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Listener Crossword 4707   An Overt by Awinger

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 16 May 2022

What a jolly theme for a Listener! Thank you to Awinger for his original treatment of the Bare Necessities. Progress was slow at first but sped up once I clocked the removed letter device and the bears – happy 60s memories of Jellystone antics. I can’t remember how I lit upon Bare Necessities, but the lyrics led to the message, which helped with the rest of the gridfill, and thence to spotting Jungle Book, Kipling, Baloo and Mowgli in the grid.

Two favourite clues:

34ac   Confess once caught breaking into chocolatier from the East (ACKNOW) for its smooth surface reading and Wonka reference; and

39ac    Cock[i]er apostle’s letters (PET) for the idea of a cockier apostle (Paul, surely).

I hadn’t figured out the title when I posted my solution, but Awinger has enlightened us in his blog: [W]AN[T] and [P]OVERT[Y] are bared. D’oh.

Thanks to Awinger for a delightful offering; children’s books are always a hit with me and this is his best puzzle so far I think.

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Listener Crossword 4706   Pedestrian Destination by eXternal

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 16 May 2022

Oh, eXternal, you’ve started something now! I had relinquished all hopes of walking to Machu Picchu but on doing some background reading for this puzzle I discover that octogenarians are managing to complete the trail. Maybe a 70th birthday treat. Or maybe not; I really enjoyed walking St Cuthbert’s Way last week with its gloriously varied scenery, but I suspect it hardly compares with the Inca Trail in terms of gradient, altitude, or my bugbear, heat.

Back to Pedestrian Destination: what an amazing construction! To create words capable of multiple alterations while spelling out LAKE TITICACA and THE INCA TRAIL is a worthy feat. Pedestrian Destination was an interesting, challenging and very  rewarding journey, with a delightful ending – an excellent if somewhat easier metaphor for the Inca trail itself I imagine – do let me know what it’s like.

The dropped letters were nicely disguised, and two clues stood out for me:

14ac “Pass water diviner, ignoring splendid fellow” (PEER) for contriving to clue R in such a way as to juxtapose water and diviner; and

32ac “One might turn red and scream blue murder, losing scrambled broadcast” (REMUEUR) for devising such a clever anagram.

Thanks very much eXternal for this delightful puzzle.

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Listener No 4708, Diamond: A Setter’s Blog by Karla

Posted by Listen With Others on 16 May 2022

The room in which I do my setting I share with my piano. It also happens to be where the first glass of wine is consumed as Adele and I look out into the garden. One such evening I idly wondered whether I could represent a piece of music in a grid. (Of course, I thought that was terribly original at the time and since have realised that I am by no means the first). ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ seemed the natural fit as I figured non-musicians might be able to recognise the ‘pattern’ of the tune even if it were written down as a series of dots on paper.

So how to represent the tune in the grid. I could see three options:

  • Grid to represent keys on a piano: this it what I had in mind at first. But of course, the tune can be played on any instrument. And on a keyboard, the tune can be played on differing combinations of white and black keys depending on the key signature. More complicated than I thought.
  • Grid to represent a stave: but how would I represent lines and spaces? Maybe by cells and gridlines. That felt messy.
  • Grid to represent musical intervals: this felt better in that it removed the problems of different instruments and key signatures.

The third option ran the risk of being less obvious for non-musicians who may be less aware of semitones/tones (and I think that has come out in some online comments). Therefore, TWINKLE was selected as the thematic word in the grid and DIAMOND for the title: sufficient nudges in the right direction, I hoped.

The ‘music’ and ‘star’ themes for the extra words was suggested by Wan and I would like to thank him for his support and guidance in the development of this puzzle. And a big thanks to Mr E who helped me with fitting the pattern efficiently into the grid (I had been trying to put the first sequence in the upper half, the second in the lower) and for additional advice. And finally, I would like to acknowledge the help of Neil Shepherd (Alberich/ Klingsor) who looked through the puzzle in it’s final stages for me. News of his passing came yesterday. RIP Neil. You will be greatly missed.

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Listener No 4708: Diamond by Karla

Posted by vaganslistener on 13 May 2022

Karla, aka NIcholas Huntley, has entertained us with one previous Listener, no. 4626 “Pot Plant” in 2020, which wasn’t about aspidistras but snooker, and good fun to solve. So high hopes! The preamble this time was rather elliptical, but the title “Diamond” was suggestive, though I wasn’t sure what “symbols” were going to be involved.

