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Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 October 2017

The Numpties were at a Scottish University reunion – one of those gatherings of old friends many years after graduation (and how very young all the freshers looked – could they really be beginning their higher education?) so it was with some trepidation that I downloaded the Listener (and got reception, kindly, to print it). What a relief to see ‘by Charybdis’ after the title Hide-and-Seek. We could be confident of impeccable cluing, as indeed we found it to be, and of some humour and, undoubtedly an intriguing end game – we found that too!

Of course there was no need to check Charybdis’ continued membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit but I did anyway, and had my doubts about ‘Not like Oman, reduced reserve of fruity compound (6)’ We guessed that this must have one of the 15 letters that were to be restored to clues before solving, and that [w]oman ‘was not like’ MALE and that IC[e] was ‘reduced reserve’ but MALEIC seemed to put us in cider country – not really much wine there.

It was two-thirds of the way down the down clues that I found ‘Dutch officers dropping off – they risk much to make a gin (6)’ I was reassured: we saw quite a lot of gin being made up in the north and one of the Scots pointed out that it doesn’t require the minimal ten years of distilling of the local tipple – however, that sufficed for me to say ‘Cheers Charybdis! See you in Paris next March at the Gare de l’Est?’ Ah, the clue? We had another of those extra clue letters here so that making a gin became lucrative – making a gain and we needed D(utch) and officers less the ‘off’ so ICERS risking much to make their gin (DICERS).

We smiled at that but smiled even more when, after scratching our heads to find a ski resort that fitted ???M??, we realized that ‘Ski resort rides around top of mountain (6)’ needed an extra N, giving ‘skiN’ and that we had to re-sort the letters RIDES, around that M(ountain) to give DERMIS. And so it progressed; a speedy but totally enjoyable solve and a text I loved, The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey soon appeared.  History (or the Tudors and Shakespeare) certainly gave Richard III a hard time and an unjustified reputation.

LEICESTER CAR PARK was next to appear, but what was that bit in the preamble about “uncovering” Francis’s proverb. Luckily, by this time, we had resolved our extra letters into BACON, TWAIN and WYATT and I was delighted to learn from our friend Wiki, that Francis Bacon was the originator of the proverb ‘Truth is the daughter of time’. (Of course, it makes sense, doesn’t it? How immature and malleable ‘Truth’ is at the hands of ‘Time’ and those wishing to adapt it to suit their political motives!). We had to suit Charybdis cruciverbal motives and adapt that saying giving ‘Ruth is the daughter of Tim’. Is she really? I tracked laterally for a while, looking at biblical Ruth, standing in tears amid the alien corn but could find no Tim parent. O.K. Numpty, move on.

Our unclued lights now told us that ‘Truth is stranger than fiction’ and Wiki told me that that came from Mark Twain, but who was the Robert Wyatt? I had to amend that proverb to get a saying of his that was clearly going to lead me to Richard III. I was astounded to learn that a Robert Wyatt I had never heard of had entitled an album ‘Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard’. The rest is history, but I did ask myself how on earth Charybdis managed to find and inter-relate those three statements. Lovely!

The Poat hare? Of course! There were a few jumbled ones cavorting around the grid but the best was a wee harum-scarum fellow running off the edge of the grid with the daughter.


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Listener No 4468: Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 October 2017

Charybdis’s last Listener was three years ago with No 4310 Net Book Agreement and its theme of The L-Shaped Room. Towards the end of my blog for that puzzle, I had the words “I breathed a sigh of relief that my all-correct run for this year was still intact.” Well it wasn’t! It was down to my misunderstanding of how the “net” of the rooms was to be drawn. Hopefully, this week’s puzzle wouldn’t give me a problem.

As I read the preamble, it seemed possible that it would. My heart must’ve skipped a couple of beats as I was told how we had to identify who Mark, Francis and Robert were together with some of their relations, find two proverbs, “uncover” one, amend the other, find a title, and finish it all off with some highlighting. There was an isolated cell near the bottom right corner, and that would obviously need filling, and 15 clues needed a letter to be restored.

I started off fairly well, with 7ac RENEGER (good old Magritte helping) and a flurry of down entries in the top right corner. Working my way down to the bottom right soon had me see •A•GHT•• unclued at 28ac, and a daughter seemed to be one of the relations we had to identify.

The top left and then the bottom left were soon looking healthy, and it didn’t take too long to see TRUTH IS (28ac) STRANGER (column 4) THAN FICTION (row 9). The restored letters meanwhile were spelling out Twain and Bacon (Mark and Francis), but it needed me to solve all the clues before Wyatt popped up. Robert Wyatt then needed some googling to find his album Ruth is Stranger than Richard.

I didn’t get to the final highlighting by trying to work out what went into the isolated square. My eye was casually looking at the finished grid and saw CAR PARK in row 3. Looking in the row above it, LEICESTER made me break out in a broad smile, what I have recently started calling my BGM — Big Grin Moment. Of course, slotting an I into the isolated square revealed RICHARD III, whose bones were recently discovered beneath a car park in Leicester, although I’m pretty sure they didn’t use a bulldozer to uncover them!

In summary, these are the steps in the endgame:

  • TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME: Francis Bacon & Josephine TEY

What a wonderfully roundabout journey it was. Great fun, thanks Charybdis.

