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Archive for April, 2019

Listener No 4548, Brexit: A Setter’s Blog by KevGar

Posted by Listen With Others on 27 April 2019

I’m not really sure what triggered the idea of compiling a Listener around Brexit, more than a year ago now. My original plan was to try to use as many words as possible containing “BR”, which, after the removal of “BR”, would leave real words. The resulting list was fairly small, and I thought that with such a limited number of possible words, it wouldn’t be worthwhile trying to construct a puzzle solely around the “exit” of BR. I then had the idea that as well as removing “BR” from one or more words, I could do the opposite for the other countries within the EU, i.e. adding the appropriate IVR abbreviations into words, creating new words.

This was fairly straightforward for some of the countries, but much harder for others (BG, DK, CY for instance), and the constraints of trying to use all of the countries made the overall construction of the grid quite challenging.

I decided that using the crossing 12-letter words “separationist” and “devolutionist” would be a useful, suitable starting point, and developed the overall grid from there. After many attempts I thought that I was going to end up having to omit one other country from the grid and that I would require solvers to identify the other country which was surprisingly exiting from the EU (LVExit!). However, after much re-working of the grid, I managed to ensure that Latvia was indeed included (saLVe).

My original submission contained a rather obscure abbreviation in plural format which I wasn’t really happy about. However, the second referee managed to make some minor adjustments to the grid to produce a more sensible/acceptable entry.

I certainly didn’t envisage the position that the country would be in when I submitted “my” Brexit as a possible Listener over 12 months ago!


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From Where I’m Standing by Emu

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 April 2019

We were happy to see a relatively short preamble (though the three points of view it refers to kept us head-scratching for quite a while after we had completed a relatively gentle grid fill). Yes, I saw that Emu’s retention of his membership in the Listener Setters Oenophile Elite Outfit is rather tentative as his alcohol was in a very early stage ‘Grape and guava peeled and pureed (3)’ gave us an anagram of (g)UAV(a) – just the pureed grape, but ‘Cheers’ anyway, Emu. Someone has to provide the strong coffee. ‘Stimulant shot concealed by athlete’s press officer (8)’. Indeed, we can’t approve of those illegal stimulant shots but we did like the hidden ESPRESSO. (We had ‘shot’ as a potential extra word at first but ultimately opted for ‘Letters reprinted on every visible face of blocks’).

We were lucky in that a convenient Z emerging from a corrected misprint in the first clue – giving Zany for Many, soon led to ZIGGURAT appearing in those corrected letters. ‘Tenderfeet returned to split zany rocks giving crucial warning to Buffalo driver (9)’. We returned CUBS and inserted them into ROCKS* giving CROSSBUCK and were amazed to find that, for a driver in Buffalo that is a cross-shaped warning placed at a level crossing.

Not long after that, more corrected misprints gave us FROM WEST, so, with a full grid, we knew that viewing the ZIGGURAT from the west (presumably the left hand side of the grid) would reveal the ‘title character’s ultimate destination’. We had been told that ‘The grid represents a type of structure’ so I kick myself that it took us so long to see that we had to be looking at it from above. Even then we struggled to find ‘endless realms of day’.

Of course Google stepped in now and told us that the poem was The Eagle by e e cummings, and we could see EAGLE on the north side of the Ziggurat and THE on the east side so our point of view must be from the north-east, where we could see both of those sides of the structure and both the Es, and there was e e cummings, the poet, beginning at the apex of the poem. Robert Lorimer, the setter Opsimath, sent me this superb little reconstruction of the Ziggurat – he says it took him back to math model making, aged 11.

Dilemma! The poet would have been annoyed if we had written his name in upper case letters (and, in fact, the quotation begins half way along a line so would begin with a lower case e) but do we fill just his name in in lower case, the entire quotation too or even the entire grid? (Dare I mention KOHb at this stage?)

Many thanks to Emu for a challenging puzzle.

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L4549: ‘From Where I’m Standing’ by Emu

Posted by Encota on 26 April 2019

I loved the 3-D nature of this puzzle!  A Ziggurat, eh!?


Pulling a few strings with Lego I quickly got them to issue ‘The Eagle’ special edition of their 2009 Ramses ziggurat set and I was away (Yeah, right.  Away with the fairies, more like.  Ed.).

The extra eight words spelt out: LETTERS REPRINTED ON EVERY VISIBLE FACE OF BLOCKS – I think  I have that right!

The misprints in order spelled the following phrase: ZIGGURAT FROM WEST.  Hmmm.

Now imagine the grid to be in 3-D as a stepped pyramid-like structure.  Made of Lego, perhaps?

Then view said 3-D structure from the West (left hand side of the grid) and it spells out, row-by-row from top towards the bottom: ENDLESS REALM OF DAY …

This, in turn, proves to be part of a poem entitled The Eagle, by eecummings, or is that E.E.Cummings, depending on how early in his career he wrote it!?

If you now view the top of the ziggurat from the North-East, doubling up each letter on its NE ‘ridge’ to reflect the fact that letters are printed on every open face and two faces are visible from that direction, then the puzzle cleverly spells out:


A bit like this:


What a great piece of work – that is a lot of information hiding in the one grid.  Great work, Emu.  The final highlighting might then be considered as the shadow of that bird on the ziggurat – Eagle, not Emu, of course 😉

Great fun – many thanks John!

