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Posts Tagged ‘Bandmaster’

Shut That Door by Bandmaster

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Dec 2016

shut-that-door-by-bandmaster-001The title coupled with the date should have suggested this theme to us immediately but we were too busy gasping at the number of clues and the carte blanche grid to give it a thought and the p.d.m. came much, much later (not, in fact, until we had spotted that De Quincey and Peter Quince were two of our solutions – and which twisted parent puts a quince behind one of the doors of the Advent calendar – I ask you!) I remember that Bandmaster was the winner of the Ascot Gold Cup for the best Listener crossword of the year not too long ago (but was absent for the presentation, perhaps modestly not expecting that honour, so that Enigmatist accepted the trophy on his behalf). So this crossword is likely to be a stunner.

Fortunately these were pretty generous clues. While I was scanning to confirm Bandmaster’s festive right to his ticket of entry to the Listener Setters’ drinking jollies (he’d better be there next year!) the other Numpty solved a dozen of them. Did Bandmaster earn his admission? Of course! ‘Mineral with vermouth imbibed by empress (11)’ gave ‘it’ in Josephine – JOSEPHINITE. Shortly afterwards Bandmaster was ‘Caught with alcohol? I’ll get beaten (9, two words)’ snared + rum = SNARE DRUM. (My favourite clue was the one that intersected with this one in the Advent calendar, ‘National champion crows preposterously (6, two words)’ producing murder< = RED RUM – what a beautiful reverse clue). Sadly, it was a drum that appeared behind that door, not a measure of rum!

Mixing the vermouth and rum,  the next alcoholic clue was not surprising,  ‘Torch (quarter missing) lit with alcohol (6)’  FLAMBE. Then we had ‘Drink found around eastern frontiers chiefly (5)’ where kir went round E F(rontiers) introducing a new drink to me KEFIR – bubbly eastern stuff. Indeed Bandmaster was mixing things with ‘Glutton consuming a measure, I swear (8)’ By God around ell, giving BELLYGOD. By the time we got to opening door 23, I was expecting at least WINE, if not a measure of WHISKY and was rather disappointed to find just a Christmas WREATH. Cheers, anyway, Bandmaster!

The elusive golden hare

The elusive golden hare

That door H was rather disappointing too. I was convinced that the editors must have sneaked a golden HARE under that No 8 door and I am sure that is what Dave and Tim will have expected but it was not to be – just a sprig of prickly HOLLY. But joking apart, when we had realized that those extra letters were spelling ADVENT CALENDAR NOT OPENED and begun to spot the items that appeared in across and down solutions and could be entered as the relevant numbers, my admiration for Bandmaster’s compilation was enormous.  It was no mean feat to construct a grid with 23 items converted to digits, each incorporated twice within the clues.

Of course, once we had understood how to enter the 40 or so clues we had cold-solved, the grid fill became a pleasure as the symmetry rendered the completion of the lower half less of a struggle than it might have been otherwise. We are rather addicted to symmetry, aren’t we, and, indeed, without it, this would have been a nightmare as some of those items in the lower half of the grid were unexpected – the ARECA NUT, BOX BED, KEFIR and SEA ROBIN, for example.

What else did we find in this rather mish-mash of Advent items? ANGEL, BELL, CANDLE, ELF, FIR, GOLD, IVY, JOSEPH, KING, LAMB, MAGI, NUT, OX, PRESENT, ROBIN, STAR, TREE, URN, VIRGIN and of course XMAS behind door 24. What a lovely compilation. Thank you, Bandmaster.


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Shut that Door! (aka Keep your Hare on)

Posted by Encota on 23 Dec 2016

Of course we have all put finding that HARE in puzzle 4422 behind us (discussed in my blog a few weeks back subtitled “X doesn’t mark the spot“), no need to return to that subject.  And X being letter 24 in the alphabet – that’ll never be relevant now, will it?

But hold on a cotton-picking minute!  Looking back (at that previous puzzle) 4422 hides 24 within 24 – and the number 24 features large in the final grid here.  Surely that can’t be a sign?

