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Posts Tagged ‘BeRo’

Triskaidekaphilia by BeRo

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 May 2015

BeRoIt didn’t take the other Numpty long to see that we were dealing with base 13 here. ‘A = 1, B = 2, …, Z = 20,’ he read – well, that’s Base 13. I breathed a despairing sigh. When a putative ORWELL had appeared some time later from the misprints and he informed me that 1984 is B98, my depression grew deeper and he was howling abuse by the time he had explained (or so he thought) that BBC made 2014.

Of course, that is the advantage of solving as a team, as his patience rarely lasts to the end of working out the endgame and I was alone with my calculator, checking that I had all the multiples of 13 in the putative shapes – but I am leaping ahead, that was some time later.

I know that sadly BeRo is no longer with us but that doesn’t preclude his continue membership of the Listener Setters’ Tipplers’ Club. He never missed the pre-dinner gathering at the annual Listener event (to my mind one of the most enjoyable parts) and he will be with us in spirit for a few years to come and, of course, in his clues: ‘Leader of rioters sloshed beer about Salmond’s drive (7)’ (I wonder whether that is a pre-electoral anti SNP comment!) We worked out that we had BEER* + C + CA’ (Scots) giving us REBECCA. Then there was ‘tipsy cake’, ‘A better British Rail introduces tipsy cake (6)’ BR round CAKE*. Cheers, BeRo!

Relatively easy clues so the grid was quickly filled with just a couple of empty cells and the usual couple of doubts. The clashes spelled out ORWELL for us, and that hint in the preamble ‘among whose works is one containing a striking thematic example’ took us straight to 1984 as everybody’s school literature included that fine opening sentence about the clocks striking 13 as Winston Smith emerged from Victory Mansions. So we had the title.

Rather pointlessly after we had understood that 48% in a clue actually referred to 60% in base 10 (Note New Hampshire’s latest Government edict, 48 per cent cut refused (7) RE + N + (Hampshir)E + G + ED(ict), I worked my was down the tenth letters of clues, looking for ten significant letters. How deeply ingrained is base 10, even if we think we are not particularly number-minded.

Changing that to the thirteenth letter at last took me onto home ground – SIX X NINE ADAMS appeared. I had to check with Mr Math that 42 in base 10 gives 54 in base 13 (well, I suppose I can just about stretch to that!) so we had the answer to everything as the conundrum at the bottom of the grid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42_%28number%29 and had to enter the anomalous 6 X 9 = 42.

Guddle 001We were left with the requirement to complete the central row, which was to be the first of thirteen shapes of equal area into which we were to ‘notionally’ divide the grid, that were to give us an ‘unbroken, multiple, thematic sequence’. This clearly stated that our thirteen shapes needed to be of thirteen cells each and it didn’t take a lot of imagination to realize that if A = 1, the central row was going to be a row of As, adding to 13.

Were we, then, to have shapes whose base 10 totals gave an increasing series of multiples of 13? We worked on that principle but oh what a guddle our earliest attempts produced. (I’ve included a thumbnail of my mess!)

Enough – we got there with a sigh of relief and rather sad reflection that this will probably be the last crossword by BeRo that we’ll solve. I hope he’s somewhere up there enjoying a heavenly Listener tipple and aware of how much solvers appreciated his swansong.

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Face Off by BeRo

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 February 2014

Face Off 002This week’s preamble sounded slightly ominous as two poets (initial and surname) were to appear ‘by turns’ and ‘affected by a theme word’ that we were going to find in the circled cells. I had a horrible premonition that that word was going to be JUMBLES. Well, it was, really, wasn’t it?

I did a speedy read through the clues to check whether BeRo could qualify for the Listener Tipplers’ Exclusive Club and sadly found that he didn’t despite “low spirits” and a “nip” in another clue. However, one intriguing feature of the clues did emerge. I remember when I first began to contribute to Listen With Others blogs, when Dave Hennings and Samuel were the main bloggers with Erwinch sometimes adding his insight, Samuel commented to me, “I never solve a crossword without first scanning the initial and ultimate letters of clues as a message is sometimes hidden there. A quick scan can save lots of head-scratching.” Oh what good advice!

The hidden message was somewhat obscure at this stage but there was something there: EIGHTY SUNS HELLCAT EON TOT AMEN IF SKI AMBIENCE LIT DUMB. Hmmm! Well, those were initially observable and we had to find, in there, a couplet that would have the theme word omitted and a second omitted word that was to be written below the grid. Nothing to do but solve – and solve we did at an unusually high speed, beginning with GDAY ‘Traditional Oz salutation upset Dorothy Gale initially, alas (4)’ and working systematically through the clues, finishing with the top left corner.

