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Listener No 4652, 8 × 8: Link to a Setter’s Blog by Phi

Posted by Listen With Others on 18 Apr 2021

Phi’s setter’s blog on his recent Listener can be found on his own website at 8 x 8 by Phi.

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8 x 8 by Phi

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 Apr 2021

One of the earliest Listener crosswords we solved was Phi’s. 50 – 50. That was the fiftieth Listener crossword he had had a hand in and it appeared in November 2009, to celebrate his fiftieth birthday. 8 x 8 = 64 but unless I have made a numerical bungle, he can only be 62 now. Head-scratching. Are we going to see a reason to open some bottle and celebrate

I work my way through all the clues expecting a flood of champagne or something like it, and am sorely disappointed. We find soups, ‘Servants bringing in excessive soups’ and when we put OTT into PAGES, we get POTTAGES. There’s a glutton, ‘Ring leading rancher’s calf round for a glutton’. We use BELL with DOGY inverted after it, giving BELLYGOD, but not a drop of alcohol.

But what an original device! We are grateful for 18 relatively generous clues and even more so for the corrected misprints that have soon spelled out LENNON AND McCARTNEY and given us our penny-drop-moment. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?

Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings, bottle of wine?

However, the 8-letter clues are not so easy and it is quite a challenge to fit them round the letters that have already appeared in the top and bottom of our figures of eight, allowing them to share the middle three letters. Of course, FOOTBALL and NOT AT ALL put two letters into a single cell and allow Phi to ask “Will you still Need / Feed me?”  Of course we will Phi, we hope you’ll still be setting at 94!

Then when I play the song, I hear “Will you still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings BOTTLE OF WINE?” – so there is the alcohol after all: “Cheers!” Place assured yet again in the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophile outfit.

“Doing the garden, digging the weeds, who could ask for more?” Oh dear, did Phi have some premonition of Covid, where weeding or a trip to the tip is a highlight of our day? He’s anticipating UK staycations, “Every summer we could rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight – if it’s not too dear!”

Well, Covid premonitions or not, this was fun. Thanks, Phi.

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L4652: ‘8 x 8’ by Phi

Posted by Encota on 16 Apr 2021

A delightful Beatles tribute, with the lines “Will you still need me, will you still feed me” featuring in this puzzle consisting of eight eights, laid out to fill the entire grid.

Some gentle fun in a very well constructed puzzle from Phi – thank you!


Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4652: 8 × 8 by Phi

Posted by Dave Hennings on 16 Apr 2021

Early last year, Phi treated us to a puzzle with Albrecht Durer’s Knight, Death and the Devil as its theme and before that a collaboration with Sabre as Phibre, requiring a bit of bran power! This week, a solo effort with a grid lacking bars but a few clue numbers. (I often wonder what a carte blanche with clue numbers is. A carte grise, perhaps.)

So, there sure were a lot of 8s in this puzzle, starting with the title. There were sixteen 8-letter words that needed to be fitted somewhere into the grid in pairs with each pair in the shape of an 8. Well that was obviously not the place to start. That was with the acrosses and downs, each with a misprint in the definition.

I slowly teased out most of those clues and was lucky to have ENNNDARTNY as most of the corrected misprints from which I spotted Lennon and McCartney trying to make themselves known. This enabled me to suss out what the remaining clues were trying to tell me. 2ac Courses dismissive of Australian ways (6) was certainly one of the trickier ones for me with ways being a misprint of lays to give BETS [BEATS – A].

I must confess to having snuck a look at some of the clues for the 8-letter words, and I knew that they would be equally sneaky to solve, even though they were in alphabetical order. And I was right!

BELLYGOD was a new word for me as was OBIWOMAN although the clue was straightforward enough to help things along — Source of witchery that hurts Arab country with billion I invested [(OW + OMAN) around (B + I)]. I also liked Servants bringing in excessive soups if only for its simplicity. Most annoying clue was Visit Duke in decline (three words) which was also simplistic and which I was convinced was CALL IN ON even though it had absolutely no chance! GO TO SEE D indeed!