For some reason my solve started in the bottom left corner this time, and “Sign” in 32a was an easy first extra word, buried as it was in a hidden word clue. I moved to the top right corner and K L E then emerged as the end of the first thematic word, so it was odds on for TWINKLE as in ‘like a diamond in the sky’– correctly as it turned out.

I found finalising the two sets of seven words was trickier than spotting the extra letters, but came up with



Yes, that’s 8 of each not 7…  The first group had to be STAR, and after a bit of dictionary work (I hadn’t heard of “absolute music”) MUSIC fitted the second. STAR MUSIC, so yes, with “Twinkle” and “I wonder” as the thematic words. I remembered a couple of other puzzles where musical notation emerged in the endgame and sure enough, the theme words were marking out the tune of the song, and the symbols would be crotchets and quavers. Very neat and a lovely finish.

“Written” (27a) and “spike” (3d) by the way were the interlopers, the first not strictly needed in its clue “Number square written in pen (7)”, with “number” defining SEVENTY and the word-play EVEN in STY (nice!), while the clue for 3d “Careful around Frost with Spike in trouble (9, two words)” = CRIME WAVE (“trouble”) had CAVE (“careful”) round RIME (“frost”) and W (“with”), so “spike in (trouble)” must have been the full definition after all.

Some favourites were

35a Writer of “prayer” with last third converted to the Spanish (6): MANTEL, with MANTIS (“pray-er”) changing IS to EL to make the writer Hilary Mantel.

2d City Shakers originally down by 90 percent (7): CARACAS (“city”) with MARACAS (“shakers”) swapping M=1000 for C= 9/10 of that. (Very neat despite the odd surface.)

23d Suppliers of Cleopatra’s needs for washing property (6): ASSETS, where the T proved to be “extra”, and the ASSES provided the milk for the bath. Ho ho!

A couple that gave me grief were:

6d Decree absolute the first letter records (4): ACTA, where apart from fixating for a while on DATA, both “absolute” and “the first letter” could generate an A.

17d Curses master at sea seizing stray tea clippers (9): SECATEURS, where I spent far too long wondering why an anagram of CURSES MASTER generated the clippers I wanted but also MRS, before I realised that “stray” was another anagrind and CURSES + TEA worked just fine.

All in all, another “hit” and many thanks to Karla. I wonder what will come next?

P.S. I opted for musical notes rather than stars, unlike Chalicea: as always she was on the money (the pubished solution has stars) but happily the notes say any suitable symbols will be accepted. Phew!

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Diamond by Karla

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 May 2022

With three different sets of seven to find (extra words in seven across and seven down clues, and seven letters omitted from wordplay) we had a few coloured pencils working and soon had two rather strange sets of words that didn’t say much to us (jumps, dog, fruit, fish, burst, evening, and sign, with early, absolute, stool, master, pop, sheet and concrete).

We had a full grid, as Karla’s clues were generous, before TWINKLE appeared in alternate columns reading across the grid and that could only say one thing to us (of course, the ‘Little Star’ was ‘like a diamond in the sky’) At that point, the other Numpty, who had left me with the endgame and headed downstairs to cook the dinner – yes, a modern man! – commented “The letters of TWINKLE are in alternate columns aren’t they, but the rows must be significant – Notes? They must be in the positions of the notes of ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star'”

Now those sets of extra words made sense – dogstar, star fruit, star jumps, star sign, evening star, starfish, starburst – music master, sheet music, pop music etc. – one set for STAR and one for MUSIC and we realized that we would have to consult Wiki to be sure that we were selecting the right letters of I WONDER to give the second line of the tune.

Good fun, just right for a Friday evening though we were now faced with a bit of a dilemma. Do we put two rows of notes or two rows of stars (or even one of stars and one of music to match those two sets of seven?) I opted for stars with serious misgivings.

Well, the stars are prettier aren’t they?

Did I forget something? Of course! Karla has set a Listener puzzle in the past – that one about the perfect snooker score – but does he retain a place amongst the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite? Oh dear! It was a bit of a watery do ‘One fruit is infusing must-have cordial (7)’ We put IS into A NEED and removed the fruit, giving ANISEED. ‘Liquid X burst on short pier (6)’ We used MOL(e) and TEN for the X, removing the burst, to give MOLTEN. There was a drop of hope with PIMENT (spiced, sweetened wine) but it turned into PIMENTO – just wood.

However, my problem is resolved. Take a look at the photos of the Listener dinner at Stirling.

There is Karla, holding his glass in the fourth photograph – Cheers!

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