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Archive for Sep, 2018

‘X’ by Schadenfreude

Posted by Encota on 28 Sep 2018

Stupidly rushed today so have included little more than my attempt at solving the Crossword Grid.

The definition (of Checked) in the central Square read, clockwise from the *, DECLINED THE OPTION OF OPENING THE BETTING.

Many thanks to Schadenfreude for a pleasant solve.


Tim / Encota

2018-09-11 19.03.04

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Listener No 4519: X by Schadenfreude

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 Sep 2018

We’ve already had one Schadenfreude puzzle this year. Back in January there were the prime numbered presidents. My first thoughts with one of his puzzles is whether it’s going to be an easy-ish one or a bit more tricky-ish. I’m not giving too much away to say that it was middle-of-the-road-ish.

An extra word appeared in every clue. Those sharing one letter in common with their answer gave X using those letters. The others, using second and penultimate letters, gave what needed changing and what was to be revealed. The four unclued entries one cell in from the perimeter would provide the definition of Y which would also help to give Z.

All this turned out to be good fun, and the surface readings of the clues were amusing, given some entertaining extra words. We had a plucky European, an upright catholic, a diffident Italian, a swarthy earl, a rich sweetheart and, much to Shirley’s delight I’m sure, a boozy officer!

The definition of Y was DECLINED THE OPTION OF OPENING THE BETTING. The single letters provided by the clues gave cruciverbal and what needed changing and the resultant revelation was Five letters and Two word phrase in which Zs exist. The form the definition of Y traced was obviously a square, and I was lucky to guess at “checked” for Y since I hadn’t come across that meaning before.

It didn’t take long to see CROSSW in column 4 and thus change three letters to give CROSSWORD. I now wondered whether the “in which Zs exist” might be deviously guiding us towards PUZZLE as the second word, but, given that we could only change two more letters, it soon became clear that PUZZLE was impossible. GRID, however, was possible in row 10 and a crossword grid certainly, in the UK at least, has checked squares.

Thanks to Schadenfreude for another imaginative crossword showing how almost anything can become cruciverbal fodder.

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X by Schadenfreude

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Sep 2018

The preamble gives us lots of information but we can make no early guesses about what X, Y and Z are going to be, though we see that we have a ten by ten square within our grid that is going to contain a definition that, together with its form will give us the two-word phrase (7,6) that we will write below the grid. It’s going to be a long definition – 36 letters – and it does appear in Chambers.

Nothing to do but solve! Well, yes, of course I confirm that Schadenfreude still qualifies for entry to the Listener Oenophile Club and find ‘Head of Ulster avoided getting drunk (5)’ I work backwards from  ONION for that and use O’ + NI + ON, so ‘avoided’ has to be the helpful extra word and that shares and O and an I with ONION, so gives me a second and a penultimate letter VE.  (and he didn’t avoid ‘getting drunk’ so we are well into the alcohol already. Burgundy appears next, ‘Ham-fisted islander loses a thousand somewhere in Burgundy (5)’ We live just south of Burgundy and get fine wines. Schadenfreude’s doing fine now! We take a thousand (K) from CLUNKY and get CLUNY. (and that gives us the SE of ‘islander’ as part of our instructive message). He’s not finished with the alcohol yet! ‘Reprehensible soldiers close to midnight occupying boozy officer’s cellars (12)’. We put BASE MEN and (midnigh)T into SUBS giving SUBBASEMENTS, happily producing one of those generous 12-letter solutions, and say ‘Cheers!’ to Schadenfreude down in those wine cellars, even if we had to extract ‘boozy’ from the clue, giving a B.

Schadenfreude gave us a fine set of clues (Well, he would, wouldn’t he?) and with the help of TEA we soon had the grid surrounded by AREOSYSTYLES, AFFECTATIONS and STEVENGRAPHS (I can’t see myself introducing some of those into dinner table conversation!) and we were able to add a few letters to those that were appearing and work out that X was CRUCIVERBAL.  The instructions about what we must change after filling the grid, and ‘what that will reveal’ took a little longer, partly because of that intriguing HZ SE XI ST that appeared in the last four clues – some form of p.c. statement? No, it turned out to be FIVE LETTERS that had to be changed, and TWO WORD PHRASE IN WHICH Zs EXIST.

A full grid and a bit of a head-scratcher trying to make sense of the letters we had in that 10 X 10 square – there was a bit of Numpty muttering before we learned that CHECKED in Chambers, gives DECLINED THE OPTION OF OPENING THE BETTING. What was left to do? Find that two-word phrase in the grid that was ‘where checked squares exist’ but the phrase had not to use any checked squares. Clever word play! That, of course, led me to those unchecked letters, reading down the grid and across – CROSSWORD GRID. All fitting together thematically. Thank you Schadenfreude.

