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Listener 4317: Only Connect Two by The Tall’n

Posted by Jaguar on 14 Nov 2014

Forty-two down, ten to go… A couple of hiccups earlier mean that I’ll have to wait until next year for an all-correct Listener year, but it’s about enjoying the puzzles as much as getting them right, isn’t it?

In the last puzzle of October we find The Tall’n, who is a setter that’s been around for ages it seems — although I’ve only come across him once before myself, in a Magpie puzzle earlier in the year. This time he’s offered us that ominous thing, a grid without bars — but with each clue having entry lengths clearly indicated it might not be too bad, perhaps. Some answers might not go where their number is, and there’s some intriguing clue pairs to sort out…

Nothing mysterious in the clues, though. Indeed, they seem relatively simple. Coming home after a night out on Friday, I first looked at the puzzle in the evening, and an early pass saw 7ac EROS (sore<), 16ac IND (in+d), 31ac E.T.A. (ate<), 36ac RAMI ([I mar]<), and quite a few others dropping out with not too much thought, although it wasn’t too long before I cast the puzzle aside anyway in favour of sleep (I hoped!).

And so, it was only on Saturday morning that I really got going. First breakthrough: solving 51ac as HIYA (first letters of Hammer Impertinent Youth About) and Ominous (Sumo< about in+O; “fashionable” = in twice? Yet another bit of generosity from the editors there…), and after not too long of course the entry had to be HYMNS, dropping all the vowels. The show’s title this time is indeed thematic — long-term solvers may remember Shackleton’s puzzle “The Missing Vowels Round”, Listener 4200, which turned out to be all about the Olympics rather than the game from Only Connect. This time, here it was in complete honesty. So, six words in the grid will be consonants only.

That second breakthrough came shortly afterwards. Evidently 43dn’s clue gave YORK (Roy<+K), but just as evidently it wasn’t going to fit in the grid there. The lost obvious place for it to go instead was crossing the K of STREEKS, and with 5dn being LAN apparently (LA+n; isn’t this a second abbreviation along with 31ac?), we had LAN??????YORK in that column. “Lancaster/ York” jumped out at me: royal houses, perhaps, in those three down columns? Yes — DORS can form park of Tudors, Over can be in Hanover, etc.

After that, it wasn’t too hard to get most of the rest of the grid filled, apart from some fiddling to sort out the column on the right (Brrrs took a while to find, but eventually I parsed 39ac as BeeRieR + ReSeau from E’er in Bier, ea in Sure*), and plugging the gaps in the top two rows to give Consultor/ Toreros and Dinosaur/ Rypeck — not instantly obvious, but makes the link nicely. The other row links include “Idol(a)/ Land-agent”; “Indi(c)/ Conceded”; “Craps set/ set copy”; “Eta, Theta, Iota”; “Rami/ trunk/ grub (not quite sure of the link between trunk and grub, though); and the final “mew/ par/ terror” that still eludes me. Never mind.

Despite the unbarred grid, and so much shuffling, this wasn’t too difficult at all but still quite enjoyable and could easily be a good puzzle for newcomers. Thanks, The Tall’n! (Also, nice to see one of my favourite athletes, USAIN Bolt, making an appearance!)

Obviously bars are just for information!

Final grid. Obviously bars are just for information!


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