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Archive for August, 2018

Cordon by Colleague

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 August 2018

Sheep may safely graze

We are in the Yorkshire Dales where one is never far from a maaing sheep or a bleating lamb and I have the very enjoyable role of setting the weekly cryptic crossword for the Farmers Guardian and frequently do that with a favourite Bach adagio playing in the background so you can imagine my delight when SCHAFE KONNEN SICHER WEIDEN appeared in that fifth circle and the centre four letters were clearly going to spell BACH.

No, it wasn’t an instant revelation and I had already muttered my habitual imprecations against Colleague when I saw that word ‘jumbles’ in the pre-ramble. I always think it is a bit of a setter cop-out and would be happy never to see another jumbled solution in my lifetime, though, on this occasion, those words ‘no two adjacent answers having the same method of entry’ rendered those jumbles fairly a later stage in the solve and having set very many circular crosswords in my time with no jumbles, I know how frustrating it can be to reach word 36 or 48 and find that there is no possible entry.

I haven’t forgotten, even if Colleague is wandering in the pastures, that his/her entry ticket to the bar has to be confirmed. I wasn’t left in doubt for long! ‘Old-style white wine less likely at first to undergo diffusion’ gave us MOSEL less L(ikely) after OS = OSMOSE.(Actually we worked backwards to that one as BESOMED had already gone into the grid, confirming the B of BACH in the centre, and giving us the OSE of a word that had to go inwards or be jumbled.

Colleague produced the beer next (obviously a German speaker with his ‘Schafe konnen sicher weiden’ but he must have forgotten the German adage ‘Wein auf Bier, das rat ich dir. Bier auf Wein, das lass sein.’) ‘What the right arm may be used for – as in Special brew’ giving us UT in S + ALE, so SALUTE. Well, with that beer chasing the wine, I salute a rather drunken Colleague. Cheers!

Dales black-faced sheep grazing safely.

DORCAS was a lovely gift so we realized at once that the outer circle was going to contain a series of shepherds or shepherdesses and ABEL (the first), MOPSA (Dorcas’s ‘other’ in The Winter’s Tale) and GABRIEL OAK from Far From the Madding Crowd were likely candidates. Those four nicely framed the ones that were less obvious to me, OLD NOD (which produced a smile), CORIN, SILVIUS and DELIO. He was my very last entry into the grid and caused a bit of head-scratching.

WOLF was my first ‘sheep’. With all those shepherds around, I am surprised he snuck in (but, of course, he was in that part of the grid where ‘OLD NOD’ was on duty, so I imagine he is going to make a meal or two of the AMMON, the MOUFFLON, the SOAY, the SOUTHDOWN and the MERINO. DOLLY died, didn’t she? Sadly, as the Farmers Guardian campaign ‘TAKE THE LEAD‘ regularly tells us, it isn’t wolves so much as unrestrained dogs that are the menace. Well, there’s my bit of politicising, but it was prompted by a crossword that I thought was sheer delight. Many thanks to Colleague.

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Listener No 4514: Cordon by Colleague

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 August 2018

Last year’s puzzle from Colleague was based on the BBC One sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles and the Oozlum bird. I think the Inquisitor is normally the place for TV programme themes, but it was a fun puzzle nonetheless.

This week we had a circular grid. Now, I must have blogged a dozen or so circular puzzles here at LWO. Between you and me, they’re not my favourite, just as others dislike puzzles with jumbles or Playfair. Still, my shoulders are broad.

Normally circular puzzles have a mixture of entries going inwards and outwards. Here, we had jumbles as well. (I bet someone was thankful that there weren’t a couple of Playfair entries as well! [Now there’s a thought. Ed.])

As I expected, this was tough. As well as all the 6-letter entries, each quadrant had a 7-letter one which strayed into the central ring, but we were told that wasn’t a jumble. In hindsight, I should have got 1 Not all in sea bottom cleared by a sweep straightaway, but I didn’t. In fact very few came quickly and there seemed like a lot of cold (or, at least, luke warm) solving. Being told that no two adjacent answers had the same entry method certainly helped.

With the grid about two-thirds full, I had SCHAF… in ring 5. It looked as though it could be German, and that idea was supported by “… in its original form…” in the preamble. A check with Google translate gave SHEEP, although it would probably end up being plural (SCHAFE). The first idea that came to mind was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but Ein Wolf im Schafspelz didn’t really fit.

Eventually, ring 5 spelt out SHAFE KÖNNEN SICHER WEIDEN which translates to Sheep May Safely Graze and I was surprised to discover that it was an aria by JS BACH, words courtesy of Salomon Franck. It didn’t take too long to work out that shepherds needed to go in the perimeter with sheep in ring 3, apart from the WOLF en déshabillé in the north-west quadrant.

The sheep were fairly cut and dried, with AMMON, MOUFFLON, DOLLY, SOAY, SOUTHDOWN and MERINO. All that was left was to finalise the shepherds, except that took an awful lot of googling. As You Like It provided CORIN and SILVIUS and The Winter’s Tale MOPSA and DORCAS. OLD NOD came courtesy of Walter de la Mare, GABRIEL OAK from Thomas Hardy, and ABEL from the Bible.

That just left one shepherd in the north-east quadrant to be tracked down. Eventually, after an awful lot of googling, I found him in The Seven Books of the Diana, “…a pastoral romance written in Spanish by the Portuguese author Jorge de Montemayor.” I must admit that seemed a bit like clutching at straws, but further research didn’t elucidate any other Delio, so I settled for that. Of course, I could have got something else wrong!

Oh, and BACH is in the centre!

In the end, this wasn’t as tricky as it seemed at first, although it was by no means a short solve. I’m still not sure about Delio, so I’ll just have to wait and see. Thanks, Colleague.

