Listen With Others

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Listener No 4664: Dream Match by Aver

Posted by Dave Hennings on 10 Jul 2021

Another new setter this week although he is no stranger to the Listener world. [See below. Ed.]

This week we had extra letters in the wordplay giving us a whole slew of information and instructions. The instructions would tell us how to resolve the clashes in fourteen cells and what then needs adding to the grid. Sounded like fun.

The clues started out relatively forgiving with about half the across entries slotted in fairly quickly. The downs were also straightforward and I soon had a pretty full grid — except for a whole block in the middle. One of them, 30ac Chilean player with no match at St Andrews wears gold (5), needed a bit of googling since no Chilean golfers came to mind. He turned out to be a pianist, Claudio Arrau.

Obviously I was on the lookout for some amusing clues, especially surface readings. 16ac Curly rat’s-tail brightened by sparkly things (7) and 14dn Man with youthful air: “you only live once”, twirling around debutante (6, two words) were two, as well as a somewhat violent 34dn Cincinnati rioting after twice dismissing case concerning indigenous Americans (5) — ((Ci)NCIN[N]A(ti))* for INCAN.

And so to the endgame. The extra letters spelt out a speaker — Titania; an abbreviated reference — AMND, two one (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II Scene 1); what ruined a thematic figure — mud; an instruction to resolve the clashes — add letter values; and what needed adding to the grid — sixteen lines. We certainly had to work for it this week!

My ODQ gave the quotation from Titania: “The nine men’s morris is filled up with mud,” and pretty soon my grid was full of Os. I really liked the way that some of the Os were supplied by the added letter values, with the remainder being supplied by, well, Os. Sixteen lines later and everything was complete.

A fine grid contruction and a fun puzzle. Thanks, Aver.

[For those of you who need a nudge as to Aver’s identity, see here: Ed.]


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