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Posts Tagged ‘Agricola’

Слушатель 4588: Черная Мария по Агрiкоla

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 January 2020

Gosh! Only 5 months since Agricola’s last Listener with its theme of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan. I guessed that this week’s must have some date-related link. Seven wordplay-only clues would give us most of the thematic material with a couple of Arabic numerals and a foreign word for good measure.

2dn Frame from Gary Larson coloured with leaderless sheep (12) looked like it would be anagrammatical. That could be from G(ar)Y + LARSON + C +(s)HEEP, except that was too many letters and no anagram indicator! Coloured can mean disguised, but no amount of letter doodling revealed the answer.

No matter, the image of Gary Larson’s weird Far Side world that the clue conjured up was superb. Trying a few of the downs, 3 ERNE and 5 ELLA enabled a bit more doodling, and SELENOGRAPHY soon popped out. So we were dealing with Lunar activity and, given 2ac, far side lunar activity?! I remembered that the Russians were the first to photograph the far side back in the late 50s, but I couldn’t recall any more detail than that.

There was only one thing to do: finish the grid and try to find the devices, topographic features and personal names. Finding all these items certainly brought smiles to my face. 1dn and 29dn were the two devices: CHANG’E 4 and LUNA 3 with 4 O’CLOCK and 3-DIMENSIONAL as their crossing entries. CLEVERNESS and MUSCOVY were the two large topographical seas on the far side, and and DIANA and ARTEMIS were the two personal names for the moon. Luna 3 was a Soviet spacecraft launched in 1959 and was the first mission to photograph the far side of the Moon. Chang’e 4 was a Chinese mission that achieved the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon in January 2019.

Of course, the clue to 28dn was icing on the cake:Today 17 get back Cuba and Niger on reflection (6) led to Россия (COP< + C + RN<), Russia in Russian with RN for Niger reflected… literally! It needed a final reading of the preamble to remind me that both DIANA and ARTEMIS were wholly entered to give Россия, including the D, E and S to be entered in mirror image.

Good fun, Agricola, and a great start to the year. Here’s a video of all sides of the moon courtesy of Nasa on YouTube.


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L4588 ‘Black Maria’ by Agricola

Posted by Encota on 24 January 2020

A gentle start to 2020 – or so we initially thought!

Find the Spacecraft and Moon references, add a bit of Cyrillic and we’re done.

Aargh! I almost missed the subtle message asking us to identify the successful Moon Landing astronauts. I expected them all to be shown by what NASA call their tri-codes: ALDrin, CERnan etc., but some were much more subtle.

Here is my completed Grid:

And to think I expected an easy one this week. But The Listener has to keep up its ‘very difficult’ ranking, of course – we’d expect nothing less 😉

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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Dream On by Agricola

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 August 2019

We downloaded a puzzle with a fine, clear and short preamble. That word ‘collinearly’ was a new one on me. I wondered, initially, if it was something to do with railways in collieries but decided to wait and see what the endgame produced to confirm it. I didn’t wait to see whether Agricola retains his Oenophile place in the Listener Setters’ outfit. A rather crude ‘Check over soak’s stool in Maine (7)’ gave us TAB + O + RET and suggested there was some alcohol about, and it turned out to be quality stuff – malt, ‘Mongolian malt extracts to scatter about (5)’. We turned over STROW to give us WORTS, which the BRB tells me are ‘malt extracts unfermented or in the process of fermentation’. I think we can drink to that, ‘Cheers, Agricola!”

‘Mongolian’ seemed to be one of the extra words that we needed to locate in order to find which solutions contained ‘collinearly’ the items we ultimately needed to highlight. They were an odd set but we selected COLE RIDGES IMAGINATION BLOSSOMING THUS SPECIALISED MONGOLIAN HORTICULTURE INSPIRING SAMUEL.

I kick myself that we had found WALL and TOWER each appearing twice symmetrically before we spotted ALPH, the sacred river, winding its way between them, and put together SAMUEL COLE RIDGE (what happened to his TAYLOR?) Our gridfill was speedy and we knew that we were in Xanadu with Kubla Khan, but we spent a few fruitless minutes hunting for caverns, a pleasure dome and a sunless sea – but it was not to be.

