Listen With Others

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Listener No 4592: Graven Image by Phi

Posted by Dave Hennings on 21 Feb 2020

Phi’s last puzzle was a circular grid representing the target in a shooting gallery with scoring provided by Roman numerals. Before that we had one based on Piet Mondrian artwork with the grid partly containing three square regions. Similarly this week, the grid wholly consisted of three regions, but all the same size and shape.

A bit of mental geometry convinced me that the three areas each had to be 4×12 blocks although they could be vertical or horizontal. The entries starting in each region either had to be altered before entry or had a clue containing a word requiring such an alteration. Of course, nothing is ever easy, and one of the entries in each region had the alteration from a different region.

It’s always nice to start off solving clues with a flurry of entries being slotted in the grid. Unfortunately for me, this wasn’t such a puzzle! After about a dozen such across clues, I decided to try the downs and was rewarded by 2dn Reviled board, not initially providing transport (7), but only because reviled stood out as the reversal of deliver (RID) and leading to RIDABLE. That was followed swiftly by 3dn Old Irish rulers mostly appear to eat cod (6) for ARDRIS (cod becoming doc), one of them having cropped up a few times for me recently.

The next clue 4dn In armour, I yielded to King? That was a wonder (5) looked straightforward enough to give MARL (MAIL with R for I), but that had a 5-letter entry. My brain buzzed for a bit before I remembered that each region had a different method of alteration and it looked like the regions were vertical rectangles. It would eventaully become MAERL, a normal clue but an altered entry.

And so, with much mental toing and froing — and keeping my eyes, ears and brain peeled for the three misplaced alterations — the grid was filled. The three types of alteration were reversal, letter added and letter removed. The surface readings of affected clues were all worded well so it was normally tough to see what was going on. I particularly liked 33ac Number of days in journey may be important but not now (6) (now becoming won) for EIGHTY (WEIGHTY – W) with it’s Jules Verne reference. I also liked the corvid in 6dn Crow[d] catches flash of gem’s shape (7), although evidence apparently suggests that magpies and crows are not particularly fussed about glittery things.

And so we had the three wandering entries — left to right KNIGHT, DEATH and the DEVIL. Obviously for me, a bit of googling was required to reveal it as the name of an engraving from the 16th century by ALBRECHT DURER. Slotting the A in the top left square, it was easy to spell his name out by knight’s moves via the two central isolated squares to the bottom right.

The engraving was made in 1513 and, at 24.5×19.1cm was marginally smaller than the A4 sheet of paper that I used to solve Phi’s puzzle. One of Durer’s works was also the theme of an EV puzzle from Ifor last May, in that case Melencolia I.

All in all, good fun, thanks Phi.


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