Listen With Others

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Listener No 4681, 1 41 6:10: A Setter’s Blog by Colleague

Posted by Listen With Others on 7 Nov 2021

“Money is the root of all evil” is a song that I have known since a child. I happened to hear it on the wireless (!) a couple of years ago and wondered what the origin of the song was. I quickly discovered that it’s origin was in the Bible in 1 Timothy chapter 6 verse 10 as “For the love of money is the root of all evil”. I decided that it could be a suitable theme for a Listener crossword.

How to portray the theme in a grid was less obvious. I decided early on that a “floral” representation was the way to go – a “stem” and a “(square) root”. The stems were to be the EVIL part of the theme whilst the roots were to be the MONEY.

So I decided that the monies needed to be nine letters long each and that the middle of the 3×3 squares should be barred off. This meant that there needed to be 5 stems and roots because I wanted the barred off letters to spell MONEY.

It is surprisingly difficult to find 5 nine letter types of money with their middle letters being M+O+N+E+Y. To achieve this the first one had to be BAHAMIAN$. The last one had to be DANDYPRAT. I was aware that there was another spelling (dandiprat) but this ambiguity would be easily resolved by the fact that M+O+N+E+I does not make sense.

The 5 synonyms/definitions for types of “evil” were not much easier. Although the grid, because of it’s complexity, could not be totally symmetrical I wanted the “evil stems” to be symmetrical. The outside ones became 4 letters each (Harm and Bale), the next ones in were 7 letters (Disease and Immoral) whilst the middle one was 11 letters (Unfortunate). The main reason for choosing these lengths was that the 3×3 cells for the roots should not be touching. This made the grid 15 letters vertically which is practically the maximum size that The Times can accept.

So the grid fill continued along with the clue writing. I had decided that I did not want the use of extra words/extra letters/misprints etc which seemed all too prevalent at the time. My only exception to this was to be the inclusion of an extra word in two clues only (Mill and Ion). Together the resultant word had to be treated like the currencies in the grid – as a square root. Therefore, solvers would have been asked to write the treatment of this word below the grid – THOUSAND (being the square root of Million). I thought that this would have made a neat final task for solvers to tackle. I was, therefore, slightly disappointed that it had to be abandoned due to the grid size constraints.

I had based the grid on the modern version of the saying rather than the biblical one. (The title was the intro to the general subject – I was pleased that I managed to get Timothy into the grid as 41 across so that I could use the 41 as part of the title).


I understand that some solvers wanted the Biblical version to be the real theme with “the love of money” being somehow portrayed. The “roots” made a V-shape which some thought was supposed to be heart shaped. I did not consider this and, seeing the puzzle published the following week – 4682 Round Table Man, I’m glad that I didn’t! It was also deemed that I must be a Pink Floyd fan because (apparently!) on The Dark Side of the Moon album there is a track called “Money” with the words “Money, so they say, is the root of all evil today”. Sorry, I was not aware of it.

What a wonderful lot Listener solvers are!


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