Listen With Others

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Order, Order! by Dolos

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 Apr 2023

That 404 notice “Looks like you are not supposed to be here” came up when I checked into the Times Crossword Club site at Listener time. Why does it choose to do that on a Friday? Fortunately all was well a few minutes later and Dolos appeared. A newcomer? The name rang a faint bell and the title confirmed that I didn’t need to look far for his membership of the elite set of Listener oenophiles. “Order, Order!” indeed. He confirmed it later too with ‘Vitiate kir with cola that stops flow in pipe (7)’ Kir with cola – yukk! However we anagrammed the drink and got AIRLOCK. Cheers despite that awful aperitif, Dolos!

Not only did we see a carte blanche (with bars) but also that very original instruction ‘Clues are given in alphabetical order’ … then ‘if sorted in alphabetical order of the answers, the clues’ last letters will spell a helpful message’.”Yeah, great!” I snarled “So we have to solve it all, or most of it, to get a message that will probably come too late to be of much help” (though it did help me to back-solve for a few answers at the end.)

So the other Numpty solves, while I colour-code the clues and grid for clue lengths, then I begin an alphabetical list of answers, as we find them, and the last letters of their clues. It gives a fascinating read! If only I had realised sooner what it was telling us! ‘The clues were already in normal grid order’. What a challenging thing to compile – the solutions had to be in alphabetical order to give those final letters that would spell it out. A fine change from ‘extra letters produced by the wordplay’, ‘first letters of redundant extra words’ or ‘misprints in the definition parts of clues’.

I usually really enjoy carte blanche crosswords but this time, I am thoroughly confused and initially totally unable to fill the grid, even when we have over half the clues solved, because of those words ending in K: AIRLOCK, PRANK, REAK and CANUCK and the other K’s in KREISLER and UNTACKLE. That was clearly part of Dolos’ plan and I suspect there’s a sneaky trap laid for the unaware too (maybe we have fallen into it!) ‘Lost desire, heading off for weird person (4)’. “RECK” says the other Numpty “That’s an obsolete word for ‘desire’ so I suppose the weird person has to be a wreck” – Chambers ‘A person ruined mentally or physically’. But oh dear! Chambers also tells us, under a different heading that REAK is an obsolete version of RECK and that FREAK is ‘A weirdly unconventional person’. This almost matches Poat’s hidden hare! (Yes. we opt, in the end, for REAK!)

However once those Ks are in place, the grid fills itself, but even then, I don’t realise that the clues are in normal order – this really is a back-solve – a bit of FUN at the end (as in the last down clue). Many thanks, Dolos.

Postscript: I am told by a fellow solver “Back in about 2000 Dolos produced a beautiful puzzle – Playfair by Dolos (Playfair Dolos)* = April Fool’s Day – wherein the clues to otherwise unclued entries made up the preamble (so POSTE RESTANTE was clued by some reference to unchecked letters, and so on). Of course it’s April 1st again today!

And what, I wonder, are a couple of little hares doing in the grid? Are they Poat hares, back for brief visit?

I’ve looked at Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database and I find ‘”Dolos” is Greek for “fraud” and, Latinised, is the last word in Bacon’s essay Of Cunning: “Some build rather upon the abusing of others, and (as we now say) putting tricks upon them, than upon soundness of their own proceedings. But Solomon saith, Prudens avertit ad gressus suos; stultus divertit ad dolos.” The sentence can be translated as: “A wise man follows his own path; a fool turns to deception.”


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