Listen With Others

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More by Hunter (and more Number Theory), by Aedites

Posted by vaganslistener on 21 Aug 2022

A welcome return to the lists by Aedites, who is I believe a statistician, though recent puzzles have also introduced us to the clock at Grantchester, the zodiac and an excess of liquor, so perhaps not a dry sort of chap after all…

After a few clues, though, it looked as if we were back in MathsWorld, as OenONE, DracONE, GetSEVEN, NINEpins and NINEveh [nice one!] had to be entered using the relevant numeral, neatly and symmetrically placed. I only remembered to anagram the title to make NUMBER THEORY at the end though. Always worth a throw of the dice early on…

Sussing out the modified way of entering five other words took a little longer, but it proved to a simple anagramming so not too hard after all. The short spread-out message naturally didn’t emerge until most of the clues were solved and proved to be ADD TWO CUBES.

The grid was full – but what was the theme. I did the obvious thing and Googled 1729 and CUBES – and quickly landed on a story that I had heard before but forgotten, of how Hardy visited Ramanujan in hospital and remarked that his taxi was numbered 1729 but that it wasn’t an interesting number. He must I think have been trying to provoke Ramanujan into a response and recovery, and sure enough the Great One quickly contradicted Hardy saying that on the contrary it was the smallest number that could be made by adding two distinct pairs of cubes. And there we have it. The altered words were of course sited at 1 and 12 and 9 and  10: the pairs in question.

The clueing was neat and accurate as we might expect,  but with indeed a dash of fun as well. A bouncy animal was trapped in a tea-room, with a mischievous goddess a few clues later, while Paris’s wives were getting confused and a singer was screeching. And of course the “Convent worker for one shuns bishop concerning suspension (7)” (flashbacks to my former role) wasn’t a miscreant nun but ABEYANT from AB[B]EY + ANT.

In the odd way that things happen I am just looking at using the letter-omitted-from-wordplay device myself (rather than extra letter one that appears rather often) though in rather different way, and I know someone else who is exploring the numeral-for-number-word one. What goes round comes round, but it was a delight to have Aedites round again and I hope he returns soon.

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