Listen With Others

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One or the Other by Hurón

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 July 2019

“A newcomer?” we mused, but it didn’t take us long to realize that this masterly set of clues was compiled by no newcomer. A friend has commented that Hurón is a subtle combination of the pseudonyms of the two setters but it is too subtle for me even though I know who they are. I can’t exclude these founder members from the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit, even though I found not a drop of wine in their clues or grid – unless I can include the WHITE (the thermometer is registering 43 degrees here so that is the one to chill and drink!) It took us ages to suss the wordplay of ‘… in other words about the least reliable’ [I] E around WHIT giving ‘reliable’ which is a meaning of WHITE and producing the I that we needed for DRAW MIRROR IMAGE. They must have deliberately made that and the clue to FACES fairly obscure so that we didn’t cotton onto the theme too quickly. It was those two symmetrical entries that suggested the theme to us long before we found the RUBY VASE. Yes, I suppose that ruby is red, too, so I’m raising a couple of glasses – Cheers Hurón!

I wonder whether anyone else’s workings look like ours. I find it really difficult to decide whether letters are omitted from the wordplay or extra, produced by it, and have to colour code if I have any hope of performing the endgame. The task was not rendered easier by our initial mis-reading of the pre-ramble (yes it was a bit of a ramble but would have been kinder had it told us in simple words that one clue of each pair was normal). We spent our first hour of solving convincing ourselves that each pair consisted of a clue with a missing letter and one with one or two extra letters. “Read the preamble Numpties!”

When the other Numpty disappeared to cook something, I focussed on the words and saw why we had found no extra letters in the clues for CRASSER, ROBE, AGOUTA, CHEESE, INESCULENT, LASER, AMOEBAE,  etc. It was the initial letters of those last three that suggested DOUBLE-ACTING at 1 across, and our solve shifted into first gear.

The theme had to be a RUBIN VASE, though we didn’t know, until we consulted Wiki, that that was its name. I wondered why we were given that cryptic clue in the preamble ‘Leader of Whitechapel gallery fully into data processing’ (W TATE + UP in PP) but realised that we could have solved the clues in each pair in any order so that bit of extra help was needed.

I’ve had a number of people muttering to me about having to use up their blue pencils or highlighters for last week’s celebration of Scotland’s glorious midsummer victory – now they can mutter about the ruby! Lovely, thank you, Hurón!

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One Response to “One or the Other by Hurón”

  1. John Nicholson said

    Ah, that explains why it was so good. I initially misread the preamble too, though I can misread any preamble 🙂

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