Shut that Door! (aka Keep your Hare on)
Posted by Encota on 23 December 2016
Of course we have all put finding that HARE in puzzle 4422 behind us (discussed in my blog a few weeks back subtitled “X doesn’t mark the spot“), no need to return to that subject. And X being letter 24 in the alphabet – that’ll never be relevant now, will it?
But hold on a cotton-picking minute! Looking back (at that previous puzzle) 4422 hides 24 within 24 – and the number 24 features large in the final grid here. Surely that can’t be a sign?
Some great clues. As one example, sounding on the surface like it was perhaps defending Indiana Jones just a little more than was warranted:
Prof Jones hot tempered? By no means (12, three words)
Answer: Not for Joseph, as PROFJONESHOT*
Very early on in solving this delightful puzzle from Bandmaster I’d found JOSEPH in both NOT FOR JOSEPH and JOSEPHINITE, plus LAMB in FLAMBE, and was toying with MAGI in IMAGINARY. ‘Bit early in December for a nativity scene?’ was my first thought. Press on, see what appears…
It was probably just me but when CANDLEFISH appeared as the answer to the first across clue – and all the talk of converting letters to numbers in the Preamble – I first attempted to resolve it by deciding that CANDL => C and L => 100 + 50 => 150, and tried fitting 150 FISH into the grid. As an aside, the grid was rather ‘fishy’ all round with at least half a dozen fish references – is there a sub-theme hiding here that I have missed?
After solving a handful more, the thought “I think it’s an Advent calendar” popped out from seemingly nowhere – that’d resolve why this is published at the start of December, as well as the Title! A perfect PDM! So I rubbed out the 150, squeezed the letters of CANDLE into one cell and things were going well.
I particularly loved the middle-game of this one, trying to build small blocks of entries that link together, then working out exactly where those blocks fit in the grid – brilliant fun!
The unused words spelled out ADVENT CALENDAR NOT OPENED, so that helped to decide what to do in the endgame. Show the closed doors with the appropriate dates of December numbered on them.
After getting a few of the items hiding behind the doors, I had started an alphabetical list of items in the margin – this helped with solving some of the last few (which for me were in the SE corner) where I needed a Q (quince), F (fir) and O (ox). I’ve assumed that we are being asked to apply A=1, B=2 etc to label the doors. That gets us up to 23, so the last two doors in the centre are (presumably) to be labelled (what would have been X) with 24.
I was left with one clue that I couldn’t fully parse – these usually come to me during the week – and that was BOX-BED as the last across entry. It looks like BOXED for ‘fought’ and a BOX-BED can be the ‘here’ of the clue as well as being the only word in the BRB that fits – but I am still missing something. Hope it’s right!
So, as a final check, with A=1 etc, then X=24. So if you have an early peep inside door(s) 24 as I have below and you might find an X (also reflecting X=24). Dig under the X, as I have – it seems X really does mark the spot after all – and there it is, the golden hare. (editor: Tim, that was five puzzles ago now, might it not be appropriate for you to move on? )