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L4557: ‘Choice Words’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 21 June 2019

For several years I have exchanged birthday cards with a brother, where the aim is to send the naffest card one can find.  This allows a whole year for browsing to find something that is really ghastly, or at the very least memorable in some way.  It becomes quite addictive …

This year he recently sent me a card (available from O’Neill Classics) with a picture of an empostered Ford Anglia, alongside Margaret Thatcher campaigning in Finchley for the 1964 General Election.  So the theme was timely – for me, anyway!

2019-06-10 10.53.14 copy

I could of course claim an almost complete lack of FMC knowledge and declare it a Ford CorTINA …

I really enjoy the accuracy to the definitions in the BRB in Jason’s clues – there is something so satisfying stumbling across the appropriate one.

I haven’t seen the gimmick using aORb words before – a great idea!  EN-OR-MOUS as the answer, for example, but where either EN or MOUS is only entered into the Grid.

With the phrase THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE arising from jumbling together of the discarded parts from across answers, that simply left TINA to be found as its acronym in the grid – upwards in Column 4, if you are asking.  And the equivalent jumbling from Down clues gave, of course, MARGARET THATCHER.

I did try hunting for some alternative jumbles.  Across clues could fancifully describe her supporters, with A ROSETTE IN THEIR NAVEL.  And Down clues couldn’t possibly be complete without THAT GREAT CHARMER.

Cheers,

Tim / Encota

 

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Listener No 4557: Choice Words from Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 21 June 2019

Listener No 4557 was from a getting-prolific setter! Previously, we’ve had No 4459, Shock Therapy on the subject of alopecia, and before that No 4408, Child’s Play with its snakes and ladders.

This week, adjustments to answers before entry (ten of them) and adjustments to clues before solving (another eight). The dropped bits from the acrosses could be arranged to form a 20-letter phrase, and those from the downs gave someone who was a proponent of said phrase. Exactly how big the bits were was for us to discover but two or three letters seemed likely.

Of course, it turned out that most of them were longer. In the acrosses, 12ac Original sin lacking appeal on vacation strangely for young men (4) led to SIGNORINI which had to be entered as SIGN and 13ac Intrepid learner takes space for parking in vain (3) giving [VAPOR]OUS. The downs were equally deceptive, especially in 7dn Players caught in opening of Greco-Roman wrestling get flattened essentially (5) where Greco-Roman eventually got truncated to Oman.

It soon became clear that the bits dropped from the acrosses gave far more than the letters required for the 20-letter thematic phrase. Similarly, the downs for the 16-letter mystery individual. As usual, I decided to carry on until the grid was filled and all the missing bits had been identified.

I particularly liked the clue to 35ac Giant tailless rodent giving up front of den to rest (4), which looked like ENORMOUS but needed a bit of head-scratching to reveal DORMOUS(e) having D(en) replaced by (d)EN. Also, 17dn Pan(orama) losing focus to fashionable circle by complaint (8) for SWINE-POX — SWEEP with middle E replaced by IN + O + X. 16ac Craft clerical role with nothing for established church (4, two words) had me confused for a bit, pondering whether the clerical role was PRIESTSHIP or PRIORSHIP (in fact it was RECTORSHIP). I was lucky to double-check my entries as I originally scrawled RESOURCE in at 19dn Secure And[orra] or disrupt freedom to return (8) instead of RECOURSE.

The abundance of ORs in the dropped bits of the across answers and all the ors in the down clues was apparent fairly early on and pointed us in the right direction. Well, sort of… they needed to be ignored. I decided to try and identify the individual from the downs: T H GREC T TER AMA RA R initially led me to Graham Ratchetter who was close enough for me to stumble across Margaret Thatcher. Unfortunately, her 20-letter phrase eluded me, mainly, I suspect, because I lived in the States for most of her time as Prime Minister.

The across bits dropped from answers gave INI VAL ROT E T H SH E TER OR and it wasn’t too difficult to wonder if alternative was lurking. A bit of play with the remaining letters gave there is no alternative. Despite having come across this as TINA in crosswords quite a few times, I had never associated it with Thatcher. Well I do now.

Thanks, Serpent, good fun.
 

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Choice Words by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 June 2019

Serpent is a regular participant at the three-monthly gatherings of Listener aficionados (editors, solvers, setters and the marker) that take place in Farringdon, London, and I regularly see him with a glass in his hand so I was astonished to find what was apparently a TT set of clues but, of course, he had tricks in store and by the end of our solve we were staggering drunkenly as he produced example after example of our local rather rich wine (the vin d’or – https://www.sudouest.fr/2010/11/06/le-vin-d-or-a-deguster-au-verre-231913-4608.php), so he retains his place in the  Elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit. Cheers Serpent, see you at the bar in the Sir John Oldcastle!

I said ‘by the end of our solve’. We were really flummoxed as we filled in our first 20 or so solutions, MATCHBOX, ROPILY, FLIP SIDE, INTAGLI, TWINGE, etc. SNIPER, SHIP and RIDER seemed to fit in that north-east corner but the clues didn’t quite work. ‘Original sin lacking appeal on vacation strangely for young men (4)’ spelled out that we must anagram ORIGINAL SIN less AL, and that gave us SIGNORINI – but which four-letter real word should we enter? NORI or SIGN?

