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Archive for Jul, 2020

L4615: ‘Ancient Mariner’ by Tringa

Posted by Encota on 31 Jul 2020

Eight entries to entered where they fit. Twelve clues each with a hidden word. Five unnumbered entries. And some asterisked cells. And four pertinent words to be found in the grid. Simple, eh?

This puzzle included my favourite clue in quite a while:

Romanticist’s prelude, composition for piano involving distinctive repetition at outset (8)

When I first parsed it, with very little personal classical music knowledge, I saw it as R + DR in PIANO* to form RAINDROP. I even wrote in the margin “Where is def.?”

I then mentioned it to a piano-playing son, who said, “But I’ve been playing this one on and off for years – I’ll play it for you” – and, sure enough, the clue’s description of this Raindrop Prelude by Chopin was perfect. When I showed him the clue afterwards, he asked, “But where’s the cryptic bit?” A pretty-much perfect clue – congratulations!

First and last letters of the twelve words provided one message and one author, thus:

All of which led quickly to the GK CHESTERTON quote, “I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine”.

And, positioned without any overlap of the 8 types of water, the unnumbered entries can be added to create MADEIRA/ ARNEIS/ MALBEC/ CHABLIS neatly at the puzzle’s centre.

For completeness, the Ancient Mariner was NOAH and the eight forms of water: SNOWBALL, PERRIER, NILE, BROOKS, RAINDROP, PACIFIC, AMAZON and LAKE.


Tim / Encota

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Ancient Mariner by Tringa

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 Jul 2020

An apparently new setter always poses a challenge as we don’t know what to expect. Tringa’s preamble warned us that twelve clues contained an extra word, and suggested that it was the final letters of those extra words that were going to  identify a source. Asterisked letters in what turned out to be all of the five unnumbered entries were jumbled to give us the name of a person to whom a statement was attributed (the Ancient Mariner, NOAH, it turned out to be)and eight other entries were to go into the ‘wrong place’. Finally, we were to highlight four pertinent words. “Quite a lot going on!” we said.

Of course, I had to see whether Tringa earns admission to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit and my initial run through the clues produced a convincing ‘Take from small cask used on board vessel for drink (6)’. We removed R from BREAKER and had a BEAKER. Well, that was a promising start – little did I know that by the end of our solve we would be toasting Tringa in MADEIRA, CHABLIS, MALBEC and ARNEIS – rather a multi-coloured mixture but hearty cheers, Tringa!

There were some lovely clues here. ‘Letter in India ink, along with all previous letters retuned (4)’ suggested an extra K on the end of ‘ink’ and I, then A to I reversed, giving IOTA. ‘Eighteenth century is encapsulated by this moving line of verse (5)’ produced an anagram of ‘THIS’ around C(entury) – STICH, and produced an extra H at the end of ‘eighteenth’.  ‘Scathingly attack minor Aussie celebrity (7)’ gave us a double definition B-LISTER and BLISTER and the extra Aussie produced an extra E. Slowly but surely, G K CHESTERTON appeared and when LUSH, TEEN, ARNA, HOOD and CHAMADE (sexy, young, beast, covering, conference call) had filled the unnumbered entries, we had the asterisked letters to give us NOAH.

Time for an Internet visit where I found the whole poem, but meanwhile, the other Numpty had found the relevant lines in the ODQ.:

‘And Noah, he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,

I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.’ ‘Wine and Water’ (1914)

Now we understood why we had been switching around all those watery entries. Tringa’s beautifully thematic explanation was that the water could go just about anywhere in the grid as long as it left that little boozy area in the grid centre intact. We had swapped SNOWBALL and RAINDROP, BROOKS and AMAZON, LAKE and NILE. and PERRIER and PACIFIC, all of them cleverly clued by their other definition, so that we hadn’t, at first, spotted that they were various forms of water.

All that was left to do was to find the four symmetrically placed wines, safely isolated from the surrounding waters. What a delightful first Listener. Thank you, Tringa.

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Listener No 4615: Ancient Mariner by Tringa

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 Jul 2020

Another new setter this week with a possible Coleridge theme. [Not to be. Ed.] Extra words in a dozen clues, five entries defined in the preamble and eight entries going in the wrong place. A bit of highlightging would finish it off.

Progress was fairly quick this week, although nothing could firmly go into the grid at first since entry relocation may be required. We weren’t told whether the movements would be straight swaps or indeed whether of the same length. My way in began in the top right where AMLA and THROBS across vied with BROOKS and ARAR down.

