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Flappy by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 October 2020

It is always a pleasure to see Shark’s name at the head of a crossword. We know the clues will really challenge us but also that there will be a stunning endgame. The last half of the preamble tells us that, but first, we have to solve those tough clues.
 
Of course I hunt for the alcohol though I know this one-time Listener Ascot Gold Cup winner (as half of the Rood team) has to remain in the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophiles. I’m halfway down the down clues with no solutions leaping out at me before I get to ‘Stacked barrels in wet – it’s pelted (7)’. No half measures for Shark, (and who would have thought that bbl was an abbreviation for barrels!) This is a typical Shark clue – there’s that touch of smutty humour as his ‘wet’ is PEED and we get PEBBLED when we put all those barrels in (no wonder there was some peeing) but we have to hunt in Chambers to confirm that ‘pelted’ can be a synonym for ‘pebbled’ (to stone or pelt, the Big Red Book tells me) so with all those barrels, Cheers, Shark.
We fumble through the clues for  long time, trying to see what the words that we putatively extract might have in common but then we have our first penny-drop-moment. They all have an odd number of letters – there’s not much else we can see in common for ‘batsman’, sparkling’, ‘serious’, ‘scrapping’ and so on. The obvious letter to extract is the middle one and doing that gives us a curious series of words and partial words. However, it also delights us when we realize that the words we are leaving are also real words (brilliant, Shark – that’s masterly!) Second p.d.m. We have RUMEN around SKIPPER, KINGSHOOD around MONARCH, BIBLE around PEACOCK and MAW around HEATH. We have no trouble recognising those butterflies (we had them as flutter-byes in a recent Spoonerising Listener not long ago, didn’t we, and in Eclogues EV just a week ago?), but we have to check the stomachs and are delighted to find that the four stomachs of a ruminant appear in order here. So we are ‘Flappy’ because we have ‘butterflies in the stomach’. That was fun but it was in the clues and Shark, of course, has something in the grid too – we have already guessed what those curves we are going to draw will represent, but we get a double surprise when ADMIRAL, PAPILIO, VANESSA and BRIMSTONE go into a second set of stomachs, PAUNCH, BONNET, FARDEL and READ, and my amazement knows no bounds when I learn from Chambers that this is another set of names, in order, for the ruminants’ four stomachs. We have the final pleasure of linking letters that match into two ‘curves’ (and of course, spelling ‘CARDINAL’), adding the oval FLY bit of her stomach and a pair of antennae. A bit of Googling adds icing to the cake (or colour to the butterflies or something): the 3rd of October is National Buttertfly Day in the USA. A wonderful creation. This will be one of my all-time favourites. Thank you, Shark.

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L4627: ‘Flappy’ by Shark

Posted by Encota on 23 October 2020

OMG!

Not only did it have left-right symmetry for highlighted cells, it also featured (at least?) nine different butterflies, eight of which could be described by having a butterfly in one’s stomach

And not only that, it featured a pretty accurate diagram of a butterfly to be traced out by us the solvers – again (of course – it is Shark) symmetrically placed. 

And not only that, it also chose to include (I think I have got this right), in the hidden letters to be extracted, four butterflies in the four stomachs of a ruminant in order – RUMEN, KINGSHOOD, BIBLE and MAW. 

And not only that, the extracted letters came from the centre of words with an odd-number of letters that still remained words after the central letter of each was removed!!  An astounding added layer of neatness from the setter.

could try and claim that the fact that letters within the wings of the drawn butterfly might spell out “A rapid, beautiful, isolated comma” was done purposefully – but that might be stretching things somewhat. At least it gives me a (very feeble) excuse to quote the end of a poem by Robert Graves, woefully out of context:

So now, my solemn ones, leaving the rest unsaid, 
Rising in air as on a gander’s wing
At a careless comma,

Beautiful stuff!

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4627: Flappy by Shark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 October 2020

Last year’s Shark puzzle had Benjamin Franklin almost getting struck by lightning. I remember that the endgame required some artwork involving a kite, a key, a piece of string and a Leyden jar. Straight lines connecting it all did the trick but this week it looked as though the endgame would be more arty with curved lines needing to be drawn. Before that, we certainly had some tough clueing to unravel. They all had an extra word to be removed, and those words all had something in common.

First clue 12ac Guard for player’s bounce over batsman (3) was obviously BOX. Except the wordplay didn’t fit, so PAD [DAP<] it was with batman the extra word. 15 came next with ENOW and e/w scrapping followed by 16 SOM with extra word reply. Obviously, the meanings of the extra words wasn’t the common factor.

Colonel BLIMP without the M came next at 20 Glitch filming cartoon character loses millions (4), e/w filming and then a long gap before 42, Hide murder the Mafia embraces (5) for DERMA with, innocuously, e/w the.

Onto the downs, and they were equally unforgiving but a few got slotted in. I then made a list of the extra words that I had to date and stared for a few minutes. Systematically extracting a letter from each word could cover a multitude of sins. I think it was rely, filming and dudes that helped me get there. The extra words without their middle letters all remained words.

