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‘Buried Treasure’* by Poat

Posted by Encota on 18 November 2016

*which could have been called ‘X doesn’t Mark the Spot’.
So there I was, armed with an earlier completed grid for Listener 4422, sitting on the Replacement Bus Service that forms part of the UK’s 21st Century transport network returning me from that day’s Listener quarterly update, staring at the darn thing, reading and re-reading …”Having followed the trail, solvers must highlight its ultimate goal in the search area (four consecutive letters in a straight line).”  What search area?  I think I laughed out loud when I saw it – esp. the ‘four consecutive letters’ sleight-of-hand wording.  Not too loud a laugh of course; only a few people quietly moved away 🙂
So my reading of the Preamble is that it is really saying: “Having followed the trail, solvers must highlight its ultimate goal in the searcH AREa (four consecutive letters in a straight line).
And highlight it in the Preamble, not in the Grid!  Let’s hope I am right, or this blog is going to look pretty dopey!  It definitely meets the ‘spec’ of the Preamble.
My next thought was for our esteemed marker.  As many of you will know he appreciates receiving puzzle entries as closely trimmed as possible to the puzzle grid edges to avoid him having to do the same many hundreds of times over – today that’s going to be tricky, I thought!
Back to the beginning.  This was a great puzzle – thanks Poat!  Whenever one reads ‘buried treasure’ or similar in a puzzle then it’s odds on that, in some way or other, ‘X’ will mark the spot.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, but what a delight when that isn’t the case.
And what a trail it was!  Firstly, organise clashing entries to make a phrase of interest: this gives READ EVERY THIRD.
Secondly, the Preamble says to apply this statement to the unchecked letters.  Highlight all such letters on my rough copy and the 3rd, 6th etc of them spell out: ONE OF THREE CLUE ACROSTICS.
Thirdly, acrostics.  I knew that sometimes these were messages sometimes spelt out with first letters and sometimes last letters.  Try both in each clue – nothing.  Try it across every clue, looking at the start of the 1st, 4th,… clues and it reads THIS GOES NOWHERE!
Now the 2nd, 5th,…: FALSE TRAIL AGAIN!  And the 3rd, 6th,…: CLOSE BY AMPTHILL.
So what does that mean?  Many of you will already have been aware of the late 1970s book ‘Masquerade’ by Kit Williams with a built-in treasure trail and real buried treasure.  If not then Grandma Google will help – what an interesting story!  But what was finally buried, close by Ampthill (the book’s final clue), was a (golden) hare.  So, back to ‘Buried Treasure’, and fourthly, now catch your Hare.
I started off assuming it must be in the Grid.  There’s lots of words for hare…
…and was 3/4 of every other known word for HARE, including HAR. somewhere in the grid?  I started checking through them and could find:

– BUC(k) in Col. 7,
– HAR(e) in Col. 6,
– MAR[E]A backwards in Row 4
– SCU(t) in Col. 7
– (h)A RE in Row 2
– HA(r)E again in Col. 6…
Is Poat teasing us?  I was almost disappointed that BAUD, BAWD, PIKA & PUSS weren’t there in 3/4 form as well!
But no HARE or synonym.  Now what?  And eventually I twigged – see Bus Service above!
-Tim/Encota-
P.S. Earlier alternative trains of thought included:
1) I guess someone out there might try and argue that ‘its ultimate goaL..’’ in the preamble referred to the letter L shape starting with Col6’s H then going down one and across right one.  Can’t see how to justify “(four consecutive letters in a straight line)” part of the Preamble there, though.  Discount.
2) Also, starting with the S at 4d one can spell out SEARCH AREA via a couple of routes thru touching cells, finishing on Row 6 heading left thru the double-entry at 24.  Might that be part of the solution, perhaps?  No straight lines again though so highlighting HARE around a reversed ‘L’ can’t count.  Discount this one too.
3) The hare in the original book was called Jack.  Could the J in Row 1 have some relevance? Could the Catherine of Aragon’s monument’s shadow from the original book somehow be recreated in the grid?  Surely too difficult to emulate ‘noon on the autumnal equinox’ in a grid.  Discount.
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One Response to “‘Buried Treasure’* by Poat”

  1. Ilan Caron said

    So we too (luckily) also arrived at the preamble solution — but to do so we had to overcome misgivings about JG’s instruction to submit only a carefully cut out grid.

    Not to mention another concern in the back of my mind, namely that, unless you had seen the original print version (or online version), you might have been led astray by some unfortunately online formatting that introduced a newline between the preamble’s ‘search’ and ‘area’.

    Seems there’s enough reasonable doubt here to justify a plea on the behalf of those who found HAREs in the grid.

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