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Posts Tagged ‘Book of Kells’

Common Acid Test by Stan

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Oct 2016

book-of-kellsIt wouldn’t be normal for the Numpties to download what was, in effect, a carte blanche, with clues that have no word lengths and to read that ‘the grid is made up of square cells, not all of the same size … ‘ without a mighty grumble. There was the redeeming feature that ‘clues are given in conventional order’ but then we had that so familiar ‘the wordplay leads to the answer with an extra letter that is not entered in the grid’. Oh dear!

Of course I checked Stan’s continued membership of the Listener Setters Oenophiles Society and although he gave me initial concern with ‘Inclination to get high put out near conclusion’ (PU[T* END = UPTREND) and followed that by ‘Lament one from Perth entering house of disrepute’ ([A]E in KEN giving KEEN) he seemed to be yielding to the need for a drink with ‘Hesitancy built up amongst teetotallers? (BUIL[T]* in AA giving ABULIA – loss of willpower).

Yes, the willpower was clearly gone as Stan then told us ‘Vintage measure of Champagne quietly discovered in rustic tavern’ (Giving us TA[V]ERN* around P so the measure was just any old French plonk or even soil) then we had a stimulant, ‘Stimulant — extract of cantaloupe, perhaps’ Hidden UPPER with an extra E. No wonder Stan was ‘Slightly drunk, Earl travelled round missing first left’ (another anagram giving us ELEVATED with an extra R. Well, Cheers, Stan, see you at the bar!

There were lots of difficult clues and we could, as yet, see no way of entering them but slowly some probable words emerged from the message that was appearing in the extra letters: ILLUMINA… MAN..CR… VERS.. IN LARGEST C.L. It was the other Numpty who explained that the Acid Test is LIT MUS and if we make that ‘Common’ by removing the U. we get a ‘lit’ or ILLUMINATED MS or MANUSCRIPT. I had no idea that a VERSAL was the large ornamental letter that is at the beginning of an illuminated manuscript (though we have been enthralled by the Book of Kells)

So at last it all made sense. ‘VERSAL IN LARGEST CELL’ Those six-letter words that shared an initial A were going to share a large illuminated letter A, and since the grid was to be symmetrical about the NW-SE diagonal, once we had those four words (AUREUS, APERCU, ABULIA and ARPENT) in place, the rest of the words paired off nicely and filled the grid.

I was so excited that at last we had a grid fill, that I almost overlooked that last requirement. ‘Solvers must also highlight a thematic three-word title in the grid. It was, of course, obvious what I was looking for but it took me surprisingly long to find it BOOK OF KELLS so neatly symmetrically crossing the grid just below the other diagonal. What a clever and attractive compilation, Stan. Many thanks.

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‘Common Acid Test’ by Stan

Posted by Encota on 28 Oct 2016


Isn’t The Book of Kells one of the most amazing pieces of artwork?   As many of you will know (and certainly by the time you read this) it’s on display in Trinity College Dublin.  I nearly got to visit it once – and definitely one for my list.  Having seen facsimiles of many of the plates I’d recommend a visit it to you all, if you are anywhere even vaguely nearby (same continent, perhaps?).

According to the TCD website (and I certainly wouldn’t disagree) the Book of Kells is Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. The 9th century book is a richly decorated copy of the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ.  One small sample attached here:


So, on to Stan’s delightful puzzle.  Once some of the across clues were solved then ‘Illuminated Manuscript’ looked a very likely candidate for the two-word description.  But the rest of the hidden phrase seemed much harder to crack.

For example, the final clue:
Poor relation, most excellent at first
really threw me initially.  I assumed correctly that the definition must be ‘Poor’: my first guess at the answer, which I then tried to ‘parse into place’ was MEAGRE.  Could I shoehorn ME (Most Excellent) + AGRE[E] in somehow?  ‘Agree’ and ‘relation’ are similar?  Answer: maybe but not similar enough.  When I then stumbled on NAN as the possible relation (yes, there’s no Def By Example indicator, I know, I know), then I foolishly thought ME [N]AN gave MEAN and I put N aside as the added letter.  When the hidden letters for the ‘something that must appear therein’ began to look like “…LARGEST C??N” I was stumped. COIN for Corner in a French illuminated manuscript, perhaps??  Eventually I guessed CELL, then spotted that this last clue was actually MERE and parsed as ME RE[L].

I’m not sure if it was last week’s Sabre, where every clue appeared to have an extra level of indirection in it, that meant I took time to get on Stan’s wavelength.  There were several abbreviations that I missed until I’d already guessed the answers and which look very clear in hindsight:

  • ap. for apparently
  • rel. for relation
  • cel. for celebrated

How did I get delayed by those?  Was it just me? (Probably!)

And was I the only one to pause over…

Inclination to get high put out near conclusion

…I wonder?  There seemed to be so many possible ways to parse it!  I tried UPEND but that didn’t quite work; I then tried TREND which again didn’t quite account for all the wordplay; and eventually I combined the two and went with UPTREND.

And finally, the Title?  I guess one of the most well-known ways of testing for acid is using LITMUS; add a bit of commonness, i.e. non-U, and this becomes LIT MS.
Illuminated (LIT) + ManuScript (MS) – simple, eh?

Loved it – thanks Stan!

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