Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Listener No 4591: 1899 by Ares

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 February 2020

The first new setter of 2020 this week with what looked like a date-related theme. Shows what I know! During a conversation with a popular setter at the quarterly Listener gathering, I was told that one look at the title/author told him everything. Poor solvers like me had to unravel the puzzle for a couple of hours before the theme was revealed.

A few days after I had sent my solution to St Albans, I was talking to a guy in my local pub. We had nicknamed him the Hapless Hare who was a bit like the Rueful Rabbit in Victor Mollo’s bridge books, a character who was always stumbling across the correct solution without really knowing why. I had only recently learnt that he was also a Listener solver and I asked him how he had got on with this puzzle from Ares.

“A bit of a doddle,” he said. “It was obvious fairly early on that some squares needed to hold two letters, and everything meshed together nicely.”

“But didn’t you uncover the thematic name spelt out by the initial letters of extra words in fifteen clues?” I asked.

“Oh,” he replied. “I wondered why a few clues were a bit odd. Unfortunately, as I was underlining what I thought were some relevant words in the preamble, my biro got a bit leaky and splurged some ink over it. Half the words became illegible. Serves me right for buying the cheap ones.”

“So you didn’t spot the ambiguity in the centre left of the grid where UNEASINESS/CHUBBINESS/UNDOCKS could be entered in one of two ways with either NE in a square or alternatively IN and UN?”

“’Fraid not,” he said. “With all that leakage, I was running low on ink, so I put everything in to use as little as possible. I also entered the second of the letters in the double squares in lower case, again to conserve ink, especially with the Ns and Rs. I didn’t think the checker would mark me wrong for that.”

And so, without identifying Dmitri Mendeleev and realising that all the double letters, and indeed all the single letters, had to be symbols for the chemical elements and entered thematically, he got home scot-free. He wouldn’t even have had to google the Ts double in a couple of squares which is Tennessine (atomic number 117) and not yet in Chambers.

Better luck next time in trapping the Hare, Ares!
 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

 
%d bloggers like this: