Listen With Others

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Listener No 4710: Surprised by Sabre

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 May 2022

Here we had the annual Sabre outing following on from last year’s Greek foodfest and the previous year’s two old men eating soup from Goya. It doesn’t really need me to say this at the start of every Sabre blog, but I knew this was going to be a tad tricky.

For a start, we had a carte blanche with the clues in the normal order. The across answers would need an extra letter added which, in row order, would tell us (or at least confirm) how to complete the grid. Now I suspect that this puzzle sorted solvers into one of two groups: those for whom everything fell into place very quickly and those for whom it didn’t. I confess that I was in the second group.

My first pass through the clues was pretty woeful with only a handful solved, and none of them intersecting. It didn’t help that the second across clue eluded me for ages — ARSINES [IN in ARSES]. Plus One swims a mile at sea, possibly (10) wasn’t an anagram of swims a mile, but A+ M + POSSIBLY* for AMBLYOPSIS. It was only when those got slotted in, that KAROSHI and TREE ONION (for which I needed to cheat) enabled me to suss what was going on. Eventually the extra letters added to the acrosses confirmed it all — REVERSE DOWNS.

There were a lot of fine clues, these being my favourites, primarily because they were pretty devious:

  • Three miles to the old hospital, furlongs away from one more? (4): H + FOUR – F
  • The New Yorker’s admitting current themes (6): MY + THO + I
  • Detective needing uniform to become quite brave (6): BUSY with ALL for U
  • Badly off, with one third of Beaujolais being corked (7): AWAY with FULL for (second) (Be)A(ujolais)

I’ll also confess that A little shy, periodically showing ADHD? (5) eluded me for a ridiculously long time since I was treating periodically as a selection indicator. Of course, having AGAR, instead of MEER, for Title of Commander Queen’s given to setter (4) [AGA + R, although AGAR is actually a thickener rather than a setter] did me no favours in the bottom left of the grid.

As expected though, a tough but very satisfying solve. Thanks, Sabre.


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