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Posts Tagged ‘Artix’

Listener No 4605: Times Listener by Artix

Posted by Dave Hennings on 22 May 2020

When I’m faced with an Artix puzzle, I suspect that it’s going to be a tough day. Eighteen months ago we had John Donne and His Mistress Going to Bed with Left and Right hands swapping in the grid to reveal words from the poem.

This week’s preamble did not make me think “this is going to be a not-tough day”. For a start it was a carte blanche with an asymmetric bar pattern. Luckily clues were given in the usual order. I say carte blanche, but in fact there were four 6-cell areas symmetrically placed, one in each of the four quadrants. Unfortunately, these areas were doomed to be jumped by some of the crossing entries.

Non-jumping entries had a word from both a song and its source material. These didn’t have to be removed before solving, but hopefully could be narrowed down since we were told they were all nouns or verbs from the works.

And I can’t have been the only one to wonder if Artix and/or the editors had been on the sauce given the end of the preamble: “…but doesn’t have the first down answer, to be entered as two adjacent entries.” Time to solve some clues and hope that the requirement to highlight the repetitious part of the song’s title (after changing three cells to symbols) would be easy to spot.

APORT, ACER and EVENED came first, followed by ATIVAN, CHIP IN and TIGE. A bit of relief set in as the solving seemed to be progressing well. Sadly UREA was the only other across clue I solved on first pass. The downs also started off well with REDESIGN and AGEN. The next was a nice &lit Cole’s first acting run with Waterman at the centre: Minder (5) giving CARER (C(ole) + A + R + (Wat)ER(man)). Thus having RAC possibly in the top row, I had a peak back at the first across clue Pain GP (sort of) reverses in test operation (11) , and TRACHEOTOMY seemed a likely operation, although it took some time to resolve that as (ACHE + MOTO<) in TRY with its sneaky reference to MotoGP!

A few more downs completed a quick (?) run through. I had assumed that some entries would include a letter from the dotted area, and it took me some time to realise that all entries which crossed a dotted area made the jump. It also looked as though new words would be formed with those jumped letters added. Thus APORT could change to APPORT, AGEN -> AGENT, CARER -> CAREER and amazingly TRACHEOTOMY could change to TRACHEOSTOMY.

And so, as the grid neared completion, it became obvious that the four dotted areas would become the four seasons WINTER, AUTUMN, SPRING, SUMMER. [I know the seasons. Ed.]

As well as the clue referring to the TV series Minder, I enjoyed the clue News agency’s about to move on? About time, they say! (8) for UTTERERS (REUTERS with RE moved forward around T). And that bizarre first down clue Reduced capacity of Israel to provoke domestic upheaval (8, two words) for HOME MOVE (HOME(r) + MOVE) which led to HOME MOVIE once WINTER intervened. As expected from Artix some laugh-out-loud clueing.

A quick check in my ODQ under season eventually led me to The Bible and Ecclesiastes and that had 12 letters so I guessed I was on the right track: “To everything there is a season…”. From there I’m afraid the internet had to come to the rescue to reveal Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season) written by Pete Seeger and later recorded by The Byrds.

And just to make life difficult for himself, Artix had included twenty things that it was time for in his clues: Love, refrain, born, War, kill, lose, embrace, gather, laugh, die, weep, peace, heal, plant, dance, Stones, build, hate, break, cast.

Three exclamation marks and a bit of highlighting later and the grid was almost complete. Unusually, we were asked to include bars, how many being given at the start of each row and column. The only slight hiccup this could cause was MODERATER/ACER instead of MODERATE/RACER as it’s spelt MODERATOR.

I’m guessing that solvers fell into five groups:

  • those who read the preamble and knew of the tie-in between the song and Ecclesiastes;
  • those who got the seasons and immediately thought of the song;
  • those who saw the three TURNs in columns 1, 7 and 10;
  • those who used their ODQ and the internet;
  • those who couldn’t see what the hell was going on!

Great fun thanks, Artix.

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‘My Retirement Plan’ by Artix

Posted by Encota on 5 Oct 2018

What a clever construction this was.  Once the letters DONNE started to appear around the border, and the misprints backed it up by being corrected from DONNE (to HANDS), then the poet hinted at in the Preamble was clear.  But which poem?  My knowledge of John Donne’s poetry being pretty much non-existent I resorted to that ‘font of all wisdom and knowledge’ that is Wikipedia.

2018-09-16 15.41.46 copy

Soon to appear was the poem, On His Mistriss Retiring To Bed, or something similar, with the lines requested from the Preamble being:

License my roving hands and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land

I guess ‘roving hands’ is a reasonable instruction to swap all letters L and R in the grid – the result appearing as per the diagram above.  This change allowed LICENSE, ROVING, O MY AMERICA and NEWFOUNDLAND all to appear in the grid, as well as MISTRESS from the Title.  The Preamble said to highlight only O MY AMERICA, if I am reading ti correctly, so that’s what I did!

