Listen With Others

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Delightful Punishment by MynoT

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 November 2014

MynoT1MynoT … hmmm. A friend awarded a recent MynoT Listener puzzle his personal ‘Ascot Lead Coffin’ because of the gap and the massive pdm. needed between the grid fill and the endgame. Let’s hope that isn’t the case this time! (It was for me – my own silly fault – see later!) Just to reassure myself, I scan the clues to check that MynoT still qualifies for the Erudite Listener Setters’ Imbibers Fellowship and at first find not a single alcohol-based clue! (Of course, he redeemed himself in 37ac, ‘Absorbed doctor, endlessly cross (5)’ [DR + ANK[h]).  However, there are lots of places (Edinburgh, Spain, Cyprus, Ulster, France, the US, Thailand, Europe, Hell and indeed the Globe), as well as a range of people (Morse, Edmund, Arthur Dent, Ms Thurman, Aussies, the Queen and Diaghilev). Quite a globe-trotting and universe-haunting  setter with a wide range of clue sources before we even get down to the nitty-gritty.

Always a good plan to think about the title. ‘Delightful Punishment’. Well, that doesn’t tell me much does it. MynoT, I see, has been setting and solving these things for about twenty years so he is clearly making a comment on the two or three years a puzzle is in the pipeline awaiting its fate, and the weekly schadenfreude of attempting to solve.

There’s a worryingly short preamble with a mention of clashes but no helpful guiding number – just ‘several’ and a conclusive word is merely going to be ‘hinted at’. Nothing for it – start solving. This is where I make my mistake. Using a crossword-compiler grid can help by producing possible solutions. We usually solve in pencil but just this once, I set up a grid and, of course, because clashing letters fit better into the cells if they are in lower-case, do just that. Big error!

MynoT2The clues are straightforward and generally fair with a couple that are astonishingly generous, ‘Blinds without special fabric (9)’ gives us PERSIENNES less S to get PERSIENNE, and ‘Toby’s hat in ballet for Diaghilev (8)’ requires just a little Googling to find that Diaghilev commissioned de Falla’s ‘Le Chapeau Tricorne’.

Clashes appear regularly and we are almost able to predict where they have to be, as clearly MynoT is too experienced to allow any non words to appear in his final grid, so it has to be shorter words that intersect with, for example, GEOSTRATEGY or TEMPTRESSES that have to have plausible words that could result from resolved clashes. That is how we spot a rather strange frequency of certain letter combinations. We have five of el, three of vw, three of pr, two of fe, an oq, an it and a pb.

Now we justify our membership of the Listener Solvers’ Grid-starers’ Club. It is fairly obvious which of the letters in most of the clashes – but not all – is going to be chosen in order to produce real words but sneaky MynoT has foiled us there with the second clash that could give either LASED/LIGHT or EASED/EIGHT. We feed these pairs of letters into TEA in the hope that a key word will emerge (but of course it doesn’t even when we read them backwards or top to bottom of the grid). In any case, we have sixteen clashes and there are going to be only fifteen in that word we have to find. We attach numerical values to them and attempt to find the letter they add up to or the letter in between them (of course that falls down very quickly).

I am just about to abandon and cook dinner when the other Numpty, who has written the letters down on a sheet of paper in upper case suddenly says ‘It couldn’t be the actual shape of the letters could it?  Of course it could! What an original device. We immediately write SUPERIMPOSITION under the grid and thank MynoT for his delightful punishment.

 

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