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Listener No 4518, Game Box: A Setter’s Blog by Poat

Posted by Listen With Others on 23 Sep 2018

My previous Listener was number 4422 in October 2016, based on a hunt for the golden jewelled hare of Masquerade – solvers were required to ignore various false trails, and highlight the word HARE hidden in the preamble. I’ve set a few crosswords over the years, but none generated such controversy as this one. Personally I remain proud of it and wouldn’t change a thing, but I do acknowledge that a lot of would-be solvers were frustrated and annoyed by the surprise denouement, as indeed many of them expressed quite trenchantly online at the time.

The elusive creature is still frequently mentioned in internet forums (usually as “that bloody hare”); it featured regularly in Shirley Curran’s solving blog for over a year; and it was commemorated in chocolate form at the Listener dinner in March 2017. I don’t mind a touch of notoriety, but it did start to get a bit much.

So I thought my next Listener submission should include GOLDEN and HARE prominently as a rueful nod to all that heartache. Playing around with Chambers, I realised the words could both form part of different ducks. A hunting or shooting theme came to mind, so I started the search for apposite quotes to embellish the puzzle. Not much in ODQ, but internet research came up with a very suitable line from Wodehouse. It can also be read as a playful appeal for solvers not to be too harsh on setters (luckily I have a thick skin).

I’m not sure how other crossword setters operate, but I have a spreadsheet listing dozens of sketches for puzzles that may come good, alone or in combination, many years later. This theme seemed to tie in with a long-standing idea, the old Waddingtons game Black Box: entries could at a stretch represent guns taking pot shots from various points at their targets, some ricocheting here and there if not making a direct hit. So I set to work on a grid fill, this time unaided by setting software (which cannot handle the entry method as far as I know).

Earlier attempts included appealing answers like NORMAN BATES, SUGARGLIDER and KAHIKATEA, but they came along with too much short fill, or either insufficient or excessive cross-checking. I decided to allow re-entries, so that shorter grid components like NOS, ERS and HAS could form segments of longer words, and eventually ended up with the final format. Then the habitually laborious process of writing clues, though it seemed harder than ever to come up with coherent surface readings thanks to the combined answer threads.

Research into the quote delivers a cautionary tale about trusting the internet. Virtually everywhere online, it is said to originate from The Adventures of Sally, but a full-text search failed to confirm that. Instead here is a fuller extract from the Wodehouse short story, Unpleasantness at Bludleigh Court:

“He had got thus far when he perceived that the young woman was aiming at him something that looked remarkably like an air-gun. Her tongue protruding thoughtfully from the corner of her mouth, she had closed one eye and with the other was squinting tensely along the barrel.

Colonel Sir Francis Pashley-Drake did not linger. In all England there was probably no man more enthusiastic about shooting: but the fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.”

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‘This is not the HARE you’re looking for’ aka ‘Game Box’ by Poat

Posted by Encota on 21 Sep 2018

Thanks to Poat for a challenging and enjoyable puzzle.

SCAN0518 copy


There were several sub-clues I particularly enjoyed:

  • I damn Foucault’s concept (4), [for IDEE];especially
  • Wise or foolish – which mixing Roofies with this could be (6)
    [for OWLISH – fantastic dual definition and subtractive anagram]and the quite brilliant
  • one in the wings, advancing Othello’s end … (4) [for IAGO – fabulous!]

There appeared to be a possibility for the ‘glancing contact’ with the obstacles not to work as the physics might suggest – and so I spent more time than I should really have done on ensuring that the 90 degree turns were as expected and not some ‘random corner-turning generator’.  The latter luckily proved not to be the case!

The beginning of the PG Wodehouse quote, “THE FASCINATION OF SHOOTING …” appeared without too much pain: the focus was then very much on the specifics of the words in the Preamble, especially “ten targets of a specific kind”.  Sounds like singular ‘duck’ rather than ‘ducks’, I think?  So when, initially, I only found 59 cells covering the ten duck, I wondered what Poat had had in mind.  There were options for pluralising (up to) three of the duck – HARELD (ho ho, by the way!!), GOLDENEYE and SHIELDRAKE – though one of the three didn’t automatically pop up in the electronic BRB I did half-wonder if ‘Chambers is the primary reference’ was perhaps being taken rather seriously. Other adjustment options included DRAKE vs SHIELDRAKE but that didn’t free up the appropriate 61 cells either.

Eventually I realised my mistake – I’d initially gone with BALD as a type of DUCK and not BALDPATE.  The extra cells at ‘TE’ made up the shortfall and all was sorted – I hope!

From again re-reading the Preamble there didn’t seem to be any need to add bars and I wasn’t sure if the position of the six obstacles were required either.  As some bars were crossed by the duck I left those out; and I gently dotted in where the obstacles were, in case it was of any interest.

Teasing seasoned solvers with 2d’s HARELD (i.e. those who solved Poat’s last Listener, where some readers might recall there was ‘some debate’ about the location of a HARE) was funny.  Thanks again to Poat – I loved this!


Tim (the setter Encota)

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