I was still not home though since the middle letters that I had didn’t really seem to make sense. Nothing for it but to plough on until, eventually, the grid was complete. The last one in was 40ac Islander to assist cocky unclad swimmer (6) which was obviously SARDEL, not a partial anagram of islander but SARD + (h)EL(p) with cocky as the e/w.

I pretty much had to solve all the clues before I could see what we were dealing with. My first reaction was “Didn’t we do butterflies a few weeks ago?” with Brock’s Kew Knowledge. Of course, that was actually about the Rev Spooner rather than butterflies. And it wasn’t too long before I saw that Peacock was hidden in bible in the down clues’ extracted letters. So this wasn’t really about butterflies either, but butterflies in the stomach.

The four examples provided by the clues were as above plus skipper in rumen, Monarch in king’s-hood and Heath in maw.

The bottom row was soon revealed as BRIMSTONE in READ, and the three other examples in rows 2, 4 and 11 were ADMIRAL in PAUNCH, PAPILIO in BONNET and VANESSA in FARDEL.

The final step was drawing a butterfly through CARDINAL in both sides of the grid, drawing an oval around FLY in the central column and then filling in the two Os in row 3 and joining them to the body. Perhaps it was about butterflies after all especially with that title. Except Chambers gives it as “in a state of nervousness or panic”.

Fantastic puzzle thanks, Shark.
 

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L4626: ‘Pot Plant’ by Karla

Posted by Encota on 16 October 2020

Any setter with a pseudonym from George Smiley’s world gets my interest straight away! Thanks Karla for a fun puzzle!

Here we had a puzzle based on snooker. All eight coloured balls in snooker appeared, with each deleted from an answer to create the grid entry. So:

  • [RED] LINE
  • [YELLOW] CARD
  • [GREEN] BERET
  • [BROWN] SHIRTS
  • is this one [BLUE] PRINTS (at 13a)?
  • [PINK] PANTHER
  • [BLACK] MAIL, and
  • [WHITE] FLAG

It seemed to be possible to jumble the 12 omitted letters from wordplay to make ONE FOUR SEVEN, the maximum break in snooker.

And the ‘above advice’ from the Preamble might be described as CLUE TIPS. Remove one letter from this to leave CUE TIPS, a more snooker-related phrase.

One of the easier Listeners of the year. Though I perhaps enjoy harder puzzle more, I do love the variety that the Listener dishes up – you really don’t know what you are getting until you get solving!

My thanks to Karla for a nice debut puzzle!

Cheers,

Tim / Encota

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Pot Plant by Karla

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 October 2020

We haven’t met the name Karla before and we read the preamble with a hint of trepidation. There seemed to be three instructions here and two of them were going to affect twenty of the thirty-seven clues. The first few clues we solved were normal and a skeleton grid appeared with COHABITEE, RAP SHEET (what a fine clue! ‘Criminal past here (8,two words)’ anagrammed to those words that record a criminal past), SPENT FORCE, REGISTRANT, PROSPECTS, DRYING, SYDNEY, FUSSED, AZOTE, AIRY and EID AL-FITR. There were generous anagrams and succinct clues that had us slightly worried. Where were those extra letters and words coming from? (And where was the alcohol? Surely we can admit this ‘new’ setter to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit?)

Then there was a speedy p.d.m. ‘Use of threats, a defence in bygone battle (4)’ “MAIL” said the other Numpty “and we seem to have an extra BLACK – and here’s BLUEPRINTS with an extra BLUE.” “RED CARD” I responded gleefully, so we have the ‘Red’ after all, and if these are snooker balls, we are goig to find ‘white’ (as we did, ‘Giving up standard part of stone floor (4, two words)’ gave us WHITE FLAG) – so “Cheers and welcome Karla!”

Yes, I know that the RED card had to be converted to a YELLOW one when we needed our red for the red line, and the BLACK shirts had to be BROWN but we soon had our full complement of colours, with those GREEN berets and the PINK panther, and a full grid too. However, we had solved rather quickly and had only ten of the 12 extra letters. While the other Numpty returned to watch the snooker, I had to carefully work through the clues to find an R in REITERATE (‘Keep repeating obligation to retire European judge (9)’ – we had to reverse TIE = obligation, + E RATE – that was tricky!) We were left with only one word where there could be our last extra letter and it had to be a final letter: GLUTEN, ‘Coeliacs don’t tolerate such cheek (6)’ Imagine my amazement when the Big Red Book told me that a ‘glute’ is a bum muscle!

Those 12 letters gave us a rather appropriate ONE FOUR SEVEN (we had stopped watching the snooker where O’Sullivan had just drawn equal to Hill at 3-3, in order to download the Listener). All that was left to do was find the eight-letter phrase and CLUE TIPS seemed a likely candidate – we had certainly has a couple in the preamble. We highlighted it and erased the L to get our cue tips. Thank you Karla for a very clear and engaging first crossword – if it is a first.

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