“CISTUS” said the other Numpty, “Isn’t that an incense-bearing tree?” We were off on a tree hunt, happily prompted by those clues with the extra words but I was still tempted to include LIANE, or even LING or DAHLIA. The forty-letter constraint finally led me to see whether there was a tree called BOSWELLIA – happily there is, so I highlighted it with BALSAM, SANTAL, LASERWORT and, to my surprise, SPRUCE. I learn something from every Listener that we solve. Thank you, Agricola.

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Listener No 4517: In Transit by Agricola

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 September 2018

This was only the second Listener from Agricola, following on from Heisinger, Schrodinger and his cat last year (The Code Duello). That had two Playfair codes at its heart. Luckily, for those who don’t like them, this puzzle had only one. However, it was of the type where the code word has repeating letters which I guessed might make it a little trickier on the deciphering front.

A golfing holiday approached, so no time for much detail this week. Suffice it to say, it was a thoroughly enjoyable solve. It wasn’t too long before the UK to NZ theme popped out together with the two capes, Horn and Hope. The Captain Cook theme was pretty straightforward, but it took Wiki to remind me of his observation of the transit of Venus.

Even the Playfair code square could be deduced from the preamble — HMS END[E]AVOUR. If that wasn’t obvious, the encoding of 17 and 37 across was given, which I assume gave enough information to work out the code on their own.

All that remained was to move the astronomical symbol for Venus from the left to the right of that for the Sun with the F replacing it. (I checked with the notes for Mynot’s Stomach puzzle in 2016 to see what the accepted symbols were. I know there were alternatives, but I think most were accepted.) This gave JAMES COOK encoded in the central column as KDSNSFVAP.

Thanks, Agricola, good fun.

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‘In Transit’ by Agricola

Posted by Encota on 14 September 2018

SCAN0517 copy

This week’s puzzle was all about Captain Cook’s trip to Tahiti (and beyond), ostensibly to observe the transit of Venus (i.e. Venus crossing the face of the Sun, from the observer’s point of view) in 1769.  1 across set the scene:

“South to Cape!” (repeated cry), Banks at first interjected, reasonable for a scientific venture (15)

The puzzle included two Capes – HOPE and HORN – which were both rounded to the South on the voyage.  Though for me Banks immediately makes me think of the author Iain (M) Banks, this Banks was Joseph Banks, who was on board HMS ENDEAVOUR, along with Captain JAMES COOK & Co.  Thus this clue worked well as an intro to the puzzle and a clue that parsed as So.+C+IO+B+IO+LOGICAL – at least that was my interpretation!

Some other niceties:

I always like ‘group of’ as used in 20d, when the ‘of’ appears to pretend to be a linkword but one working in the direction disliked by editors (almost) everywhere.  You know the forms: ‘Definition of Wordplay’ is fine, ‘Wordplay of Definition’ is not.  But in 20d’s
Go too far with group of one dominating (7)
it can be confusing until, like in G8, you realise that ‘group of’ can be replaced with the letter G.  So the clue structure here is Wordplay Definition, with no linkwords, parsed as OVERDO (go too far) + G (group of).

And clue 2d’s ‘of’?  It is, of course ‘à‘, as in Thomas à Becket.  Supported by the lack of any requirement for the accent to be used in crosswords.  The clue was:
Marine officer in charge east of Norway (5)
It looks to be the adjectival meaning of OCEAN, i.e. Marine, but at first sight the charade-based wordplay doesn’t seem to deliver all the correct letters.  Until you parse it as OC+E+À+N, that is!

I noticed that the 8th row of the completed grid did contain VA?N.  Might Agricola be going for the Ford Transit Van* pun, with Venus (the symbol) ending up ‘in’ the VAN as VA(Venus_symbol=♀)N?  That would be ‘In Transit, as the Title suggests, wouldn’t it?  I did spend a few moments wondering if the movement of Venus around the Sun might end in this cell.

However, the F wouldn’t appear in the right place in the Playfair-encoded 13d, so a simple ‘horizontal’ transit must be what Agricola requires!

I think.

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

*Aside: is it only me that, whenever seeing Van, is reminded of the R4 comedian Arthur Smith’s version of Kipling’s ‘If”?  Um, yes, probably!

IF, By Arthur Smith 
If you can roll along at a decent pace 
And you find that your rear 
Contains lots of space 
If you have windows at the front 
Yet none at the side 
And offer a smooth unflashy ride 
If you have a red and white flag 
On your bonnet 
And can never imagine doing a ton 
Then yours is the road and everything on it 
And, which is more, you’ll be a van, my son.

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