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‘Where falls the axe?’ by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Encota on 17 March 2017

What a clever puzzle!

As the theme began to surface, combined with a Title like that, there had to be a chance of Dr. Beeching making an appearance – but if he did, I couldn’t find him.

The Down clues each contained an extra word, the first letters of which appeared to spell out:

  • ENTER PROPOSED RAILWAY NW-TO-SE,

and the fourth letters in order seemed to spell:

  • REMOVE SIX TREES BUT KEEP HS-TWO.

But of course they didn’t mean these at all – but really were some 26-letter hidden anagram-based slogans.  From the ‘For The Trees’ camp:

  • Turn yew and poplar trees into worse

And from the Pro-Training camp:

  • Different view: must book ‘The Tree Express’

Well, perhaps 😉

Slightly more seriously for a moment, one of the clever parts about this puzzle was that, to add HIGH SPEED TWO onto the leading diagonal required six letter changes to the initially-filled grid.  And each of these six changes created a tree in its row: HOLLY, GARDENIA, SYCAMORE, YEW, ELDER and SALLOW.  (Of course that Cometary* anagram entered at 19a as TYCAMORE was a pretty big hint!)

That left the final instruction: REMOVE SIX TREES BUT KEEP HS-TWO.

I’ve read that to mean delete all the characters of the letters in the six Trees apart from those on the leading diagonal, so that the -OLLY of HOLLY is deleted, for example.  Seems to meet the Preamble’s requirements, anyway!

And the phrase in the circles reads CAN’T SEE THE WOOD, so Hedge-sparrow is clearly FOR THE TREES (I’d expect nothing else from someone with such a pseudonym, of course).

And I see there is initially that elusive HARE in Column 8 too – at least you think at first it’s HERE, but then it is (and so isn’t).  Simple, eh?

Great fun – thanks Hedge-sparrow!

cheers all

Tim / Encota

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