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Listener No 4514, Cordon by Colleague

Posted by Steve Tregidgo on 24 August 2018

I worked through most of this while I was on holiday. I couldn’t take my hardback Chambers, so shelled out for the Android app (and the thesaurus too), which was well worth the price of £10 between them.

Even so, this was a lot of hard work for me — mainly due to the localisation of crossing letters, but also because I was sloooow to get the theme. It became obvious I’d benefit from solving in pairs (for, usually, one and a half entries per pair, if one was a jumble), but there wasn’t much help between groups of four for most of the solve. It took me all week to get three quarters filled-ish, and another couple of days before the theme hit me. Some of that delay is my own fault: having already seen I could make SILVIUS and ABEL from the outer ring, the respective wikipedia entries should have given me the connection. Worse for me is that on reading the preamble I immediately guessed that the “impostor en déshabillé” was a wolf, and I still didn’t look for the sheep!

I want to mention two resources, new to me, but which helped me a lot for this puzzle. First is an English-German dictionary which supports wildcards. I had SICHER in ring 5 and guessed at German; I put my partial letters from the NE quadrant (and question-mark wildcards) into this website and found SCHAFE, leading me eventually to Bach (three letters of which were in the centre of my circle already — I said I was slow to catch on!).

Second is Dictionary of the Scottish Language. That’s the full 22 volumes; I installed their Android app which has fewer entries but which still helped a great deal with the handful of clues which indicated a Scottish word as the solution or (much harder) in the fodder.

Despite my struggles I enjoyed the puzzle, but surely can’t be the only one who hit upon an early theme and was a little disappointed when it didn’t pan out. With entries going in, out, and shaken all about, surely that circle represented the Hokey Cokey! Alas, it was not to be…

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Listener No 4513, Lost in Translation: A Setter’s Blog by Ottorino

Posted by Listen With Others on 19 August 2018

I set a weekly general knowledge at my local golf club and a couple of years ago, I asked the question, “Which major European country uses the same alphabet as we do but without 5 letters”? I hadn’t known the answer but it surprised me that none of the 47 quizzers did either. It also seemed odd that one of the missing letters is X, so common in Latin.

A few weeks later, it occurred to me that there might just be a crossword in this piece of trivia and as my mind is usually a desert when it comes to original ideas for crosswords, I started to write down some ideas before I lost confidence in the theme. At the very least, I reasoned, Listener solvers usually appreciate learning something new and if my quizzers were typical, this was something new.

The first idea that came to me was to make the answer to 21 (either across or down) “Letters”. That led me to decide that there would be 40 clues, 20 across and 20 down so that whatever treatment I gave the clues, all 20 acrosses or all 20 downs would be affected and the 21 would be made up by adding 1 of the others. 20 fitted neatly as I could then use each of J,K,W,X and Y 4 times.

I experimented by adding each of these letters to potential clue words but at about that time I thought of “Lost in Translation” as a decent title so it was sensible to have removals rather than additions. It resulted in some rather clumsy clues and the Js were particularly troublesome. I eventually had to settle for all 4 Js being the initial letter. I then realised that the clue for 21 (which turned out to be a down clue) must contain an example of each of the 5 letters to be excluded. This seemed daunting so I was pleased to come up fairly quickly with “eg, Jess and Ken, Ruby Wax off tele…star cast!” for LETTERS.

I toyed with the idea of presenting all clues in alphabetical order of their answers but I couldn’t justify it except to make the puzzle more difficult. I compromised by presenting the down clues in alphabetical order of answers to allow me to incorporate the instruction to solvers to insert only one number: 21 for the answer LETTERS. In line with this, only the bars would be provided in the grid.

I was aware that the successful solver at this point would know the 5 letters to be omitted and might realise that 21 was the number required but could submit without having made the Italian language connection. I decided to have ITALIA as an answer as well as ITALY. Of course, ITALY has one of the discarded letters but I could see no way to get over that so I inserted the other 4 discards as clashes.

Finally, I felt that there should be no incidences of JKWXY in the clues except for the ones that solvers were instructed to remove.

Having completed the grid and most of the clues, it struck me that it would be a nice touch if all 21 letters of the Italian alphabet appeared at least once in the final grid. I tried for some time to achieve this but without an almost total rewrite, I couldn’t manage it and I resolved never again to ask a quiz question to which I didn’t know the answer!

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‘Lost in Translation’ by Ottorino

Posted by Encota on 17 August 2018

The big hint this week was the pair of initials NT in Column 2: New Testament, perhaps?  And so it proved.  [Really??? Ed.]

The biblical theme was hinted at in 18a and 22a – ESAU and REBECCA – characters from the Old Testament – presumably to throw us off the scent.

Those with a strong knowledge of the New Testament will already know that it contains ~37 ‘books’.  Of these 37, there are 21 LETTERS, many written by Paul, to various parties.  These include two letters to the Romans (Rom.), two to Timothy (Tim.), one to Titus (Ti.), Colossians (Col.), Ephesians (Eph.), James (Jam.) and more.  These abbreviations all appear in the grid – I presume – I’ve highlighted a few here to show the principle, along with the answer to Clue 21: LETTERS. Simple, eh?  The hidden message had instructed us to INSERT ONE CLUE NUMBER – so I picked 21 to fit with this NT theme.

2018-08-01 14.46.56

[surreal mode off]

OK, the Italian language has only 21 letters, as it has no requirement, except in foreign words, for W, J, X, K & Y.  These were neatly stacked in Column 6.  Changing them to ITALY (a translation of ITALIA at 9d) allowed real across words to be maintained.  My finished puzzle actually looked like this.

2018-08-01 14.41.06

Great fun – thanks Ottorino 🙂

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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