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Posts Tagged ‘A Bit Up in the Air’

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Posted by Encota on 25 Nov 2016

Phi’s wit showed immediately in the very first clue (which I suspect Shirley will mention – can’t think why 🙂  ).  It initially appeared like a strong contender for “Pedents Corner”, as it included the spelling ‘whisky’ preceded by ‘Irish’!  But no, of course this was Phi’s gentle way of nudging us into noticing that one or other of ‘Irish’ and ‘whisky’ was out of place and thus a likely word to be removed before solving, as per the Preamble’s instruction.  This was going to be fun!

Aside: I’m currently watching Series 3 of Black Mirror, that brilliant-but-scary Charlie Brooker view of a dystopian near-future tech-laden world.  Some grisly, thought-provoking stuff.  I’m picturing a final scene, with a final decision to be made:

Sit loads: hear last radio.  She also has tried to share dials, as this ordeal is old as Earth.  I herald a toss: “Heads or Tails?”

OK, the above is pretentious garbage.  But one thing that does surprise me about the phrase HEADS OR TAILS is how many plausible ‘anagrammed phrases’ it reveals.  We’ve already seen ‘I HERALD A TOSS’ as the appropriate anagram so cleverly used by Phi down the left-hand-side of this puzzle: for those with a spare few minutes over the weekend (or should that read seconds for this audience?) feel free to try these ones:

  1. Graham Norton maybe (8,4)
  2. The crew’s demise (7,5)
  3. Perhaps three-in-four drastically reduced to one-over-the-eight, say (5,7)
  4. Places to buy specific perennial garden plants (6,6)
  5. Lost the plot?  (4,4,4)
  6. 2001 computer’s minor planet? (4,8)
  7. A possible problem for Fallen Angel? (4,8)
  8. Cut off tall pointed London landmark (7,5)
  9. Didn’t find that prize in Kit Williams’ Masquerade (4,4,4)
    [this one is LOST SAID HARE]
  10. A rare scratch? (8,4) and
  11. What this blog could be named, if only I was paid for it (8,4)


Back to the real subject – this super puzzle.  I know I’m a novice when it comes to Listener crosswords – but is the clue type ‘Two Definitions of Words that differ by only one letter plus Wordplay for only the Common Part’ Phi’s own invention?  Certainly these sorts of clues were new to me and fabulous they were – thank you Phi for introducing me to them.  I do look forward to seeing them in use again sometime soon!  Here’s one example:

Persistent psychiatrist introducing singular punishment (7)

Definition 1 = persistent -> LASTING
Definition 2 = punishment -> LASHING
Wordplay = S(ingular) in LAING (psychiatrist) = LASING

and, as I enjoyed them so much, here’s one more:

Encourages busy store to stock unknown screws (7)

Definition 1 = encourages -> EXHORTS
Definition 2 = screws -> EXTORTS
Wordplay = X (unknown) in STORE* = EXORTS

And there were six more to enjoy, all delightful.

For me, the SW corner went in first, though solving 35ac (correctly) as SEA GODS then immediately entering SEA DOGS was a great way to slow me down!  Luckily it soon became obvious what I had done.  Last quadrant in was the SW: 36ac’s Scots downpour had me thinking it was PLASH not BLASH for ten minutes or so.  Once I spotted BLAS(e) for ‘…unimpressed because of familiarity, mostly‘ then all became clear.

There was one plural not directly provided by my (admittedly slightly older 2014) versions of Chambers, namely 11d’s GIRRS.  The third definition under gird says (Scot): ‘A hoop (also girr)’ but girrs doesn’t automatically appear in my WordWeb Pro version (bought this year) as the plural.  I suspect it’ll be updated soon enough.

I felt Phi had been particularly clever in picking words to fit the two phrases, i.e.
I__H   (IrisH) etc.
Picking either the Head or Tail of each word revealed the two 12-letter phrases: I HERALD A TOSS and HEADS OR TAILS.  The skill here as the setter of course was to pick words that would also fit suitably unobtrusively into the twelve chosen clues – no mean feat and done here brilliantly, I felt.

And finally, the Title.  Fairly straightforward this week, at least with hindsight: ‘bit’ as a coin helps create a clever pun.  Overall – great fun.  Thanks Phi!

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Listener No 4423: A Bit Up in the Air by Phi

Posted by Dave Hennings on 25 Nov 2016

Buried Treasure: Postscript

SCENE: The Editor’s office, less than a week ago.

