Listen With Others

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Listener No 4738: Even Odder by Ploy

Posted by Dave Hennings on 9 Dec 2022

I don’t normally blog a mathematical puzzle, but this was good fun, so I thought I’d throw in my tuppenny-halfpennyworth (other spellings are available). Ploy has got several Listeners to his name as well as elsewhere and in collaboration. Unless I’m mistaken, all his previous ones have been standard crosswords, his last here being no. 4651, That’s Your Lot based on Flanders and Swann’s song about the laws of thermodynamics. (Although I say so myself, I did a more interesting animation there than today’s here.)

Anyway, reading the preamble, I focused on, and felt a dread by, its reference to quantum entanglement. I have seen a few programs, primarily by Brian Cox and Jim al Khalili which have made me question any logic being used in the creation of the universe. How we were expected to cope with a Listener mathematical without using any logic would, hopefully, reveal itself shortly.

As it happened, the puzzle wasn’t too difficult. Of course, that didn’t mean that it was going to be done and dusted within an hour or so — at least, not by me. The main difference here was that instead of listing the letters used with their values alongside in a two-column table, three columns would be required, one for the across value and one for the down. Each of these would be an even/odd consecutive pair, in that order.

I won’t give any detail about where I started, except to say that 11ac, 33ac and 12ac helped identify that N and O were 2/3 and 4/5. After that, gradually eking out values and hoping, as usual, that I didn’t have to backtrack. Only once did I have to check some values, finding that I forgot to adjust the across value when using it in a down clue; M was the culprit.

Favourite clue, 15dn (-E + (I + N!)S + T – E)IN (4) — a deliberate red herring?!

Finally all done, and the endgame gave us THOSE UNSHOCKED, DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. This was very close to what Ms Teather quotes at the bottom of all her correspondence: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein. Unfortunately that’s not really what we wanted. Helped by 38ac NI + ELS (4), I googled Niels Bohr quotations, et voilà. I could have looked him up in my ODQ where his attribution is given as “Anybody who is not shocked by this subject has failed to understand it.” I agree with that wholeheartedly.

Thanks for a very enjoyable puzzle, Ploy.


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