Listen With Others

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Listener No 4615: Ancient Mariner by Tringa

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 July 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.]

3 Responses to “Listener No 4615: Ancient Mariner by Tringa”

  1. Alan B said

    Thanks to all three bloggers here for their interesting notes. I thought this was an excellent concept and an ingenious execution of the theme. The clues too were excellent, some of them proving to be tough but in the right way, by which I mean that the challenge came from cryptic invention and not from any lack of clarity.

    The only trouble I had with this puzzle was in collecting the superfluous words from the clues. Obviously there is scope for error, and at first I did not have a clean set of twelve, having omitted at least one and having at least one that didn’t belong. When I sorted that out the message of course became clear. The problem I had was with ‘extra’ words in some clues that might or might not have counted, such as ‘observed’ in 16a. Naturally, such instances can arise from the need to make clues read well, and the only question then is whether the solver is being misled in a fair or an unfair way at this level.

    Being a fairly new solver I didn’t know Tringa was a new setter. Kudos to the newbie! This was one of the most enjoyable of the dozen or so puzzles I have attempted in this series.

  2. Chalices said

    Yes, indeed, Alan. The extra word gimmick is a nice ‘easy’ one for a setter (Mr Lemon, the original Editor of the Daily Telegraph Enigmatic Variations series, banned them as a device) but it has the tremendous drawback that, unless used very skilfully, it can cause a nightmare for solvers who collect all the redundant words owing to setter verbosity and have to sort through sometimes twice as many as necessary to find the message – so tha tit is, in effect a difficult device to use well.

  3. Alan B said

    Chalicea (for it is she!),
    Many thanks for your response to the point I made in my first comment, and I hope you see this late reply.
    I’m very relieved to read your explanation, knowing that you have both a setter’s and a solver’s perspective. (When I made my point I wasn’t sure if it had much validity.)

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