There has to be a numpty red herring and, of course, there was. Those circled letters very soon resolved themselves into ANAGRAM but that said GRANNAM to me. Years of ‘teaching’ poetry have left me with lots of arcane information including the fact that both Meredith and Coleridge have GRANNAM in their poems, one of them with her sitting with a little lambkin at her feet. That was enough to waste quite a lot of Internet time. Not content with that, I then decided that we must be looking at Shakespeare’s ‘My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun …” since TEETH, CHEEKS, EYES and HAIR were clearly the features evident in the grid.  But where was the poet hidden?

Flavia 002Of course, that was the route to the solution. I, who am criticised for over-using the leading diagonal for hiding a message, took rather too long to consider the other diagonal – and in the opposite direction. Of course, there they were, J DRYDEN and J DONNE, both anagrammed and with their letters appearing alternately. From that point it was a gentle ski down a blue piste to ANAGRAM  and THE ANAGRAM. This was so glaringly obvious that it should have led me straight to the ODQ at the start for there is ‘anagram’ and the link to Dryden.

What did I find in Dryden’s MacFlecknoe? “Thy genius calls thee not to purchase fame/ in keen iambics, but mild anagram:” Sure enough, omitting “Anagram” from that couplet and working through EIGHTY SUNS HELLCAT EON TOT AMEN IF SKI AMBIENCE LIT DUMB in word pairs, it became immediately evident that PURCHASE had been omitted from those ‘initially observable’ letters.

Now to Donne. What does the Internet give me? OMG – a delightful description of Flavia!

“…  For, though her eyes be small, her mouth is great ;
Though they be ivory, yet her teeth be jet ;
Though they be dim, yet she is light enough ;
And though her harsh hair fall, her skin is tough ;
What though her cheeks be yellow, her hair’s red …”

Poor Flavia! However, it was a short step from the poem to how the four features had to be “identifiably entered according to the nearest adjective”. Here we have small eyes, jet teeth, yellow cheeks and red hair. Wow! All done and dusted and with great amusement. I still haven’t really understood the title ‘Face Off’ but did appreciate how much BeRo had fitted thematically into his (her?) grid. Many thanks for a most enjoyable solve!

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Panta Rhei by BeRo

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 August 2013

Panta Rhei 001Consternation was the Numpty response when this 2016111214 91885 slid out of the printer and consternation was the state about two hours later when just a few words had appeared in our grid. We had immediately attacked the title and dredged something like TAPLNA HIRE or HEIR out of it but that was not very promising, were we going to be involved in some sort of A PLANT HIRE? (Shifting big trees around?) Clearly we had to cold solve.

There were some tough clues here, since, for half of them we might work towards a solution but had to enter them in a thematic way. This was likely to be a jumble (and I have expressed my loathing of jumbles here before and promise never to use that device, which I think is a cop out for a compiler – snarl over!), but even that posed problems, since there had to be some way to tell us how to deal with the unches in a clue like 11ac which yielded LAPILLI, or 22dn (ALIUNDE) or even 35ac (VOETSAK).

What about the other half? Fortunately we could solve a few of them from just the word play, but then we had to work backwards and attempt to decipher those numbers to obtain a word which was only a definition of the solution. Horror of horrors, these numbers were jumbled too WITH AN EXTRA LETTER concealed in A 0 1, B = 2-style jumbles.There was only one hint of relief when we realized that the solutions to those words could be entered normally, giving us a tiny toe-nail foothold.

Well, there was just one other slightly reassuring touch. BeRo is evidently a member of that elite Listener setters’ tippling club. I took a break from the hard grind, to scan the clues for evidence and found not one but 50 Spanish pubs in his repertoire and he was intoxicating some dated gypsy man in 24ac. ‘Stop gypsy man being content to intoxicate dated one (8)’ What a lucky solve that one was: Mrs Bradford gave us a word for a STOP with ROM in it (CROMORNA) and we could work out that the ‘dated’ CORN and ‘one’ A had the ROM as content.

Fortunately, a few of the longer words, HEARTSEASE (giving a numerical code for PANSY with an extra U), STEEPENING (BECOMING HARDER with A), APPLICABLY (SUITABLY with N) began to provide a framework and, over a period of seven hours, we laboured to work backwards to those letters and to get enough letters in our grid to enable TEA to produce some suggestions. The trouble was that TEA produced rather a lot and we were working through lists of a couple of hundred words to convince ourselves that ‘Antique book covering folio concerning Will’s final letter (5) was FOREL and not RELIC, for example.

