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Listener No 4721: Quads IV by Shark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 12 Aug 2022

Last year’s Shark Listener was Manhunt and won the Ascot Gold Cup for best puzzle of the year. This year we had another Quads outing after nearly four years since Quads III. They’ve all involved some combination of rotating bits of the grid, chopping some of it, shuffling bits of it and generally throwing your hands up in despair. This week, just three clashes to deal with but some illustrations in the endgame which got me worried before even reading 1 across.

As it was, 1, 6 and 11 passed me by, but 12 Battleship retreats, besieging once enough for these battleships (7) with its ENOW shout-out went in as MEN-O’-WAR and then 13’s nice &lit. One with Red Rum after start of race? (5) for RIDER [I + RED* after R(ace)].

Not all of them were that straightforward though. As usual, Shark’s clues were generally tough but scrupulously fair. The three clashes certainly caused me a bit of a headache. 29dn Easy bull’s-eye? (5) eventually resolved itself as SWEET, just a double definition, the question mark standing in for “for example”. (Personally that’s not my favourite technique, but heigh-ho.) 35dn Medical agency programme dismissing Doctor (3) also took me longer than I care to admit, being the abbreviation the preamble warned us of (even though it is also just a straightforward word — WHO [Doctor Who – the Doctor]. Great fun!

Probably my favourite clue, even though somewhat gruesome, was 17ac Predicament of medical examiner having dropped heart (6) for CORNER [COR(o)NER]. And of course, there was 7dn Drippy = dippy (without second consonant) (5) for INANE [IN(s)ANE].

And so, after a slightly longer than average solve, onto the endgame. First, find a letter occurring twice in a column and change each (not necessarily to the same letter) to give two new words. It didn’t take me long to spot MINER and ARCANE which could change to MINOR and ARCANA, the latter being a bit of a guess. Luckily Google confirmed that we were in the bizarre world of the Tarot.

All that was needed then was to translate some element of the cards into the grid and seeing the FIRE and WAND in the south-west corner got me going. According to Wiki, the four suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles and the Wand, Cup and Sword got slotted in nicely. Not for the first time, I stared at the grid wondering how to get the EARTH in before putting it down, having a glass of wine, and revisiting it a couple of hours later to see it all in the top left as shown in the animation.

A nicely mysterious puzzle. Thanks, Shark.


One Response to “Listener No 4721: Quads IV by Shark”

  1. Alan B said

    I often read the blogs on this site, although I get fewer opportunities to solve Listener puzzles these days. Shark is one of the top setters, and it was impossible to resist this puzzle despite finding the thematic bits in the preamble somewhat daunting. The clues were excellent, and I felt rewarded just by completing the grid.
    The theme, though, was out of reach. I have no knowledge of the subject of the theme, and even less interest, but I think I could have worked it out if only I had spotted the possible change from ARCANE into ARCANA. I saw other possible changes in two other columns, but of course they led to nothing.
    The thematic design was impressive – it’s just a pity I didn’t discover that for myself!

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