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4549: From Where I’m Standing by Emu

Posted by Dave Hennings on 26 April 2019

Emu’s last (and first) Listener was two years ago. Then we had One-man Band which was based on the Ealing comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets. In case you didn’t know, last year’s Ealing comedy Listener was Doing a Sort; it was based on The Ladykillers and it won setter Elgin the Ascot Gold Cup.

This week’s puzzle had fairly forgiving clues and was finished in just over the hour… well, it was only an 11×11 grid. The correct letters for the misprints gave Ziggurat, from west and the extra words in eight clues gave Letters reprinted on every visible face of blocks.

In hindsight, I should have got there a bit sooner than I actually did. I was sidetracked by some famous novels by unknown writers, World Life and Espresso, and All Gaelic Chain Mail. My real red herring was seeing ANIMULA running down column 9 when looking at the grid from the west (left). It turned out to be a poem by TS Eliot, but I couldn’t see him, or any of the poem’s words, in the grid.

Eventually, I realised that a ziggurat could be a pyramid, rather than just a sort of cubic tomb or like the Tower of Babel. Redrawing the grid a bit more neatly enabled me to see what was going on… sort of! I had spotted THE/EAGLE fairly early on, and that was a poem by Tennyson. Like Eliot, I couldn’t track him down anywhere in the grid.

Luckily, a bit more research unearthed an Eagle poem by EE Cummings. Thus the western half of the grid revealed “Ever drifting, drifting away Into the endless realms of day“. But that wasn’t what needed highlighting. That was to be found when the pyramid was looked at from the northeast, with author and poem straddling the corner of the pyramid.

At last, the somewhat cryptic bit of the preamble, “… solvers must add an extra letter in each of three cells” became clear. The letters straddling the corner of the pyramid were enhanced to give EE CUMMINGS THE EAGLE. I’m not exactly sure whether we were meant to put Cummings in lower case, or tilt the letters to the northeast, but, rightly or wrongly, I decided that wasn’t necessary.

For me, this wasn’t an easy endgame by any means, but very satisfying to get there in the end. Thanks, Emu.

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Brexit by KevGar

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 April 2019

We’ve suffered the UK parliamentary shambles all day, no, I mean all week/ month/ year, so I groaned when we saw KevGar’s title. We needed something to lighten the atmosphere. Well, it certainly did! We saw the SEPARATIONIST anagram at once, ‘Parisian set to convert one Brexiteer perhaps (13)’ and that was quickly followed by ZOOEA ‘Ozone, not nitrogen, mixed up with a number of larvae’. The Z and S in place suggested CZARDAS (dance) and we spotted the ‘dance’ definition to remove from ‘Working the dance clubs, eat out (6)’. And we were off on our tour of the European Union as it was CZ (Czech Republic) that had to be added to ARDAS ‘Sikh prayer raised pitiful (power-shifter) god (7)’ (SAD RA<).

I had to consult the Internet to create a list of the IVRs of the 28 EU countries and we carefully crossed them off, one by one, wondering how KevGar was going to include BG, CY or LV, but, of course, he managed. What a feat of construction. Clearly a member of the elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit, but he did confirm that, ‘Tiny amounts of ordinary booze in alcoholic convulsions? (5)’ We put the O into DTs, giving DOTS, and later added the L of Luxembourg to give DOLTS, which was defined by ‘dullards’ from another clue. So the ‘booze’ had to be moved and it defined BIRLE. That put IRL (Ireland) into BE ‘One third of animals remain (5) (BEasts) and Chambers tells me to BIRLE is to ply with drink, so ‘Cheers KevGar!’

The grid filled, thanks to KevGar’s generous clues but were left with a missing couple of letters. Which of Malta, Portugal or Belgium was going to complete the ANE that had appeared with ‘Woman climbed one (space) in the Grampians (4)’. We needed to work through all the wandering definitions to check which was left: Bloated gave us ASTRUT: transmute gave CYANISE (bit of a long stretch, we thought): acid gave SERINE: hollow gave DIMPLE: latest led to SLOWEST: weapons got rid of Bulgaria by producing BBGUNS, food was KAI: the RHINE was the river: marks were GRADES: saying was a SAW: hail was SALVE: power-shifter was the DEVOLUTIONIST: sped was PELTED: perfect was FINISH: shoot was a GERM: outline was SKETCH: metal was CHROME: check was ARREST: grease was ENLARD: space was ROOM and move was FLIT so we were left with the scamp and destruction to place. REP(robate) dealt with the scamp and we were able to put Belgium’s B on BANE to give us ‘destruction’.

We had a final smile. What was EST doing up there at the top of the grid? It was defined by ‘awareness-raising’ – that programme that is so useful for crossword setters needing to get rid of the EST letters, but the clue? The penny dropped. ‘(Sped) right into most outstanding French city (5)’ put R into BEST giving BREST but what had happened to the BR? Oh dear, yes indeed – when KevGar set this, it was going to appear on BR EXIT day – poor BR – missing from that fine collection of 27 other nations. Good fun: thanks, KevGar.

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