Up To 10 Items by Wan
Posted by shirleycurran on 7 October 2016
Wan! Winner of last year’s Magpie POTY with that wonderful Ludo puzzle. We can expect a challenge here. Better begin with a stiff drink. Well, I begin, of course, by looking for one in the clues and, even in the preamble have already found an unusual quantity of food. There’s a dish on the first line ‘Correct items can be arranged to form a dish’. We found CRAPPIT HEID on the Internet but not in Chambers or the OED (and not surprising really – no wonder the Scots word for bad-tempered is CRABBIT – who wouldn’t be after that awful-sounding mess of fishy entrails – I could think of better things to do with the barley!)
We are told that ‘each incorrect letter must be used to replace a letter in the answer to a normal clue, to form an item of food for the grid entry, and, as we solve, a number (11 in all) of likely candidates appear. RACE is the first, ‘Fly characters missing regularly in truancies (4)’ (tRuAnCiEs) and as that seems to intersect with MERIL, ‘Wan hands over one counter (5)’ (ME + R and L around I) we have RICE potentially emerging from the clash.
Similar clashes produce SCAM clashing with SPULYEING and suggesting SPAM, AMENS clashing with FLAP, giving FLAN, ‘MUN GO’ clashing with SPAE to give MANGO, TUNS clashing with PANOCHA suggesting TUNA – and so on, with ONION, PEAR, SLAW, and NUTS all appearing. It was fairly obvious that the CAPES in the centre of the grid gave a potential CAKES but we needed to find a potential K misprint to confirm that. Still there was a lot of food appearing and more in the clues: ‘sugar, cake and limitless coffees’ (PAN + mOCHAs), ‘double hot sandwiches’, and ‘tapenade’. Wan was certainly building up a thirst.
Ah, but did I spot TUNS/ CASKS in 2d, and not just one cask but eighty! ‘Transfers saving eighty casks (4)’ Chambers tells us that R is 80 so we remove the R from TURNS producing TUNS. With 80 barrels, Wan has certainly justified his renewed membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit (even if those barrels contained ‘Salt drink drunk by Australian lately (8)’ A + LATE round GIN = ALGINATE). Soon afterwards ‘Poet’s thirsty before climbing in nest (4)’ (A moving up in DRAY, giving ADRY). Just eight clues further down, we read ‘Drunk too much in a particular district locally, we hear (4)’ Well, we hear SOKE and SOAK = ‘Drink too much’ so that final evidence of Wan’s membership of the LSOO gives us a misprint too.
We have enough in the grid now to check that our misprints are the letters that are producing the food and when we read them in clue order we find SPANAKOPITA is spelled out, line by line. I spent some of the spring learning modern Greek and spanakopita, or little spinach and feta pies in triangles of filo pastry figure large in almost every recorded restaurant scene. We examine the 11 left over letters and find TCSPUPIHANO. If we extract an anagram of SPINACH from that we are left with UP TO.
The pre-ramble that had seemed so impenetrable to us now begins to make sense. We have filled that CADDY from 21 across and now have to ‘check out’ by showing ‘the item total by highlighting a possible alternative for the ingredient and a definition of the phrase which may also explain the number (10 cells in all). Of course we immediately spot FETA and FILO down the central column but they don’t add up to 10 cells. Head scratching! It is the other Numpty who looks up SPINACH in Mrs Bradford’s gem and says SAAG? No, Ah, ORACH, and there it is!
‘Explain the number’? The title told us we had ‘Up to ten items’ and we found eleven symmetrically spread around the grid. Could that ‘UP TO’ be an approximation – ABOUT ten? (If I turn up in the supermarket clue that says ‘Up to ten items’ with eleven, they will mutter but let me through!) We are not absolutely convinced but decide to highlight the ABOUT. What do we see? There in the middle of our grid is 11. How very clever Wan!
This wasn’t easy but it was a fine challenge with so much going on that solvers had to resolve. Many thanks, Wan.