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Posts Tagged ‘Artix’

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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Listener No 4475: Follow the Directions by Artix

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 Nov 2017

Last year’s Artix had Hamlet’s “These are but wild and whirling words” theme. This week, we had a bit of cutting and pasting in store, not seen since Flying Tortoise’s Galileo puzzle. Artix is normally one tricky cluesmith, but this week’s grid was finished in a little over an hour. (Or did I not read my timer correctly?)

So you know what came next? A bit of grid-staring, of course. I suspect that anybody who’s a competent mathematician probably knew what sort of 7-sided shape we must be talking about. It was obviously not restricted to the lines of the grid as that would, I think, always produce an even-sided figure.

I was beginning to toy with a sort of diamond when I saw the ARROW of NARROW at 28dn, and there at the top of the column was HEAD + S leading to ARROW-HEADS. Kerching! It didn’t take long to see WARD and HO crossing that description of the arrow-shaped figure, and WEST was at the end of row 3.

I decided to park that idea for the time being and see if I could find the hero and his first love. I got slightly side-tracked by SALEM, USA in row 5 and PONGO in column 2, but LEIGH in column 6 looked promising. However, AMYAS seemed a bizarre first name, so I continued and found ROSE SALTERNE in column 11.

Never having read the novel, it was time to resort to Google and check to see if those two characters meshed with WESTWARD HO by Charles Kingsley. And so they did. And so also did he have a bizarre first name (much like today’s celebrity offspring).

After that, it was straightforward to cut up a copy of my grid, create the two arrow shapes, and then stick them together to form a ten-sided figure with AYACANORA visible, once AURA was changed to AORA.

Thanks for an entertaining puzzle, Artix. It’s always nice when some detective work is required to find the correct solution.

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No Offence by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 Jul 2016

No Offence by Artix 001We know this is going to be no piece of cake when we see ‘Artix’ as the setter. How I struggled with his very first Listener (well, that stunning ‘One Shot at a Time’ was his first individual one though we jointly, with Ilver, as Rasputin had had our Listener début some months before, and, setting with the two of them has not only taught me a lot, in the course of hundreds of email exchanges , but also shown me what deceptive tricks can go into the creation of a clue. – none of my ‘Stripey horse (5)’ for those two!).  Expecting a long haul, we downloaded this and carefully read the preamble.

How did we interpret this? With a degree of generosity, Artix was restricting the use of his device separately to the across and down clues, and the words that were going to emerge (clearly anagrammed) from the letters discarded during manipulations, were also, generously, going to be distinct in the across and down clues – two nine-letter words. Eighteen of the clues in each set (across and down) were going to be composed of nine with hidden definition words and nine where an extra letter had to be removed, probably before anagramming the remainder, to get a different word from the one that was being clued. Original and certainly challenging.

Time to pour the Numpty gin and tonic and scan the grid to check that Artix (whom I know to be somewhat of a wine connoisseur) was retaining his place in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit. I didn’t find much evidence but assumed ‘Old rustic cask where nothing’s replaced before (5)’ was probably an oak one, aging some quality red. By a stroke of luck, we opted for BARREL with O for A and found that BORREL is an archaic word for ‘rustic’, and with even more luck (and the help of Mrs Bradford) managed to find that a ROBLE is a species of oak, thus justifying the extra words ‘oak tree’ in 21ac.

With that entire barrel consumed, it wasn’t surprising to find ‘Hold one new S African driver, potentially drunk (6)’ producing N + ELS + ON. The only extra word we could find there was ‘one’ and, of course, we later pieced that together with ‘act’ in 20ac, and ‘Scene’ ‘five’ in 3d and 17d giving what had to be the pinpointing of a ‘relevant source’. Even better, those four clues led us to ADMIRAL NELSON and HORNBLOWER. These are both Horatios aren’t they and other words appearing in our grid (MOTHER, DANISH, GHOST, WRAITH, MURDER) were shouting out that this was my favourite play again. Hamlet.

‘No Offence’ was the hint I needed to lead me to that significant exchange between Hamlet and Horatio that helps us understand why Horatio is such a loyal friend right up to the moment when ‘The rest is silence’ in Act V.

  • Horatio. These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
  • Hamlet. I am sorry they offend you, heartily;
    Yes, faith, heartily.
  • Horatio. There’s no offence, my lord.
  • Hamlet. Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
    And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
    It is an honest ghost.

These are but wild and whirling words, My Lord 001‘These are but wild and whirling words, my lord’, says Horatio. Of course, that is what nine of the solutions in each of the across and down sets does. It whirls wildly. So we have the device but have to do that complex task of identifying the rogue definitions and matching them to the words we can anagram or whirl out of those solutions. Slowly we identify ‘the one chosen’, ‘kiwi plant’, ‘rivals’, ‘Murray’s fearsome’, ‘oak tree’, ‘Halifax’s good for nothing’, ‘brilliant art movement’, ‘African antelope’ and wrestling, in the across clues, and ‘bits of Bulgaria’, ‘large dog’, ‘Danes overseas’, ‘Indian protests’, ‘bulb’, ‘local joints’, ‘illnesses’, ‘Scotch pine resin’ and ‘festival’ in the downs.

