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Posts Tagged ‘Aver’

Cycle of Crime and Punishment by Aver

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 Jun 2022

What a pleasure to see ‘Aver’ at the head of this puzzle. We have fine memories of his ‘Nine Men’s Morris’ crossword of last year. We were less happy when we saw how the clues were numbered here, and that there were going to be misprints in 33 of them, realising that that was going to lead to a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as we solved, but we saw the original gimmick that a message was to be extracted from 31 of the corrected misprints in clue order, and all 33 misprints ‘in order of grid entries’. Quite a challenge for the setter! (And solver – I drew up a list of clue numbers in grid order, to record the misprints as we found them and my usual coloured stripe down the side of the clues for the other message.)

We wondered about the difference of two between the 31 and 33, but, of course, this was later resolved when we saw that those two were clues 11 and 12, which, curiously, seemed to have the ‘wrong’ word length in brackets. The Listener editors are too meticulous to allow a word-length error to appear so why did we have that 3 3, where we should have 7 6? Yes, the ‘misprints’ resolved it but, to my mind, it was verging on a ‘Poat HARE situation’ to have the misprint in the word length. (But how else could Aver have produced C33? Clever stuff!)

Ah, the alcohol? ‘Not sparkling and yet each may provide definition (5)’ gave us a relatively easy first clue and we didn’t even suspect, at this stage, that those rather bulky ‘other clues’ – those that, like this one, were entered with no misprint and no cycling – would have a complete stanza of The Ballad of Reading Gaol hidden in them. What a feat! But the alcohol? It was not sparkling, so ‘STILL’ which is a Chambers’ paraphrase of ‘yet’. There was ‘bitter’ in another of the ‘other clues’. ‘Grey lines around Nancy’s face contorted with a bitter look (10)’. We anagrammed GREY LINES N(ancy) to give SNEERINGLY (and, of course, later spotted the ‘bitter look’). Fortunately for Aver, the ‘red’ appeared in ‘Possibly Aran native primarily knits undergarments and skirts in red (4)’. We had to cycle that one, spot the Aran/Iran misprint and use the skirts of ReD to give us KURD. There’s an amusing surface-reading here with one of those Aran knitters producing red knickers – but it is lost when she becomes a Kurd! Still, just enough alcohol to say “Cheers, Aver!”

The thematic sentence TWO YEARS HARD LABOUR IN BERKS PRISON prompted us to look for READING GAOL. OSCAR had appeared somewhat appropriately at 33 down and we highlighted the ‘thematic location (11 contiguous cells). The other Numpty reminded me that Wilde was prisoner C33 in Reading Gaol.

We still had to find the initials of the condemned man (three consecutive cells). To do this I needed to work out that the misprints gave me C33’s VERSE SPREAD OUT IN THE OTHER CLUES and now I realised that we had ‘Each man kills the thing he loves, By each let this be heard, Some do it with a bitter look, Some with a flattering word, The coward does it with a kiss, The brave man with a sword.’

I need to consult Wiki to find the name of the ‘condemned man’ in The Ballad of Reading Gaol. It gives me:

“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde tells of Wilde’s experiences in prison and his observations of another prisoner condemned to die.

The poem begins with the story of Charles Thomas Wooldridge who murdered his wife. The man has been sentenced to hang and goes about his life in prison wistfully. Wilde, and the other men, are jealous of his attitude as he has accepted his fate and is the better for it. In the second section Wooldridge is hanged. He meets his death bravely while the other men cower from even the idea. Wilde spends time describing how the monotony of jail is only broken by the terror of it. 

We saw CTO in the grid and needed to change the first letter of Oscar to the W of Wilde to give CTW. What a fine compilation, Aver!


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Listener No 4711: Cycle of Crime and Punishment by Aver

Posted by Dave Hennings on 3 Jun 2022

This week we had the second Listener outing from Aver, following last year’s Dream Match with its Nine Men’s Morris courtesy of AMND. Here we had a straightforward grid with the misprints and their corrections each (bar two) spelling out relevant information. First thought was that this must have been a right toughie to clue.

Not only that, it was a right toughie to solve! Not that I’m in any way denigrating the puzzle which I found to be enjoyable on every level. The top half was basically empty for quite some time with the bottom left coming together first followed by the bottom right. Getting COMPLIMENT, albeit in the last column, helped a fair bit.