There is a desk in the centre of the room. There is an in-tray on the desk. It has a habit of disappearing, but is currently just empty. There is a clock on the wall. It reads 11:00.

There are two chairs: a big one is behind the desk and a small one in front of it. Editor is sitting on the big chair and Sub-editor on the small one. Both are looking out of the window. The postman walks past and there is the sound of some letters being pushed through the letter-box. More letters follow, then more and finally more. They both go out of the office and return, each carrying a large bundle of letters.

There is now also an out-tray on the desk.

Sub-editor: I see the in-tray has got some company.

Editor: Looks like it might come in handy.

They put all the letters in the in-tray and sit down. Editor takes the first one, opens it and reads it. Sub-editor does the same with the second.

Editor: It’s somebody moaning about Poat’s Buried Treasure puzzle. He says that the solution is unfair, especially as he saw the hare in the preamble but decided that would be too bizarre, even for a Listener. (He puts the letter in the out-tray.)

Sub-editor: This one’s crying foul as well. She says that there is a hare running across the top of the grid in a series of knight’s moves. (He puts the letter in the out-tray.)

Editor (reading the third letter): And this one. He says he saw the hare in the preamble, thought that was very unlikely, and spent another 14 hours trying to find another one in a straight line. Having failed, he highlighted the preamble hare, but didn’t hold much hope. He says that “If you’re not 100% sure, you’re almost certainly wrong” didn’t seem to apply this week. (This letter also goes in the out-tray.)

Sub-editor (reading next letter): Somebody here lifted the LIFT in LIFT-GIRL and highlighted the HARE that then ran along row 5. (Letter goes in out-tray.)

Editor (reading next letter): This solver wonders whether highlighting the preamble would have been marked wrong if we had decided on one of the other ways of highlighting HARE in the grid.

DISSOLVE to clock which now reads 12:45.

Sub-editor (taking last letter from in-tray): This one is from a long-time solver who tilted the letters of HARE in SEARCH AREA in the grid and made sure they were in a straight line, thus fulfilling all the requirements of the preamble. That’s what Dave Hennings did. I thought it was far more stylish than the solution that we went for. I think I said so at the time.

Editor (sneering at Sub-editor): Yes, you did! But at least Dave wasn’t an all-correct having made that laughable mistake with his Yellow Submarine highlighting. Plus, he was a prize-winner with Hedge-sparrow’s John Masefield puzzle. Still, I’ll buy Dave a couple of pints at the next Listener get-together. That’ll make him happy.

Sub-editor puts the last letter in the out-tray, which slowly disappears. At the same time, another letter appears in the in-tray. Editor takes it.

Editor: It’s post-marked next January. (He opens it and reads it.) “Roger, Thanks for the drinks yesterday. I’m still not happy. Best wishes, Dave.”

Any similarity to actual events is just wishful thinking.

A Bit Up in the Air

listener-4423-animationA much easier week from Phi, although he has set some toughies in the past. His last was two years ago with Haydn’s Farewell Symphony and before that, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast (tough).

The clueing was intriguing. Twelve clues contained an extra word which would somehow yield a phrase and an anagram, and eight clues led to two words differing by one letter, only one of which (obviously) would become the grid entry. (I say “obviously”, but in his puzzle, Poat had decided that both letters should go into the relevant square.)

I enjoyed this second clue type, since the wordplay was to the words without their differing letter. For example, 2dn Australian temple recipe used in function (6) defined STRINE and SHRINE with R in SINE for the wordplay. I got that and the crossing SHARING/STARING fairly early in my solve. I wondered if all the differences were H/T when I got 17ac Encourages busy store to stock unknown screws (7): EXHORTS/EXTORTS and STORE* containing X.

I had my eye on the diagonals early on, especially with ITER… running down the NW–SE (ITERATIVELY?). However, it was deeply satisfying to finally discard that, and discover that taking the first/last letters of the extra words in order gave HEADS OR TAILS (running upwards in the right half of the grid) and its anagram I HERALD A TOSS (running down the left).

Actually, I’m not sure that this was 100% fair. You needed to identify the theme ‘Heads or Tails’ in order to determine how to use the extra words, but you needed the anagrams from the extra words in order to identify the theme. (Only joking!!)

listener-4423-my-entryI had heard of these anagrams many years ago, but had also, like many things, forgotten them. Thanks to Phi for a fairly gentle and enjoyable puzzle. If you want to read his setter’s blog, it’s already available on his web site Phi Crosswords.

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