Listen With Others

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Listener No. 4391: 22SEs Square by Tibea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 15 April 2016

Well, this was Tibea’s second puzzle. Popularity Contest was the first two years ago, and required More like this to be written under the grid. This week we had a puzzle that was definitely not like that, but more like some of the old missing-word narratives from the 60’s and 70’s. In fact, it was missing words and hidden jumbles. I suspect that any novice solver who had a look at this probably wondered what all the Listener fuss was about.

Listener 4391Of the four extracts from The 22SEs from 1991, I only recall the first, A puzzling home for a pondokkie by John Grimshaw, which heralded the appearance of the Listener crossword in its new home, The TIMEs (22SE). As I quickly slotted in a lot of the missing words from that article, I wondered how much knowledge of the history of the puzzle was necessary to finish this one in a reasonable time.

Not that I had any knowledge of Sir Charles Irving’s sale of House of Commons whisky to a Japanese company, but it was obvious that he must have been CHAIRMAN of the Commons catering committee. In the ‘pondokkie’ extract, the only word I couldn’t put in the grid straight away was 26NE DEVOTEES.

Once the obvious missing words were entered, the rest of the grid became a bit of a slog (and double-checking it even more so). The only slight hiccups I had along the way were putting SORROW at 8SW (instead of HORROR) and TREMOR at 14NW (for TERMOR). I’d also not heard of FEWTER, HALIERS or HOONS before.

I must admit that, if I didn’t have Listen With Others duties to perform each week, or if I wasn’t hoping to beat my longest run of all-corrects, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this one. As it is, I do have LWO duties, and I am hoping to beat my run of 126.

I’m guessing that the grid must’ve been a real bugger to compose, and probably an equal bugger to check and make sure that nothing had been overlooked. Indeed, was the ambiguity (FAST/RAST at 35SE) accidental or intentional? Knowing the two TIBEAs, I’m going with intentional, resolved only by the FIVE TIMES FIVE needing to be highlighted in the finished grid.

I look forward to seeing how this fares in the annual stats regarding number of entries received. I would also be interested to know how many gave this experiment the thumbs up. I’m afraid that I am not one of them, but that’s not to say it wasn’t worth a try.

Listener 4391 My EntryIt did, however, enable me to devote the extra time required to solve Nimrod’s superb Inquisitor, Life After Death?, the first to appear in its new home, the i. I hope that we will be able to celebrate that puzzle’s life there in 25 years’ time. (I’ll be 90!)

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