Listen With Others

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‘In Self-Defence?’ by Lavatch

Posted by Encota on 9 February 2018

First of all, thanks Lavatch for a cleverly constructed grid this week!

I found some of the clues hard, with their misprints in place.  There were four or so in the style of 1ac, 1d and 21d, where the solver had to “Think of a word that, when it’s first letter is removed (or similar), becomes a completely different word that means the same as another word that’s only one letter different from the (misprinted) word provided” – and where it wasn’t clear which of the words was the misprinted one!  Once you had the answer it was relatively straightforward to be sure it was right.  However, cold-solving such a clue was pretty much beyond me and I was pleased to have various letters from other clues helping me out with these few!

Once the phrase generated from the misprints began to appear: “The right of people to …” it was clearly very likely that it’d be the Fifth Amendment – the right to remain silent.*

After all, it’s the anniversary of the Presidential inauguration this week, and that might be relevant (The right to remain silent on Twitter, perhaps?  Just a thought.).
So, just to check, there’d be a confirmation at the 5th clue telling us what to do, if I’m right.  Ah yes, “PULL IT”, i.e. remove it.  There were thus clearly two hints that we should say nothing in our submissions this week, so I duly blanked everything out like so.  Easy!
And the ‘apt’ idiomatic phrase?  Is Lavatch suggesting we aren’t very adventurous in our drinking?  I dutifully added the phrase: STUCK TO ONES GINS below the grid.
Cheers all,
* OK, so I didn’t really.  My attempt looked like:
2018-01-20 16.34.18 copy

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Mixed Emotions by Miss Terry

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 February 2018

We certainly had mixed emotions when we saw the name of the setter – Miss Terry. Does this really mean that the proportion of active Listener lady setters is going up to about 3%, or is ‘Mystery’ some experienced setter lurking under a new pseudonym or just pronouncing his pseudonym in a new way? This did seem like the work of a pro or a group of pros, not only when we saw the symmetry of the unclued answers, but also when those emotions were extracted with some symmetry too. But does he/she qualify for the setters’ tippling outfit? My initial clue scan was not convincing.

‘Fluid or yeasty growth (4)’ seemed promising until we decided it was FL + OR. It got worse, ‘Medicinal drink waiter put out with meal, not before (6)’ gave us a nine-letter drink, WAITER + MEAL  (removing A before) = LIMEWATER and we extracted our first emotion ‘AWE’ from that but were rather worried about being restricted to limewater. Fortunately one of the last solutions we entered resolved all our doubts. ‘Start up, lacking capital, for Italian concern (4)’ gave us (s)TART<. You can hardly have a trat without good Italian wine (my favourite) so cheers, Miss Terry!

Those two-letter lights were a fine hint and when we had entered NE PLUS ULTRA ‘Neutral ground retaining advantage and nothing further (11, three words)’ NEUTRA* round PLUS. and ETAT  – hidden in ‘Rank revealed by bETA Testing (4)’, we had a couple of Ts for ‘Hell’s upper class when one has become base (2)’. We back-solved. The solution had to be TOPHET (TOP HAT with E for A) and that gave us those four letters OPHE, which clearly anagrammed to HOPE – another mixed emotion.  We were well underway.

Fourteen emotions ultimately appeared: ANGER, ELATION, DESIRE, REGRET, GLEE, AGONY, PITY, ZEAL, LOVE, FEAR, AWE, HATRED, HOPE and WOE but we really couldn’t imagine how we were to produce a final answer until the p.d.m. when PTYALIZE was almost the only word that would fill that unclued light and we realized that it was a mixing of PITY and ZEAL. Suddenly, the puzzle, which up to that point had been hard work took on a new dimension and earned our admiration.

We happily combined those emotions to fill the unclued lights and gave a final WHOOPEE! Many thanks to Miss Terry whoever they be.

No, I am not mentioning Poat’s hare – that couldn’t have been him prancing along the top of the grid or down at the bottom right of the margin. He’s buried or on his hols in Brighton or Blackpool or somewhere.

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Listener No 4485: Mixed Emotions by Miss Terry

Posted by Listen With Others on 2 February 2018

At first I thought that this would turn out to be Mr E under a different name, but the Listener website says otherwise and we were dealing with a new collaboration of setters. This week, not all entries would be real words. That always makes my heart miss a beat. Also, the “Final Answer” had to be written below the grid, but there was no indication as to how we were to arrive at it — perhaps the six unclued would be something like ONE HUNDRED AND TWO PLUS THREE?!

Despite 8ac It’s dangerous to inspire return of soul in Nancy’s composition (3), and its obvious reference to a French word (Nancy being a city in France), I failed. [Bet Miss Terry loved misleading you. Ed.] The acrosses continued to be elusive until another French word cropped up at 21 with ETAT. After that, NGAIO dropped in and I wondered if all the entries were words of foreign origin.

Luckily, the downs were a bit more forgiving, starting with 1 Defying classification initially, yet put in categories, in Latin and elsewhere (4) which was obviously ET AL but, for the life of me, I couldn’t see the wordplay. [Not surprising. Ed.] 2dn Well-born girl reversing final answer (3) made me feel less queasy about what needed to go under the grid. [Ed, don’t you dare. DH]

4dn ARMOURED CAR made me feel a little happier with my progress, but 16dn THREADLET needing to go into a 3-letter entry squashed that. 23dn LOWER going into a 2-letter space helped really squidge my feelings.

A few clues later, and GARAND RIFLE 26ac perked me up a bit, and with 29ac FERACITY going into a 4-letter slot beginning with C, I wondered if FEAR needed dropping, an emotion referenced by the title. Returning to THREADLET and LOWER, HATRED and WOE were likely candidates to be dropped there.

