Listen With Others

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Two for the Price of One by Monk

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 September 2015

001We’ve solved only one Listener crossword by Monk before; that one about playing all the right notes but not in the right order, so he is a bit of an unknown for us, though I see from Dave’s Crossword Database that he has been setting them for a long time. All the same, I have to do a quick scan of the clues to confirm that he is still a member of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit.

It’s a fairly promising hunt. ‘Pipsqueaks into office parties (7)’ gives IN + SECTS but then ‘I must get treated, taking nil by mouth (6)’ (I MUST* round O = OSTIUM) raises doubts. However, the parties continue, ‘Hollywood location hosts party with the ultimate in VIP treatment (5)’ (LA round DO + (vi)P = L-DOPA – I wonder what that definite article ‘the’ was doing in there!). Further on we have ‘Old half-constructed German vessels (4)’ O + BOS(che) – not much alcohol really but plenty of partying.
Monks train tracks 001We haven’t solved long before we realize that those words that are too long for their lights have to compress directions into one cell – well, it was given away really by the preamble, wasn’t it? ‘The special cells provide initial information for finding the unique solution of the second (“train tracks”) puzzle in which solvers must draw a single continuous path that links A and B without entering any cell more than once.’

We are amused when the ‘Family famous for hangings turn soft, confused about losing last vestige of hope (7)’ gives us GOBELINS (the tapestry people, and not some vicious executioners, and, of course, when that intersects with NORMANS (‘Old Scandinavians run into neutral territory, avoiding capture (6)’ NO-MANS (land) round R) we have NS sharing a cell.

FINAL mONK 001Helped by TEA, we find THE TOWER OF LONDON across the top of our grid (Keep sight of tug on old ground, then harbouring it = THEN round TOWER + OF + {OLD ON}*) – what a piece of clue construction! and that helps us to happily complete our initial puzzle.

I’ve heard of these games before but never actually attempted one. However, the logic is apparent since evidently the train line must only cross the centre column once. That immediately splits the puzzle into two halves, and a further single crossing and three examples of the line crossing a column twice soon indicate where all the small twists and turns must be in order to fill 9, 10 and 11 cells of three rows of the grid. This was quite fun, really, though it took me almost as long as the original puzzle to ultimately work out how to enter 11 cells on that penultimate row.

Many thanks to Monk for our double Friday evening entertainment.


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