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Posts Tagged ‘Advent Calendar’

Shut That Door by Bandmaster

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Dec 2016

shut-that-door-by-bandmaster-001The title coupled with the date should have suggested this theme to us immediately but we were too busy gasping at the number of clues and the carte blanche grid to give it a thought and the p.d.m. came much, much later (not, in fact, until we had spotted that De Quincey and Peter Quince were two of our solutions – and which twisted parent puts a quince behind one of the doors of the Advent calendar – I ask you!) I remember that Bandmaster was the winner of the Ascot Gold Cup for the best Listener crossword of the year not too long ago (but was absent for the presentation, perhaps modestly not expecting that honour, so that Enigmatist accepted the trophy on his behalf). So this crossword is likely to be a stunner.

Fortunately these were pretty generous clues. While I was scanning to confirm Bandmaster’s festive right to his ticket of entry to the Listener Setters’ drinking jollies (he’d better be there next year!) the other Numpty solved a dozen of them. Did Bandmaster earn his admission? Of course! ‘Mineral with vermouth imbibed by empress (11)’ gave ‘it’ in Josephine – JOSEPHINITE. Shortly afterwards Bandmaster was ‘Caught with alcohol? I’ll get beaten (9, two words)’ snared + rum = SNARE DRUM. (My favourite clue was the one that intersected with this one in the Advent calendar, ‘National champion crows preposterously (6, two words)’ producing murder< = RED RUM – what a beautiful reverse clue). Sadly, it was a drum that appeared behind that door, not a measure of rum!

Mixing the vermouth and rum,  the next alcoholic clue was not surprising,  ‘Torch (quarter missing) lit with alcohol (6)’  FLAMBE. Then we had ‘Drink found around eastern frontiers chiefly (5)’ where kir went round E F(rontiers) introducing a new drink to me KEFIR – bubbly eastern stuff. Indeed Bandmaster was mixing things with ‘Glutton consuming a measure, I swear (8)’ By God around ell, giving BELLYGOD. By the time we got to opening door 23, I was expecting at least WINE, if not a measure of WHISKY and was rather disappointed to find just a Christmas WREATH. Cheers, anyway, Bandmaster!

The elusive golden hare

The elusive golden hare

That door H was rather disappointing too. I was convinced that the editors must have sneaked a golden HARE under that No 8 door and I am sure that is what Dave and Tim will have expected but it was not to be – just a sprig of prickly HOLLY. But joking apart, when we had realized that those extra letters were spelling ADVENT CALENDAR NOT OPENED and begun to spot the items that appeared in across and down solutions and could be entered as the relevant numbers, my admiration for Bandmaster’s compilation was enormous.  It was no mean feat to construct a grid with 23 items converted to digits, each incorporated twice within the clues.

Of course, once we had understood how to enter the 40 or so clues we had cold-solved, the grid fill became a pleasure as the symmetry rendered the completion of the lower half less of a struggle than it might have been otherwise. We are rather addicted to symmetry, aren’t we, and, indeed, without it, this would have been a nightmare as some of those items in the lower half of the grid were unexpected – the ARECA NUT, BOX BED, KEFIR and SEA ROBIN, for example.

What else did we find in this rather mish-mash of Advent items? ANGEL, BELL, CANDLE, ELF, FIR, GOLD, IVY, JOSEPH, KING, LAMB, MAGI, NUT, OX, PRESENT, ROBIN, STAR, TREE, URN, VIRGIN and of course XMAS behind door 24. What a lovely compilation. Thank you, Bandmaster.

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Shut that Door! (aka Keep your Hare on)

Posted by Encota on 23 Dec 2016

Of course we have all put finding that HARE in puzzle 4422 behind us (discussed in my blog a few weeks back subtitled “X doesn’t mark the spot“), no need to return to that subject.  And X being letter 24 in the alphabet – that’ll never be relevant now, will it?

But hold on a cotton-picking minute!  Looking back (at that previous puzzle) 4422 hides 24 within 24 – and the number 24 features large in the final grid here.  Surely that can’t be a sign?

Some great clues. As one example, sounding on the surface like it was perhaps defending Indiana Jones just a little more than was warranted:

Prof Jones hot tempered? By no means (12, three words)

Answer: Not for Joseph, as PROFJONESHOT*

Very early on in solving this delightful puzzle from Bandmaster I’d found JOSEPH in both NOT FOR JOSEPH and JOSEPHINITE, plus LAMB in FLAMBE, and was toying with MAGI in IMAGINARY.  ‘Bit early in December for a nativity scene?’ was my first thought.  Press on, see what appears…

It was probably just me but when CANDLEFISH appeared as the answer to the first across clue – and all the talk of converting letters to numbers in the Preamble – I first attempted to resolve it by deciding that CANDL => C and L => 100 + 50 => 150, and tried fitting 150 FISH into the grid.  As an aside, the grid was rather ‘fishy’ all round with at least half a dozen fish references – is there a sub-theme hiding here that I have missed?

