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Folio by Nebuchadnezzar

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 August 2019

I have memories of Nebuchadnezzar’s last spectacular crossword which was a tough one to solve so I open this with some trepidation. I am expecting a fair splashing of alcohol to confirm his membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite – and there is: ‘Satyrs reviewed drinks menu, wanting case (6)’ gives us (w)INE LIS(t)< (SILENI), and with that wine list to hand, he chooses a vintage, ‘French vintage and its vessel? (5)’ CRU + ET. Here is someone with taste – none of that ASTI that appears in so many crosswords. “Cheers, Nebuchadnezzar!”

What a long pre-ramble. “Almost as long as the clues!” someone commented to me, and it had so many ‘stages’ in it that it was somewhat disconcerting. I should have spotted what the ‘work’ was straight away wth that division into segments 3 2 2 2 3 1 and 5 cells, but must admit that our grid was almost complete and we had T E CUMM N S on the bottom row before the penny (Ed. Don’t you mean ‘leaf’?) dropped.

l(a

le

af

fa

lls)

one

l

iness

Yes, I admit that the title had led me to expect something from a Shakespeare Folio, even though ‘the full text of a work’ was rather a give-away (and the e e cummings poem is yet another that I have studied with students).

It took us a while to catch on to the fact that the use of left-right mirror symmetry in the grid was the key to entering solutions. ‘Every answer zig-zags either left or right and down’ led to attempts to enter letters diagonally – which got us nowhere at all, and we had cold-solved all but about ten of the clues before a real grid fill began.

There was some very subtle cluing there too but fortunately, once a solution was entered at one side of the grid, it was possible to find a skeleton of the matching solution on the other side. Grid almost full with T E CUMM N S on the bottom row and four more instructions to obey. Clearly we can give cummings his I and G, and if we assume that DUET at the left has to ‘interchange three letters’ it can create SOLITUDE (which I believe is the theme of his poem) and give him his e.

We have the nine letters of LOWER CASE appearing (or not appearing – omitted by wordplay) in sixteen clues – that was the difficult bit of the solve. I have to draw a falling leaf through those letters, and, of course, submit my entire grid in lower case. What a spectacular compilation! Many thanks to Nebuchadnezzar.

One Response to “Folio by Nebuchadnezzar”

  1. Far too difficult for me – I couldn’t even get started. That’s fine if that was the intention.

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