Listen With Others

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Odd One Out by Sabre

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 Aug 2019

We are travelling in northern Germany with three and six-year-old grandchildren so it is with a lack of crossword resources and some trepidation that I download the Listener and, of course I find Sabre. What fearsome gimmick will he have in store for us? Jumbled knight’s moves to be converted using a Caesar cipher? Well, not quite but there are five words in the clues to be decoded before solving, and we have to find that code using just those five words, as five solutions have also been encoded – one of them the ‘Odd One Out’ of the title.

Solving begins and races ahead – that’s rather disturbing, as with such a gentle grid fill, Sabre must have a real shocker of an end game in store. Of course Sabre speedily confirms his position in the Oenophile outfit with a tasty SEKT appearing. ‘Start off imbibing Cambodia wine (4)’ “Cambodia is K, isn’t it?” I ask the other Numpty and we enter SET around K. Just five clues further on we find ‘Medals for a dill wine(11)’. By the time we get to that clue there is only one 11-letter wine that will fit into our grid and we enter SCUPPERNONG. We can explain the PER = for and NONG = dill but how do we convert the medals into SCUP? Clearly that must be one of our encoded words. It takes a while to work out that a SCUP is also a PORGIE – but at least we have six letters of our substitution code.

MODEMS gives us less of a problem since FOPPERY must be the solution of ‘Frequency modulation of modems is folly (7)’ The OPPERY has to be ‘modulated’ and the only word it anagrams to is PYROPE – just three more letters of our code (we had P,R and E already). To define WARMAN, we convert FIDDLED to WARRIOR – and so it goes. But what can we with that ‘buy’ at the end of ‘Colleagues in the army secure good buy (7)’? WINGERS fits our grid but how can ‘buy’ become ERS (WIN + G + ERS)? We can’t turn BUY into vetch but we decide we can turn it into UMS = ERS.

When we have a reasonable number of letters of our substitution code, what can we do to find words that we have entered that will decode to give us five words of a kind? BACON looks to be a likely candidate but I decide I have to complete a further grid with the decoded words to see what emerges. I wonder, at this stage what the poor solver who has only his newspaper copy of the puzzle can do.

There’s rather a lot of wind that emerges and four hurricanes are evident but I waste some time attempting to find a CADRON or a GECAN in some obscure language before opting for the most obvious word, a wind instrument, the OBOE.

Thank you, Sabre, that was a tough challenge.


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