Listen With Others

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World-beating by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 October 2020

Kea! One of the star Ascot Gold Cup winners! My all-time favourite is still the one where the cherry tree fell within the grid “I cannot tell a lie!” We can be sure of fair but challenging clues and something to entertain us in the end game. We read the preamble and smile broadly when we see that there are no moving , misprinted or missing letters and no gimmick except a grid with no numbers, clues in alphabetical order and five answers that we will have to ‘replace with thematically related words’. Ah, yes, ‘A three-word entry is unclued’. Quite a lot going on really, especially when I colour my clue light lengths and find no space for a twelve-letter solution, and a missing nine-letter space and only one clue to match the two ten-letter spaces. I suppose those aberrations told us where the replacements were going to be, but we had quite a long cold solve before we saw the sunlight.

The Listener Setters’ Oenophile Eite? Kea left no doubt. We barely had time to consume the BALTIS, ‘Spicy dishes and rest retriever brought back (6)’ SIT + LAB< before we were into the wine, ‘Stick bunches of French wine among spirits (6)’ We put VIN into BAS and got a peculiar word BAVINS which Chambers tells us are ‘stick bunches’. Well, with French wine among spirits, what can I say? Cheers, Kea!

These were not difficult clues and we putatively placed URBI ET ORBI into the lower of the 10-letter spaces where it fitted with BAVINS and BALTIS and as the other Numpty produced solutions (all but three cold-solved before I finally managed to get a convincing start to the grid) I muddled along, always drawing a blank when I needed to insert our four 4-letter solutions, OKTA, SANE, HECK and TREF. We did like HOO-OO (Loud utterance of Shakespearean play to jinx casting director (5) – we ‘cast’ the D(irector) of Hoo-doo). ‘YET TO COME’ was the only way I could complete that corner, but still no SUNLIGHT dawned.

It was that corner of the grid that finally gave me a little success, and working from there, we realized that DEFENCE was going to be entered as ATTACK, so assumed, wrongly of course, that we were entering opposites.

MEDICINE simply would not fit the available slots and I could think of no imaginative opposite for medicine, but then the light dawned – LAUGHTER would, and “Laughter is the best medicine”. So “Attack is the best defence” , “Honesty is the best policy” and “Experience is the best teacher”, We could see that we needed a gun-fight, or a bun-fight or maybe sunlight to be the ‘best’ 10-letter word that we still had to solve, ‘Misprinted fine chapter – binding is far cleaner (12)’ What a clue! We put FINE* + C into DISTANT (far) and finally got a ‘cleaner – DISINFECTANT (“Sunlight is the best disinfectant”) so we had our five replacements and the BEST that is ‘yet to come’ – SIX in all, and to highlight, symmetrically placed where we would expect it we at once saw ‘SIXOFTHE BEST‘ symmetrically placed where we would expect it.

How well I remember the school stories of my childhood where, for example, Billy Bunter earned ‘six of the best’ – so Kea was not making a cynical comment about the political leaders of the moment but was using ‘beating in a different sense. Nice one!

One Response to “World-beating by Kea”

  1. Alan B said

    I don’t like jigsaws as a rule, partly because, for many clues, one has no help from crossing letters in solving them. I attempted this one because I remembered this setter’s previous puzzle (about a centrifuge), which had a full house of what I considered to be perfect clues, and many of those too were cold-solved.
    I managed to solve the entire first column of clues (18 in all). The second column was tougher, and I had to leave five of those clues unsolved: one of them, PAIRHORSE, was gettable, but the other four were unfathomable.
    I could have started the jigsaw with URBI ET ORBI, and some likely six-letter entries to follow, but I decided not to as I would not have enjoyed it, knowing that four of the jigsaw pieces were wrong, not knowing what should replace them, and having a few more clues to solve. DISINFECTANT had to be replaced, but nothing came to mind, and I could see nothing else that could be thematic in a related way. I noted that in this puzzle (unlike Kea’s previous puzzle) there was no pointer to the theme.
    I’ve read the blogs and can now see the link between DISINFECTANT and the other thematic words, but I would never have spotted it. I can now see how well constructed this puzzle was.
    It’s as well that my record of finding hidden themes is nothing to shout about. I got a lot of enjoyment and satisfaction at the time from cold-solving what I considered to be 32 perfect clues. Those for ETAGERES and MEDICINE were brilliant.
    Thanks to Kea and to Shirley, Dave and Tim.

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