Listen With Others

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‘What Can The Matter Be?’ by Flying Tortoise

Posted by Encota on 27 October 2017

Definitely one of the harder grid fills of 2017.  The clues and vocabulary alone were pretty tough in places – eight new words for me, including ANNATS, ALCINA and the deceptive RAMSON.

I’d solved only eight or so clues then departed, puzzle-free, for some walking in Snowdonia. Returning mid-week I then started seriously on it.

First of all, 28 clues?  Fully populated it would appear to need 48 clues, though ‘no Down clues in one quadrant’ appears to reduce that to 42.  But 28??

I experimented with the clue type I’d solved most of, those with a single letter deletion, and soon came up with a 6×6 that used up the five words of EARTHY, AFARAS, TRISTE, HASTEN and YSHEND that I’d found so far.

And that appeared to require RA.ISH as the final word.  As an aside this RADISH clue was my last one parsed – I tried every obscure word to do with volcanic lava etc before finally spotting ASH.  D’oh!  As a reminder, the clue read:

Root of gods amid rumble outpouring from volcano

It turned out that this was a clue needing a letter deleting before solving – in this case the m of ru(m)ble to become ruble.  The wordplay is DI (a plural of DEUS that I wasn’t aware of), in R(uble) + ASH.  Easy, eh?

The symmetry of that square apparently reduced the number of clues required down from 42 to 36.

By this stage CHOL* and something like MELANCHOLY had begun to appear from the ‘letter-per-clue’ feature.  Also the quadrant containing WATERS and MEADOW (echoes of an early Pink Floyd reference hiding in there, surely?*) had started to fall into place, reducing the apparent need for clues down to 30.

So I assumed FIRE / EARTH / AIR / WATER had to be top-left in each quadrant and adjusted theme accordingly.  I needed to look up which related to CHOLER etc. to get the order right.

I finally combined what I has so far into the final quadrant which appeared to need NOOREA and LRAOVE to be words unless there were bars in place, so I (logically at least) added them.  Another two less clues required, thus 28 justified at long last!

I’d spotted the gently evolving FIRERS -> FARERS etc. but this stage, but that did leave me slightly puzzled about Quadrant 1.  If it has no down lights then doesn’t it need loads of bars as well?  I tried offsetting each of the horizontal words just in case it allowed vertical words to form.  No luck, so I left it as is and posted it off with a string feeling I’d missed something – well, it wouldn’t be the first time!

2017-10-11 22.18.52 copy

Thanks again to Flying Tortoise – I do like the more challenging Listener puzzles!

Tim / Encota

*Talking of Granchester, and as a fan of longer anagrams, I can’t resist repeating that glorious clue of Araucaria’s here.  “Poetical scene with surprisingly chaste Lord Archer vegetating (3,3,8,12)” which gives THE OLD VICARAGE GRANTCHESTER, by a wondrous chance Jeffrey Archer’s home.


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