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‘Putting the World to Rights’ by Charybdis

Posted by Encota on 10 August 2018

I think this excellent puzzle from Charybdis let me set my personal record for the number of copies of the grid I needed to complete it – in all I used five.  Two I binned but the other three feature here.

Early on the jumbling meant that many cells had multiple options in them during the earlier phase of solving.  Here’s an example where I had made some progress …

2018-08-01 15.14.58

Finally, once all clues are solved, I make it 21 cells that are unchecked by down clues – marked in green in the attached.

2018-08-01 15.13.52

Of these:
  • 4 are already identified
  • 6 more are identified by adding MERE ANARCHY from the poem, at 1d
  • and the remaining 11 are found from the (inferred) requirement for all final words in the grid to be real words, each one using one of the options in the green cells above.  Why the inference, you may ask?  Well, I couldn’t see any reason for 17ac to explain that GAND is a word, the French version of the place-name Ghent, unless all Across entries are words.  Am I missing something?

And finally it looked something like this rough copy:

2018-08-01 15.12.46

A bit more background.  It’s all based on W B Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming”
The instructions to change cells in the centre turned CENTRE into The falcon = GENTLE

And the phrase to be higlighted with a smooth curve, from the poem, was:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre”

Aside: haven’t we seen GENTLE in another 2018 Listener (or did I dream it)?

25d includes a nice hint with ‘Gyring bird …”

In 24d I’d initially picked the wrong word to delete, resulting in ROUGH BEAST WAY NO HEART



  • … the second of these might be parsed as {BEAST W(h)Y}*,  resulting in the poet W B YEATS

And ‘Gand’ is the French form of the placename Ghent, or so I read.
Phew – a tough workout!
Tim / Encota

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Putting the World to Rights by Charybdis

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 August 2018

A friend just commented to me, “What is the most hated sentence in the English language? ‘All answers must be jumbled’!” and I loudly agreed.  That was followed in this preamble by ‘An extra word must be removed before solving from all across and 20 down clues.’ Hmm! Actually that requirement was quite helpful. Had we not had that message in the second letters of across clues that prompted me to begin a second grid and ‘UNJUMBLE ALL DOWN ENTRIES’ I imagine I would still be sitting here solving and muttering foul imprecations at Charybdis as I was until 2 a.m. this morning.

Does he retain his admission ticket to the bar at Listener dos? Well, he started off on the soft stuff, ‘Active ingredient is in demand for cordial (7)’ and we decided that A + IS in NEED gave us ANISEED so the ‘ingredient’ was extra and provided us with a second letter N. There was a touch of hope in ‘Estate producing mostly fruit (6)’. We guessed this had to be the Napa Valley mostly ‘RAISIN(g)’ and that’s what we use here for our wine but the alcohol scene was not impressive. ‘Château giving away (beery) brew right before noon – from this? (6, two words)’ removed that CHA and left us with TEA U + RN – clearly not premier cru but admission ticket valid. Cheers, anyway, Charybdis.

Of course Charybdis’ clues are polished and fair and we solved steadily but he had imposed on us a task that was almost a total cold solve. He tells me one of his setting rules is that the puzzle must be more difficult for the setter to set than it is for the solver to solve. What can I say? I should include a photograph of my initial grid at an intermediate stage when I still had all those tiny words pencilled in, ready to be erased and pencilled in again when the intersecting jumble didn’t share a letter. Do we really do this for pleasure or is it some kind of masochistic self-torture?

The redeeming feature came with the first p.d.m. We had WHY NO HEART appearing at the end of our down clue extra letters and ROUGH BEAST rang a bell (didn’t I teach that Yeats’ Second Coming‘ to IB classes with that dreadful suggestion of a second nativity when that ‘rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born’?)

How do I find the poet’s name there? ‘Rough’ is telling me to anagram BEAST and WHY with no heart so W.B.YEATS.
Looking back at the preamble tells me that I am going to find the first line of the poem in the grid, 34 cells, but for now I can see no hint of TURNING AND TURNING IN THE WIDENING GYRE, though clearly it is the CENTRE that cannot hold and I can, for now, fill those six central letters. R will later change to L and the falcon must appear there, so I imagine the C will have to become G to give us a GENTLE.
MERE ANARCHY indeed, that initial grid, and we had to change that phrase to describe the text. This has appeared before in a Magpie by Ifor, hasn’t it? He converted that MERE ANARCHY to an ARCANE RHYME and that is really helpful here. One step further in the solve!
Thankyou, thankyou for that message UNJUMBLE ALL DOWN ENTRIES! I still had 13 solutions to go and that didn’t bode too well for the meticulous task of ‘filling as much of the grid as possible‘. I wonder how many other solvers created a second grid with the down entries and worked backwards from that, producing, for example SK?NNY at 45ac and MI?I at 40ac then using the potential ultimate letters to complete the grid (Well, it could be MINI, MIDI or MIRI but 40ac was HORN so that fixed the N as the choice and the I of SKINNY was the only option.)
Even more joyous was the moment when a circling GYRE appeared and gave me my final words in the top right sector of the grid, where two of my gaps were lurking – so I could back solve to SYNTH and ARGUE and confirm the presence of the falcon in the gyre.
This was the toughest challenge of the year so far for us but what a compilation. Thank you to Charybdis.