There were some nice extra words here, especially 15ac Letter in India ink, along with all previous letters, returned (4) which didn’t need ink to give IOTA, and 30ac Eighteenth century is encapsulated by this moving line of verse (5) where Eighteenth was superfluous for STICH.

Two clues deserve special mention. 5ac Romanticist’s prelude, composition for piano involving distinctive repetition at outset (8) led to RAINDROP [R(omanticist) + PIANO around D(istinctive) R(epetition)] being an &lit. clue referencing a Chopin Prelude. 37ac Sooty’s opening delivery containing present for Sweep, ironically (8) gave SNOWBALL [S(ooty) + BALL around NOW] which Chambers gives “ironically” for chimney-sweep. (As an aside, I hated Sooty, who never spoke, and Sweep, who just buzzed!)

With the grid filled, it was obvious that the moving words all had a watery theme: SNOWBALL, PERRIER, NILE, CHAMADE, BROOKS, RAINDROP, AMAZON & PACIFIC. The extra words identified the thematic source for the puzzle in an “extremely” straightforward way: the last letters gave GK Chesterton and the first Wine and Water. Out came my ODQ to reveal that NOAH (the Ancient Mariner in the asterisked cells) often said to his wife “I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine.”

Well that was all the water, where was the wine? It didn’t take long to find that MADEIRA and CHABLIS were in rows 4 and 9, with MALBEC and ARNEIS in columns 4 and 10. As it should be, the water was in the outer rows and columns with all the wine inside.

Good fun thanks, Tringa. [Shirley seems to have fainted! Ed.]

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Listener No 4614, From Here to There: A Setter’s Blog by Shenanigans

Posted by Listen With Others on 26 Jul 2020

I suppose this puzzle started life nearly fifty years ago when I went to see the film The Go-Betwen at the cinema. It was based on the 1953 novel by L.P. Hartley (1895–1972) and starred Albert Finney, Julie Christie and Dominic Guard. They played, respectively, the farmer Ted Burgess, Marian Maudsley and the young Leo Colston (a bizarre coincidence!) who is the messenger between the two who are having a secret affair.

Michael Redgrave plays the old Leo and the film starts with his voice-over: “France is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” That’s interesting, I thought, wondering how these differences were going to be woven into a story. I was therefore somewhat perplexed as to why none of the action took place in France! It was some years later that I learnt that the opening line was “The past is a foreign country…”, although exactly when I thought of it as the basis for a Listener puzzle is lost to me.

The basic concept that I would use was straightforward enough, with THE PAST appearing in one of the diagonals and needing to be replaced by a specific country in the endgame to reveal new crossing entries. I wanted every letter needing to be changed, so the likes of Tunisia, Iceland and Germany were ruled out. I settled on THE PAST changing to AUSTRIA partly because, except for the middle letter, all the vowels became consonants and consonants became vowels which I thought might be a challenge for both setter and solver. The initial grid that I had enabled MASH to change to MASU and SURE to IURE. I also liked CORNEA/AURAL changing to CORNER/RURAL. Qxw came to the rescue and provided many suitable grids.

However, even with all the word changes going on, there was not really enough thematic material for a Listener, and so the second part of the quotation came into the mix with “they do things” needing to be entered “differently” somewhere in the grid. Symmetry (can one be a slave to it?) indicated two 6-letter entries, and I went for HOSTED & NIGHTY rather than HOYDEN & TIGHTS.

And so to the clueing. I particularly wanted the clues to require a fairly thematic treatment, and a letter moving from one word in the clue to another seemed a possibility. I also wanted the message to lead the solver to finding the quotation and, if possible, to avoid having the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations given in the preamble. I settled on ODQ, LP Hartley, The Go-Between as the message using 24 of the 49 clues that I needed. I also wondered if misprints in the remaining clues could spell out an instruction like Use quotation to change grid. Luckily that didn’t get very far as it would have been far too vague.

When it came to the clue with the letter Q moving in the clue for THOLOI, I realised what I had let myself in for. I can’t remember what final clue I ended up with, but it was a very complicated compound anagram. I decided to try moving words beginning with the required letter, but that was equally tortuous.