Of course, not seeing for an absolute age that the number in brackets for the clue at 11ac Part of infanta’s youth in a fairy tale? (3) didn’t agree with its entry length 7, made a simple hidden wordplay not simple (FANTASY)! Having spotted it, I checked other clues and found that 12ac Woven bark frame of eaglewood (3) was similarly cunning (WOOFED).

Eventually, everything came together nicely with some fine clues on the way.

  • 5ac Christian came from abroad, dropping Indo-Germanic soul in France (8) for FORENAME [FOREIGN – IG + AME]
  • 32dn After date, maturity shows fortune favours the brave, perhaps (5) for ADAGE, with its reference to some of the endgame material;
  • 33ac O, it’s an honour depicting a man with a sword! (5) for OSCAR, again referencing endgame material in its definition of the Oscar statuette.

Finally, we had the two messages from the misprints and corrections. The correct letters, in clue order, could easily be seen: Two years’ hard labour in Berks prison, and that could only refer to Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde, who was incarcerated in Reading gaol in the 1890s.The misprints took a bit of jiggery-pokery to sort them into the correct order of grid entries, and revealed C33’s verse spread out in the other clues.

It didn’t take long to see READING GAOL in rows 4 and 5, but the initials of the condemned man took a bit longer. What were Wilde’s initials that we needed to find, given one needed changing in the finished grid? OMW running south-east from 12dn could become OWW, but that wasn’t really consecutive — or so I thought. OFE, in the same region, could become OFW, but I was still perplexed by all of Wilde’s other initials.

Luckily, a bit more online reading reminded me that the poem is actually about Charles Thomas Wooldridge, who was hanged in Reading while Wilde was there, and to whom The Ballad of Reading Gaol is dedicated: CTW. Thus CTO in row 8 could change to CTW.

And the pièce de résistance was in finding, in the unadulterated clues, all the words from one of the verses:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
    By each let this be heard.
Some do it with a bitter look,
    Some with a flattering word.
The coward does it with a kiss,
    The brave man with a sword!

Thanks, Aver; great stuff.

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Listener No 4664: Dream Match by Aver

Posted by Dave Hennings on 10 Jul 2021

Another new setter this week although he is no stranger to the Listener world. [See below. Ed.]

This week we had extra letters in the wordplay giving us a whole slew of information and instructions. The instructions would tell us how to resolve the clashes in fourteen cells and what then needs adding to the grid. Sounded like fun.

The clues started out relatively forgiving with about half the across entries slotted in fairly quickly. The downs were also straightforward and I soon had a pretty full grid — except for a whole block in the middle. One of them, 30ac Chilean player with no match at St Andrews wears gold (5), needed a bit of googling since no Chilean golfers came to mind. He turned out to be a pianist, Claudio Arrau.

Obviously I was on the lookout for some amusing clues, especially surface readings. 16ac Curly rat’s-tail brightened by sparkly things (7) and 14dn Man with youthful air: “you only live once”, twirling around debutante (6, two words) were two, as well as a somewhat violent 34dn Cincinnati rioting after twice dismissing case concerning indigenous Americans (5) — ((Ci)NCIN[N]A(ti))* for INCAN.

And so to the endgame. The extra letters spelt out a speaker — Titania; an abbreviated reference — AMND, two one (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act II Scene 1); what ruined a thematic figure — mud; an instruction to resolve the clashes — add letter values; and what needed adding to the grid — sixteen lines. We certainly had to work for it this week!

My ODQ gave the quotation from Titania: “The nine men’s morris is filled up with mud,” and pretty soon my grid was full of Os. I really liked the way that some of the Os were supplied by the added letter values, with the remainder being supplied by, well, Os. Sixteen lines later and everything was complete.

A fine grid contruction and a fun puzzle. Thanks, Aver.

[For those of you who need a nudge as to Aver’s identity, see here: Ed.]

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L4664: ‘Dream Match’ by Aver

Posted by Encota on 9 Jul 2021

I really enjoyed this puzzle! It combined a great grid with clever letter-sums, each of which resulted in an ‘O’.

Extra letters from the clues spelt out TITANIA (‘a speaker’), AMND II.1 (‘an abbreviated reference’), MUD (‘what ruined a thematic figure’), ADD LETTER VALUES (‘an instruction …’) and SIXTEEN LINES (‘what solvers must add to the grid’). All of this linked to the Shakespearean reference: “The nine men’s morris if fill’d up with mud”.

Add the 16 lines (as I’ve tried to do above, albeit faintly) and all is sorted. I think. Loved it – well done Aver!


Tim / Encota

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