Listen With Others

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Agreement by Samuel

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 July 2018

We are child-minding in California with a rather demanding two-year old, and I was dreading a really fearsome crossword with a GWIT leap from solving to a totally obscure and unrelated endgame, something along the lines of ‘All clues consist of two halves which must be differently attached in order to provide the definitions and wordplay to entries which are all jumbled, all but three of these must be entered using knights’ moves. The remaining three give a cryptic definition of the theme which solvers must highlight with a single curved line linking six symbolic thematic items ….’ You know the style!

What a relief, therefore, to see the name Samuel at the head of the puzzle and to read a preamble that we could absorb in a single reading. We could be sure of totally fair clues. (Are you claiming that ‘See how far one can get from moon containing Yttrium (7 three words)’ is fair? There are hundreds of moons Ed.) Well we put a Y into the letters we had and guessed the rest, producing TRY IT ON.

We had to find misprints in the definitions of all but eight of the clues. That’s always a challenge for the setter but tends to render the solving slightly easier when a few are instantly evident: ‘not Raving joints – surely that was ‘not Having joints, which gave us ENODAL.  ‘… town adjacent to where parties made peNce’ – surely they made peAce. First penny drop moment, “EGHAM is near Runnymede! It’s about the Magna Carta” said the other Numpty and, of course, we saw where the ten-letter phrase would go. Down the leading diagonal. That rendered solving much easier with so many letters in place.

No, I haven’t forgotten the inevitable setter’s tipple and it was there in ‘Striking head consuming drop of Ouzo and what some mean by “raki”‘. Samuel is into the relatively exotic alcohol. Cheers! We had trouble finding the misprint there but at the very end of our solve, when we had BAILI? we found that RAKE can mean ROAM (the O of ouzo going into RAM, striking head).

DISESTEEMED ‘Wasn’t fond of …’ had been our very first entry in the grid but we had wondered how the wordplay gave us the last four letters. ‘….dodgy sites in Delaware (11)’ led to DISESTE. Now we could complete the word with ‘Runny’ or anagrammed MEDE, and as the eight words that were going to use this device were symmetrical we soon found MISDEMEANOUR, ADEEM, REDEEM, ACADEME, DEMENT, MADE MEN and EDEMA. KANG and FOHN, converted to KING JOHN, neatly placed at 12 and 15, giving 1215, the year of the signing of the Magna Carta. That left us a few gaps to fill and the thematic group to complete. OFFICER, COURT, BAILIE, ??NCHAUSEN and OF BEEF. Well it had to be MUNCHAUSEN and I found that an IMPOT can be a ‘huM’ giving us the M, and  SEA DOGS can be ‘hUsses’ giving us the U. What did all those have in common I asked myself. Of course, they can all be barons – how beautifully thematic the whole compilation was – not over-difficult, three relevant devices. Just the way I like my Listener crosswords. Thank you, Samuel.

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