Listen With Others

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Listener 4716: Venation by The Ace of Hearts

Posted by vaganslistener on 9 Jul 2022

A flush of Hearts this weekend, with AoH also appearing in the EV. Circular grids are, I believe, something of a speciality for him so let’s see how this one works.

Or not: I’m feeling under par, and a quick walk through the clues produces a sparse result. So being dopey I decide to try a short-cut and see if I can spot the extra letters in the radial clues. A CIR … This is looking promising. Check the end. OF DEER. And I happened to know the obscure meaning of VENATION meaning ‘hunting’ (Venery in Middle English), so even more promising; and before too long I have most of the message with barely a clue solved: A CIRCLE OF MEN WHO CLOSE IN ROUND A HERD OF DEER.

The preamble now comes into its own. GINGERBREAD* in the search engine offers *MEN of course, and that helps identify the other Ring clues pretty quickly, except the odd man out. A full-text search on the Chambers CD-ROM strikes gold though, and the message proves to be the full-fat definition of TINCHEL. A few radial answers are enough to lead me to the complete the picture with HART, HIND and STAG in the middle ring, and the whole puzzle is laid open. This is reverse-engineering on steroids.

With so many letters in place, the pattern-search on the Chambers app made short work of the rest in the morning, and the job was done. My sincere apologies to AoH. I can’t believe he intended this to be the solving route, but there we are.

The only real trap (I think) was to stare hard at the parsing of 27a “Small horse name[d] to take the place of duck’s tail (6)” and make sure I put GARRON not GARRAN. And check the finished grid and see that I have failed to ink in the I in OFFING, fortunately before posting.

Unfortunately I also failed to realise that I had hung on to 4714 to post with 4715 and left it rather late in the week to spot that, so bang may go any chance of an all-correct. But I nearly always have some transcription errors if not outright blunders, so not to worry too much. And anyway I’d get totally obsessive if I really tried for perfection on this.

I wonder how I’ll manage solving and submitting the next few as we finally take off on our travels, not to mention posting these blogs… Perhaps I will be deemed to be on strike?

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