, how could I wrap the title when I hadn’t even found it?

For me, this was a case of dipping into the puzzle for a few minutes at regular intervals over a period of several days. The red herrings I found were ridiculous. The preamble mentioned “conceptual volume”, and I could see NINE YARDs in the grid so wondered whether there were other measurements that may come into play… I found none. Also, in rows 6 and 7, we had TONEME and TWOTIME and I thought that might somehow mean one M and two Ms — it was not to be.

I could see my first failure of the year looming. As I have said before, I dread being in a position where I am trying to get out of a rut that is leading me inexorably to a dead end. It’s like trying to think outside the box when you don’t know whether you’re even in the right box!

Listener 4310 My EntryThe breakthrough for me came on the second Monday. I looked up net in Chambers to find “the shape of a three-dimensional figure when laid out flat (maths)”. A quick snip snip snip, and I was home and dry. It reminded me a bit of Jago’s origami wren from Christmas 2009 where M and Z became E and M with 90° rotation; here we had WO becoming OM when rotated 180°. I can’t believe it took me so long to suss out what was happening, especially since others probably solved it in the blink of an eye.

So thanks to Charybdis for another testing puzzle, and I breathed a sigh of relief that my all-correct run for this year was still intact. That would have to wait for another week… perhaps not too far ahead!

2 Responses to “Listener 4310: Net Book Agreement by Charybdis”

  1. dyste said

    Dave, like you I didn’t know the required meaning of ‘net’, and like you I was distracted by NINE YARD and TWO TIME S (below the M), so I certainly didn’t solve it “in the blink of an eye.”

  2. charybdis said

    Thanks for this blog, Dave. I’m glad you got there in the end! 🙂 I’ve written a bit about the puzzle here:

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