Listen With Others

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Tip-top Condition by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 November 2020

“What a fine, short preamble” was our first comment, then we had a bit of doubt about how we were going to enter the ‘wrong’ letters that were going to be produced by the wordplay in just over half the down clues. We haven’t met that device before. But we have met Twin in four previous Listener crosswords, even in one erlier this year, so I didn’t really need to confirm his membership of the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophile Outfit – but I did anyway and he was right in there with ‘Drink shots, knocked back without the introduction of amaretto (4)’ In fact that was one of the last across clues we solved as we had SAKI as a potential drink but couldn’t see the wordplay or be sure of the tough down clues. Of course, it was SEKT, reversing TAKES with A(maretto) removed.

Twin followed that with ‘Is old criminal smuggling alcohol in crude containers (8 two words)’ We put RUM into an anagram of IS OLD and got OIL DRUMS of the stuff, so, “Cheers, Twin!”

It was somewhat disconcerting to solve over half the crossword clues (the bottom half, of course) with no evidence at all of the thirteen (just over half of the twenty-five down clues) where we had to enter the ‘wrong’ letter but then light slowly dawned. UNAMBIGUOUSLY had appeared as the unclued entry near the bottom of the grid and we saw that even if we entered the letters the wordplay spelled out in the other ‘unlued’ entry, we couldn’t short-circuit the game because, for example, where the wordplay had given us SHCRTS, in 4d, the ultimate answer could be SHIRTS or SHORTS (Clothing heads to Swiss Hotel – customers ready to ski – first letters! – Yes, we are indeed ready to ski here in the pre-Alps and have just bought our season tickets with snow already falling. Over a metre in Tignes! but do we take shirts or shorts?)

That ambiguity appeared in every one of the upper thirteen down clues and how clever of Twin to have clued each of them so that an I or an O would fit: CLIP-CLOP, ABODES, RHONE (indeed both the RHINE and the RHONE rise near the heart of Switzerland – our Rhone had an imposing glacier at the foot of the Grimsel and Furka Passes when I was a little girl, but sady now that has receded out of sight) SHONE, RIOTED, ONCOMING, DROP, FOILED, SMOTE, INTO, KNIT and TOOL.

EVEN CLUES’ ENDS, we were told, and those spelled out ODD CLUES’ OPENING LETTERS. Finally we got there: THE LISTENER NO. IN BINARY. The Internet told us that 4630 is 1001000010110 in binary. I wonder how long Twin has been waiting for his number to come up! Such a clever idea, and, of course it resolved all that I/O ambiguity.

Many thanks, Twin for that fine compilation. Tip-top (or Top-tip) indeed.

2 Responses to “Tip-top Condition by Twin”

  1. Steve Tregidgo said

    A fine puzzle with a delightful outcome – well done, Twin! With reference to the comment about waiting for 4630 to come around: part of the beauty of this puzzle is that it could have been published as any number up to 8191 – it’s just a matter of deciding which resolution for the checker to accept for each ambiguous answer. For example, if it had been published the week before as 4629, the first 11 downs would have been the same but the last two would have been KNOT and TOIL.

  2. Alan B said

    Steve
    I had a similar thought to yours about the number. I would just add that it was a good gob the number was greater than 4095, because if it were not it would be written in only 12 digits (or fewer). It would have been unsatisfactory to begin the binary number with an arbitrary number of zeroes – even only one zero.

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