But what an astonishing vocabulary of solutions and subsequent docked anagrams these lead us to: SOPHERIM, UAKARI, BORREL, SEBESTENS, TSESSEBE, PAYS’D, DONNAT, HARDPANS, KISSEL. Can all of this be English or are we transliterating a peculiar mountain Asian dialect? The eleven almost normal clues in each set happily populate our grid and give us the framework that allows a steady grid fill but, in the four hours it takes, we have hiccups. Of course, there’s the usual Numpty red herring. Feeding SOPHERIM into an anagram solver produces only one word that fits our grid, PROMISE (with an extra H) but that soon proves to be impossible as there is no EA?IAS word to go into 13d. Of course, we needed ORPHISM (a ‘brilliant art movement’) and 13d had to be MANIAS (‘illnesses’).

A full grid and two sets of nine letters to anagram – REAARERNG – obviously REARRANGE (and not ‘red herring’) and TEEPERMIR. This had to be the icing on the cake! PERIMETER, it said and what happened when all those Hamletty words in the perimeter were rearranged? Astonishing! We got ‘These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.’ Horatio. Brilliant, Artix!

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What’s Missing? by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Jul 2015

Dames 2 001“What an unusual grid!” was our first reaction. We saw a carte blanche that wasn’t symmetrical and had double unches around its borders and – horror of horrors – three unches in six. There must be some typical Artix brilliance in this for it to get past the editors! Or maybe he was just slipping them a couple of strong drinks at the last setters’ dinner – quick check to confirm that he is still a member of that elite Listener oenophile set-up, and I didn’t have to read far.

I know Artix is a wine expert and sure enough the drinks are there; ‘Dog star sounds to you like exotic drink (5)’ (giving LASSI, a homophone – but it was a sweet little clue wasn’t it?) I find that ‘British are stopping drinks and dances (6)’ (B A in RUMS giving RUMBAS) and ‘Southern porter etc supporting folk in Irish resort (7)’ (S ALE round KIN giving KINSALE).

There’s a wide-ranging set of surface readings here: rather a lot of fish, ‘Chopping tail off fish, they may have scars (4)’ (TORSK less K giving TORS), ‘Called freshwater fish after native habitat (5) (PA + GED), ‘Fish used water (4) (LANT – a double-definition clue), then there’s a rector in a penitentiary producing BRIG, and quite a lot of sex – really Artix! ‘Capital (on atoll) offering sex for guys (4)’ (We had to check that MALE was the capital) and ‘Need women, one living in colonies (4)’ (W ANT – well that was a generous clue!)

We notice, too, that there are rather a lot of references to places in the South Pacific. There’s GUAM ‘Island invaded by Japanese put America in sticky situation’ (that event did indeed put A in the GUM didn’t it!) and NIUE (we had to look that one up), MALE, Pacific, Polynesian setting, and, if we needed more clues (which at this point we did) Broadway and Hollywood director, ‘need women’, theatrical American, film from the ’60s (OK it was filmed in 1958 but it was a sixties favourite), WWII 4 X 4. Artix was certainly spelling something out for us!

Once we get our heads round those clues that ‘wrap around the edges’, with this set of fine clues, our grid fill races ahead and we are soon able to work out where we have words that have to overlap. Clearly, since BWANAS and JAMJAR are the two 6-letter words that will fill the second row, CLAMBAKE and WELLS are going to overlap and we need to squeeze a shared word in-between them. BAKEWELL? They are tarts aren’t they? Is Artix into baking?

Of course, in our clue read-through, we have seen the proliferation of references to ‘girl, society women, group of peeresses, baronesses, women and Dame Vivien (as was) (yes, I looked her up on the Internet and found that CLORE fitted the clue) ‘…learned something after college (5).

We had already spotted that our three unclued lights were SAILOR, MARINE and SEABEE and the penny finally dropped. Not tarts, indeed, but DAMES! (my caps.) How I loved South Pacific! (Bit of history for me – I went with my very first boyfriend way back in the last century, in his little sports car to the nearest city, to see the film and sang the songs for weeks afterwards ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘Younger Than Springtime’, ‘Bali Ha’i’ and, of course. ‘There Is Nothin’ Like a Dame’.) I can still picture those marines singing it. So that explained the unclued seabees.

What does the Internet tell me? Sailors, Seabees and Marines sing:
We got sunlight on the sand,
We got moonlight on the sea,
We got mangoes and bananas
You can pick right off the tree,
We got volleyball and ping-pong
And a lot of dandy games!
What ain’t we got?
We ain’t got dames! …..”

So I have to find nine dames. Almost full grid but, oh dear! Only six dames and a few clues we hadn’t accounted for. BASSEY, ATKINS, SPARK, BAKEWELL, DENCH and TE KANAWA had appeared (what a spectacular piece of cluing with KARATEKA and NAWAB overlapping and that KARABINER remaining when we had blanked out her name!)

Dames 001Fortunately, we were given word lengths and could work out where our missing three dames had to be so I teased out the last three. Astonishing, Artix to manage to fit three dames going in the other direction, where we had already found dames. InerT HORN and DIKEs gave me Dame Sybil THORNDIKE to share a cell with Dame Penelope LIVELY; Dame Diana RIGG appeared in the cell already occupied by Kiri TE KANAWA; and finally, there was Dame Diana RIGG sharing Dame Judi DENCH’s cell.

What a shame to have to delete them all and enter blank cells – but that doesn’t, in any way, detract from our immense admiration of this stunning compilation. Many thanks Artix for a very rewarding puzzle.

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