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Listener 4468 Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Posted by Encota on 6 October 2017

aka Ruth Is Stranger Than Robin, or something like that …

Thank you Charybdis for a superb puzzle with a great Cultural Crossover!  I wonder how many people knew all angles covered in this puzzle – quotes from Twain and Bacon, books from Josephine Tey and albums from Robert Wyatt!

As ever, do read Shirley’s and Dave’s blogs for some more insight.

[You are now entering Twilight Zone mode…]

Or, alternatively … in this puzzle we were asked to help seek ‘three hiders’.

So what other musicians are hiding on Robert Wyatt’s brilliantly titled mid-Seventies album, ‘Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard’?   Aside: the only album (I know) that has a Side Richard and a Side Ruth.


And in what way is it connected to that other mid-seventies album, ‘Night Moves’ by Bob Seger, I hear you ask?  [Eh?? Ed.]  Clearly SEGER is jumbled in both the first and last rows.  Is it referring to Knight’s Moves to find the missing musicians, perhaps?

And yes, there they are, all three from the Robert Wyatt album:

[to be added]

Top left, the ubiquitous Brian ENO, who played guitar and synthesiser on the Offenbach rearrangement; top right Nisar Ahmad KHAN, saxophonist on two tracks, and mid-right Fred FRITH, piano on those three tracks on Side Richard.

And, of course, the two erased letters – which might be read as NO TE – appear to have a musical theme.

The Preamble said something about (presumably) other musicians: Mark – Knopfler? Ronson? and Francis – Rossi?  RENE of Rene and Renata made an appearance on Row 1, Jim REEVES in Col 14 and Lou REED on Row 10.  There was some bluff about a King, a novel, some proverbs and a place to leave the tour bus in the Midlands but I gave that bit a miss.

cheers all,

Tim / Encota

PS As I type I am listening to, the Prog Rock radio station (they are playing ‘Luminol’ by Steven Wilson, thanks for asking), so if I can’t solve a puzzle featuring Robert Wyatt then I am not sure who can!

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Listener No 4467, Theme of the Day: A Setter’s Blog by Kea

Posted by Listen With Others on 1 October 2017

When scheduling Listener puzzles for a batch towards the end of the year, I found I had a surplus of complicated and/or difficult crosswords and nothing with normal clues and a simple theme ready to balance them, so I resolved to come up with something myself. With the other puzzles slotted in, 9 September was the date available, which apparently is Chrysanthemum Day in Japan. That offered the opportunity to do an unusual grid design that had been in the back of my mind for years — I feel that we have too much conformity in our grids, non-rectangular ones being rather rare these days.

I compiled a list of chrysanthemum words, which came in two lengths, short (6) and long (11 or 12), which looked like they would fit a Fibonacci-like spiral arrangement of petals, long entries in one direction and short in the other. After a few days experimenting with a graphics program, I managed to produce something I was happy with, that looked aesthetically pleasing and in which it should be clear how the answers were to be entered. Then I made a minor tweak that slightly spoiled it, which I didn’t notice until it was too late to fix: the join between the last two cells in clockwise entries 2, 3 etc isn’t really clean. Rather than rebuild the diagram from scratch, I justified it on the basis that real-world flowers aren’t perfectly formed.

To fill the grid, I mostly used Sympathy, “unrolling” the grid to a diagonal band with across and down corresponding to clockwise and anticlockwise respectively, and manually checking that the top-right end matched the bottom-left. This allowed me to keep an eye on the unching, making sure each entry had enough letters checked by crossing entries. The average entry length ended up as 7.83, well above my usual target of 6 (and the suggested Listener minimum of 5.5).

Writing the clues, it was refreshing not to have to deal with a lot of short words of the kind that keep cropping up (repetition being another concern when scheduling the puzzles). I tried to rein in my tendency to write devious clues, but towards the end I couldn’t resist a few obscurities.

After we’d vetted the puzzle, I spotted that one of the unclued entries could be either POMPOM or POMPON, with the last letter unchecked. There wasn’t an easy way to change the grid to resolve that, and a preamble note would be clumsy, so I added the asterisks in cells that could form CHRYSANTHEMUM, including the final M of 15. And that was it.

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Is there a National Day for Everything*?

Posted by Encota on 29 September 2017

First of all, what a visually elegant puzzle – thank you Kea!  The mix of accurate clueing and vocabulary were a delight.

Next, the Title.  With Saturday 9th September being National Chrysanthemum Day* the publication of this flower-shaped grid with six unclued Chrysanthemums in the puzzle certainly matched the Theme of the Day.  The Unclued flowers were:

  • Button
  • Pompom
  • Korean
  • Corn marigold
  • Shasta daisy, and
  • Yellow ox-eye

It took me a while to tune in to the fact that the clues were presented in Clockwise and Anticlockwise groups.

One of my favourite clues was the ‘hidden’:

Inside submarine pen, the Annapolis is oblivious (10)

… for NEPENTHEAN, very well disguised.

There were some superb other clues too, including the beautifully-surfaced:

  • Germany no longer has strength in beer (7) for ALMAINE and
  • Colours Picasso used regularly for evergreen plants (7) for CLUSIAS

Probably in the easiest third of Listener puzzles based on the year to date, no doubt intentionally.

In summary: great puzzle – loved it!

Tim / Encota

* I did test my there’s a National <insert subject here> Day for everything theory.   I needed something random to try.  I looked around my study desk for inspiration.  I know, how about National Paper Clip Day?  Auntie Google’s reply?  May 29th.  Good grief!!!

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