Listen With Others

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Listener No 4643: Systematic by Dave

Posted by Dave Hennings on 12 Feb 2021

This week I could have sworn that we had a new setter, Dave (not me I hasten to add). However, checking at the Crossword Database and the Listener Crossword websites, I find that he (I guess) has had three previous Listeners but the last was way back in 2003, and the one before that was a mathematical.

This week’s preamble indicated that I was destined to be confused, probably quite often, during the solving process. Apart from twelve thematic clues which would need to be adjusted before entry, some would need a letter replacing, some a letter added and some a letter removed. Taken together, these rogue letters would spell out a title and its author. The fact that it seemed totally random as to which clue type each clue belonged struck me as strange and the likely cause of my confusion.

I sort of went off the rails straightaway with 1ac Genuinely following leads for foray’s combat (5) which looked like FECHT from ECHT after F(oray) with leads becoming lead. Except the Scottishness of the word wasn’t indicated — tsk, tsk. Of course, it turned out that it was foray becoming Moray!

To say that solving was slow would be a bit of an understatement, and my first pass through the clues had only a dozen slotted in. A likely contender for one of the twelve clues needing adjustment was 8dn Welders cannot transform toy (8, two words) which looked like it should be an anagram of welder’s cannot. I won’t deny cheating here, especially since the setter was going to pick and choose what type of clue each non-thematic clue used. Having doodled the letters for a few minutes, anagram solver (Tea) came to the rescue to give NEWTON’S CRADLE.

That gave 12ac Waited about sporting church garment (10, two words) ending in ODIC•, and LIBERTY BODICE looked possible — except for the parsing. However, could that be another anagram together with CE or CH? Here the doodling came good and WATTEAU BODICE (which I can’t say I’d heard of) was the answer, and WATT and NEWTON gave the game away.

I recently came across an old Independent Weekend crossword (No 329 Eponymous by Buff) where the theme was scientists who had given their name to scientific units, eg Celsius, Henry and Hertz. That seemed to be what was going on here. Well, almost. Here the unit had to be replaced by its abbreviation. My favourites were FANFARADES, CANDELABRAS and SCAMPERED becoming FANFES, CDBRAS and SCAD respectively. The wayward letters from the clues gave Measure for Measure, Shakespeare.

A nice theme. Thanks, Dave (not me I hasten to add).


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