Listen With Others

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Listener No 4532: How? by Twin

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 Dec 2018

I’d forgotten that Twin had a puzzle last year. That was based on the Agatha Christie classic, Murder on the Orient Express and coincided with the cinematic release of the latest version of the film, this time starring Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot.

This week, every down clue had a thematic word which had one letter changed and needed removing before solving. The correct letters would spell out a place and a person and some misspelling of the unclued entry. I’ve never been asked to misspell a word in a Listener before!

The preamble told us a lot of things, one of which was that the grid had to “accommodate the answers” in some way. That sounded horribly like they would have to be jumbled. Luckily a short way into solving, it could be seen that the numbers in brackets were larger than the entry space available and so referred to the answer length.

Solving went pretty smoothly, and it soon became obvious that some cells in an entry would have to hold more than one letter, and two seemed to be the amount of cell-cramming required. Meanwhile, although the extra words could be extracted fairly easily, the letter change and jumbling was trickier.

Now I’ve noticed before when solving a puzzle that I tend to focus on the clue in hand without any overall perception of what is happening elsewhere in the grid. This time, although I was aware that the double-lettered cells all fell at the start or end of entries, it was only much, much later that I saw that they all lay in the centre of rows and columns.

In fact everything came together swiftly at the end. Bigger on the inside described the cell-cramming and also the thematic place — the TARDIS®. Two hearts also described the place’s occupant and how the unclued entry needed misspelling.

This last bit nearly tripped me up, since it seemed obvious (!) that the unclued entry would be missplelt as GALLIFFREY since that conformed roughly with how it would be pronounced. Unfortunately, that would not conform to the “two hearts” instruction and thus needed to be entered as GALL–II–FREY — two hearts in two ways.

Tidying up the extra words in the clues, each could become, with one letter changed, a synonym for doctor, most of which could be confirmed by Mrs Bradford. For example: freeze→breeze (a new one to me), pull→pill, drum→drug, etc, with my favourite being the simple GOC→Doc. This last was part of my favourite clue 27dn [GOC] reorganised MASH hospitals, with 46 missing eye disorder — an anagram of MASH hospitals after all the esses (46ac) have been lost — OPHTHALMIA.

I should also mention my difficulty in parsing 26ac Two supporters — pair following the lead of Nottingham Forest supporter? (8). I initially had the pair following the lead of Nottingham as (N)OP(qrs…) but then couldn’t work out the supporters which looked like PROP and ROOT. Of course, the pair following was (N)OT(tingham) with PRO and PRO being the two supporters.

Finally, TIME AND RELATIVE DIMENSION IN SPACE needed highlighting as well as the A in row 1 representing the flashing light of the old police box.

I’ve come across Doctor Who puzzles before and was surprised that none apparently used this trick for entering answers in the grid. Thanks, Twin — great fun.


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