SNIPER seemed to be the ‘critic’ of ‘Reporter is upset about northern critic (6)’ ( IS< round N + REP<) but REP is not ‘reporter’ in Chambers so we had those extra letters ORTER to explain. We argued about RIDER with the other Numpty insisting that DRIER had to be ‘cycling’ (but that doesn’t give RIDER) but then light dawned. TORRIDER is also more dehydrating and also had that extra OR, as did HORACE. We were removing OR and using the remainder of the word for the RIDER solution, for example, and to produce a T for the ’20-letter phrase’ or, with HORACE to give us an H of the ‘proponent of the phrase’ and ACE = A which we added to PSIS to give us APSIS.

‘Choice words’ now made sense (is OR used in computing for ‘alternatives’?) and our grid filled. There had to be no ORs and who said THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE? (Am I allowed to say that a US solver friend commented to me that there seem to be rather too many ‘alternatives’ in the current Brexit situation and that Mrs May hasn’t been able to wield an iron handbag in that respect?) Yes, it was Margaret Thatcher. We knew what our twenty letters had to anagram to and who our sixteen-letter proponent was, and TINA was climbing in the fourth column of our grid, but the tussle to actually work out the wordplay of those eighteen ‘OR’ clues took us almost as long as the gridfill.

SWINEPOX was the most difficult of all. ‘Panorama losing focus to fashionable circle by complaint (8)’ That is real ‘Listener’ for me. We removed the OR and used SWEEP for the PAN but that had to exchange an E for IN (yes, I hadn’t realized that E = focus), so we had SWINEP, followed by ‘circle by’ = OX and AMA – three of Mrs Thatcher’s letters. What can I say? Brilliant, Serpent.

 

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L4556: ‘Ambidexter’ by Opsimath

Posted by Encota on 14 June 2019

I may well have mentioned it before but am I the only one, when faced with the word opsimath, who thinks immediately of the introduction to Vivian Stanshall’s surreal piece of comedy, Sir Henry at Rawlinson End:

English as tuppence, changing yet changeless as canal-water, nestling in green nowhere, armoured and effete, bold flag-bearer, lotus fed Miss Havishambling, opsimath and eremite, feudal-still reactionary Rawlinson End. The story so far …

Ok, it is only me.  Moving swiftly on …

This puzzle was gentle by most Listener standards, with clever symmetry.

1 across gave a hint that it might have an Italian flavour to it:

One of 12 popes clapped more musically (3)

This was one of the clues with a misprint, and should have read

One of 12 popes clipped more musically (3)

… then simply being PIU(s), and so PIÙ, for the Italian musical term for ‘more’.

I liked 17d’s dialect indicator ‘out of society’, which could have been (mis)read as an ‘s’ deletion – that one was new to me.

32d’s ‘on’ as an anagram indicator seemed a little doubtful at first, but its meaning in Chambers of ‘on the way to being drunk’ seemed pretty conclusive!

I hadn’t quite realised that it was the Doge’s palace’s interrogation rooms (on the left) that were connected to the prison (on the right) via the Bridge of Sighs – the prisoner sighing as they most likely saw their very last sight of beautiful Venice through the Bridge’s windows before crossing into the state prison.  Quite an image 🙂2019-05-24 22.56.16

A gentle puzzle, well constructed – thanks Opsimath!

Cheers

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4556: Ambidexter by Opsimath

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 June 2019

A Listener debut for Opsimath, although he has a few Magpies under his belt. They were all A-grade on the Magpie difficulty index, so I suspected an easy week. Misprints in every across clue here and, not limited to the definition, they can lead to entertaining deceptions.

1ac One of 12 popes clapped more musically (3) was a straightforward PIU (PIUS clipped). Unfortunately, the first letter belonged to an unclued entry and the third was unchecked. I thought I might as well see if the I was any help for 2dn Flag and home rule variable for some people (7), and was relieved to get IRISHRY (IRIS + HR + Y). In the swing of things, 14ac Will African native no longer sip on old river foolishly? (13, two words) was a bit more elusive. Although an anagram of SIP ON OLD RIVER seemed likely, it would be some time before LIONS PROVIDER came through.

And so, as suspected, the grid was completed fairly quickly, with the other two 13-letter entries also being anagrams: BY ALL ACCOUNTS, locals can’t buy novel, and MONOCHROMISTS change smooth crimson.

Thus, the corrected misprints gave us I stood in Venice: GG Byron. I thought Opsimath was being a bit chummy calling Byron GG (George Gordon), but let it pass! This is from a verse in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage:

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison at each hand:
…Look’d to the winged lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, throned on her hundred isles!

This enabled the unclued entries to be confirmed, which I’m sure we’d already guessed: PALACE and PRISON. So now we had to highlight two other features of the scene, each in a symmetrical arrangement. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find either MARBLE PILES or HUNDRED ISLES in the grid, but it didn’t take me long to see BRIDGE OF SIGHS and then RIO DI PALAZZO (OK, I had to google the river).

Thanks, Opsimath, very enjoyable, and reminiscent of Calmac’s puzzle Bank Transfer with Longfellow’s Old Bridge at Florence as its theme.
 

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