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Quads III by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 Nov 2018

We test solved Quads (i) a few years a go when it was in its early stages and simply couldn’t, over about a week of trying, complete the end game which required, if I remember it right, reusing the letters that went into one quadrant of the grid in another quadrant, in different words. I remember fruitlessly fiddling with mini scrabble travel-set letters for days. I remember too, that the final Quads, when it appeared (rendered slightly easier than our test version) was a masterpiece of construction. Quads II followed and we knew Quads III was to come and bound to be very special – and it was. What an amazing compilation!.

The preamble sounded daunting, ‘In 33 of the 44 clues, one letter and spacing have been changed in the definition, joining it up with the rest of the clue’. I don’t think I have seen that device before and I’m still gasping at the cleverness of it. How did he manage it in 33 clues! One or two yielded at once; ‘Five rallying game with Croatia (4)’ gave us RU + HR so it had to be River allying … We were looking for an instruction in ‘the incorrect replacements’. That odd phrase had us wondering initially but we decided it had to be the F (yes, FOURTH soon emerged and this was in the Quads series).

Was there proof of Shark’s life membership of the Listener Oenophile Setters’ Outfit? Of course. We soon sorted out GOURMET when ‘Food defaced after pigeon drops it in places (6)’ changed to ‘Foodie faced etc .. which gave us GOURA less A + MET. Our GOURMET went on to warn us; ‘Cook a rat … so wrong! (Well, we know that) but it changed to Cooker ATSO wrong, and gave us OAST. We needed a drop of alcohol to marinate that oast-baked rat: ‘Pray for rum in Dumfries, by God! (7)’ BEG + ORRA, we decided with no ‘incorrect replacement’, ‘They’re extracted from bar … and ‘One who leaves porter… followed, then ‘Sup tasty bubbly excluded from player’s time out (5)’ That was one of the last three clues we solved. It asked us to remove STY* from PLAYERS* giving REPLA which is, it seems, Septa. Brilliant clue, let me raise a class of bubbly – Cheers, Shark!

The surface readings of most of these clues were so impressive that WE could barely believe it when the message the emerged from those ‘incorrect replacements’ told us to read the ‘FOURTH LETTERS IN WORDS – STANDARD CLUES. How on earth did he manage to conceal that message without creating horribly clunky clues? There was even better to come. We knew that we were to be given instructions about how to cut our grid and create two new ones. We CUT EACH GRID CORNER FOUR BY FOUR REGION and immediately saw that those four little squares would give us GREEK CROSS – the shape that was left. We highlighted those words then became rather troubled about those two straight cuts that were going to create our second grid.

Fortunately, there were those letters TERMINUS to tell us where to place the four ends of the cuts. We were away from home with no copier or printer to give a chance of an error and second cut (why are we always travelling when these stunning and truly challenging Listener puzzles appear?) We constructed a paper model Greek cross and were amazed and delighted when it could be reformed into a beautiful diamond shape. A tour de force with TETRAMERAL neatly placed in the centre of it. From start to finish, this puzzle was one of the most impressive I have ever solved – as near to perfection as a setter can get, I think.

Fabulous, Shark!


3 Responses to “Quads III by Shark”

  1. Steve said

    I’m trying to comment without looking at the posted image as I’m far behind you… this has gone up too early. Hope you’re getting comment notifications and can take it down…

  2. shirleycurran said

    Many thanks a truly imbecilic error. I was notified and removed it at once. Hope nobody has read it. Sxx

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Steve said

    An easy mistake to make! Well done for acting swiftly. 🙂 I caught PARTON but remained unspoiled for the rest. And I definitely agree — one of the cleverest pieces of construction I’ve seen in a very long time.

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