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Listener 4674 Elusive Figures by Poat

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 18 Sep 2021

Stupendous construction! The endgame was ridiculously difficult for those of us fixated with Google Drive and EULER/GÖDEL/BACH but probably not as challenging as constructing Elusive Figures in the first place!

I hope this erases any lingering negative leporine thoughts because it deserves heaps of plaudits for its nicely judged clues as well as the superb construction. My favourite clues on this occasion were those for 6ac VILLAGE IDIOT (which is how I felt for most of the endgame) and 31dn, TURPETH. On the other hand, 20dn seemed open to more than one wordplay but TACE was the answer I arrived at, so I don’t mind how I got there.

I spent a long time looking for AXE and SAW and even longer led up the garden path by EULER (the L or more correctly T was unclued). Google Drive’s logo was a similar distraction!

Thank you Poat for a real cracker – hope it gets a pot at POTY.

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Elusive Figures (Return of the Hare) by Poat

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Sep 2021

Poat, (of Hare fame, see below)! The grid took us by surprise and the other Numpty had to explain to me how an entry could go in in any of six directions. Of course, many of the entries didn’t have that range of possibilities though the first alcohol I spotted in the grid (REDS), ‘Potter’s group of 15 radicals (4)’ with a double definition, the red snooker balls and political radicals, clearly was one that would have to be inserted later, as it did.

MOR ‘Local girl marks getting gold (3)’ soon told us that Poat’s next alcoholic clue ‘Butt with wine overlapping came up again (6)’ (rear overlapping with rosé giving REAROSE) had only two possible directions left. And so it went on with some long answers fixing the directions of entries. Of course, with that overlapping butt and the reds and rosé, Poat clearly retains his place amidst the Listener Setter Oenophiles, “Cheers, Poat!”

Long solutions like VILLAGE IDIOT, HäLLEFINTA, INTANGIBLE, PECKSNIFFIAN, AS LARGE AS LIFE and so on, helped us with a task that had initially seemed very daunting and soon we had a full grid with sets of extra words that we realized were appearing in a familiar numerical sequence – the triangular numbers 1,3,6,10,15,21,28 and 36 – spelled out 3 like plane/ figures: group/ 64 east of/ two little points/ tango in corner/ group of 16/ in centre tool/ grape and vetch.

We had spotted those two little points, ‘one accent is required’, in LäNDER and HäLLEFINTA as we solved but it still took us a while to suss what had to be successively erased from the grid – three triangles – a 64 cell one, the little T(ango) and 16 cells in the centre of what was left.

Three triangles to remove

We had definitions for tool, grape and vetch and, of course those prompted us to the favourite setters’ words HOE, UVA and ERS, but there was some grid-staring before we managed to spot the the three interlocked shapes with those letters in their extreme cells. Then came our red-herring – ESCHER and EULER seemed to be candidates but the need for a sum of 39 created a very strange third member of the complete sequence of thematic names. Fortunately, a little hunting on the Internet told me that this was a PENROSE triangle so Euler became REUTERSVäRD and we had completed this brillint compilation.

The HARE? Maybe I should recap for newer solvers. Poat is renowned among setters for his, dare I say ‘sneaky’, hare who crept into the preamble of a crossword and had to be highlighted. We loved that little hare as we spotted his mischievous trick, and he eliminated all the solvers who were ahead of us in the ‘All correct’ list and won the Solver Silver Salver for the Numpties. What’s more, I found him in every crossword and included him in every single Listen With Others blog for the following year until he trotted off for his hairy holidays or staycation or whatever. But we knew Poat would not write a crossword without allowing him to creep back into the grid, pre-ramble, or clues and, sure enough, the sneaky little beast has returned in clue 31 ‘Disturbed the northern ground undER A High place (8, 2 words)’ That gave T + UNDER* + UP = TURNED UP. He has indeed. Welcome back little hare!

Return of the Hare

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Listener 4673 Chessboard Carte Blanche by Hedgehog

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 14 Sep 2021

This week I didn’t so much misinterpret the title as misread it, and had a Cheeseboard Carte Blanche until the preamble set me straight. A future puzzle perhaps?

I continued my lamentable lack of concentration by failing to read, or in this case interpret, the rubric! How much easier it became an hour later when – after a not-so-gentle prompt from my other half, who was well into it by that time, to READ THE RUBRIC – I realised that every answer had to have alternating parity. From that point forward I didn’t need to collaborate with Cliff on Chessboard Carte Blanche but enjoyed the experience of solving it with nothing more than a googled shortlist of 4-digit Fibonacci numbers and a simple calculator. He had already completed it by then, and once I realised I’d missed a possibility for e and had set off on a wrong track, I followed fairly quickly behind.

I think the credit must go to Hedgehog for creating such an enjoyable puzzle that led us logically from one answer to the next – I do hope the setting wasn’t too arduous. At the very least, Hedgehog has the pleasure of a having created a lovely piece of craftsmanship using what, for me, is a new theme. He’s also provided a welcome introduction to numericals for those who normally shy away from them. Thanks Hedgehog!

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Listener 4672 Form..ation by Mr E

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 14 Sep 2021

Formulation – need I look out for something medical/chemical? It took me ages to solve the first clue, and quite a while to knock off the next half dozen, but then I got into gear and the gridfill fell into place, except for 27ac. I was stumped until I corrected the river in 28dn from Arne to ORNE. LOONIE made me smile (for “where to go”).

My favourite clues were 10ac “Locals obey these (medics), as will our queen when ill” [LIQUOR LAWS] for its surface reading; 15ac “Hackney driver losing money before (storing0 change in this” [CABANA] for its clever use of cabman; 5d Ed’s (associates) not honoured in new order – in new order! [IRRENOWNED] for putting “in new order” in new order, and 14d In (short) these Americans discuss charge on heartless adults” [RAP GROUPS] for dis-heartening grown-ups. I still can’t parse 26dn, even realising that Keith is the place not the person. And I did raise an eyebrow at “called over” being used to denote an anagrammed homonym (if indeed that is the case)!

So, how to choose the 20 [conson]ants? Then the clearly correct (but technically not unique) solution jumped out at me! After disposing initially of all 20 consonants symmetrically but randomly I spotted the pattern: what a beautiful, delectable construction! I had never heard the song – we lived in the USA in the mid-80s when our children were pre-school age, but they were hooked on Raffi, another talented Canadian. Thank you Mr E for introducing me to “The ants go marching …”. I loved the video and if it’s any consolation it took me the best part of a week to completely erase the earworm!

Formication not formulation – of course. Excellent title but I can see why you didn’t want to give the game away by spelling it out completely!

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Listener 4671 Ours by Xanthippe

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 14 Sep 2021

When I saw the title I half expected a French version of Winnie-the-Pooh. But the only bear of little brain on the scene was me. Some puzzles bring a smile to the solver’s face right from the start, and Ours did that for me. I hope Xanthippe had as much fun hunting for and selecting the homonyms/homophones as I did finding them.

I’ve discovered that WAIST ANCHORS are not braces as I might have thought but real anchors – who knew that ships had waists? Well, a lot of people possibly, but not me. And I’m delighted to have been introduced to the delectable SCISSIPARITY. Even more, I’m glad that your writers were not Listener setters but were relatively easy to find with Google. Thank you for introducing me to De la Mare’s atmospheric poem, though I think I’ll pass on James E Gunn’s book for now as I’m not a sci-fi addict.

I finally figured out the title (I think) – Ours as in “one of ours”. Ours was a lovely interlude in what has been at times a clamour of challenging crosswords. Thanks Xanthippe,

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