It was one Numpty’s sudden realization that the title could give PANTA RHEI that led us to Chambers ‘All things are in a flux’, and HERACLITUS. Doesn’t he sound like one of those grumpy ‘And another thing’ old men on the village liars’ bench, complaining about the modern world! So that explained the method of entry of those ambiguous words. No letter had to go into its original cell. Progress speeded up and we were soon able to establish that the letters provided by extra code numbers did indeed anagram to HERACLITUS PANTA RHEI.

All that was left to do (and it was after midnight by now) was to highlight squares 8,5,18,1,3,12,9,20,21,19 HERACLITUS, and, sure  enough, there was an anagram of that name. As usual, we learned something and this certainly kept us quiet for a long time. On reflection it was an achievement on the compiler’s part to ensure that all that ambiguity could be resolved by simply ensuring that a light with two unches (like ALIUNDE) could be filled by simply never having any letter occupy its original cell or, as in the case of MUTUCAS or LAPILLI putting the same letter into both of the unches. Thank you BeRo.

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Phiz by Be-Ro

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 January 2012


Phew! I started this one 24 hours ago and worked at it till after midnight, and most of today too. My third check has just convinced me that those Os Is and Ts must be eyes, nose and teeth. Phizog? Decidedly there must be a few ‘all corrects’ lurking out there and the dastardly editors have decided to opt for the evening of all the drunken office parties (the ROISTERS) and morning-afters to finally eliminate them.

We were in the middle of a snow blizzard as I attempted to download Phiz and the power failed and re-failed and re-re-failed, leaving me just enough time to read that preamble. I almost abandoned on the spot! The other Numpty did just that and disappeared to cook dinner.

No, it wasn’t the clues. We had all but five (NABK, ROULES, TERETE, STALL and TRIE) after a few hours of head-scratching and a lot of grumbling. We managed to fit TIE around R (‘Ed’s to turn out, take a bow outside’ (4)) but we got TIRE and decided that that must be a Spenserian version of ATTIRE (in the sense of a smart ‘turn out’) Oh dear the pitfalls! But just look at those words! (And BANIA, JATROPHA, POITREL, PROINE, PHOTS, ATROPOUS – what language is this?) Yes, our blizzard continued so there was no ski-ing today and I’m feeling pretty ROYNISH!

Knights’ moves and things like this get thrust into my camp so I set to work and made fine progress until MARQUETRY and RE-ENTRY refused to make bedfellows. Second attempt: ATROPOUS and ROULES clashed – and so it continued with the light slowly dawning that it was important to keep track of my moves. However, as with those Knights’ moves, the remaining words suggested themselves as I progressed. Apart from that bit of ‘grid help’, this was almost a 100% exercise in cold-solving wasn’t it? What I would have said a smidgin over two years ago when I first attempted a Listener crossword. I dread to think!

Fitting those words in was fiendish, as all but the north-west corner presented problems. NEEDLE (Ah, the Laced Utah alcohol – at least BeRo upheld the Listener compiler tradition of incorporating a drop of alcohol into his clues) went in in every direction before it agreed to live side by side with DIRL.

At last a full grid that seemed to work. Of course, we hadn’t finished. We had to complete another forfeit and copy those unchecked letters into the last little grid. (Just as an irrelevant aside – the Fizz-Buzz game is a wonderful way to teach language-learners to count in their new language – numbers divisible by 3 get BUZZ, 5s get FIZZ – so Un, deux, BUZZ, quatre, FIZZ, BUZZ, sept, huit, BUZZ, dix, onze, douze Oh dear, I’m eliminated! I gather there is a rather more racy adult party game along the same lines too.)

Our first attempt produced a rather odd PHIZOG (obviously that was what we were aiming at) as it had an extra squinty eyelash dangling, so I took myself in hand and coloured and numbered squares as they were used once or twice, finally producing the desired result. (Look at her hideous smile above!)

What a lot of bloggy grumbling about what was in fact a magnificent challenge. What a wonderful feeling of achievement, too, to have got there in the end.

Thank you, BeRo for filling my entire Saturday with this demoniacal puzzle. (Back to ski-ing – it reminds me of my small son’s map of the ski resort when we had stretched him:  – Blue Pistes = fun, Red = difficult, Black = impossible – this was verging on the black!)

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