Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Bunch of Fives’

Listener No 4597: Bunch of Fives by Brock

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 March 2020

Only the third Listener puzzle from Brock, and eight years since the last with its Biblical misprint theme. What faced us this week was one of those grids that is almost impossible to describe in words although “lots of little pentagonal cells scrunched together in a roughly hexagonal shape” would probably do. The central cell was unchecked but needed completing in the endgame.

The answers, all clued, included five thematically-related sets of five. The preamble then proceeded to describe how the initial letters of clues would spell out an instruction, and the fifth letter of the fifth word would enable an ambiguity to be resolved. I always worry about the need to resolve ambiguities, especially if I complete a grid without stumbling across one.

The first set of five that I spotted were the stars, although I got some of them mixed up with asteroids, the next set I spotted. The stars were VEGA, SIRIUS, ARCTURUS, ALPHA CENTAURI and CANOPUS. I particularly liked the clue to number 4, True chaplain and a converted near neighbour? (13, two words) even though it was a straightforward anagram. The asteroids were CERES, VESTA, IRIS, EROS and PALLAS although the third and fifth were new to me.

So we had an astronomical theme, didn’t we? Well, no! The fish put paid to that with HADDOCK, PLAICE, SKATE, COD and HUSS.

All in all, my favourite clue, albeit quite complex wordplay was 58-47 Espresso? Head waiter, initially confounded, brings it in with milk (5) for WHITE — (E(spresso) H(ead) W(aiter))* around IT. The last one in, and not just because it was down the bottom of the grid, was 63-56 I amplify microwaves, keeping magnetic flux density lower (6) for IMBASE — I + MASE around B.

Finally, the other sets could be seen, with BLACK, ASOV, CASPIAN, WHITE and BALTIC Seas plus RING, INDEX, LITTLE, MIDDLE fingers and THUMB.

A bit of Google search finally uncovered what was going on. Asteroidea is the class of echinoderms, the starfishes which in turn led to sea stars, five fingers and, why not, fish fingers.

The initial letters of the clues taken in the correct order gave Centre and twenty-five others for the cells that needed to be highlighted. Fifth letters of fifth words in this clues, in a different order, gave Choose the rightmost S option. So, once the central P was inserted, all the PISCESes in the grid had to be highlighted to represent a starfish, with the S in the south-east corner being the rightmost one.

I must admit that I got a bit lost with all the sets floating around,, but I’m sure the published solution will make all clear, and probably more succinctly than I could manage it.

Good fun, thanks Brock.


Here’s hoping good health to all LWO readers and non-readers alike.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »

L4597: 'Bunch of Fives' by Brock

Posted by Encota on 27 March 2020

Feels like the puzzle of the year to me, so far at least!

I was only recently introduced to the term OP: it arose in a novel written for an online puzzle hunt that I and several others of the Listener community recently took part in. I suspect that clarifies that my playing of video-games peaked a long while ago. I understand OP to mean OverPowered, where a player or card etc is almost too strong in a certain situation. Of course my children laughed at me for not knowing!

On a related train of thought I recall, somewhat with awe, when the computer virus Stuxnet was first analysed. It had utilised four previously unknown or unaddressed vulnerabilities (so-called zero day attacks, for those that love the jargon). Stick with me!

So how many new (zero day?) features were concurrently involved in this puzzle? There was the hiding of five each of Seas, Stars, Fish, Asteroids & Digits/Fingers. There was the hidden message based on first letters of those 25 clues [CENTRE AND TWENTY FIVE OTHERS], asking for the centre and 25 others to highlighted. There was the re-use of Asteroids / asteroidae as those minor planets and the ‘family’ of Starfish. There was the use of fish – well, PISCES – to create each ‘arm’ of the central starfish. And, for me, the pièce de resistance, the fifth letter of the fifth word in those 25 clues to spell out another message, purely to remove an ambiguity as to which S one should pick for the SE arm of the Starfish. [CHOOSE THE RIGHTMOST’S OPTION] If that feature ain’t OP, then I don’t understand the term!

The letter to be added at the centre? “I’ll have a P please Bob.” Sorry, I meant Brock. A Blockbuster of a construction. Delightful!! Fabulous!!


Tim / Encota

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »