Listen With Others

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Listener No 4459: Shock Therapy by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 Aug 2017

An interesting grid this week from Serpent, he of last year’s Child’s Play with its Snakes & Ladders theme. Here we had an 18×10 grid which looked as though it was without symmetry, although it was two identical 9×10 grids (still asymmetric) stuck together. [Thanks for that. Ed.]

Across clues were normal, as were the upper down clues which had to be enetered jumble-wise. The lower down clues had an extra letter which needed to be moved to the top row transforming it from a jumble to a real word; I liked that idea.

I was fairly slow solving the acrosses (just half a dozen) and decided to tackle the Lower Down clues next which were listed separately from the Upper Downs (thanks, Serpent). I was a bit worried when I got to 29 Initially thin people disliked pastry dishes (5) where I suspected that F was the extra letter, referring to old [F]ARTS in the wordplay! It turned out to be [W]ARTS.

After about 50 minutes, I had what looked as though it could be WAG TO UPPER EARPIECE in the top row. A bit more concentration, and a smile broke out as I realised that WIG TOUPEE HARIPIECE were likely to be the three words required. My first guess at the condition was FOLLICLY- [Wrong spelling. Ed.] CHALLENGED.

Having the top row in place certainly helped with the remaining Lower Down entries, but it still took nearly 90 minutes to fill the rest of the grid. I particularly liked the clue to 4 Number: band regularly does covers? (6) for DEADER, although I wasn’t sure why there was a question mark. I also thought that it was a shame that the amusing 28 Informal request, the same in French (5) LEM[E]ME wasn’t in Chambers.

The condition was finally revealed as ANDROGENIC ALOPECIA which isn’t in C, although male pattern baldness is.

Thanks for a very entertaining puzzle, Serpent, and thanks also for smile number two — the title!

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