Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Systematic by Dave

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 February 2021

We haven’t solved a crossword by Dave before. Looking at Dave Hennings’ database, I see that he hasn’t set one for quite some time, so we really don’t know what to expect. The Numpties are bickering at once. He is convinced that we have to draw three pretty coloured strips alongside our clues and separately record those that add a letter, those that lose one and those that change one (and Oh my, is he grumbling about all three devices being permitted in a single crossword!) I, on the basis that these letters are going to spell out only a title and its author, am happy with my single line, so that I can set to at once, scanning the clues to see whether this ‘setter of yore’ qualified for the Oenophile Elite before I was even solving Listener crosswords.
I find a ‘crush’ in ‘Virgin admits love, offering short plant for a crush (10)’ and we later work out that that clue gives us a MOLE (shortened to MOL) in MOLENDINARY (MARY around O and LENDIN[g]) but I have to read to the very end of the clues before I find ‘Elder rani arranged unlimited beer (5)’ We drop an R and anagram ANI with the[b]EE[r], giving AINEE. And it isn’t just unlimited beer, ‘Cult’s liquor to be produced endlessly (4)’ By the time we solve that clue, we are short of an E on SHAKESPEARE, so we decide it has to be Celt’s liquor and we remove the last letter of BREED to give us BREE. With unlimited beer and Celt’s liquor produced endlessly (no doubt a quality malt) Dave clearly earns his ticket. Cheers!
And yes, ‘he who is always right’ wasn’t this time, and we haven’t solved for long before my single line of extra letters gives a fairly convincing SHAKESPEARE and enough letters alongside the across clues to suggest MEASURE FOR MEASURE. Now we understand why we couldn’t fit STINGRAY, IRRADIANT, SCAMPERED and EMOLUMENT into the available spaces. However, we still have to find several measures that we can reduce to their short forms.
We slowly tease out GRAY, WATT, VOLT, MOLE, FARAD, TONNE, CANDELA, NEWTON, LUMEN, AMPERE, RADIAN and SECOND, Actually, we initially opt for ARE in 1d with FANFARES becoming FANFAS but ARE isn’t an IS abbreviation and we can’t suss the wordplay of ‘Always making piano loud, piper with horns shows off musical flourishes (6)’. Of course, two Ps have to become F so we have Pan Parades becoming FANFARADES and surprisingly, there is the word in Chambers, defined as ‘musical flourishes’. I’m not surprised that it has taken Dave eighteen years to find all those words that could slyly incorporate a measure. Engineering this grid must have been quite a challenge. Thank you, Dave.

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