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Listener No 4707: An Overt by Awinger

Posted by vaganslistener on 6 May 2022

The Easter weekend, so not the moment to give too hard a challenge an ecclesiastic, but sgood to have something with enough about it to divert as well: thanks Awinger – this did the trick very nicely. 

The theme didn’t leap off the page this time (the title was verymysterious), so I dived in. The down clues soon showed that an at-first-sight unsignalled message was being formed by extra letters in them, but “you” was too generic to give anything more away.

13a BOOBOO suggested “Bear” as part of theme though, with “Bare” as the synonym, and while it took a while for the full penny to drop, I was on my way; and in due course BOOBOO was joined by FOZZIE, YOGI and BIFFO with FATES, NEEDS, MUSTS and COMPULSIONS as the “Necessities”. 

24a nearly tripped me up, but the Spirit of Chalicea (who skis) prompted me to remember in time that its plural was LOIPEN not LOIPES, solving the problem of the otherwise very strange pattern of 26d. Other tricky clues for me were:

31a “Start striking Henry over local tangle” (3) = ORE (Chambers sense 2 – genus Laminaria) with T extra in STAR = HERO reversed without the H(enry). That’s complex!

39a “Cockier apostle’s letters” (3) = PET (as in 1 Pet(er) for the epistle) from COCK[I]ER as an example of a pet. I think I could have done with a definition-by-example signal here, as in “Apostle’s letters cockier?”.

6d “Fixed problem arising out of eccentricity “(5) = MUSTS with no definition, but what is the wordplay? I think I can see SUM reversed (arising) for the problem, but then it all gets murky.

33d “Manages without first three plants” (6) where the plants are ANISES, and the word play requires you to convert “Manages” to “ORGANISES” and then delete the first three letters. The clueing style in this puzzle does use the “guess what I’m thinking of” method quite a bit where a word in the wordplay indicates a synonym, which is perfectly fair but requires a leap of imagination that can be tricky.

Favourites this time were:

7a “In Bern, tiny Free Church hosts spread (5) where the Y of “tiny” was extra, so F C round RAN (for ‘spread’) gave FRANC as Swiss ‘tin” or money

7d “Awinger arrested by female cop, stripped” (6) = FOZZIE where “Awinger” was I held by F and (R)OZZE(R) 

14d “Make savoury, sealing goodness with unctuous, spiny fish” (11, two words) giving SEA SCORPION from SEASON round COR (for “goodness” as in “goodness me”) and PI.

I did eventually remember to look up from the clues and see what was emerging in the grid, and was impressed to discover that THE JUNGLE BOOK, MOWGLI, BALOO and KIPLING were all clustered in the centre, which must have been quite a constructional challenge.

That left the title. After some bear-like head-scratching I decided that each of its words must be a “bared” necessity: (W)AN(T) (P)OVERT(Y). Hopefully the Listener’s notes will explain.

Thanks and kudos to Awinger for a well put together puzzle and some challenging clues that didn’t, however, interrupt the solve for too long.

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