Some great clues. As one example, sounding on the surface like it was perhaps defending Indiana Jones just a little more than was warranted:

Prof Jones hot tempered? By no means (12, three words)

Answer: Not for Joseph, as PROFJONESHOT*

Very early on in solving this delightful puzzle from Bandmaster I’d found JOSEPH in both NOT FOR JOSEPH and JOSEPHINITE, plus LAMB in FLAMBE, and was toying with MAGI in IMAGINARY.  ‘Bit early in December for a nativity scene?’ was my first thought.  Press on, see what appears…

It was probably just me but when CANDLEFISH appeared as the answer to the first across clue – and all the talk of converting letters to numbers in the Preamble – I first attempted to resolve it by deciding that CANDL => C and L => 100 + 50 => 150, and tried fitting 150 FISH into the grid.  As an aside, the grid was rather ‘fishy’ all round with at least half a dozen fish references – is there a sub-theme hiding here that I have missed?

After solving a handful more, the thought “I think it’s an Advent calendar” popped out from seemingly nowhere – that’d resolve why this is published at the start of December, as well as the Title!  A perfect PDM!  So I rubbed out the 150, squeezed the letters of CANDLE into one cell and things were going well.

I particularly loved the middle-game of this one, trying to build small blocks of entries that link together, then working out exactly where those blocks fit in the grid – brilliant fun!

The unused words spelled out ADVENT CALENDAR NOT OPENED, so that helped to decide what to do in the endgame.  Show the closed doors with the appropriate dates of December numbered on them.

After getting a few of the items hiding behind the doors, I had started an alphabetical list of items in the margin – this helped with solving some of the last few (which for me were in the SE corner) where I needed a Q (quince), F (fir) and O (ox).  I’ve assumed that we are being asked to apply A=1, B=2 etc to label the doors.  That gets us up to 23, so the last two doors in the centre are (presumably) to be labelled (what would have been X) with 24.

I was left with one clue that I couldn’t fully parse – these usually come to me during the week – and that was BOX-BED as the last across entry.  It looks like BOXED for ‘fought’ and a BOX-BED can be the ‘here’ of the clue as well as being the only word in the BRB that fits – but I am still missing something.  Hope it’s right!

So, as a final check, with A=1 etc, then X=24. So if you have an early peep inside door(s) 24 as I have below and you might find an X (also reflecting X=24).  Dig under the X, as I have – it seems X really does mark the spot after all – and there it is, the golden hare.  (editor: Tim, that was five puzzles ago now, might it not be appropriate for you to move on? )


cheers all


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Listener No 4427: Shut That Door! by Bandmaster

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 Dec 2016

Bandmaster’s last puzzle was the phenomenal Duet for One back in July 2012, which justly won the Ascot Gold Cup for that year. Basically, it involved solving a standard barred 13×13 grid, converting it into a 13×13 blocked grid with BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE in the two diagonals, and then highlighting BOGOF in the original grid.

listener-4427-calendarThis week, joy of joys, a carte blanche with lots of two- and three-word entries. Many cells contained thematic groups of letters which needed to be replaced with numbers. I think I should have sussed what was required at this stage. Sadly, I didn’t.

Clues for entries where no thematic letters occurred contained an extra word whose initial letters would spell out something to help with the central isolated two squares. The first across clue Oily swimmer lands chief in trouble (10) was a straightforward anagram and, once FISH had been removed, the CANDLE was fairly easy to spot.

I decided to look at the first down clue Clean-timbered, I initially may be cut rough? (10). My first task was to look up clean-timbered in Chambers, which gave “adj (Shakesp) well-proportioned.” If I’d played around with CANDLE-something, I may have solved it. Sadly I didn’t.

The second across clue One girl embraced by another? Fantastic! (9) made me try Mrs B, but to no avail. Chambers Crossword Dictionary, however, enabled me to pencil in IMAGINARY. Concentrating on the first few down clues, I got FLAMBE and possibly SEAL for Otary? Notary’s close (4), although I wasn’t 100% happy with the reference to ‘Notary’. (It turned out that was an extra word.)

Next came ORCHIS, followed by MAGICALLY, which I should have noticed had four letters in common with IMAGINARY. Sadly, I didn’t.

However, when REPRESENT and PRESENT DAY were revealed, about 45 minutes into the solve, everything became clear. Whole words were to be entered into the thematic squares. Up to that point, I had assumed that letters dropped from an across entry would merge with those dropped from a down, giving something thematic. What’s more, it was fairly obvious that we were dealing with an advent calendar.