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Listener No 4512: Putting the World to Rights by Charybdis

Posted by Dave Hennings on 10 August 2018

When I saw that we had a Charybdis puzzle this week, I knew we were (or, at least, I was) in for a challenge. Last year, we had Mark Twain, Josephine Tey and Robert Wyatt all jumbled together to reveal the discovery of Richard III’s bones under a Leicester carpark.

And talking of jumbles, that’s what we had this week — in droves! Every answer had to be jumbled before entry as described by 1dn which was unclued — obviously. Eventually an instruction would be revealed by the second letter of extra words in the across clues. A poet would be revealed by the wordplay provided by the second letters of extra words in 20 down clues and that would include a phrase from one of his poems. (Note that choosing the second letter wasn’t just a whim of Charybdis, but actually thematic.)

As expected, solving the clues was slow and painstaking, partly because of all those extra words, partly from some obscure meanings of words, and partly because of Charybdis’s excellent clueing. For example, it took me ages to look up ‘spiky’ to discover that 32ac High [Swiss] Church having a sharp point (5) was just a clue consisting of two meanings. 8dn One smelly [abelia] shrub that’s good in row (5) had me racking my brains for a 5-letter smelly shrub that turned out to be a 3-letter one RUE with row being the definition for ARGUE.

I guess my favourite clue was 42ac Fifty [kronor], the Swede’s part in church taxes (6) which was a simple, if craftily disguised, hidden for TYTHES. I also liked 9dn Château giving away [beery] brew right before noon — from this? (6, two words) for TEA URN, partly because I could see Shirley having another fainting fit with all that alcohol. I must say that the possibilities in the top right corner were manifest, but nowhere near as manifest as in the bottom right where I had 4 or 5 letter options crammed into some squares.

Eventually, we had the across message reading Unjumble down entries and the wordplay for the poet Rough beast, why no heart leading to WB YEATS, with ‘rough beast’ being the phrase from near the end of the poem. So, having gone through all the agony of jumbling the down entries, we had to undo all that good work and enter the original answers! The across entries that still had options could then be completed fairly easily.

Here we were dealing with Yeats’s Second Coming. This brought back memories of Poat’s puzzle back in 2008. (OK, I needed the Crossword Database to track it down.) That linked Yeats with Chinua Achebe, author of the novel, Things Fall Apart.

1dn was thus revealed as MERE ANARCHY (not ‘more anarchy’ which I originally guessed at) from line 4 of the poem. Although CENTRE had to go into the isolated area at the heart of the grid, it soon got changed, initially the C to G, and finally the R to L thus revealing the falcon or GENTLE (thanks, Malva).

A bit of fiddly line drawing, which was only marginally better than in the animation, wended its way from the centre of the grid to the north-east corner, and the puzzle was done and dusted. Of course, such a complex solution process then required me to double-check everything and make sure that I hadn’t made a silly error somewhere along the line. (Even that can be no guarantee of success!)

Thanks for a superb puzzle, Charybdis. I suspect it took more than a couple of hours to construct!

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Listener No 4511: Death in the Afternoon by Little Hare

Posted by Dave Hennings on 3 August 2018

This week we had Little Hare’s second Listener, his first being based on Housman’s “When I was twenty-one…” from A Shropshire Lad . Here we had a title that made me think of an Agatha Christie novel, which wasn’t surprising given the number of books she wrote, most of them about death — Death in the Clouds, Death on the Nile, Death Comes as the End, etc, etc. Unfortunately, Death in the Afternoon wasn’t one of them. That was by… but I jump ahead.

In four clues, we had to remove a string of letters and unjumble them to reveal “four connected individuals.” Twelve others had misprints in their definitions. That left twenty that were normal.

1ac Cooked committee rissole, ditching fish and chips (6) looked as though it had a hidden sequence of letters in it, but it failed to make sense for me. I was lucky with 5ac By settling, does sway people initially in universal votes (6) where a bit of doodling of P and U and AYES/YEAS/NAYS/NOES finally helped me to see UNPAYS with the misprint correction by settling, does away. (A lot to be said for doodling.)

Unfortunately, most of the remainder of across clues left me floundering. 16ac Uses the rawhide strip that is discovered in Madagascar (4) and 23ac Ed’s worked back in Middle Temple (4) obviously led to RIEM (IE in RM) and TELD (hidden reverse), although I failed to note the extra letters in the former and misprint in the latter!

