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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 shirleycurran on 14 September 2018

We have just been to the James Cook exhibition in the British Library and before we even read the preamble of Agricola’s crossword, we had made a guess at the theme – ‘In Transit’ indeed! As we read the preamble about a journey led by A (Captain James Cook) on B (HMS Endeavour) and two cells where groups of letters must be replaced by symbols (Venus and the SUN) we smiled delightedly. We saw Banks, Transit, South to Cape! and Maori people in the early clues and we were convinced. Before even starting to solve, we were expecting to find maybe Whitby, New Zealand and Tahiti somehow in the grid.

Of course I read through the clues to check that Agricola had included a fair dash of alcohol (hopefully some limes too, to combat the scurvy) and I got as far as 5d before finding that appropriate ration of rum that Cook would have distributed to his crew. ‘Real rum I sense (6, two words)’. Sadly the rum was just an anagram indicator for IN ESSE but it will suffice. Cheers, Agricola.

But it wasn’t all smiles. Playfair code-squares come just above jumbles and ‘not real words’ in my list of odious tricks and there it was, filling as much space in the pre-ramble as the genuine instructions. We immediately decided the code phrase had to be HMS ENDAVOUR (omitting the repeated E) and clearly that is not in Chambers or any reputable dictionary, so we were being given the encoding of a couple of clues that we still had to solve (LAYING and UNTRUE). The first four and last four letters of A must be JA ME….CO OK and, intriguingly, encoding that gave us KD SN FV AP. We could even back solve to produce LAYING and UNTRUE, so, for once, the Playfair was a touch less odious.

Ah, but of course there was still a crossword to solve and we had to find those stages on the journey. Yorkshire is very proud of their Whitby man and he and his ship were being included by way of the Playfair. Could Whitby and Tahiti somehow be squeezing into the grid. The clues were generous with those two 15-letter clues yielding quickly, ‘South to Cape! (repeated cry), Banks at first interjected, reasonable for a scientific venture (15)’ We put SO + C then IO IO round B(anks) + LOGICAL giving SOCIOBIOLOGICAL. 44ac was even more generous, ‘Black boxes first held grocer’s nuts (15)’ FIRST HELD GROCERS* giving FLIGHT RECORDERS.

Of course PARVENUS produced VENUS, and TSUNAMIS and SUNFAST gave us the SUN (which was going to stay in its cell while VENUS transited it) and I know that those observations took place in Tahiti in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I had a bit of a problem with the geography of the grid and had to look up a map of Cook’s journey to understand why UK, Cape of Good HOPE, New Zealand and Cape HORN were appearing where they did in Agricola’s grid but I then realized that it was a fair depiction of that journey as long as I sailed from right to left.  Nice one, thank you,  Agricola.

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