I loved the gloriously OTT Scottish indicator Captain Kidd’s in 27d and 18a’s
With 8, this might make Italians drunk (4)
The answer to 8d was NAIL, so {NAIL+ASTI}* could give ITALIANS, so Asti it was!

Many thanks to Artix for another enjoyable Listener solve.

And why ‘font’, I hear you ask [Really? Ed.]  The Title’s jumbling MEANT MERELY PRINT, “MEN TRY PLAIN METRE”, providing MERRIMENT-A-PLENTY.

Or something …

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4520: My Retirement Plan by Artix

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 Oct 2018

Oh dear! It’s Artix time again and I guessed that I would be in for a bit of a struggle. I don’t really know why I thought that, especially since I’m pretty sure I’ve sussed all his Listeners (five of them) over the years. His last, no. 4475 last December, was Follow the Directions and required us to cut up the grid and stick it back together to reflect Westward Ho! and associated characters. Hopefully no scissors would be required this week.

Instead, we had five answers too long and using space outside the grid, five with an extra word that needed meaningful unjumbling, and five with a misprint. 14ac KIEV was the first to go in without any shenanigans. Next, 17ac 1-0? Once Barcelona’s ready, developed into failure to make match (12) looked like an anagram of ONE-NIL + PESETA, except the 1-0 bit looked like an indirect anagram. Which it wasn’t, of course, but was 1 + NADA + PTA + INTO* — a nice easy bit of wordplay!

It’s amazing how puzzles with lots of different things going on cause me to temporarily lose the plot. For example, I was trying to work out for far too long what the proteins were in 34ac Proteins as an alternative to stop illness affecting the mind (5) (OR in MAL). They were, of course, one of the extra words.

Everything came together gradually for me here. In fact, I think it was a series of PDMs — in this case, Penny Drip Moments. I had ‘reworks’ giving ‘workers’, ‘discretion’ giving ‘directions’ and ‘swap’ to ‘paws’. Eventually, those damned ‘proteins’ gave me ‘pointers’, and ‘sniggle’, which I thought must be ‘leggins’, was ‘niggles’, a form of handwriting. These all gave synonyms for hands, as revealed by the corrected misprints. Finally, when I had four letters extending outside the grid, John DONNE looked a possibility.

The hands were pretty obviously Left and Right, which would need switching in the grid, with the likes of RICE at 1ac changing to LICE, and SEMINAL at 6 giving SEMINAR. The leading NW–SE diagonal was the first place to look for highlighting material in the finished grid, and revealed O MY AMERICA and enabled me to track down the verse fairly early on in Donne’s ODQ entry — Elegies ‘To His Mistress Going to Bed’:

License my roving hands, and let them go,
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new found land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned.

The final PDMs came from line two above, which revealed the reason for the letters outside the grid, which also contained MISTRESS (row 8), LICENSE (row 1), ROVING (column 12) and NEW FOUND LAND (row 12). (Have I missed one?)

Thanks to Artix for another fine nugget.

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My Retirement Plan by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 Oct 2018

We download a crossword by Artix, one of the top Listener setters – last year’s runner-up to the Ascot Gold Cup winner Shackleton with his superb Westward Ho crossword and the creator of that brilliant One Shot at a Time where we followed a golf course to discover that the theme was the attempted assassination of Theodore Roosevelt. We are certainly faced with a challenge but it is likely to delight and entertain too.

Oh dear, the preamble tells me there are five jumbled words to be removed from clues before solving – I suppose I have to rejoice that there are only five of those. Five answers are overlong and must extend outside the grid! There are single letter misprints in the definition parts of five other clues – and these manoeuvres are all thematic. Then comes the good bit: the theme ‘consists of three lines from a poem’. We’ve had great literary Artix crosswords on Hamlet and L Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz so this is promising.

What about his membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? I know that Artix is a connoisseur of wines so there can be little doubt about that but I scan the grid all the same and find ‘Book about Bordeaux’s wine passion (6)’ We put LOG around VIN and find LOVING. ‘With 8 this might make Italians drunk (4)’ 8 has given us NAIL and if I remove this (anagrammed) from ITALIANS* what do I get? That old chestnut ASTI. Well, with that French VIN and Italian ASTI, I suppose I can say ‘Cheers, Artix!’

Solving begins in earnest and we are soon smiling at some fine clues. ‘Watch game with leader getting three extra strokes (4)’ gives us I SPY with three extra strokes being added to that I producing ESPY. ‘1 – 0? Once Barcelona’s ready, developed into failure to make match (12)’ gives us I NADA + PTA + INTO* = INADAPTATION. What a clue!

