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Archive for April, 2018

ILAM by MynoT

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 April 2018

Oh dear, that word ‘Jumbles’ and that was not all. Wordplay in the clues was going to lead to an extra letter or an omitted letter – in 29 clues – and those letters were going to spell out an instruction to solvers. It sounded rather daunting but we started anyway.

Of course, I read through the clues to check that MynoT retains his place in the Listener Oenophiles’Outfit, and, of course he does – with a vengeance. ‘Ring in Italy for cocktail (7)’ gave us BELL + IN + I as a fine start. He moved onto a Goan spirit, ‘Stun Roman goddess with cut Goan spirit (6)’ giving us DEA + FENI with the I cut, so DEAFEN. Mixing drinks was clearly a mistake as ‘Hooligans sit round about drunkards (7)’ gave SIT< round SOTS, so TSOTSIS and soon after that ‘Addle drunk departed (4)’ ‘Drunk’ here had to be an anagram indicator and we extracted an L from ADDLE to give us DEAD or ‘departed. The tippling wasn’t quite over and MynoT seemed to have moved on to vodka as we found ‘Murmuring, drink to rise and fall of Russia? (8)’ What a fine clue! We found an extra P here as we had SU[P] + SUR and RUS giving us SUSURRUS. No lack of alcohol this week. Cheers MynoT!

We noticed fairly early on that there was an alphabetical separation of the letters that were going into the three divisions of the grid. All the words going into the down clues in the first five columns seemed to be variations of the letters from A to H (AHAB, FACE-ACHE, BAGGED, HEEDED), then OLIO, LOIN, MINI, KILN, MINION and ONION, for example fitted into the centre columns and those wonderful words between R and Y (URUS, SUSURRUS, XYSTUS, TUT-TUTS and TRUSTY for example) filled the third section of the grid, so we understood how the jumbled words had to ‘fit a pattern that must be deduced’, and my anxiety about the jumbles diminished. But what was it all about?

Fortunately we were given a hint by those six circled letters. FGAFOL spelled FLAG OF for us so our three stripes were going to be a flag. It couldn’t be MALI that appeared backwards in the title. I looked that up and found a lovely green, gold and red flag in the pan-African colours but MALI has only four letters. Could it be FRANCE? That has six letters. Obviously we had to tease out that message that was being spelled out for us by the extra or missing letters.

We found COLOUR A TO H GULES, I TO P OR, THE REST VERT. Flags of Africa told me that that was the flag of GUINEA and I understood why MALI was reversed at the head of the puzzle. Guinea’s flag is the reverse of the Mali flag – so out with the pencils. The puzzle was a lovely challenge and great fun. Many thanks, MynoT.

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Listener No 4496: ILAM by MynoT

Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 April 2018

Only nine months since MynoT’s last Listener based on the German phrase Keine Antwort ist auch eine Antwort meaning No answer is still an answer. Of course, it doesn’t indicate whether it’s the right answer or not, otherwise blank grids would flood the offices at St Albans.

This week, all the across answers had to be jumbled to fit a pattern to be deduced. I’m always wary of preambles that require my deductive skills to be put to the test. Luckily, however, it seemed that the down answers were to be entered normally, but 29 clues led to extra or missing wordplay letters leading to an instruction.

Starting with the downs, I managed to get a fair few dropping from the top row. DAH and FINAGLED came next in rows 2 and 3 and it immediately looked possible that the left side of the grid could contain the letters A–M and the right N–Z.

As usual with a MynoT puzzle, it was relatively tricky clue-wise. That led to it being relatively tricky grid-wise as well. It was only when the rather strange looking instruction became clear that some ambiguities could be disambiguated: Colour A to H Gules, I to P Or, rest Vert. So it wasn’t A–M and N–Z after all.

As a (somewhat superfluous) helpful hint, the circled cells could be unjumbled to give FLAG OF. I think gues, or and vert gave made that clear. Anyway, Google to the rescue, since I’m not an expert on flags of the world. It turned out to be the flag of GUINEA, not Mali. So the pattern was the flag — deduction success.

Thanks, MynoT.

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Listener No 4495 An Exchange of Letters: A Setter’s Blog by Harribobs

Posted by Listen With Others on 15 April 2018

Changing one letter in the grid to another, thereby creating a new word, is a device often employed in themed puzzles, and so a couple of years ago I built a list of words tagged with their possible one-letter changes. The word list can be used by grid filling software to insert desired letter swaps where they’re wanted. My programming skills are pretty rusty and the creation of the word list wasn’t completely straightforward; I was quite pleased with myself when everything eventually came together.