As it was, the left-hand side of the grid came together much quicker than the right, where there were some devious clues. Top of the list was 28ac Rebuffed son accepted girlfriend over late gala: dad sues regulator (5) which made absolutely no sense at all. In fact, it turned out to be my favourite clue with Daedalus needing to be removed to show the clue as Rebuffed son accepted girlfriend over late gala: dad sues regulator (5)!

For me, that last clue needed almost a full grid and the phrase to be discovered from misprint corrections: Ariadne’s clue. We were in the land of Theseus, his labyrinth and the Minotaur. 1ac did not, in fact, contain the jumble of one of the individuals, being just an anagram of COM (for committee) and RIS. The other characters were revealed by 16ac with its anagram of Uses the, 31ac With Darius, caring for wild herbs possessing hollow stalks (9) for PROWESSED but missing Icarus* and 8dn Remains near aid and bows (6) for STICKS and Ariadne*.

The clue in the message referred to the meaning given under clew in Chambers: “a ball of thread, or the thread in it (archaic)”, which was used by Theseus to retrace his steps in the maze. It didn’t take long to find THREAD OF ARIADNE in the grid, snaking down from STICKS and ending in a middle arena.

I have to say that I found the use of the word arena a bit confusing. I guessed it was just referring to the central region, with its arrangement of bars perhaps representing the labyrinth but I wondered if it had a deeper meaning. Anyway, there was the MINOTAUR reading left then right and needing to be erased. DAEDALUS, on the other hand, who supposedly designed the labyrinth, could be seen running up column 1. That just left ICARUS (“who does not survive”) to be entered beneath the grid.

The title referred to a book by Ernest Hemingway on the tradition and ceremonies of bull-fighting, supposedly one of the best on the subject. Who am I to argue.

Thanks for a fun puzzle, LH.

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Death in the Afternoon by Little Hare

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 August 2018

No sign of that elusive little hare for over six months then what do we have here? Death in the Afternoon by Little Hare! That sounds like something to do with bullfighting and Hemingway. I scan the grid to see whether Little Hares consume enough to retain access to the Listener Setters’ toping set-up and find evidence a-plenty and also a reference to that novel: ‘Quitting university, journo starts to edit Ernest’s novel Bullfighting with Horses (7)’ What a clever clue! That gives us JOURNO less U anagrammed (novel) with E(dit) E(nest) and we get REJONEO which Chambers tells me is Bullfighting on horseback with rejones. Of course the Hare is offering a red herring.

‘This person who hands out absinthe could be a born hedonist (5)’ provides a subtractive anagram and A BORN HEDONIST less ABSINTHE gives us DONOR. (Yes, the Hare was continuing his red herring and prompting us to look for Hemingway’s lethal cocktail of absinthe and champagne wasn’t he – and we were caught.) ‘Rocky landscape in Japan where one is into – and after – the local wine (6)’ puts two Is into SAKE giving SAIKEI, which Chambers tells me is a miniature Japanese landscape. Not content with absinthe and sake, the Hare moves onto whiskey: ‘Unionist hastened to secure shot of whiskey, a malt (6)’. Disappointment when that turns out to be one of the misprints giving us U(nionist) + RAN + IN = URANIN, a salt. ‘Natural growth in a vineyard in California (7)’ gives us A CRU in CAL = ACCRUAL. The hare must be tipsy by now but is still producing first-rate clues. ‘Soundproof superior bar Henry put in cave (6)’ tells us to bar the H from HEAD and put it into a DEN, so DEADEN. ‘Teeming with Clara’s rum (6)’ gives us W + CLARA* = ACRAWL. This certainly was a record pub crawl! Cheers Little Hare!

As we solved, we have been spotting those extra jumbles of names in the clues. ‘GaLA: DAD SUEs regulator (5)’ gave us an extra DAEDALUS as well as OFGAS, the gas regulating body. USES THE rawhide strip that is discovered in Madagascar (4)’ produced THESEUS as well as RIEM. ‘Remains NEAR AID and bows (6)’ put ARIADNE into 8d, ‘her clue’ where her thread was to start – and what a superb CLUE or CLEW it was. Chambers tells me that a clue is ‘a thread that guides through a labyrinth! (Yes, Listener clues are so often that for us!) ICARUS has to be our fourth character, the one who does not survive. We find him ‘With daRIUS CAring for wild herbs possessing hollow stalks (9)’ putting PRO and WEED round S(talk)S to give PROWESSED = ‘with daring’. Poor ICARUS. We also find him under the SEA in our grid with DAEDALUS steering up the left hand side, safely far from the SUN that is shining at the top.

We trace our CLUE, THREAD OF ARIADNE following diagonally contiguous cells to the arena where, of course, the MINOTAUR is boustrophedonally lurking and, like THESEUS, we eliminate him. What a thematically rich grid! Many thanks, Little Hare!

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