Listen With Others

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Listener No 4603: In Round Numbers by Colleague

Posted by Dave Hennings on 8 May 2020

Colleague’s previous two Listeners had that (not very well-known) Bach aria, Schafe können sicher weiden (Sheep May Safely Graze) as its theme, and before that in 2017, a circular grid with that (in my view annoying) sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles. Hopefully, I wouldn’t find anything too obscure or annoying in Colleague’s current puzzle. [Spoiler alert: one or two of the thematic entries would be obscure.]

From 1ac, it was obvious that the figure in brackets related to the answer rather than the entry, so that was some comfort. In fact 1ac Ancient prayer covering nationalist power march — a high point in Scotland (8, two words) gave BEN NEVIS so it looked like highest mountains were required with the position of march in the clue indicating it was 6th highest after BN but nothing I googled seemed to fit. 11ac led to ZETA with five away giving ALPHA, and I was finally off on a roll.

Now while the normal clues were fairly straightforward, a couple of the thematic ones were not. Of course, they had to be cold-solved since they bore no relationship to their entry apart from being in the same to-be-discovered list. The last three I got were 1ac WEST TIP, six years after BEN NEVIS won the Grand National; 6ac Isaac SINGER who won Nobel prize for Literature in 1978, two years after Saul BELLOW; and 19ac which was obviously SOLDIER but took some time to solve Peter [Piper], maybe, with nothing in stock for comic character (9) giving one of the seven ages of man from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, PANTALOON (PAN + O in TALON).

The full list:

1ac Ben Nevis Grand National winners WEST TIP
6ac Bellow Nobel prizes for Literataure SINGER
11ac Zeta Greek alphabet ALPHA
19ac Pantaloon 7 ages of man SOLDIER
32ac Canning British PMs EARL GREY
5dn Leather Wedding anniversaries PAPER
10dn Tango NATO alphabet ROMEO
33dn Diamond Birthstones GARNET
34dn POND Astronomers Royal BLISS

The extra words in clues, apart from all being five letters, progressively forwards then back gave More or Less, which was an alternative puzzle title. Finally, and very pleasingly, row 3 held PROVERBS while column 3 had PLUS FOUR, leading to the book of JEREMIAH to go under the grid.

A bit tricky in places, but a very enjoyable theme. Thanks, Colleague.


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