Listen With Others

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In this World of Sin … by Pointer

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 Jan 2020

I wonder if I am the only solver whose first read through a lengthy pre-ramble produced nothing but total mystification. (The other Numpty did a count and found 300 words of preamble and 160 of clues – is this a record? We did once have a Listener where there were no down clues but are we due for one with a whole page of preamble and no clues? – The answer is ‘Yes’: It’s the second competition crossword in the December Crossword’ magazine q.v. we find InCUrL by MPOBO which has neither clues nor preamble.)

What we did gather was that each clue consisted of at least three parts – two prompts to words and a contained jumble of those two solutions, with a potential fourth word or phrase hidden in four of the down clues too. To egg the Christmas pudding a little more richly, the answers were going to be entered starting anywhere in their row or column, and possibly reaching the edge of the grid and continuing at the start of the same row or column in a carte blanche grid. The fun continued with a decagon to be drawn and loops round ‘nine words of a kind’, with something to highlight (for the cherry on the pudding).

We have already been defeated by a Pointer puzzle in the Magpie this month (It’s Magpie renewal time – highly recommended if you would like six more Listener-style puzzles each month) and we wondered whether this Christmas treat (a little early) was the editors’ response to eliminate an excess of ‘all correct’ solvers (if any are left after the last few toughies).

Well, I checked through the clues anyway to confirm that Pointer retains his place among the Listener setter oenophiles with this his sixth Listener crossword. He left me with little doubt with his first clue ‘Given greater power, gastropub opposed usual kind of noodles (8,4)’ We teased SOUPED UP and SOBA out of that. ‘Food scrapers evaluated a redesigned vessel for liquid (7,3)’ gave us RADULAE and VAT. With a whole vatful, Pointer clearly retains his entry right but it was in the later shenanigans of the crossword that he removed any doubt when we looked up ‘wood’ In Chambers and found that it is ‘The cask or barrel for storage of wine etc.’ What with vat, cask and barrel, it sounds as though Pointer intends to treat us all. Cheers!

We struggled on, slowly extracting likely words from the clues then seeing if we could find them concealed with a jumble of some other likely answer in the clue. Our Numpty delight was absolute when our own keynote clue (Stripey horse (5)) appeared in a slightly more advanced version as ‘African animals seize rats as boar trembles a bit (6,4)’ Yes, the ZEBRAS were obviously there, producing the Z, but it took us a while to work out that the bit was IOTA with the ‘rats’ as the extra word. Of course it was ‘The rising of the sun’ RATS< (but the realisation of that came later) I wondered whether we would even see the hare (he’s holidaying in the San Francisco Bay area now and popped out and posed for us when we were walking there last week!)

‘Girl guides they allow sixty in total (5,6)’ gave us TESSA and WHOLLY and suggested that our song might be The Holly and the Ivy (but how to fit that into twelve cells?) Of course, it was a different holly that finally appeared when we changed the D of radulae to an X and found ILEX ET HEDERA. Our potential extra words now made sense. GROAN* was ‘The playing of the merry organ’, ECHO was ‘Sweet singing in thE CHOir’ and the one that really produced a smile was FREE REIN, ‘The running of the deer’.

I should have attempted the gridfill sooner. We had a mere six clues to solve when I finally put my mind to it. The other Numpty had disappeared to complete dinner preparations and he is the solver – my role is usually the grid and endgames. It all fitted in surprisingly easily once I worked out that the first row had to be PEDUPSOBASOU (because of the placing of the Us) and potential solutions for the ones we hadn’t solved now emerged (TERATA and WAH-WAH for example). Full grid – now what?

Trees were the nine words of a kind round which we drew loops. We selected ANTIAR, LEMON, HOLLY, ACER, SAL, BAY, ASH, TAWA and RATA noticing two potential RATAs, and avoiding the red herring of PAN, that so clearly is begging to be looped. I read long and hard to find that PAN is only the leaf of the Betel which is a vine, not a tree. Yes, Chambers claims that ‘holly’ is a shrub but the carol claims that ‘Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown’. ‘Bears the crown’ – pdm. We see the TIARA and highlight the HOLLY bearing it, wondering whether that justifies the ‘two key lines of the carol’ – yes, I suppose it is the tree within Pointer’s decagonal definition of WOOD that ‘bears the crown’. How very clever! Many thanks to Pointer.



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