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Archive for Jun, 2019

Listener No 4558, A Moral Story: A Setter’s Blog by Aedites

Posted by Listen With Others on 30 Jun 2019

As I am the Literary Executor for Canon Charles Kingsley (I am one of his closest living relatives), I thought that it would be appropriate to construct a crossword to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth. I first constructed a suitable crossword in 2009 based on a rhyme by Bishop William Stubbs recorded in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, which I rather liked. However I did not want to wait ten years for its publication, so I submitted it to the Listener Crossword and it was published as number 4220 “Falsehoods” in December 2012. “A Moral Story” was constructed in April 2011.

The full title of The Water-Babies is 36 letters long, and could therefore be encoded in 36 clues, and the perimeter of 44 cells would accommodate all the principal characters. I constructed the 2011 grid by hand but was unable to include KINGSLEY. After I started to use Qxw for grid construction in early 2016, I was able to adapt the grid to have 90° symmetry and to include KINGSLEY on the main diagonal. This did involve rewriting about half the clues.

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L4558: ‘A Moral Story’ by Aedites

Posted by Encota on 28 Jun 2019

A gentle well-constructed puzzle – thanks Aedites.

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There was some tough vocab, of course, but with Chambers by my side that was fine.  I fell for the RHINE/RHEIN trap at 14ac initially, even with the big ‘hint of Cologne’.  And I had a less savoury alternative at 5d which I thankfully quickly discounted.

The added letter per clue meant that the Title of THE WATER BABIES – A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND BABY appeared fairly quickly.  The K of KINGSLEY on the leading diagonal helped me confirm DAK as Indian mail, which was new to me, as part of the wordplay for 10d’s KNEAD.

And if I had a pound for every time I forget and re-discover ENS as meaning existence (33a) … I’d have about seven pounds 🙂


Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4558: A Moral Story by Aedites

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 Jun 2019

Last year, Aedites had entries acting as though they were on a Möbius Strip, dropping off one side of the grid and appearing diagonally opposite. Before that, Hamlet and before that, American states. Fair to say then that Aedites gets around a bit. This week we were back in literary mode.

Extra letters in wordplay will spell out the title of a book with the perimeter being filled with five characters from it. No difficulty here, with the book quickly being identified as The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley, he of Westward Ho! fame. I have forgotten if I ever read the book, but if I did, the full title was news to me: The Water Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land-baby, although which words, if any, were to be hyphenated or the comma colon-ised was difficult to discern from the interweb.

With KINGSLEY to be highlighted in the leading NW–SE diagonal, all that remained was for the perimeter to be completed: MRS BEDONEBYASYOUDID (you’d have thought she’d have hyphenated her name a bit), MOTHER CAREY, ELLIE, GRIMES and TOM. Sadly, Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby (also unhyphenated) couldn’t make it this week.

All in all, a fairly easy one. Thanks, Aedites.

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A Moral Story by Aedites

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Jun 2019

A Moral Story indeed. My primary school years were full of those and we hadn’t solved for long when a familiar title began to emerge in the letters produced by wordplay that were not to be entered in the grid. We already had enough letters of KINGSLEY to be fairly sure that our story was THE WATER BABIES but how could that title possibly extend to the 36 letters required to be extracted from 36 clues? We were too busy solving to check on our dear friend and ally Wiki but, had we done so, we would have seen that the full title is THE WATER BABIES A FAIRY TALE FOR A LAND BABY.

Yes, I was one of those land babies and, even at the age of six or so, wasn’t very fond of Piers Plowman, Puck of Pook’s Hill, the Flower Fairy Alphabet or The Water Babies – the texts our teachers insisted we read to turn us into good little children. However, that didn’t stop us enjoying Aedites gentle and generous clueing.

Of course I checked that Aedites retains his seat of honour in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Assembly and he almost disgraced himself’ ‘Drunk in the river – the river in Köln? (5)’ indeed! We extracted an extra T from INTHE R* and stupidly entered RHINE into our grid – that slowed our filling of the grid (I should know better – we spend most of next month with our German relatives not too far from the RHEIN). Then there was ‘Smuggler seizing substantive drink in the past (5)’. By this time, we knew we needed an extra B and we know a MULE is a smuggler so ‘substantive’ had to be SB to produce MULSE. Very nice – cheers Aedites!

We needed Wiki again to remind us that the characters were TOM, ELLIE, MOTHER CAREY and MRS BEDONEBYASYOUDID  and all that was left to do was highlight KINGSLEY. What do I learn? It’s the 200th anniversary of his birth. We were expecting a crossword about the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings but I infinitely prefer a literary one. Many thanks, Aedites.

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Listener No 4557, Choice Words: A Setter’s Blog from Serpent

Posted by Listen With Others on 24 Jun 2019

I started setting barred puzzles almost five years ago. My third attempt was based on the phrases THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE and MARGARET THATCHER. Having learned a lot in the intervening years, I decided to revisit the theme.

I thought it would be interesting (and thematically appropriate) to construct the two thematic phrases from fragments obtained from words of the form AorB, with the requirement that removal of “or” and the fragment left a real word that would be used in either a grid entry or a clue. This posed some pretty tight constraints on across entries (not least because I wanted the affected entries to appear symmetrically in the grid) and down clues. As always, Qxw was equal to the challenge of finding a grid-fill.

Writing the clues for the across entries was straightforward – they were normal clues after all. Writing the clues for down entries was obviously more challenging. I started by partitioning MARGARET THATCHER into fragments that looked as though they would appear adjacent to “or” in a reasonable number of words or in a specific word that seemed useful and used up a few letters (such as GRECo-rOMAN). I then used Qat – another indispensible setter’s tool developed by Quinapalus – to find candidate words of the form AorB, being particularly interested in words that could be used as wordplay indicators (such as HorACE for A).

My efforts to retain good surfaces in the presence of a fairly demanding clue gimmick meant a few clues needing some editorial tweaking, but I’m pleased to say most of the basic ideas survived intact. Thanks, as always, are due to Roger and Shane for their efforts and the many improvements they made to the puzzle before publication.

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