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Posts Tagged ‘Artix’

L4694: ‘Follow the Directions Again’ by Artix

Posted by Encota on 4 Feb 2022

With a Title like that, one might expect, in the endgame, to have to drive a route around the grid using N, S, E & W as turning points in a Manhattan-style grid. Maybe it has a New York theme?

Or perhaps, with Direction in the Title, it is about films? After all, the circled letters can be jumbled to make OSCARS. It must be about a film that won loads of Oscars. Hmm.

Hold on a moment! Isn’t that the Twitter-craze, based on the old peg-game Mastermind, hiding in the grid? Nice touch using the word TERM to show where it finishes.

You know the one, Bickle I think it is named, where right letters in the right place get coloured Green and right letters in the wrong place get coloured Yellow. Or was it Black & White, I forget. So that means we might have a Black in one and a Yellow in another. Aren’t they the colour of taxis in different major cities? I’m confused 😉


Tim / Encota

PS More seriously, what a great puzzle! Many thanks to Artix


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Follow the Directions Again by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 Feb 2022

We know that Artix’s crosswords can be challenging so started with a couple of stiff drinks. The second part of the preamble prompted that we were going to apply an original device, using the first letter of a clue that appeared in an unchecked cell to establish, numerically, which clue letter wuld lead to a message. I drew myself a few coloured lines to keep tabs on that, while the other Numpty tore into the clues with surprising speed almost solving them in clue order – indeed, Artix’s clues may be subtle and complex, but they are always fair.

I really didn’t need to check that he retains his right of entry to the Listener Oenophiles Elite Outfit. He lives not far away from us and we often enjoy his fine wines – but I checked anyway. The first bar soon appeared: ‘Either bar once or never? (3)’ We decided that was cryptic. LET (archaic) meant ‘to hinder, or bar’ but if you ‘let’ in the sense of ‘allow’ you never do it.

‘Rule right to part mother from her ruin (6)’ gave us R in between MA and her GIN, producing MARGIN and Chambers confirmed that as a definition of ‘Rule’ – so we were into the gin, things looking up. Then, oh dear! ‘Get clobbered by Australian ejected from boozer asprawl (4)’. We removed the OZ from the BOOZER and anagrammed (asprawl) the BOER that was left, giving us ROBE – to get clobbered. Cheers, anyway, Artix.

With a full grid, we had to grid stare for a while as we found actors called PENN and TRAVIS but it was eventually working out that we could fit TAXI DRIVER down that centre column that prompted us to look for ROBERT DE NIRO and we changed a couple of letters in the grid and highlighted those 12 letters.

Those numerical calculations had told us CHANGE DOWN FOR ANAGRAM OF RINGED LETTERS. Maybe there was a red herring here as AOCRSS temptingly spells OSCARS, but we opted for ACROSS.

MASTERMIND had offered itself as an alternative ‘title’ and the Internet provided the surprising information that a taxi driver named FRED HOUSEGO had won MASTERMIND in 1980 on the topic of the TOWER OF LONDON. Now we understood why that ‘Riverside property’ had appeared ACROSS the bottom of our grid. Sure enough, FRED HOUSEGO was there too after manipulation of a couple of letters, and we highlighted him. Most entertaining, Artix, thank you.

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Listener No 4694, Follow the Directions Again by Artix

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 Feb 2022

Artix’s last Listener had Pete Seegar, The Byrds and Turn! Turn! Turn! as its theme. The title of this week’s puzzle harked back to his 2017 offering Follow the Directions which had Westward Ho! as its theme. I wondered if the theme this week would have exclamation marks lurking. [Spoiler alert: No. Ed.]

I always approach an Artix puzzle with some trepidation, and I wondered if this week might be an attempt to whittle down the number of all-correct puzzles early in the year. That was reinforced by the two-part preamble, the first part having five lines of ‘Directions’ which the second part told us we would have to follow twice! (My only exclamation mark this week.)

I began to feel somewhat guilty for wondering if we were faced with an intractable puzzle since the clues seemed fairly forgiving. From word lengths, it was obvious that the entries crossing the central column needed to have it left blank.

A lot of the surface readings caused me to smile, especially 35ac Piece in Eye concerning Maggie’s slogan (6) for RETINA [ RE + TINA (There is no alternative)] and Market-garden needs change of content to make safe fencing (lots of it) (8) [M(arket-gard)EN around ENSURE].

My favourite clues were:

  • 19ac She’ll offer you some comfort if you lose first hand in rubber (5) [ERASER – first R (right hand)]
  • 24dn Straight flush — take most care over casino’s terms (6) [(flus)H (tak)E (mos)T (car)E (ove)R (casin)O]
  • 26dn In song, an epithet of first light tomorrow (6) [A VENIR — VEN in AIR, Ven sneakily referring to St Bede at one across (first light)]

The grid itself was thus completed fairly quickly (once I replaced SATIATE with SATIETY), and so to the endgame. We had to identify a down entry, the subject of a prize-winning performance, fill the central column with the associated title, change a couple of letters and highlight the player. Sounded tricky.

I guess there were a couple of ways of tackling this.

  1. Analyse the central column and identify possibilities to make real words for the new across entries, work out what that entry could be, do any googling necessary, highlight the character and player.
  2. Analyse the down entries and identify possibilities for the subject of the performance, do any googling necessary, highlight the character and player.