We spot some redundant words in clues. REWORKS, DISCRETION, PROTEINS, SNIGGLE and PAWS and realize that those all anagram to versions of ‘hands’. WORKERS, DIRECTIONS, POINTERS, NIGGLES and PAWS. We spot five misprints too: hEar for hAar, Ounces for Dunces, NA for SA, fasteD for fasteN and sigN for sigH: those give us two sets of letters EONDN and ADSNH. The poet DONNE and HANDS?

Suddenly it all makes sense. Of course that is why we have Date, Onanism, esseN, rooN and devoteE ‘before, behind, above and below’ the grid and those tell-tale words in the preamble. I loved the poem studied at A Level many years ago  (how we sixteen-year olds enjoyed the early erotic poetry and marvelled that the same poet could create the more sober later religious poems) and happily this is Donne’s randy retirement plan and not Artix telling us he is going to abandon the setting thing!

Licence my roving hands, and let them go,/ Before, behind, between, above, below./O my America! my new-found-land …

That is why we had the ‘roving hands’ in the anagrammed extra words and the misprints. This crossword is almost a metaphysical conceit in itself with Donne roving before, behind, above and below his ‘Newfoundland’. Hands are LEFT and RIGHT, and we read that ALL occurrences of two thematic letters must be exchanged for their counterparts so we carefully switch all the Ls and Rs in the grid with, for example, SPLAYED becoming SPRAYED then we hunt for those ten letters revealing the poet’s discovery and there she is ‘O MY AMERICA’! Sheer delight from start to finish. Thank you Artix.

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Follow the Directions by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Nov 2017

Artix’s crosswords are usually very challenging – none of the ‘Stripey horse (5)’ clues for him, but this week’s clues were not desperately difficult and we soon had a complete grid. It was not the grid fill so much as the wealth of material that was hidden in that apparently innocuous little 12 x 12 grid that was exciting.

Of course I started with that check that he retains his entry ticket to the Listener Setters’ Topers Outfit, though I didn’t really need to check, as, since we are members of the Rasputin setters trio, we are usually at the same table at the setters’ dinner and share our taste for the fine reds. I had to read a long way down his clues before I reached ‘Sensational bit of aroma overlooked by winemaker (4)’ A confession here, this clue gave us a slight advantage – Artix lives on the south side of Lake Geneva and we can see his dwelling place from our north side and what is the local red wine? Gamay, so we removed just the bit of Aroma from that and had GAMY = sensational.

‘Making tea in bar, we’re all but rejected (6)’ (and so we should be!) We turned round PUB and WE’R(e) and got BREW UP. More alcohol to come: ‘Strict limits for women lapping left over Scotch up (6)’ That was entertainingly deceptive as we had to reverse the limits of WomeN around (lapping) ARRO, also reversed, giving NARROW. So “Cheers, Artix. A Paris!”

It wasn’t the grid fill so much as what followed that had the Artix touch. The other Numpty confirmed that there was only one ‘heptagonal’ shape that would leave pieces that could be reassembled to form a second heptagonal shape that was a reflection of the first, and that that was an arrow. Therefore, we had an arrow shape, heading west that encompassed the hero, and, sure enough, there we found, heading west, AMYAS LEIGH. First pdm. The theme  was Westward Ho (second pdm – the title said ‘Follow the Directions’ – we were indeed doing that but so was he – going WESTWARD HO) We had to check with Auntie Google and she told us that his first love was ROSE SALTERNE (4,8). Cutting that initial arrow from the grid did indeed ‘break her up’ but not so evilly as the Inquisition in the novel who burnt her at the stake!

We fiddled with those left over pieces to create the second, reflected arrow and found, to our delight, that ARROWHEADS now appeared in our grid, crossed by WESTWARD HO. Fortunately, I was using an eraser pen as Amyas Leigh’s second love, AYACANORA was in our re-constructed grid, but with a U that needed to be adjusted with love (O) to give her correct name. What’s more, like Rochester in Jane Eyre, Charles Kingsley’s s hero is blinded at the end of the novel. It must be some quirky form of romanticism that thinks that the heroine will be blissfully happy with a blind husband. However, we had to obey instructions and remove him  ‘as on his journey he has become unsighted’.

Truly an astonishing construction and great fun. Congratulations to Artix!

The golden Poat HARES? I wouldn’t expect to see many of them off the Caribbean coasts of Venezuela even though Amyas Leigh was apparently seeking gold there but, sure enough, there was a veritable chain of the beasts, with yet another becoming ‘unsighted (well, decapitated!) when we blinded Amyas Leigh.

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