Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

More by Hunter by Aedites

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 Aug 2022

I wonder how many solvers, on seeing an unusual title, do an anagram of it as well as discussing with their co-solver (well we are lucky to be two!) what it might mean. Nimrod the hunter came into today’s Telegraph Toughie (well, he would, wouldn’t he – it was set by Elgar/Nimrod) but we surely aren’t going there again – but ‘Number Theory’? – are we going somewhere scientific or numerical? Indeed we did!

Nice, gentle clues for a change (I’m a great fan of the less difficult Listener crosswords – indeed, it is not always the hardest puzzles that give the most joy) and the other Numpty was happily filling the grid as I did my usual hunt for proof that Aedites retains his place among the Listener setter oenophiles. It looked hopeful as we started with an empty tea shop – a liquid start. ‘Group trap bouncy animal in empty tea-shop (5)’ We put a ROO into T(ea-sho)P and got TROOP.

‘Briefly sketch solid figure for large container of liquids (5)’ We added DRA(w) to CONE giving DRACONE and some puzzlement – that must be something thematic as the word length didn’t work. Then we had ‘Accident involving one ornate goblet (5)’. We put AN into HAP, giving HANAP, ‘an ornate medieval drinking goblet’. Things were looking up. The RED came, of course in ‘South American communist injured with a sword (6)’. We decided a B was missing there and put the RED after SA to give SABRED. ‘Ancient city raised level inside liquid measure (4)’. Again a wonky word-length as that gave us NINEVEH – EVEN raisd in HIN. Not a lot of alcohol YET!

But the p.d.ms. came thick and fast. 9 PINS/ 9VEH/ GET7 (GETS EVEN) DRAC1/ 2 WAY andOEN! (Yes he did marry OENONE as well as Helen didn’t he?) and sure enough with 1729, we saw that the omitted wordplay letters wers spelling ADD TWO CUBES.

HARDY and RAMANUJAN, of course and there they were symmetricallyplaced in the heart of the grid.

All through dinner (ours was curry) I was regaled with stories about how poor Ramanujan was fed things like sausages that he simply couldn’t stomach by an unsympathetic landlady and how his brilliance was mind-boggling. The taxicab number story we have often shared. But we still had a couple of cornrs of the grid to suss and to work out which ‘five answers in thematic locations need a change in order to make real words that fit with the crossing entries’. Ah, those cubes that were added to give two versions of 1729 were 10 and 9, and 12 and 1 – and sure enough, those were the answers where we had to anagram words: Draped giving PARDED, seated giving SEDATE, tense giving ETENS, Arden giving REDAN and Aaah! Cheers, Aedites, troop giving PORTO! We raised a glass to a delightful crossword.

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