Listen With Others

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A Few and Far Between by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Mar 2023

We download a Nutmeg puzzle with great pleasure. It is over three years since we last solved one of her Listener puzzles and we know we will have an uncomplicated but imaginative theme with beautifully crafted clues – and so it is.

We don’t solve for long before a probable theme appears. “A hawk is an ACCIPUT isn’t it?” says the other Numpty. ‘Hawk caught and beheaded songbird in maple tree (9)’ That’s C and a beheaded PIPIT in an ACER’ and we guess that ‘Only provider of coating for former magistrate (8)’ will give us JUST + ICER, so we have JUPITER in cell 5.

ADONIS and MIMETITES give us a clashing METIS, CHOMPS and ODORISE give us DORIS, and MARENGO uses the S of MIMETITES to give us MARS. A quick check on the Internet confirms that METIS and DORIS are asteroids in the ASTEROID BELT between JUPITER and MARS so we know what we are looking for – another eight asteroids – and they obligingly appear: HEBE, HERA, IRIS, IDA, VESTA, CERES, EUROPA and EROS. At first, I wondered whether Nutmeg was selecting only the asteroids with female names (with those Fs in the title – A Few Far Between – like the puzles by Listener Female setters) but EROS put paid to that theory. It does seem, though, doesn’t, it that astronomers have favoured female names for these smaller celestial bodies?

Full grid and the theme appears in the non-dominant diagonal, and we see that one item, VESTA, lies within the diagonal. I add its letter values and get 67. (There was no need, really, to do the maths was there? The answer to that little sum had to be 15 which would give us an O – a rather regular asteroid – and the two planets could be slightly bigger Os – ‘an approximate representation of the theme’. Delightful!

Oh yes. The Listener setters’ oenophile elite! Well, of course Nutmeg is in it with her BAR(athea), ‘Woman having a drink after returning home …’ and a ‘boozer’ serving up carbohydrate … then ‘I’m off sausage of kiwi’ – CHEERIO Nutmeg!


One Response to “A Few and Far Between by Nutmeg”

  1. bobminor said

    I wonder if anyone else was nearly caught out, as I almost was, by Nutmeg’s red herring of the word STARS going up diagonally adjacent to the main diagonal, and crossing through EUROPA? This name gives a letter X to be used to replace the names appearing at clashes, which is perhaps appropriate for objects “resembling a star” as per the Chambers definition of “asteroid” (adj.). Fiendish!

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