After solving a handful more, the thought “I think it’s an Advent calendar” popped out from seemingly nowhere – that’d resolve why this is published at the start of December, as well as the Title!  A perfect PDM!  So I rubbed out the 150, squeezed the letters of CANDLE into one cell and things were going well.

I particularly loved the middle-game of this one, trying to build small blocks of entries that link together, then working out exactly where those blocks fit in the grid – brilliant fun!

The unused words spelled out ADVENT CALENDAR NOT OPENED, so that helped to decide what to do in the endgame.  Show the closed doors with the appropriate dates of December numbered on them.

After getting a few of the items hiding behind the doors, I had started an alphabetical list of items in the margin – this helped with solving some of the last few (which for me were in the SE corner) where I needed a Q (quince), F (fir) and O (ox).  I’ve assumed that we are being asked to apply A=1, B=2 etc to label the doors.  That gets us up to 23, so the last two doors in the centre are (presumably) to be labelled (what would have been X) with 24.

I was left with one clue that I couldn’t fully parse – these usually come to me during the week – and that was BOX-BED as the last across entry.  It looks like BOXED for ‘fought’ and a BOX-BED can be the ‘here’ of the clue as well as being the only word in the BRB that fits – but I am still missing something.  Hope it’s right!

So, as a final check, with A=1 etc, then X=24. So if you have an early peep inside door(s) 24 as I have below and you might find an X (also reflecting X=24).  Dig under the X, as I have – it seems X really does mark the spot after all – and there it is, the golden hare.  (editor: Tim, that was five puzzles ago now, might it not be appropriate for you to move on? )


cheers all


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Listener No 4427: Shut That Door! by Bandmaster

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 Dec 2016

Bandmaster’s last puzzle was the phenomenal Duet for One back in July 2012, which justly won the Ascot Gold Cup for that year. Basically, it involved solving a standard barred 13×13 grid, converting it into a 13×13 blocked grid with BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE in the two diagonals, and then highlighting BOGOF in the original grid.

listener-4427-calendarThis week, joy of joys, a carte blanche with lots of two- and three-word entries. Many cells contained thematic groups of letters which needed to be replaced with numbers. I think I should have sussed what was required at this stage. Sadly, I didn’t.

Clues for entries where no thematic letters occurred contained an extra word whose initial letters would spell out something to help with the central isolated two squares. The first across clue Oily swimmer lands chief in trouble (10) was a straightforward anagram and, once FISH had been removed, the CANDLE was fairly easy to spot.

I decided to look at the first down clue Clean-timbered, I initially may be cut rough? (10). My first task was to look up clean-timbered in Chambers, which gave “adj (Shakesp) well-proportioned.” If I’d played around with CANDLE-something, I may have solved it. Sadly I didn’t.

The second across clue One girl embraced by another? Fantastic! (9) made me try Mrs B, but to no avail. Chambers Crossword Dictionary, however, enabled me to pencil in IMAGINARY. Concentrating on the first few down clues, I got FLAMBE and possibly SEAL for Otary? Notary’s close (4), although I wasn’t 100% happy with the reference to ‘Notary’. (It turned out that was an extra word.)

Next came ORCHIS, followed by MAGICALLY, which I should have noticed had four letters in common with IMAGINARY. Sadly, I didn’t.

However, when REPRESENT and PRESENT DAY were revealed, about 45 minutes into the solve, everything became clear. Whole words were to be entered into the thematic squares. Up to that point, I had assumed that letters dropped from an across entry would merge with those dropped from a down, giving something thematic. What’s more, it was fairly obvious that we were dealing with an advent calendar.

After that, it was plain sailing, and you know what that means… about another three hours! But what a pleasure it was. Discovering JOSEPHINITE crossing with NOT FOR JOSEPH and DE QUINCEY (not WORDSWORTH) crossing PETER QUINCE was great fun.

The clue to CANDLE-TREE Clean-timbered, I initially may be cut rough? (10) turned out to be a superb &lit. — (CLEAN-TIMBERED – I M(ay) B(e))*. Among other fine clues, I particularly liked Wessex, for instance, clearly includes Dorset (4) (extra word Dorset) for EARL and, obviously, Nudists look terrible, initially, bare (5) (extra word Nudists) for SCAN.

listener-4427-my-entryIn the final grid, the alphabetic position of the each thematic word’s initial letter had to replace the word. The initials of the extra words spelt out Advent calendar not opened, and 24 needed to be entered into the two central squares to represent Xmas Eve.

Thanks go to Bandmaster for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, especially as we weren’t required to actually open the windows.

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