Listen With Others

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Listener No 4486: In Self-defence? by Lavatch

Posted by Dave Hennings on 9 Feb 2018

I think we’re always in for some entertainment with a Lavatch puzzle. His previous was just over a year ago with King Lear‘s “The wheel has come full circle” and before that, with an almost similar theme, Ken Livingstone’s Congestion Charge!

This week, we had a misprint of one letter, the correct letters spelling out part of a text. Once the grid was filled, we had to change one letter in each row to give a two-word phrase, with the replaced letters spelling out a four-word phrase.

I managed to get a few entries scattered around the grid fairly quickly, and that enabled a lot more of the grid to be filled — just not as quickly! I was lucky this week. With just 20 entries, I had the following from the corrected misprints: THER… TO… E… L… B·AR… S. Despite this phrase never having appeared in any legal document in the UK, it features large in a certain document on the other side of the Pond. Having spent six years working there may have helped The right of the people to [keep and] bear arms shall not be infringed to reveal itself. All this within the hour.

Controversial territory from Lavatch and the Listener this week, especially for our American solvers I dare say?

It was only as I filled in the correct letters alongside the clues I had yet to solve that I checked to see where the misprints lay. Amazingly, they were all the second letters in their clues. Now that was clever, not to mention difficult to achieve, I suspect. It also explained why there were quite a few clues beginning A something.

It seemed likely that the two-word phrase that had to appear in the final grid would be SECOND AMENDMENT, but its placement could wait until I had actually finished the grid.

Piece of luck number two came once the grid was complete. A rereading of the preamble helped me focus on “… solvers must similarly change…”, and 1ac ENTERS and 5ac PULLETS could become ESTERS and PELLETS by changing their second (unchecked) letters. STARLET/SCARLET and FERMATE/FORMATE came next and so on down the grid. Was this a phenomenal piece of grid construction or what?!

The letters replaced by this process gave NUTECGOKISSTOSN, and a bit of doodling was required. On the third or fourth try, I had NGUSSIONS… and GUN popped nto my head followed not too long after by the required phrase STICK TO ONE’S GUNS. Absolutely stunning!

I wondered how much grid jiggery-pokery was required to get all the words differing by only their second letter to give the two phrases. Would it be rude of me to wonder if a bit of software was used?

No matter, this was a fantastic puzzle. Thanks for the masterpiece, Lavatch. I hope there’s another one soon.


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