Listen With Others

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Listener No 4742: Short Seats by Yorick

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 Jan 2023

It had been over three years since Yorick’s last Listener, no 4581 Transformers, which had some entries being entered right to left and others upside down. This week no such convolutions, but an unspecified number of clashes. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but I hate clashes! The sentence in the preamble which talked about internal thematic letters had me additionally worried as to its meaning. Oh, and some entries fall off the edge of the grid.

As expected, I found this one tough. When making notes for a puzzle, I have occasionally written “a lot of geographical places in these clues”. Of course, I made no such comment today, although I’m not sure it would have helped me with the endgame, of which more later.

Did I mention that I hate clashes?! What really annoys me is when an entry provides only one of the clashing letters rather than two or more. After years of Listener solving, I have learnt that all this just makes a puzzle more challenging, and who can object to that? [Quiet at the back. Ed.]

I frequently mark my favourite clues with one or two ticks. In reviewing my notes here, I see that I’ve marked quite a few with exclamation marks which mean they have somewhat tricky wordplay. Either that or “He’s having a laugh!”

  • 2s Recalling zone ceded by infantryman to ruler, excluding Troy (7): EVOKING [EVZONE – ZONE + TO KING – T]
  • 29s Including N, any number of sour fruits except the top 100 (6): NITRIC [N + CITRIC – first C; Including N referring to nitrogen]
  • 33s Take after Oersted, displacing reduced control in random force (6): COERCE [CHANCE with (OE + R) for HAN(d)]
  • 37w Hooked after Tina’s extracted, and cut in a twinkling (5): ADUNC [(AND CUT IN A – TINA)*]

One even had two exclamation marks: 21n A day leaving party cut 34 in Taiwan? (5): ADUKI [A + D + UKI(p); 34 being legume]; I can think of another way of describing UKIP!

All in all, one tough set of cookies.

What the clashes had in common eluded me initially as I (for some topical reason) thought they might be World Cup final locations or some such sporting cities. Luckily, it didn’t take long for the penny to drop as we were just dealing capital cities — and not just any old capital cities, but 4-letter ones. Moreover they were fairly well geographically located in the grid as they would be in an atlas.

It didn’t require a huge leap to guess that the single letter that needed to replace each capital was that which enabled the 3-letter country codes to be read left to right.

But what about those bizarre internal thematic letters? I won’t tell you how long I wondered what Yorick was getting at! Actually, it wasn’t more than about 30 minutes, but seemed longer. Back to that comment about not noting all the words with capital letters — place names and other such. The internal bit just told us to ignore the initial capital letter of each non-clashing clue and pick the other capital letters. Thus we had Three-letter country codes. Well I had those identified already, thanks. And I think apologies are due to the inhabitants of Bern.

Thanks for a nice tough workout, Yorick — perfectly fair (in hindsight) and entertaining.

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