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Listener 4744: A Wrap-up (of the old and happy beginning to the New) from Kea

Posted by vaganslistener on 20 Jan 2023

What better way to see out the Old Year and usher in the New than with a welcome glass of Kea – and a new form of grid, using the scytale cypher device to add a touch of interest and complication to the grid.

Most of us will have come across the scytale in books about codes and the like, and of course it’s pretty simple under the bonnet, eve if it does involve consistent and accurate counting, which is by no means my forte. For the record though, I numbered the columns and watched for the repeat and spotted it quickly for once with a repeat of 13 (coloured here for the record).

The clueing was also very gentle by Kea standards so the theme of the wordplay-only entries also popped out quickly, which proved to be “winds” with a lovely word-play on turns and tempests. (Having the obscure BRICKFIELDER at 1d was propbaby a carefully placed delayer, but FOEHN and SPIRIT at 16a and 18a gave the game away for me.)

The words and clues were a good mixture of common/obscure and easy/hard which is always welcome, and I nearly stumbled at 26d “Is shedding higher square leaves (5)” – with its awkward surface – by pencilling in EMITS for “is shedding” without looking at the wordplay until later, when I was able to get my foot out of the trap and put EXITS instead (def. “leaves” = EXISTS [“is”] – S [the “higher” S in it].

What about the endgame using “a work that the thematic answers could have gone with”? Films are another of my black holes but Janus was on my side and happily for once it too jumped off the page as a reference to GONE WITH THE WIND, and the wonderful Wikipedia confirmed the last line as “tomorrow is another day”, with TOM/ORR/OWI/SAN/OTH/ER quickly found with a seasonal alteration to YEAR.

A great start to the year, or is that the finish to the previous one, and here’s to more Kea and more good puzzles in 2023.

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