I won’t say which way I chose, but I did wonder if William PENN or Franklin DELANO Roosevelt were the subjects of some 70’s film. In fact, it turned out to be TRAVIS Bickle, the fictional character in TAXI DRIVER played by ROBERT DE NIRO. I also wondered if Martin Scorsese was somewhere in the grid, 36ac being MARGIN, but no.

Well that was the easy bit! Next we had to follow the instruction spelt out by the initial letters of the words indicated by the first barred off cell in the across entries: Change down for anagram of ringed letters. While ACROSS seemed likely given the reference to ‘down’, I did wonder if OSCARS might be another bit of deception. This was emphasised by my not being able to see anything of interest in the across entries.

After a while, I decided to check the possibilities for the central down entry, and it didn’t take long (well, a bit longer) to see that MASTERMIND was an alternative, and everything fell into place. I vaguely remembered that there was a taxi driver who won Mastermind some 40 years ago, but I needed to google to find his name. It was FRED HOUSEGO and his specialist subject in the final was the TOWER OF LONDON.

Thus we had ‘on-screen’, ‘performance’, ‘title’ and ‘subject’ changing what they referred to between the two halves of the endgame.

Excellent puzzle. Thanks, Artix.

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L4605: ‘Times Listener’ by Artix

Posted by Encota on 22 May 2020

I finished filling out the grid with it being almost certain that the missing words were SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN and WINTER, given that they all successfully created new words.  But – at that stage of solving – why?

I went to bed on the Friday night mulling it over.  Fortunately, early on Saturday morning I spotted the three TURNs in the grid and all became clear.  A bit of Googling of the song Turn! Turn! Turn! and its source of Ecclesiastes appeared.  I could then double check the twenty words from the material to be certain how the six entries that abutted (rather than crossed) the empty rectangles were treated – and all was sorted.

Apologies for the OTT nature of the bars in the above image. Roughly half of my errors in thematics over the years seem to be from missing out bars that should be there, so I was determined not to be caught out this time. I wonder if I have still stuffed it up!?

Thanks once again to Artix for a tough and very enjoyable puzzle!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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Times Listener by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 May 2020

Carte blanche (well, almost) and we are told that the bar pattern, that we must show, will be asymmetric. Well, at least the clues are in entry order and have word lengths, and oh what joy, there’s no misprint or missing or added letter device! I raise my glass to that. ‘Glass’ did I say? I fear at first that Artix isn’t providing many glasses when the fourth clue tells us ‘Kind judge to refrain. from excess (8)’ We opt for MODE + RATE. But then, almost in TT despair towards the end of his clues, I find ‘Does Bury cover its centre with bars? (6)’ We put INNS all round the centre of (b)UR(y) producing INURNS. We’d better head for the centre of Bury! (Artix is a fellow northerner – he must know something about Bury that I don’t) Cheers, Artix!

There’s a lot of pre-ramble, and, at this stage it doesn’t give us much help except to tell us that each entry, at first, will either include an empty cell or a word from the song that we are going to discover, and from its original source. I have just run through all our solved clue with a highlighter and found those 26 words. What a feat of construction Artix, especially as those words were so well incorporated that we had completely filled our grid and the dotted area without spotting the words of a very familiar song.

We solve for a long time and have a putative top half of the grid before the other Numpty retires to turn on the oven and refill his glass and I spot TRACHEOTOMY. We’ve already decided that HOME MOVE must be the two adjacent entry at 1d so my grid fill is confirmed and underway.

There were some delightful clues. I love the way our Yorkshire river, the OUSE is crossword setters’ fodder and here it is again, ‘Back waters from Yorkshire to Stoke up anew (8)’ We add REAR to our river to get REAROUSE. ‘Interject when three Greek characters lose you finally (6, two words)’ has us attempting to make ‘Butt in’ convert to three Greek letters, but of course it’s CHI + PI + N[u] = CHIP IN. What a fab-u-lous clue and how beautifully the ‘lose’ of ‘a time to lose’ is hidden in there.

With the grid almost complete, we are delighted to find that all those partial words (yes, even MANGA, ERSE and REDESIGN) can adopt another letter and still be dictionary words, and the four seasons immediately appear. I was rather Numpty-ish at this stage and maybe misled by the title Times Listener, and wondered whether we were hunting for Bob Dylan’s ‘The Times They Are a Changin’, but no, I finally saw that TURN appeared three times in my grid  and everything fell into place  – we were with The Byrds (though I had to head-scratch to see how ‘Turn, Turn, Turn’ could make 15 cells. Did Artix really have to give himself that demanding final touch of the exclamation marks, still maintaining real words or phrases?

Ecclesiastes! Oh how well I know Chapter3. Our very erudite headmaster in Kirkby Lonsdale thought we were a pack of country bumpkins (we probably were) and gave us a daily dose of classical music (which instilled into me a love that has never died) but when he thought we were too stroppy, or had forgotten to turn off lights or clear up the empty milk bottles, gave us an imposition. The whole form would have to copy out Ecclesiastes Book 3. We didn’t love that – but I suppose it has helped with an Artix crossword over half a century later (thank you Boss!) and many thanks to Artix for a truly enjoyable and masterly compilation.

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