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Putting the World to Rights by Charybdis

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 August 2018

A friend just commented to me, “What is the most hated sentence in the English language? ‘All answers must be jumbled’!” and I loudly agreed.  That was followed in this preamble by ‘An extra word must be removed before solving from all across and 20 down clues.’ Hmm! Actually that requirement was quite helpful. Had we not had that message in the second letters of across clues that prompted me to begin a second grid and ‘UNJUMBLE ALL DOWN ENTRIES’ I imagine I would still be sitting here solving and muttering foul imprecations at Charybdis as I was until 2 a.m. this morning.

Does he retain his admission ticket to the bar at Listener dos? Well, he started off on the soft stuff, ‘Active ingredient is in demand for cordial (7)’ and we decided that A + IS in NEED gave us ANISEED so the ‘ingredient’ was extra and provided us with a second letter N. There was a touch of hope in ‘Estate producing mostly fruit (6)’. We guessed this had to be the Napa Valley mostly ‘RAISIN(g)’ and that’s what we use here for our wine but the alcohol scene was not impressive. ‘Château giving away (beery) brew right before noon – from this? (6, two words)’ removed that CHA and left us with TEA U + RN – clearly not premier cru but admission ticket valid. Cheers, anyway, Charybdis.

Of course Charybdis’ clues are polished and fair and we solved steadily but he had imposed on us a task that was almost a total cold solve. He tells me one of his setting rules is that the puzzle must be more difficult for the setter to set than it is for the solver to solve. What can I say? I should include a photograph of my initial grid at an intermediate stage when I still had all those tiny words pencilled in, ready to be erased and pencilled in again when the intersecting jumble didn’t share a letter. Do we really do this for pleasure or is it some kind of masochistic self-torture?

The redeeming feature came with the first p.d.m. We had WHY NO HEART appearing at the end of our down clue extra letters and ROUGH BEAST rang a bell (didn’t I teach that Yeats’ Second Coming‘ to IB classes with that dreadful suggestion of a second nativity when that ‘rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born’?)

How do I find the poet’s name there? ‘Rough’ is telling me to anagram BEAST and WHY with no heart so W.B.YEATS.
Looking back at the preamble tells me that I am going to find the first line of the poem in the grid, 34 cells, but for now I can see no hint of TURNING AND TURNING IN THE WIDENING GYRE, though clearly it is the CENTRE that cannot hold and I can, for now, fill those six central letters. R will later change to L and the falcon must appear there, so I imagine the C will have to become G to give us a GENTLE.
MERE ANARCHY indeed, that initial grid, and we had to change that phrase to describe the text. This has appeared before in a Magpie by Ifor, hasn’t it? He converted that MERE ANARCHY to an ARCANE RHYME and that is really helpful here. One step further in the solve!
Thankyou, thankyou for that message UNJUMBLE ALL DOWN ENTRIES! I still had 13 solutions to go and that didn’t bode too well for the meticulous task of ‘filling as much of the grid as possible‘. I wonder how many other solvers created a second grid with the down entries and worked backwards from that, producing, for example SK?NNY at 45ac and MI?I at 40ac then using the potential ultimate letters to complete the grid (Well, it could be MINI, MIDI or MIRI but 40ac was HORN so that fixed the N as the choice and the I of SKINNY was the only option.)
Even more joyous was the moment when a circling GYRE appeared and gave me my final words in the top right sector of the grid, where two of my gaps were lurking – so I could back solve to SYNTH and ARGUE and confirm the presence of the falcon in the gyre.
This was the toughest challenge of the year so far for us but what a compilation. Thank you to Charybdis.
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One Response to “Putting the World to Rights by Charybdis”

  1. charybdis said

    Thanks, Shirley. I’ll try to put more alcoholic tipplings in my next one. Tea, indeed! What was I thinking?

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