Listen With Others

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Optics by Phibre

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 May 2019

I wonder how many seasoned solvers responded to the name Phibre with consternation. We haven’t solved one of theirs before but who had any doubt that this was a joint compilation by Phi and the dreaded Sabre? They left us in no doubt, anyway as they had even signed their masterpiece; ‘Armed soldier not required to capture lead in battle’ gave us SPARE, ‘capturing’ B(attle) and we realized that the P was the extra letter, leaving us to enter SABRE. PHI left it to the very last clue, ‘Greek character beginning to harass one’ was missing a P, followed by H(arass) I.

Do they jointly qualify for Listener Oenophile Society membership? Of course they do. I can picture them gleefully conniving over their fiendish clues and a bottle of first class vintage; they start with a cocktail, ‘Proposing putting bit of anchovy in cocktail’ (that sounds rather fishy to me, but each to his own) We put A(nchovy) into SLING and needed a T to give SLATING. Fortunately they abandoned the anchovy thing, ‘Abandoning recipe, make different beer’. We took R from ‘alter’ (to make different) and produced ALE with an extra T. Having produced their beer, they sat back for a ‘Leisurely drink — half of Sikh community dropping round’. We took the SI of SIKH and added PEOPLE (the community) to it, dropping the round O and got SIPPLE with an extra E. That was a new word for me and probably for those Sikhs too, as it is a sin for Sikhs to consume alcohol. But cheers, anyway, Phibre!

Solving was very slow and steady but we had realized, early on, that there were more clues than spaces for them (four more) so some sneaky manoeuvre was taking place. Now what setter would clue SCALE followed by SCALL, LORAL followed by LORAN, ELATING followed by SLATING and NIPPLE followed by SIPPLE? (Indeed, we smiled at ‘Vivacity in river, which wet T-shirt may reveal? – bit naughty that one!) We allowed those eight words to share cells and were delighted to find LENS where they all came together. A thematic penny drop – of course the two setter must have realized that their combined names produced fibre and the theme had to be optics. Delightful! (They have the SA left so watch this space – we are probably in for one on the SAI or capuchin monkey next.)

There were eight more answers to be entered in unusual ways and they took us longer to work out but there were two words cleverly hidden in the pre-ramble: answers were ‘reduced’ or ‘enlarged’. that’s what lens do, isn’t it? We saw that the last letters of ALE/AMPLE, TREENS/ INTERNS, LINCOLN/ KILN, and ESNES/TREILLAGES were shared and produced an enlarged LENS at the south-east corner of our grid.

We had 46 extra or missing letters but what a struggle to decide which were which. This is for me so often the most difficult part of solving – working out what message the nth letters, misprints, missing or extra letters are telling me. We must have been lucky in seeing that there were lots of Ts, so TELEPHOTO and CONTACT were two lens. NAPTAAL was left and I was grateful when TEA told me that there is an APLANAT lens. Many thanks to Phibre.


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