After that, it was plain sailing, and you know what that means… about another three hours! But what a pleasure it was. Discovering JOSEPHINITE crossing with NOT FOR JOSEPH and DE QUINCEY (not WORDSWORTH) crossing PETER QUINCE was great fun.

The clue to CANDLE-TREE Clean-timbered, I initially may be cut rough? (10) turned out to be a superb &lit. — (CLEAN-TIMBERED – I M(ay) B(e))*. Among other fine clues, I particularly liked Wessex, for instance, clearly includes Dorset (4) (extra word Dorset) for EARL and, obviously, Nudists look terrible, initially, bare (5) (extra word Nudists) for SCAN.

listener-4427-my-entryIn the final grid, the alphabetic position of the each thematic word’s initial letter had to replace the word. The initials of the extra words spelt out Advent calendar not opened, and 24 needed to be entered into the two central squares to represent Xmas Eve.

Thanks go to Bandmaster for a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle, especially as we weren’t required to actually open the windows.

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Duet for One by Bandmaster

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Jul 2012

An enthusiastic Numpty vote of confidence for Bandmaster’s Duet for One – how could it be anything else? Didn’t we get two for the price of one and, even better, one that was just about at Numpty solving level.
We were a long way from home (still are) north of the Arctic Circle with24 hours a day of dazzling and scorching sunlight, feeling sorry for all our rain-bound friends, but fortunately the little laptop has Antony Lewis’s Crossword Compiler loaded on it. I wonder how solvers with only a pencil and an eraser cope with a carte blanche barred crossword that magically converts itself to a sort of Numpty-level blocked grid (of the ‘stripey horse (5)’ ilk – just my thing) then requires us to submit the one we laboriously solved in the first place.

No, I am not complaining: I thought this was a work of genius. Of course Bandmaster earned his place in the alcohol quaffing Listener compilers’ club with his lovely clue ‘[Deceiving] jug getting people endlessly tipsy (4)’ (PEOPLE losing both ends and going rather squiffy = OLPE).

Incidentally, is that yet more evidence that ‘endlessly’ can happily suggest the loss of both ends as well as just the end end? I like it!

It wasn’t a weakness of ‘Duet for One’ that we had sussed out what we were going to do before we had solved anything much at all: REFORM DIAGRAM CLEARING CELLS CONTAINING A TO M SIMULTANEOUSLY DARKENING REMAINDER. RE-SOLVE USING THESE DEFINITIONS. (Well, it didn’t take us long to see that there was no moggy lurking in there and not much hope of bosons or quarks so it couldn’t be A TOM or ATOM) FIND SLANTWISE EXPRESSION. SUBMIT ORIGINAL BARRED NUMBERLESS GRID HIGHLIGHTING FIVE ALIGNED LETTERS.

Danger signal – bars have to be inserted (and poor Mr Green who has to strike out all those of us who have overlooked a few – what a checker’s task!)

Solving was fun, even with only a Franklin Chambers and the ccw application and when we managed to resist midnight sun viewing we soon had an almost complete grid. ‘Wise hospital operations increase drugs (6, two words)’ defeated us (and perhaps other solvers too?) but fortunately the intersecting letters and that very transparent clue taught us that HOPS UP is a term for drugs.

We had been enjoying this from the start but my admiration knew no bounds when a symmetrical blocked grid appeared as we darkened N to Z. My new little Franklin Chambers gadget (Model CWR-119) was positively burning with pride as it had its first outing, producing words like FEDAYEE and ENDUE to fit those definitions.

Strange things were appearing too; BLUFFING GRID glared out at me on the top and bottom rows. Hah! Better still, Bandmaster with superb conductor precision had directed us to the diagonals and, sure enough, the maestro confirmed the title as this was a true duet for one: BUY ONE, GET ONE FREE. (Who can resist that advertising gimmick? How often I sadly stuff that extra item into the deep freeze wishing I could overcome the lingering austerity instinct and walk away with a single purchase!)

No, honestly Bandmaster, this time it was a genuine bargain – pure magic, though my Franklin toy didn’t like BOGOF. It suggested I BACK OFF. Still, I took a chance and highlighted BOGOF (that rather rude-sounding word) and carefully checked my original barred grid.