To make best use of the list, and because I have no imagination, I decided to set a puzzle based on the theme of change itself. There are a couple of websites offering dozens of quotes on any subject, and for ‘change’ they suggested:

  • Nought may endure but Mutability — Shelley
  • Omnia mutantur, nihil interit — Ovid
  • Everything flows and nothing abides — Heraclitus
  • The times they are a-changin’ — Bob Dylan

The Keramos quote was chosen not because I’m a big fan of Longfellow but because, excluding the last word, its length was about right for the number of answers in a 13×13 grid.

To be consistent with the theme, letters spelling out the title and author were to be deduced by changing a letter in each of the across clues. This approach proved more troublesome than expected because it was difficult to avoid using words, apart from the intended one, which might also feasibly have a letter changed. Three versions of one across were sent back by the editor because the extra letter was ambiguous.

A couple of months after submitting the puzzle, I discovered that all my ingenious work building the letter-swap word list had been a waste of time, at least for this puzzle. The Qxw software from Quinapulus has a facility to do exactly the same job of filling all entries after changing one letter. The parameters can be set in less than a minute. The software has many brilliant features and is free to download. Any setters not using it already should download a copy now!

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‘An Exchange of Letters’ by Harribobs

Posted by Encota on 13 April 2018


Or so spelled out the changed letters of each clue’s answer.

Sorting out one and only one change to each answer to create its grid entry was, for me at least, the hardest part of this puzzle.  Eventually it all worked out though, with STRANGE appearing on the leading diagonal.

2018-03-24 12.35.56

Will at least one person, in their rush, mistakenly modify what becomes STRONGER at 39ac to form STRANGEr.  Who knows – but ‘odder’ things have happened.

Talking of STRANGE, … then Tony Strange, a good friend of mine, is a Physics teacher at Ipswich school here in Suffolk.

He rumours (though I have never checked) that the plate on his door reads:


to the (mild) amusement of some of his pupils.


Tim / Encota

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An Exchange of Letters by Harribobs

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 April 2018

We appreciate a short preamble and Harribobs gave us one with very little to worry us: a word to highlight in the final grid that was the final word of a quotation that would appear when we had changed just one letter in each word that we entered (quite a challenge for a setter!) Fortunately we were also going to identify the source of the quotation by finding a misprint in every across clue and all the final words in our grid were going to be real words. That left us the down clues with no disturbing gimmick. We got down to solving.

Of course, I found the evidence that Harribobs retains his place in the Listener Setters’ Tippling Club and he gave us ‘Whisky and soda recipe is used in prank in Hull (7)’ We decided that the R (recipe) had to go into the whisky and soda STINGER to give us a STRINGER or a reinforcing plank in a ship’s hull, thus producing an L of our quotation’s source at the same time. That was all the alcohol there was in Harribobs’ compilation – but it was enough. Cheers Harribobs!

We solved steadily with some struggles. Does a WEE TEST really exist? I doubt it, but it made us smile and, of course, ‘In parts extremely soaked … (7)’ gave us the dialect form of ‘wettest’. LUREX had us struggling too though we were obviously looking for ‘Those who Etch (not Itch) wearing some light cloth (5)’ That U went in as our very last letter when we realized that the RE were ‘formerly the Royal Society of Etchers and Engravers’ (according to the Big Red Book) and that they were surrounded ny LUX (some light).

Fortunately it was that part of our grid that filled the fastest and we very soon had HENRY W LONGFELLOW. Of course I went to the ODQ to see if the letters we already had would give me that all-important quotation – but it was not to be (though I did find something about four and a half bees!) We needed a poem about K????OS and vainly searched for a Longfellow interest in KNOSSOS. Oh those Listener red herrings!

Happily, PISIFORM appeared and gave us an R misprint in the clue (caRpus, not caMpus) and that was all we needed to find KERAMOS and our quotation “All things must change to something new, something STRANGE”.

We had to be very systematic about changing one letter in each clue to the one provided by the quotation. I wonder how long it took Harribobs to create this grid with that device in it! There were pitfalls for the unwary; it would be so easy to put SNITS and TIRL in that bottom left-hand corner, thus changing two letters of SNAGS. I wonder if any solver did! Many thanks, Harribobs.

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