Yes You Can by Atlas
Posted by shirleycurran on 3 February 2017
Atlas compiles one out of every two crosswords for the New Statesman but this is the first time we have solved an Atlas Listener crossword and it has been infinitely more challenging. I don’t really need to scan those clues for proof that Atlas qualifies for a place at the bar at the setters’ dinner since we sat at the same table last year (and anyway, in a massive way, his endgame is going to remove all doubt isn’t it?) but I check anyway.
There’s the BAR in the very first clue! ‘Beginning to excavate old prison bar from the past (5)’ We have already muttered approving sounds about the originality of the devices Atlas is using – seven clues in which ‘the wordplay omits one of more letters of the answer’, with definitions applying to ‘the answer to another one of the seven’, and ’24 other clues with one letter wrong; the incorrect (my italics) letters spell out an instruction that solvers must follow …’ Not just a new setter but a lovely change from those jumbles, misprints and extra letters in wordplay. That first clue gives our first example. E(xcavate) + SHOP which has to become STOP to give us an old word for ‘bar’ – ESTOP and provide the first of the letters of the message – an H.
There’s rather a lot of food after that: ‘Before I start to talk, finish trifle (4)’ DO + I + T(alk) = DOIT, then ‘Tommy’s bread to eat, returning to yard (5)’ GO (changing to RO) + TO< + Y = ROOTY. Next comes a GRILLROOM; ‘Space on mound first good place to eat (9, two words)’ G(ood) + HILL + ROOM with another of those letters appearing when HILL is corrected to RILL. ‘Dish, Tahitian, not a success (4)’ removing A HIT from TAHITIAN to produce TIAN. Odd cuts, chick peas and tea follow so I’m having my doubts about that bar ticket but then I spot that INN has just appeared in the grid when we filled in that astonishing word ENANTIODROMIC misrepresented Mao in doctrine of U-turns (13) (MAO IN DOCTRINE*) Yes, I shall drop that into polite dinner conversation, I promise!
‘Abandoned lodge away from the sea half forgotten (3)’ gave us INL(and) so we had a wrong letter L. The grid filled and we had a ‘shallow cup’, an ‘earthenware vessel’, ‘punch’ and a club so no wonder Atlas was ‘Zonked’ in 20d (with that NEBUCHADNEZZAR still to come!) That intriguing clue gave us one of our seven that had to switch definitions too. The hint was that we had letters for KIN and DRESS* to give DEERSKINS but a missing E. We had soon found our seven moving definitions: ‘synagogue storeroom’ GENIZAH, ‘…who occasionally let hair down’ RAPUNZEL, ‘Hardy heath’ EGDON, ‘Post impressionist artist’ CEZANNE, ‘Zonked’ DONE IN, ‘Exotic fruit’ BILIMBI and ‘Hides’ for those DEERSKINS and those missing letters spelled the strange word EINEG – but what was that word appearing round the EINEG? There was a bumper bottle, a NEBUCHADNEZZAR! So the GENIE was ‘back’ in the bottle. “Yes You Can”, said Atlas and that was what we had done- we had put the genie back.
We have some of those ‘wrong letters’ still to disentangle from what is often challenging wordplay. We can see, now, that we are required to HIGHLIGHT YOUR ACHIEVEMENT so we look for a wrong H in ‘A monkey? I don’t trust that suggestion of 14 shillings (6)’ SAGUIN was our solution confirmed by the U of NURS (yes, not NUTS – naughty, naughty, hand duly slapped but I do wonder how many will fail to see the hidden reversed NURS and will erroneously enter NUTS!) and we now decide that it is HA + GUIN(ea) – well, that was 14 shillings wasn’t it? And we have our final letter and highlight that massive bottle (Chambers: A large bottle, esp of champagne, the equivalent of 20 ordinary bottles!) and its GENIE with a smile. Many thanks, Atlas, a superb compilation!
Post script – the elusive golden hare? Yes, he was there but cunningly turning a corner this time and still not appearing in four letters in a straight line!