Thank you Bandmaster, thank you Bandmaster (twice). This was all a crossword should be AND MORE.

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Not as mad as it sounds, by Bandmaster, (Baching Mad!)

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 May 2010

We liked that title and it might have given us a hint, but we didn’t see it until after we had solved our first clue, which, by a stroke of luck, was that delightful 6d, ‘Hasty prophecy goes wrong – you might need some sort of cure (13)’ PSYCHOTHERAPY!

What joy for us less confident solvers to have the crossword immediately split into two smaller ones with such a long, easily solved anagram. Of course, even the Numpties were aware that we were going to find something different here, with a mean word length of 5.2 and 56 clues including eight three-letter ones. And we were going to ‘put in some work’ to ‘generate the final grid’, so something was going to change once we had completed our initial grid. Yes, we are learning to read the preamble carefully and examine the initial grid before we start!

We found Bandmaster’s wordplay very challenging and were well into Saturday before we had a complete grid. However, the clashes seemed to be indicated by less difficult clues, and soon we had an obvious MICHAEL. (You’d be amazed how many MICHAEL ????? there are on the Internet!) It was when we got the ??RKE that we were able to find Michael Torke’s ‘Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass?’ – apparently quoted in the Independent on September 25th 1990 (so there’s one in the eye for the critics who complain that compilers are a bunch of plus-foured fuddy duddies entrenched in 1950s culture).

It was suddenly obvious what work we had to put in (in addition to over fifty percent of the clues that we still hadn’t solved) and the B Minor Mass, right down the centre helped us with the rest of our solving, as, clearly words were being adapted to conform with both PSYCHOTHERAPY and THE B MINOR MASS – PICKLED, for example, became TICKLED. (Though ‘pickled’ had already confirmed my conviction that Listener setters are a bunch of oenophiles!)

The finest of these adaptations was certainly CACHING, which converted to BACHING, a lovely coinage that seems to suggest that lying back listening to Bach will solve all our mental problems. (I am reminded of Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby – a superb novel in which Valerian Street, verging on senility, shuts himself in his greenhouse, listening obsessively to the Goldberg Variations).

Thus we had, in effect, soon solved Bandmaster’s ‘Not as mad as it sounds’, with a complete grid but so much doubt about individual clues. This was a crossword where the lack of unches made it fairly easy to slot in a word that matched the definition part of the clue but I needed my wise expert solving friend to explain lots of wordplay:

PICKLED ‘Tool with guide for blind’ Guide didn’t seem to match LED until it was explained to me that PICK was the tool and ‘with guide’ gave LED.

TROELY ‘This palm could be swaying temporally’ A composite anagram of TROELY PALM – no wonder I had trouble!

SLOE ‘Jet beginning from European capital, heading for England’ (O)SLO + E (I didn’t like that clue very much with JET as the DEFINITION for SLOE – it reminded me of the first logic problem in our book in Form One ‘An apple is a fruit and a pear is a fruit, so a pear is an apple. Discuss!)

ACHE ‘First sign of hangover? (There’s the alcohol creeping in again!) It used to be’ ACHE, the first letter (aitch) of hangover in Shakespeare’s English – and an &lit too!

ATOLLS ‘More than one key ring’s deposited in bank’  We have TOLL (ring, as in bell) inside AS (= esker, bank)

LIP ‘Overrun the edge of parking distance in van’  P = parking. LI = Chinese measure of distance, in van = ahead of, i.e. in front of the P.

LAR ‘God causing nun to leave embrace of church’ Nun = CLARE without the embrace (outside letters) of CE, Church of England, and finally,

NUKE ‘To use the microwave on fried chicken – not smart but acceptable’ I like the surface reading  more than I did that of the last clue where a ‘Fat woman is old and wide’ turned out to be a SOW (Hmmm!) or even the rather cheeky ROCKS for ‘Balls and dances’. NUKE was CHICKEN minus CHIC (smart) plus U (acceptable) and it had to be ‘fried’ – anagrammed.

Well, I have finally got my head round all that wordplay. It was almost as challenging as Radix’s Double Cross and very rewarding.

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