Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Essentials by Samuel

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 May 2015

Orienteering 001We are a long way from home with intermittent WiFi, no printer and limited solving resources (not the usual heap of dictionaries and reference books etc.) so we download our week’s challenge with a touch of trepidation – then a modicum of relief. “Samuel! It’s bound to be well set.”

Then comes that preamble and the other Numpty starts growling as we read that there are either misprints or extra letters in 30 of the clues AND a clash AND three clues where the wordplay indicates the answer with one letter omitted. What’s more, we are going to have to perform some alphanumeric conversion AND draw twelve straight lines on our completed grid AND make a guess at three unclued lights.

There is enough there to suggest that we might have a long night’s solve ahead of us. Time to fix a stiff drink and do a quick check that Samuel still qualifies for the Listener Setters’ Tipsy Gang; a speedy run through the clues and I am two-thirds of the way down, finding medicine, a donut, cake, a cheap cigarette, trout and an olive, before he produces the Italian vermouth and confirms that he has retained his membership. ‘Olive left after Vice Admiral drinks Italian vermouth (5)’ [VA round IT + L giving VITAL and one of those misprints – this must be Alive].

Samuel orienteering 001A generous clue and, fortunately there were many like that, and since we were performing the alphanumeric conversions as we went along, a pattern was speedily emerging. N, S, E and W were appearing, interspersed with numbers which were clearly going to tell us how many cells to move in any given direction.

We paused to enjoy one of my favourite clues of the year, ‘Leaders of Ancient Britons stay in and look after puss for a night (5)’ [AB + SIT with pUss becoming pAss] then we examine our set of directions.

6N, 2SE, 2NE, 6S, 6NNE, 6SSE, 6N, 2E, 1SE, 1SW, 2W.

We have already almost filled our grid and discovered that we need a COMPASS and a SENSE OF DIRECTION so it doesn’t take much geometry or cartography (please tell me what the correct word is, some kind soul) to tell us that this would spell MAP and that we are ORIENTEERING.

But where to start?

We had one clue left to solve (well, no, two actually, as Wells’ perfect race was still escaping us, though we had encountered ELOI and Morlocks in books read at school); that clue about the stargazer had to be the one with the clash; AOR?. It made sense to begin our MAP there as that would nicely fill the grid.

It was some time later that we realized that each time the word turned a corner it passed through one of the letters of ORIENTEERING (and, of course, gave us the astronomer OORT of Oort cloud fame). That resolved any ambiguity about where to stand the feet of the capital A. How very elegant, Samuel! Many thanks.

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