I’d like to say that this information helped me finish all but the unclued entries in double-quick time, but this was a Listener, so no such luck. With a few clues in the top-left corner being tough, the long unclued entries at the top and bottom weren’t forthcoming. PTYALIZE in column 4 looked an obvious entry as was OVERLEAF in column 9, but did the preamble’s “all constructed in the same way” mean that they had lost an emotion. What did they start out as then?!

Along the bottom, DEREGISTERED looked likely with GREED being its mixed emotion, but where the ISTERED came from was a mystery. Until 33dn Myrtle’s holding instrument for wide-eyed creature (3) finally got solved as GAZELLE, entered as GLE and dropping ZEAL. Back to PTYALIZE and there we had an anagram of PITY and ZEAL. So the unclued entries were anagrams of two of the emotions dropped elsewhere.

Eventually, I sussed the top-left corner: 1dn was ETYPICAL, entered without PITY and 8ac was CYANOGEN minus AGONY to give CEN. And good old 2dn Well-born girl reversing final answer (3) was nothing to do with what went under the grid, but referred to 35dn A Scottish academic computing network without peripherals (3) ENA!! Brilliant stuff. These guys must have a degree in sneakology!

The six unclued entries were finally revealed as:


All that was left was to add HOPE (TOPHET) to WOE (LOWER) to give the Final Answer, and my BGM (Big Grin Moment), WHOOPEE.

It was nice to see everything come out in the wash. Thanks, Miss Terry. Great fun.

Interesting fact: neither Chambers Crossword Dictionary nor Mrs B lists LOVE under emotion, but both give HATE!

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‘Mixed Emotions’ by Miss Terry

Posted by Encota on 2 February 2018

Thanks first of all to ‘Miss Terry’ for a very cleverly constructed puzzle.  My entry looked like this:

2018-01-13 21.11.20 copy

If you recall, several answers had to have a jumbled emotion subtracted from them before entry into the Grid.  For example, at 37ac, the Answer was NATIONLESS.  Spot that a ‘Mixed Emotion’ is within it – in this case ELATION*, i.e. N(ationle)SS, remove that and enter NSS into the Grid.

The two final ‘unused’ emotions from the clues were HOPE and WOE, so jumble them together and make Whoopee.  [Is it only me that can hear Sid James cackling at this stage?  Err, Yes.  Ed.]

I tried to picture the construction process.  Have I guessed right that it was (roughly) the following?

(a)         First spot that several real words can be made from pairs of words that describe some form of emotion

(b)         Pick pairs of such words of equal length and slot them symmetrically into a grid

(c)         I can’t quite picture the next stage.  Is it pick words where a jumble of one of the emotions used in (a) forms part of the answer and slot them in next, along with two extra ones that involve HOPE and WOE?

I was half-fooled by the clue at 37a:
What an unflagged vessel might be as Nelson engaged with it.
With NELSONIT* yielding INSOLENT, I pictured HMS Victory ‘in the Solent’ and tried to convince myself that being INSOLENT was ‘emotional’, sort of!  Luckily, however, once I knew that I had to add the letters ELATION* to one clue then NATIONLESS soon appeared as a much more credible alternative!

And I also missed that I had already subtracted ANGER* from 34ac.  The consequence of this was that I spent a good half an hour trying to shoe-horn ANGER into my Last_One_Parsed at 2d.  I already had ENA in the grid here but couldn’t find any suitable anagram of (ENA+ANGER)*.  I felt a right idiot when I spotted what I had missed – both the clue’s implicit reference to 35d and the  –ANGER* I’d already written in the margin against 34ac.

And finally I am sure there must be some half-decent ‘making whoopee’ joke to be made at the end: I’ll leave that to any passing ‘Carry On’ ex-scriptwriters.

Cheers all,


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‘Quiet Guests’ by Schadenfreude

Posted by Encota on 26 January 2018

Welcome to the first solution & comments to a 2018 Listener Crossword …

A super puzzle to start 2018 with – many thanks Schadenfreude!  As ever with puzzles from one of the very best, there was some clue accuracy that I can only sit back and admire.  A couple of examples:

A group of [micro-organisms] put in to stop antibody (6)

Here I particularly liked the use of ‘group of‘ to define G, as in G8 = Group of 8 etc.  So this parsed as A G in REIN (stop) to give REAGIN.  [Note: the word in square brackets was removed before solving as per the puzzle’s Preamble]

Pompous [Quaker] possesses at least two-thirds of an acre (6)

It was the definition here – for BIGHAS – that I liked.  BIGHA is defined in Chambers as having quite a wide range of different areas.  The smallest of them is one third of an acre, so BIGHAS – i.e. presumably at least two of them – must be at least two-thirds of an acre.  Delightful.

2018-01-07 14.34.54

In the one cell that featured the George’s Bush, both 41 and 43 had to be ‘entered in thematic order’.  In practice that only appears to require a comma after the 41 to indicate their order – I hope I am not missing something here!

And the Title?  Quiet Guests = P + RESIDENTS.  Now if only I had spotted that before finishing the whole puzzle.  D’oh!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

PS If one was to create a Scoring System for Thematic Puzzles, what might you use to build up the Total score?  I’m currently experimenting with six, each marked out of 10:
Grid; Theme; PDM; Gimmick; Clues; Fun.  Do any of you already do similar?  If yes, I’d be grateful if you’d share with me via the Comments on this site.

Two or three of us compared notes at The Magpie party (many thanks Mark and friends!) very recently and were using very similar.  Thanks to Artix for suggesting the last one – I had been using ‘Overall’ – but that’s far more direct and Fun was exactly what I meant!

I’m not yet brave enough to share my marks per puzzle here – perhaps I’ll start later in the year once it’s clearer that these dimensions are working!


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