Listen With Others

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Dream Match by Aver

Posted by shirleycurran on 9 Jul 2021

Aver – a new setter with a nicely symmetrical grid and a relatively brief preamble telling us that we are looking for an extra letter in the wordplay of every clue and that these are going to spell out for us a speaker, a reference, what ruined a thematic figure, how to resolve 14 clashes, and how we must complete our grid.

Can we admit him to the Elite Listener Setters’ Oenophiles? (A bird on the wall told me that he starred at the last Listener Zoom dinner that John and Jane organised but I check anyway, of course). ‘Eat roe in pickled raspberry (7)’ That’s hopeful. We ‘pickle’ the EAT ROE IN’ by anagramming it and extract the N to get ETAERIO. Hmmm, not a lot of alcohol there. ‘Curly rat’s tail brightened by sparkly things (7)’ Some kind of champagne marinating of that unappetising delicacy? No, again, we extract an A and anagram again, producing STARLIT. It’s becoming worrying when we get to ‘Cravings for drink start his shaking (7)’. Yet again we extract an A and anagram the rest to THIRSTS. We’re almost at the end of the clues when he finally earns his place at the next dinner bar: ‘Swept back hair, drinking a draught (5)’. This time we extract the I from QUIFF and it ‘drinks’ A to give us QUAFF. Cheers, Aver!

By the time we’re sharing that draught, we’ve found that TITANIA is lamenting the muddying of the thematic figure, the NINE MEN’S MORRIS in A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream ACT 2 Sc I (of course, Midsummer is just three days away!) and that we have to ADD LETTER VALUES and restore the thematic figure by drawing SIXTEEN LINES.

We find Titania lamenting the disorder created by her quarrel with Oberon: “The nine men’s morris is fill’d up with mud, And the quaint mazes in the wanton green For lack of tread are undistinguishable” Our task is to make the figure distinguishable again.

What an impressive construction! We do the adding and find that we have a symmetrical display of 24 Os and Wiki shows us how to draw 16 lines to create the figure of the Nine Men’s Morris. A fabulous debut. Thank you, Aver!

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