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Listener No 4426: Dah-di-dah-di-dah by Harribobs

Posted by Dave Hennings on 16 December 2016

This was Harribobs’s second Listener, following on from The Name of the Game (which was Life) in October last year. He has also had some fine puzzles elsewhere, including two excellent EVs, both blogged at fifteensquared. The first of these was A Man of Letters, where TS ELIOT was writ large in the grid. A more recent one was the phenominal Snowballs.

listener-4426This week, we had a large 14×14 grid with an extra wordplay letter in 41 clues. These would spell out instructions which would lead us to modify the grid, together with a bit of decoding for what was needed under the grid.

I made a quick run through all the clues. I was appalled! I only managed to solve half a dozen of each. It looked like this was going to be a long solve. Bizarrely, however, that did not prove to be the case. The top right corner was polished off reasonably quickly, followed by the top left, then bottom right and bottom left.

All told, this took just over 90 minutes. My favourite clues were 13ac Sources of rubber used in sexual escapades (4) for ULES and 23dn Spinoza was one, but if Descartes was, then so am I (8) for DUTCHMAN, one of the last clues I solved.

That left the instructions to be followed: Black out letters in Morse Code and erase the rest. It didn’t take long to see that by blocking out all the letters C, D, E, M, O, R and S, we were left with a load of dots and dashes, or dis and dahs, which needed to be decoded. At first, I thought each row was a distinct word, but that gave total gibberish: P4N4DRUZ…. In fact, as the preamble stated, the rows had to be read as a continuous string. This gave:

WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT

This turned out to be the first message sent by Morse. It was sent on 24 May 1844 from Washington, DC, to Baltimore, and was taken from the Bible, Numbers 23:23.

listener-4426-entryThe Morse Code experts among you will spot the mistake in my animation above, where the morse actually reads WHAT HATU GOD WROUGHT. Sorry. A shame also that I couldn’t get any sound effects!

Not a difficult solve from Harribobs this week, although I suspect it was a pretty difficult feat of construction. Great fun, thanks.
 

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