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Listener No 4708: Diamond by Karla

Posted by vaganslistener on 13 May 2022

Karla, aka NIcholas Huntley, has entertained us with one previous Listener, no. 4626 “Pot Plant” in 2020, which wasn’t about aspidistras but snooker, and good fun to solve. So high hopes! The preamble this time was rather elliptical, but the title “Diamond” was suggestive, though I wasn’t sure what “symbols” were going to be involved.

For some reason my solve started in the bottom left corner this time, and “Sign” in 32a was an easy first extra word, buried as it was in a hidden word clue. I moved to the top right corner and K L E then emerged as the end of the first thematic word, so it was odds on for TWINKLE as in ‘like a diamond in the sky’– correctly as it turned out.

I found finalising the two sets of seven words was trickier than spotting the extra letters, but came up with

JUMPS. SIGN. FISH. FRUIT. WRITTEN. DOG. EVENING. BURST

STOOL. POP. EARLY. SPIKE. SHEET. ABSOLUTE. MASTER.  CONCRETE

Yes, that’s 8 of each not 7…  The first group had to be STAR, and after a bit of dictionary work (I hadn’t heard of “absolute music”) MUSIC fitted the second. STAR MUSIC, so yes, with “Twinkle” and “I wonder” as the thematic words. I remembered a couple of other puzzles where musical notation emerged in the endgame and sure enough, the theme words were marking out the tune of the song, and the symbols would be crotchets and quavers. Very neat and a lovely finish.

“Written” (27a) and “spike” (3d) by the way were the interlopers, the first not strictly needed in its clue “Number square written in pen (7)”, with “number” defining SEVENTY and the word-play EVEN in STY (nice!), while the clue for 3d “Careful around Frost with Spike in trouble (9, two words)” = CRIME WAVE (“trouble”) had CAVE (“careful”) round RIME (“frost”) and W (“with”), so “spike in (trouble)” must have been the full definition after all.

Some favourites were

35a Writer of “prayer” with last third converted to the Spanish (6): MANTEL, with MANTIS (“pray-er”) changing IS to EL to make the writer Hilary Mantel.

2d City Shakers originally down by 90 percent (7): CARACAS (“city”) with MARACAS (“shakers”) swapping M=1000 for C= 9/10 of that. (Very neat despite the odd surface.)

23d Suppliers of Cleopatra’s needs for washing property (6): ASSETS, where the T proved to be “extra”, and the ASSES provided the milk for the bath. Ho ho!

A couple that gave me grief were:

6d Decree absolute the first letter records (4): ACTA, where apart from fixating for a while on DATA, both “absolute” and “the first letter” could generate an A.

17d Curses master at sea seizing stray tea clippers (9): SECATEURS, where I spent far too long wondering why an anagram of CURSES MASTER generated the clippers I wanted but also MRS, before I realised that “stray” was another anagrind and CURSES + TEA worked just fine.

All in all, another “hit” and many thanks to Karla. I wonder what will come next?

P.S. I opted for musical notes rather than stars, unlike Chalicea: as always she was on the money (the pubished solution has stars) but happily the notes say any suitable symbols will be accepted. Phew!

One Response to “Listener No 4708: Diamond by Karla”

  1. gillwinchcombe said

    I used notes too, so am relieved to see they will be accepted

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