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L4563 ‘Odd One Out’ by Sabre

Posted by Encota on 2 August 2019

What did we do before the existence of VLOOKUP in Excel?  Another of those ‘First World’ problems, I hear you say.

For those who don’t regularly use it, imagine having a built-in lookup table that can be used to automagically update the rest of your spreadsheet.

So, if after realising the answer to the disguised clue

Frequency modulation of modems is folly (7)

must be FOPPERY, and you (rightly) assume that Sabre has disguised an anagram of OPPERY* as modems, and that ‘modems’ should really have read ‘pyrope’, then …

… simply add M alongside P in a Lookup table, D alongside R etc. and have Excel do the heavy-lifting for you.  A bit like this:

L4563 Sabre example 2

I always love it when I see Sabre’s name at the top of a puzzle, as it means we are in for a treat.  And sometimes they appear to have been much harder than this one – he has let us off lightly, I think!  Some of his trademark encoding, which must have been fun to create!  No knight’s moves this week, though!

Anyway, back to the plot.   There were five clues with one word (such as MODEMS<->PYROPE, above) encoded.  How are we going to spot those?

After a few checkers were in place, then the clue

Medals for a dill wine (11)

looked almost certainly to be SCUPPERNONG, a wine.  I can see PER for ‘for a’, and NONG for ‘dill’ (an idiot), but how does SCUP derive from Medals?  Looking up SCUP in the BRB shows it to be a fish, the porgy.  And an alternative spelling for that is PORGIE.  We already have M<->P and D<->R and E<->O and S<->E, so this looks right.  We now have letters for MODESA and L in our lookup table.

18d’s Dye unevenly, in play, half of shirts (6) looks like the answer must be KAMELA, so the letters -ELA must come from ‘half of shirts’, thus SHIRTS must be the encode version of a word beginning ELA-.  Our list so far tells us the word must be ELA..E, so we now have two more letters, R&T to add to our list.

The fourth encoded word was hiding in

Fiddled with an arresting power (6)

This looked like wordplay for ARM in {W AN}, i.e. WARMAN, so how does the definition come from FIDDLED?  Previous decoded letters give us .ARRIOR, and WARRIOR it is.

Finally of the five, 22d’s Colleagues in the army secure good buy (7) was clearly going to be WINGERS.  I could see WIN+G(ood) in the wordplay, but how did ‘buy’ become ERS?  The BRB yielded that definition for ERS – the bitter vetch, which the dictionary helpfully tells you is a ‘vetch’, which isn’t hugely enlightening.  Er, so how does this work? Um, got it!  So BUY<->UMS – sneaky!

So chuck them all in one’s lookup table – or the pencil-and-paper equivalent, either is fine! – and attempt the second half of the Preamble, i.e. which of the Answers/Entries might successfully decode to other English words.  There were several blanks to fill in but a consistent set soon allowed the words TORNADO, TYPHOON, BAGUIO, CYCLONE and OBOE to be found.  All connected by Wind, and one a clear Odd One Out.  I wrote OBOE below the puzzle.

A bit like this (note the VLOOKUP syntax in the function field, for those of us that need reminding) …

L4563 Sabre example 1

I did like finding that, at one stage of solving, one five-letter word appeared like it might decode to BACON – I had BACO- in place, I think.  Googling Bacon and Wind, I found ‘History of the Winds‘ by Sir Francis Bacon, which diverted me for a bit!

Cheers,

Tim / Encota

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2 Responses to “L4563 ‘Odd One Out’ by Sabre”

  1. Encota said

    Oops! Apologies for the slightly early publication …

  2. Ben Bush said

    Funnily enough this was the puzzle that finally persuaded me I needed to learn how to use VLOOKUP properly. The geek in me really quite enjoyed recreating the whole puzzle and then decoding/encoding the whole thing in one go. (I had got the other winds by hand but I didn’t spot OBOE until I did the Excel thing.)

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