And so a bit of cheating was required. Rather than clueing the word that Qxw had supplied at that position, how about coming up with a more forgiving word? Having toyed with QI moving, I wondered if Stephen Fry could come to the rescue. Perhaps second letters of words could be used. Thus, the clue to TRIN was born: One of three seconds in QI Stephen Fry introduced (4) [(S)T(ephen) (F)R(y) (Q)I (i)N(troduced)]. Not the smoothest clue, but the best I could do.

Time to throw everything up in the air again! How about if the ODQ message appeared in the clues going alternately between the normal clues? All that was needed then was to completely rearrange the grid to ensure than TRIN was the sixth clue rather than the third! A bit more hard work and the final set of clues finally got resolved. One of the sad things about trying out different techniques is that some really nice clues don’t make it into the final puzzle.

After some valuable feedback from my test solvers (I and F), it eventually got sent to the editors. Their feedback was positive but, unfortunately for Roger, he had to make a lot of minor tweaks to the clues since the word-count indicated that they would take up too much space.

Without doubt, this was an easier puzzle than my first, Superpower, which was 18 months ago, partly because it wasn’t a carte blanche like that one. (An interesting little Cracking the Cryptic video from Mark G for that puzzle.) Hopefully solvers found the clueing and endgame entertaining.

As always, thanks to my two test solvers, to Roger and Shane for getting the puzzle into print, and to the inimitable John Green for his work as marker and statistician.

PS It seems that some solvers went for ASSYRIA as the foreign country with MASS and SAYAN (mountains) appearing. I guess that MASH/MASS was an easier change to see than MASH/MASU. My apologies for not seeing this alternative (although Assyria is a very old country). I think it fair to say that the spirit of the endgame was certainly fulfilled by those solvers. If only we’d put “…real words and phrases in The Chambers Dictionary…”.

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From Here to There by Shenanigans

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Jul 2020

This is the second time we have met Shenanigans and we expect a fair, well-clued puzzle. We note with pleasure the short preamble then see a new device that surprises us. ‘In 24 clues that are thematically placed in relation to the others, a word must be moved within the clue before solving.’ How often in the past have I kicked myself for not reading the preamble sufficiently carefully? Kick, kick, kick!

It is only now that, in counting and finding 49 clues, I notice that those extra words appeared in every alternate clue – of course, they ‘Go Between’. What a lot of time I could have saved if I had spotted that earlier! It would have eliminated a couple of bogus extra words (like ‘let’ in clue 14ac or ‘weird’ in 37d) and told us which clues to manipulate, saving us a bit of bickering.

Of course my initial scan of the clues confirmed Shenanigans’ place at the bar with ‘Abe signs for a round, possibly Abe’s last (5)’ We shift the first of those Abes and decide that it’s PRES Abe Lincoln and (Ab)E. Chambers tells me that PRESE is a symbol indicating where musicians must enter a round. Well, it sounds as though Shenanigans is signing for the bill for this round, so ‘Cheers, Shenanigans!’

There were lots of fine clues but two particularly pleased. ‘Wally losing it with empty drivel (7)’ was clearly going to be TWADDLE from the letters we had in place, so we decided the wally was a TIT, losing IT to give the T. ‘With’ gave the W and Chambers told us that ADDLE can mean ’empty’ – how subtle and concise.

Again we worked backwards from MAENAD (who but a crossword compiler ever uses that word?) to MA(d) = almost frantic and DANE< is the great dog going round. (As we hadn’t yet seen L P HARTLEY, we had a bicker about whether that ‘almost’ was a moving word). What was delightful was when ‘She’ (the MAENAD) dizzily (so anagrammed) chases tail of ‘youngisH’ … to produce HEADMAN ‘leader of the pack (7)’ with the doggy theme maintained.

We were expecting a sentence but we got ODQ L P HARTLEY THE GO-BETWEEN (Yes, I see that those letters ‘led to’ a sentence) and we didn’t need the ODQ for such a well-known opening sentence: ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’.

Applying that, in two parts, to our grid resolved our last puzzle about an empty cell, ‘Master has odd way to serve King Edward (4)’ was referring to a potato, of course, and gave us MASH, which revealed THE PAST in the non-dominant diagonal. Only AUSTRIA would convert those words to ‘a different country, keeping all real words. (What did I say? I have just read the Listener notes on the puzzle and see that ASSYRIA – another ‘different country’ fulfilled the requirement, also producing real words and that the editors accepted that alternative too!)

We were left with THEY DO THINGS* which neatly filled our empty cells in 14 and 24 down, giving HOSTED and NIGHTY – an end game that was just sufficiently challenging. Many thanks to Shenanigans.


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