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Listener 4728: Bream by Check

Posted by vaganslistener on 30 Sep 2022

Check’s first Listener, and what a beauty! (Not to mention being a Numpties’ Delight as the theme emerged…) I was pretty busy with professional duties to do with the death of our late and beloved Sovereign, and it provided a cheerful contrast to come home to after the sombre occasions.

The title didn’t at first give anything away, but the preamble was clear and concise so I started at 10a looking for the message from the missing letters.

That device was handled very well indeed. So 10a itself, “Rupture in fantasy land, losing leading duo to ale” (6) lead to HERNIA, parsing as NARNIA – NA + (M)ALE. Of course I liked and spotted 21a “Top scholar’s proem recalled aged book” (5) giving HOSEA from HO [(s)top] + S(cholar) + AE<; and 25d “Murphy’s word of regret on endless yarn” was fun once I’s stopped looking for potatoes and found OCH [changed to OOH later], as much Irish as Scottish, from O + (a)CH(e). Clues like this need careful construction and a dollop of imagination to both set and solve. The downside is that sometimes they do defeat me at least until I have gathered the missing letter, or crossing letters, and can spot the word and reverse engineer the parsing – but that’s part of the point of a crossword.

The note on grid entyry lengths and indication of blank cells will have flagged to old hands that some entries were shorter than the spaces allottted to them, but once that was accounted for (and realising that the extra letter when added made another real word) meant the solve was then a steady one. As MIX appeared at the beginning of the message, I started to think “recipe” (I do a lot of the cooking these days), and BARLEY was looking likely, so BEER was likely to be the product. Pattern searching the bottom line prodUVED BREATHALYSER as a “Nina” and gave the B of BEER, and for once the wordsearch for the further steps was easy as WORT was “decanted” and replaced by HOPS, GLUCOSE turned in ALCOHOL, and CARBON DIOXIDE filled in as the by-product.

The only clue that really bothered me was 19a “A duke escaping death secures antique to pl(a)y ruler” (8) where the answer was obviously EMPERISE – or was that EMPERIZE? I think the parsing was to remove D(uke) from DEMISE and wrap it round PER for “to”, but why does PER=TO, and why did the editor leave the A in at the beginning. I’ve probably missed something, but feel the DEMISE anyway is likely to be right and have stick with the S.

That left just the title to understand and anagramming as usual “fermenting” perhaps) we get AMBER, the traditional colour of Aussie ‘nectar’ or beer.

I see MARSALA was slipped in too for those who prefer the grape to the grain, so happiness all round as long as the bottom line is avoided… Thanks Check, and we look forward to more.


3 Responses to “Listener 4728: Bream by Check”

  1. Richard Heald said

    For 19ac that innocent-looking “A” = PER, secured by (D)EMISE, and the last four words constitute the definition.

    Terrific puzzle, with tough but fair clues and an impressive gridfill.

  2. Dave Russell said


  3. David Thomson said

    Whoops! Fortunately I’ve no hope of being Orl Korrekt. It’s usually transcription slips like this that let me down. Thanks for pointing it out.


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