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PQRST by Yorick

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 September 2017

The preamble told us there were three different types of clues; normal ones which would be involved in clashes, ‘most’ other ones that would have a misprint in the definition part and the remaining ones where the grid entry (given by wordplay) would have a wrong letter. That last one is an original device (and it led me to a truly Numptyish grid stare at the end, as I was stupidly attempting to make those letters spell the ‘further item’. Read the preamble! It clearly said ‘the correct letters can form the name of a further item and, of course, that RHOMBUS was a clanging penny drop moment.

First, of course, I had to confirm that Yorick retains his place in the Listener Setters’ Toping Society and, of course, he does with ‘Experts at making safe highballs and methaqualone (9, two words)’ “They are BOMBS”, said the other Numpty and he checked that ‘methaqualone’ in the Big Red Book is QUAD, so producing BOMBSQUAD. This was followed by ‘Regular drinks forgotten as America leads (6)’ We’re heading for the USA tomorrow and our USUALS there seem to be Starbucks’ coffees but ‘usuals’ are regular drinks in the pub in BRB and there is that forgotten old Germanic word ALS for ‘as’ so we had found one of the clues where the wordplay gave USAALS but the definition gave something different. So with highballs and the usuals, cheers, Yorick.

We didn’t find solving easy at all as this was very subtle cluing and a number of the words were new to us: MANDIRA, CLAES, UMBONAL, RALLIDAE, STEWCANS, FADIER and LATERIGRADE, for example, and I didn’t know that a jargon was another name for a ZIRCON, ‘Page one may be jargon, changing atmospheric treatment’s start to literary opposite extreme (6)’ No, this was  definitely not one of the relatively easy crosswords to encourage Listener newcomers. We had AGUIZE in place already and the Z?RCON, so this was likely to be ZIRCON but we had to work backwards. We needed an L corrected misprint (as B?ANKS was already in place) so we were probably looking for a PALE ‘zircon’ and, sure enough, the BRB told me that jargoon or jargon was just that. Of course, we had to work out the exact wordplay of every clue to check that one of those ‘wrong’ letters wasn’t there so we teased out AIR-CON with the A changing to the other alphabetic extreme, Z.

With just a break for dinner and rather a long struggle getting the computer to print the entire puzzle, which had not only arrived late but also somewhat truncated, it was late evening before we had a full grid and the message DRAW FIVE SHAPES THROUGH NAMES AND BLANKS. I needed a clue as my extra item seemed to be ASMDDAO. A little voice said “Read the preamble” and, of  course there it was. The CORRECT letters of the wrong wordplay entry. BSUORHM immediately gave me RHOMBUS and the light dawned.

We teased out a PARALLELOGRAM, QUADRILATERAL, RECTANGLE, SQUARE AND TRAPEZIUM (and smiled at the

Mad March(esa) MARA

relevant title) then had to think about that RHOMBUS . My first attempt was too small (I wonder how strict the marker will be!) and the other Numpty drew one for me that would fulfil the requirement (equal and parallel sides with an area equivalent to twenty cells. It just fitted nicely into the space left by the other shapes. Many thanks to Yorick for the challenge; there was so much in this impressive compilation.

The HARE? – ‘March'(ESA) was a big hint but it was a MARA this week mischievously hiding behind that rhombus – a  Mad March Mara.

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