Listen With Others

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A Game of 11 by Glow-worm

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 Nov 2019

I was still making a Crossword Compiler grid of the puzzle – not as easy as usual as it was particularly unsymmetrical – clearly because of the requirement to have that quotation around the perimeter without creating an unfair proportion of unchecked cells – but the other Numpty was racing through the clues and filling his grid full tilt. I suppose I should be using words like smash, volley, or lobbing the solutions in.

I had barely time to check that Glow-worm retains his entry ticket to the Listener Setters Oenophile Outfit but did uncover the surprising fact (on Dave Hennings’ crossword data base) that Glow-worm has produced ten Listener crosswords in the past  (since 1997) and that almost all of them have been ‘A Game of n’, where n has ranged from 1 to 15, with even a previous Game of 11.

The alcohol was well hidden, but, of course, it was there: ‘”Fantasist” is set roughly around Glengarry perhaps (8)’ We put IS SET* around CAP, producing ESCAPIST and raised a glass of Glengarry single malt to Glow-worm. Cheers!

Our first guess was that we were playing CHEMIN DE FER but the FLYING SQUAD and OLD MASTER smashed that idea into the net and CHASE THE ACE appeared. That sounds like a fine variant of snap to play with the grandchildren and it established for us that the ACE OF SPADES was our quarry.

The pairs of extra words were a very generous set that easily stood out from the remainder of their clues: ONE POOR, OUTSTANDING UGANDAN, TENSION UNIT, PARAGON NEAR, TORNADO PILOT, FILIPINO WHIT, HOTSHOT AFGHANI, and SERVE ORANGE, though we had ‘HELP US’ and ‘IN COPPELIA’ as potential offerings too, since we hadn’t, at that stage, seen that we could remove forms of ace from those pairs. That is the problem with extra words that have to be removed, to give a message, isn’t it? It imposes absolute succinctness on the setter with no room for the slightest redundancy.

WHIZZING appeared as a likely first word of the quoted line from the poem and that gave us WILLIAMS, so we guessed that EVERT and GRAF were two more tennis aces so tennis was also a theme. We suspected Betjeman at once and read right through Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, but, of course, it was PAM we needed to find the quotation ‘Whizzing them over the net with the strength of five’.

It took me a while to realize that the pilot, whit, paragon etc. were all aces, leaving me the letters PRUNTNNRTOFOAIOE to sort into that five-word phrase. “A POINT OF NO …?” I muttered. “RETURN, of course” said the other Numpty. Game, set and match!


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