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Posts Tagged ‘A Sign of The Times’

Listener No 4432: A Sign of The Times by Schadenfreude

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 January 2017

One of the crossword world’s more prolific setter’s faced me this week. (For those of you who don’t know, he sets his EV puzzles under the pseudonym Oxymoron.) His last Listener was based on Buridan’s Ass with its carrot-chomping donkey (no 4363 Demolition).

listener-4432-animI don’t know whether maintaining the Crossword Database helped, but the first thing I noticed was that the The of The Times in the title had a capital T, so obviously referred to the newspaper. I’m sure there was a crossword way, way back that had The Times clock as its theme. That appears on the editorial page and reads half past four. Anyway, that hardly helped at this stage of the puzzle.

28 clues (out of 48) had an extra wordplay letter. In the remainder, the answer would not occupy all the cells and would need completing once the theme was discovered.

As expected, on my first pass through the clues I got precious few. (OK, OK… it was a multiple of 2!) I think I probably sped through them too quickly, as about half an hour later, EMPTIER and TRYP (for a 7-letter entry) plus TOPI and INURED meant that the top left corner was looking good. Musing on TRYP again, I found TRYPSIN shortly after it in Chambers, and the S would make INURED become INSURED. Moreover, in the top right, DIETERS could become DIMETERS. Meanwhile, the wordplay for 1ac, which was ENTREES was a mystery.

The top right was also developing well with MULSHES, STELA, MEDACCA and SCHOLAR, but the solve was far from speedy. The extra wordplay letters were also to no avail, being very sporadic… not to mention wrong for some clues! For example, 45ac Guarantees succeeded by being unconditional (7) I had as ENS + (s)URE + S rather than (p)URE.

Two clues that I only parsed when the grid was finished were that pesky 1ac Determined learner going over courses (7), being [b]ENT + SEER< and 2dn Nut in contact with navy fabric (5) for N + IN(t)O + N — I’d forgotten that n was another form of en, plus I thought the in contact with was given by ON. All in all, a bit of a pig’s ear!

It struck me that there was an awful lot of geography in the across clues, including Germany, Austria, Greece, Swaziland and Australia, plus, closer to home, Norfolk, Sussex and Barking.

listener-4432-my-entryEventually I had Both literal parts of coat of arms spelt out by the extra letters. With help from TRYPSIN and the likely SQUIDS at 6dn, I managed to find the required mottos fairly quickly and, on picking up the Saturday copy of The Times, there they were staring out at me from the top of the front page: HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE and DIEU ET MON DROIT. My only disappointment was that there was no Lion, Unicorn or Buckle in the grid.

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Schadenfreude. As expected, this wasn’t an easy solve and took me the best part of three hours for the grid and another ten minutes to track down the highlighting.
 

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‘A Sign of the Times’ by Schadenfreude

Posted by Encota on 27 January 2017

photo

[Image courtesy of The Times.]

Welcome to another year of Listener solving!

Like several of you, I suspect, I’ve now solved three by Schadenfreude in relatively quick succession.  Firstly the one in the CAM magazine in December, which seemed to go OK.  Then I was making progress with his creation in the January edition of The Magpie but had got a bit stuck, so was anticipating a ‘change’ with the weekend’s Listener arriving.  I open the paper.  Ah.  ‘A Sign of the Times’ by Schadenfreude, it reads.   Hmm. Perhaps I’ll learn something from this one that helps me solve the Magpie one (and yes, it did!).

One of the things I love about S’s puzzles are his ruthless (I think that’s the appropriate word!) use of 3-letter words, 2-letter words &  abbreviations from the BRB.  For example, what with ODA (room in a harem), MIR (peasant farmers), TUI (NZ birds), PI (Greek), SD (Swaziland), PES (foot), MOR (Norfolk girl) and ENS (being) featuring in the Across clues alone, for a novice like me these can be tough!

On to the Theme.  There were 28 single letters to find in 28 out of the 48 clues.  And I spent ages finding the 28th.  Eventually it spelt out BOTH LITERAL PARTS OF COAT OF ARMS.  Combined with the Title (I particularly liked its use of Capitalisation 🙂  ), it was clear that the Theme was entirely based on The Times banner-head above.

I thought it a particularly nice touch that the words lined up very closely with their positions above.  I did also wonder if it was also being treated as a number ‘2’ clued by the first word ‘BOTH’?   Perhaps I am stretching it slightly…

I really enjoyed this puzzle – thanks Schadenfreude!  Tough clueing in places but all very accurate.

Finally, am I the only person who finds solving clues without knowing how long the answers are going to be really hard?  Perhaps it’s just me.

Tim / Encota

 

 

 

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