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Posts Tagged ‘Artix’

No Offence by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 July 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 July 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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Onepo by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 December 2014

ArtixIs it my imagination or are puzzles becoming more and more difficult as we approach the end of the year? Another almost carte blanche! We know Artix has a reputation for providing toughies so we approach this with trepidation but notice with relief that there is conventional clue-numbering and that we will be able to divide our grid into six letter units to fit in those answers. We are even given the useful information that there is a 24 down and a 24 across which helpfully pins down the centre.

I take a deep breath and scan through the clues to check that Artix is still a member of that elitist Listener compilers’ imbibers fraternity (I know he is a connoisseur of fine wines) but, oh dear, I almost reach the end of his clues before, with a sigh of relief, I find ‘Rum chaser, ask Jeeves perhaps’ (yes, of course, that RUM was actually an anagrind indicator but it was reassuring all the same!) So we ask the SEARCH engine Jeeves, but, of course, soon learn that we have to anagram that to get ESCHAR.

We are cold solving for quite a while before useful words like SUIVEZ (As instructed by conductor, follow quartet visiting seaport – IV in SUEZ) intersect with VIVDAS (With trace of Donkey found inside, examines meats treated offshore – VIVAS round D(onkey)) and we are at last able to create the skeleton of a grid.

12 is a kind gift ‘During break from work, men may go here’ (RESORT) but, ominously, tells us that twelve of our solutions need to be resorted or jumbled before entry and we keep on forgetting that and triumphantly putting the solution WAR GAS, (after revolution drop cruel chemical weapon SAG RAW<) when we need to anagram it to SWARGA to fit our developing grid. RISQUE for SQUIRE, DOABLE for ALBEDO and so on.

Still, our grid does develop and soon we are suspecting that we have SIX OF ONE AND HALF A DOZEN OF THE OTHER appearing in the perimeter and another word ?E?A?A?T?LO?s completing it. What a blessing TEA is! That can only be HEXADACTYLOUS. We learn some new words: LINSEY, SURBET (an anagram of BUSTER when we have subtracted the MINUS from BUS TERMINUS – oh but this is clever stuff!) and that gives us CHURRO (I used to enjoy those with thick Spanish hot chocolate for breakfast during a summer university course in Madrid – yummy!)
Thus we struggle towards a full grid and light dawns. What was that strange title? ONEPO? Aaaah! That’s five eighths of ONE POUND isn’t it and wasn’t that TWELVE AND SIX in the old currency? So that is what the sixes and twelves were all about and now we have to find it in the grid and highlight it. There are two Es in column six but Artix has kindly told us which one to highlight and the same for the three sixes in column ten.
What a challenge! Many thanks, Artix.

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One Shot At A Time by Artix

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 November 2012


Golf, indeed! A rather oddly laid out golf course and just 33 clues allowing us to make our way round the 18 holes with a pause for refreshments in a half-way “lodge”. We did wonder what was “lodging” in there, clearly not the ‘saloon keeper’ – he was somewhere around the first hole!

One of the numpties is the world’s worst golf player and these eighteen holes were a long struggle – even finding our way around the course involved a fair amount of hitting into the rough. Hole by hole, the course revealed its secrets. The Par Threes were, of course, the easiest; ‘Go at full speed avoiding power cut’ S(p)LIT, ‘A day’s work for a Scot removing the French from Scott’s dell DARG(le) and ‘Japanese plant in 16th century house losing protection of trustee’ (T)UDO(r) – but, of course, we had to find those fairways on our green.

Naturally, we had more trouble with the Par Fours, as we were still contemplating a virgin course and cold-solving. That ‘Russian boy joins dance half-cut’ should have been easy – SA + CHA(-cha) but we were wondering about Misha, Sasha, Boris and Ivan. We were entertained by the clue where we had to remove ‘contrary VOTE’ from ‘ROOSEVELT’ producing Shakespeare’s SOREL (Dramatic young buck), but, of course, the delightful relevance of the clue hadn’t struck us yet.

There were some spectacular clues here! ”Homes must have two characters reflected in miniscule houses’ – so “d” would be ‘reflected’ to make  “b” so these AbOdES become AdObES!  ‘Aberdonian clot abseiling with hands crossed over’ (RAPPEL changed to LAPPER).

The Par Fives, surprisingly, finally allowed us onto the course as the longer solutions (RIOTERS, PHAETON, DAMOISEL and MIRADORS) indicated the long fairways. We constructed a rather erratic course that finished with green 18 out in the open country.

“In course order, the greens spell out a phrase.” Astonishment! STRONG AS A BULL MOOSE appears. Isn’t that the origin of the Progressive Party’s label – the Bull Moose Party? Doesn’t it have something to do with the attempted assassination of  Teddy Roosevelt? A bit of Internetting is called for and produces a significant date – 13th October, 1912. Has tricky Artix been playing a double game all along and what is the ‘lasting memento of this historic event’ that is lodged in the half way house? We have our suspicions but have to work out all the jumbles of the ‘column clues’ to confirm them.

Jumbles are anathema to us but, of course, several of the column letters were already in place. We deduced that the six letters of the ‘half-way lodge’ were not part of the 25-letter phrase that was offering advice to golfers. Indeed, our suspicions that a bullet was lodged there were soon confirmed, as we read our way along the bunkers, hazards, traps and lakes and had that splendid final penny drop moment. The numpty historian suddenly muttered “Speak softly; carry a big stick!”

This was pure genius Artix! Were you on a golf course when Roosevelt’s maxim suddenly took on double relevance? We found this crossword extremely difficult but truly memorable and the work of a star compiler. It was sheer magic! (But where was the nineteenth hole?)

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