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Listener No. 4379: The One left Over by Kruger

Posted by Dave Hennings on 22 January 2016

This week was the first puzzle of a brand new year. I sometimes reflect on what I was doing twelve months before to determine how quickly that year seems to have gone. This time in 2015, we were tackling Waterloo’s quirky Alcoholic Baseball Player. How long ago does that seem to you? For me, it seems some time, and at my age that’s somewhat satisfying.

This was Kruger’s fourth Listener, his last being based on Margaret Thatcher’s quotation, “There is no such thing as society”. Here we had Letters Latent entries for the across clues, and extra wordplay letters for the downs. Both sets would match with the exception of an extra extra wordplay letter which would go under the grid.

Listener 4379 AnimationI worked my way though the clues in order. I failed with 1ac, although I wasn’t surprised since it was only in Collins. However, Humphrey B[O]GARDE went in at 5, as did 13 Currently, most prominent of Afghan dissidents are captured by ordinary means (7) [N]OWADAYS, once I’d worked out the wordplay (AD in O (ordinary) WAYS (means)). 14 Leaving academy, lithe corps are sick of dancing (12) was fairly straightforward as well, although deciding whether ‘sick’ or ‘dancing’ was the anagram indicator took a bit of time — it was sick (LITHE CORPS ARE – A)* giving TERPSICHORE[A]L.

I managed only a few more acrosses before tackling the downs, but a dozen of those soon had me on my way. Kruger was in one of his gentler moods with this puzzle, no doubt deliberately chosen by the editors to get the year off to a successful start — hopefully!

There were only a couple of hurdles that got in my way. 10ac The most important Emperor hoarding money? Certainly not! (7, two words) looked for ages as though it should be NUMBER ONE before it transpired to be N[U]MERO [U]NO. And 9dn Family of wizards casting the final ashes of the Bard (5) needed a knowledge of Harry Potter to reveal EASLE ([W]EASLEY – last letter).

Innovative clue of the week went to 18ac Spoke angrily, grasping most common of speedwells, an unwanted plant (6) which led to RAG[W]EED — RAGED (spoke angrily) about E

(most common letter in ‘speedwells’). And most puzzling phrase of the week was in 11ac, as I wondered what ‘ethically indifferent alcohol’ could possibly be! Note to new solvers: ‘Nancy’ at 33ac refers to the city in France, not the character in Oliver Twist.

Listener 4379 My EntryIt turned out that 1ac Texan’s bird, cockatoo, mostly returning to grains (6) GRA[Y]LAG was in Chambers by inference — the entry begins “grey or (esp N Am) gray” and this alternative can obviously (?) therefore apply to all examples of grey, including greylag.

It didn’t take too long to suss the “thematically relevant phrase”: You win a few, you lose a few. Getting all those latent letters in order must have taken some doing. The extra wordplay letters from the downs gave all those with the exception of L which was slotted under the grid.

A zippy solve this week, done and dusted in about 90 minutes, so thanks to Kruger for a gentle introduction to 2016.

2 Responses to “Listener No. 4379: The One left Over by Kruger”

  1. Gail Busza said

    It’s actually Dirk Bogarde – Humphrey was Bogart!

  2. Thanks, Gail. I suppose it’s understandable that he opted for that rather than Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde!

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