Slowly but surely I got them solved, sometimes even with the help of the clues already in place courtesy of the acrosses and downs. Of course, I had forgotten that there was a clash in one cell until a very late rereading of the preamble reminded me. That gave FOOTBALL and NOT AT ALL with the F/N clashing.

Finally the highlighting, and it was a pleasure to see everything come together with Lennon and McCartney’s When I’m Sixty-four: WILL YOU STILL NEED ME, WILL YOU STILL FEED ME in rows 3 and 8.

An excellent implementation of the theme, especially the innovative grid. If only it wasn’t quite so long ago for me, but thanks anyway, Phi.

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Listener No 4651: That’s Your Lot by Ploy

Posted by Dave Hennings on 9 Apr 2021

Ploy’s last Listener was some time ago with a song by Flanders and Swann as its theme. [Spoiler alert: I may be starting my next blog of a Ploy puzzle with the same sentence!] That song was Misalliance, the love story of a honeysuckle and a bindweed and was titled Right and Left. That was also the symmetry of that puzzle. [Spoiler safe: that was also the symmetry of this puzzle, so perhaps Ploy was repeating himself!]

Anyway, this week we had normal across clues (and indeed entries) but an extra letter/word in each down clue which obviously needed removing before solving. These would spell out an extract from a song which, hopefully, would help solving all the moving around that would be required in the endgame.

1ac and 5ac got slotted in straightaway, being STEELY and SCALAE. 10ac Escapade that sadly leaves Dicky fainthearted (8) looked like an anagram of fainthearted with an anagram of that removed. Very nice use of Dicky too. Unfortunately doodling FINEARED failed to reveal FREDAINE until some crossing entries soon helped.

I decided on some downs next and while 1 Fatty secretion covering headcloth in bloody protein (12, two words) failed me, but 2 Tenants head exotic afternoon entertainment (10, two words) got me THE DANSANT. 3 ERA and 4 LESS got the FREDAINE in and REHASH then got me DHARMSALA (not many words beginning with my initials).

All this helped me get the left-hand side of the grid, culminating in 1dn Fatty secretion covering headcloth in blood[y] protein (12, two words) for SERUM ALBUMIN [(SEBUM + IN) around RUMAL]. Over to the right, and ASCENSION and ANTEPENULT got that half of the grid started and reasonably soon finished.

Just over the hour for the grid to be done and extra letters/word identified: Yeah that’s entropy, man! Loved the shriek! There were some enjoyable clues — not counting Ploy’s egocentric inclusion in 31ac Island tariff about to be blocked by me as not fit for use (12) for EMPLOYMENT! 7dn Marsh feature lacking margins in equal amounts (3) had me wonderiong why marshes could have canals before ralising we were talking about Mars, and 22dn Besuited editor’s regular obits could give this direction on proof (4) had regular bits with every third letter taken.

So, a bit of googling to reveal Flanders and Swann’s song, First and Second Law. From the first law, we have “Heat is work and work is heat.” And from the second, “Heat cannot of itself pass from one body to a hotter body.”

Of course, we had HOTTER and COOLER opposite each other in columns 3 and 10 with WORK and HEAT next to them. Well it didn’t take long to see WORK sitting in column 4, but where was the HEAT that it needed to swap with. I spent far too long looking in the upper part of the grid (well about 10 minutes, I guess) before my eye settled on the four letters that were in the bottom row — H, E, A and T! Swapping the two gave new words everywhere.

Next we had to illustrate the second law, and HEAT, which was now in column 4 had to move from its HOTTER place to the COOLER, leaving a gap behind. Again, new words sprouted up everywhere.

Finally, the song tells us “…there’ll be no more work And there’ll be perfect peace”, so PERFECT PEACE appeared in the bottom row with unchecked letters CAFE PRET. Four new words appeared to round off the puzzle.

Great fun. Thanks, Ploy.

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