Listener No. 4338: A Game of 15 by Glow-worm
Posted by Dave Hennings on 10 April 2015
Another of Glow-worm’s games this week. In the past, we’ve had Hopscotch, Tic-Tac-Toe and Hunt the Slipper among others. Here, 15 affected the wordplay in eight clues, four losing something to the other four. Additionally, there were three definitions and six where jumbling or unjumbling would be (perhaps) required. Oh… and there were also some circled cells in the grid to decode.
Failing on the succinct 1ac Undefeated? Grand! (4, two words) wasn’t good news… four letters and two words should have been easy. Next, 3ac was just plain confusing Clued oddly, yet barred evenly, ultimately fairly? (9, two words) as I didn’t know whether I was looking for odd, even or last letters, or a mixture of all three. (Mind you, this wasn’t really surprising as we were told it wasn’t in Chambers… nor anywhere else apparently!) Luckily, 9ac came to the rescue with ERASER as a hidden reversal. 11 was also a fail, but 13 TRILITH, 16 ERHU and 18 BEATEN meant the top of the grid was off to a reasonable start.
Only a few more acrosses were solved in my first pass through the clues, although they did include 27 Very much like what’s sprinkled with mint in moderation (5), giving ADORE with an extra O in the wordplay.
Onto the downs, and the simple 1dn NETT made me peak back at 1ac, but even the initial N didn’t help me get it. I didn’t get many of the downs, but 14 IN THE SADDLE and 17 PATROLMAN enabled CADET CORPS to be slotted in at 19ac. 15dn now read H·OK·D··K, and HOOK A DUCK was obviously our game (even though I’d not heard of it before), and I was immediately on the lookout for letters O.
In fact, it wasn’t just the Os that I needed to identify, but definitions of duck as well. A peek in Chambers gave three non-animal ducks, which corresponded to the extra definitions avoid (36ac), fabric (4dn) and amphibian (29dn).
Next came the jumbled ducks which enabled some strange clues to finally be solved once they were removed: ‘deer I’ for eider at 11ac, ‘chap rod’ for pochard at 26ac, ‘In we go’ for wigeon (31ac), plus ‘tale’/teal/7dn, ‘loves her’/shoveler/20dn and ‘damn rain’/mandarin/34dn.
What else was there left to do? Aaah! the missing Os in the wordplay of NO GO (not out + G + [O]) and [O]OP + S) — the failed attempts, and CUDDLY TOY (ClUeD oDdLy YeT + [O] + [finally]Y) BOOMERANG (MO[O]B< + ANGER*) — the successes. These came from the extra Os in the anagrams at 19ac, 27ac, 12dn and 17dn. I'm not a Hook-a-Duck expert, but the idea of winning a boomerang does seem a bit bizarre. (As does defining it as three words rather than hyphenated.)
There were two final tasks. One was to find the word that needed to go below the grid from six of the letters in circled squares, and OADDLN soon got adjusted to gave DONALD. Lastly, the reversed item vital for the game looked as though it was ROD, backwards in ADORE in row 8. I scanned the grid carefully to make sure there wasn't another more definitive word, but ROD it was.
So ended an entertaining puzzle from Glow-worm. To round of his effort, he may care to add a link to his puzzle from the Wikipedia entry for Hook-a-duck which “does not cite any references or sources”. Meanwhile, I look forward to another game of cat-and-mouse with Glow-worm soon.