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Posts Tagged ‘by Ifor’

A1 by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 September 2012

We  were travelling on a hopscotch ticket in the Outer Hebrides when we downloaded Ifor’s A1. Our first reaction was consternation as Ifor, in the EV and IQ series tends to challenge our solving ability. What’s more, we were house guests and I am sure you know how embarrassing it can be to lose the thread of Friday evening’s conversation as you surreptitiously glance sideways and attempt to fit a seven-letter plant to “Air’s on fire, whirling round evacuated butane plant”. (Yes, it gave us ASTILBE with the extra IR of the clue going into a Scottish name – ALASTAIR –  one of a number that seemed to be appearing as we solved).

Only one numpty was able to really devote full attention to the solve but, happily, it proved to be a generous compilation with some fine gifts of clues “Free to gain cue from within oneself” (AUTOGENIC) – but what compiler could resist such an obvious anagram?  “Box of Lego sorted out” (that one too! A friend has moaned to me that it was rather obvious but it would be difficult to find a finer clue for LOGE and the numpties, reared on “Stripey horse (5)” have no problem with a few obvious clues).

I was looking for the usual Listener compiler touch of the strong stuff but found only a few wine bottles in the clues, together with some breakfast cereal and an Ecstasy drug bust, but what did emerge was a glaring predominance of railway references – the LNER, a ‘non-stopping train’, ‘Edinburgh and London – capitals connected by line’, ‘Train heads to an over-the-border destination’, ‘Express train left after a series of years’. We were beginning to suspect that we were on familiar ground. I remember waiting for hours with my train-spotting mad cousin Mac on the platform at Hellifield station because the 4472 was exceptionally expected to come through there at some time in the day. Oh, the joys of those little books of train numbers that we crossed off when a previously un-spotted engine puffed its way through the station.

And, of course, there it was. Clues 24d, 44ac, 7d and 2d seemed to be the ones with no definitions and produced the company LNER and the culprit, the FLYING SCOTSMAN.  Those Scottish names now made sense  – they must have been his Annie and Clarabells (or were they just Scotsmen?) and, of course, it wasn’t difficult to find L on DON (LONDON) and ED in BURGH (EDINBURGH), though the rail line between took us a little longer, even if it did snake rather appropriately up the east side of a putative east coast. That’s another ‘old hands’ trick’ if, after nearly four years of Listener solving, we can call ourselves that. If you don’t find the hidden message on the diagonal or running in a circle round the centre, see if it is laboriously hauling carriages from the bottom of the grid upwards – the unlikely direction that is invariably more difficult for solvers to find.

Nice one, Ifor, thanks.

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Ifor’s Frightened Catherine, No 4137

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 June 2011

A couple of years ago the numpties downloaded one of these blank grids and said, “Well, how amusing, they’ve forgotten to print the bars!” (That was our first dose of them; the maze where we had to find our way in then find the thread, string, rope etc. that would have led us out – but we didn’t and are still fumbling around in the dark in that maze.) We are not so naive these days – just a mite weary of cartes blanches.

It is a couple of weeks since we spotted ‘Catherine’ in the Tall’n’s devilish concoction and thought we were in for a celebration of the royal wedding. Perhaps this was it, just a couple of weeks late, though why would Catherine be frightened? (Or perhaps I should say “Why not?”)

Next we noticed that there were no clue lengths. Ah well, we could divide the grid into two horizontally, since there was 180° symmetry, so every horizontal clue we solved would give us the length of another. But no, Ifor had thought of that and there was an extra clue hidden in there somewhere that wasn’t to be entered.

Just to complete our joy, twelve clues consisted of definitions leading to two words differing by one letter. Well, there was, seriously, a bit of joy there since we only had to look for 12 shorter clues and we were on our way. One numpty red herring, ‘Make fast approach’ led to TIE and NIE (when, of course, we realized later that it was RUN-UP) but our system worked well and we soon (with Mrs
Bradford’s help – that’s where Dave is going to use the rest of his red pencil stub one of these days when we have the cover of her book to colour in as the final move!) had most of those pairs:

Demon from the Dark Continent AFRIT/AFRIC, Object to small creature PROTEST/PROTIST, Set of three minimum, LEASH/LEAST, Scotch whisky, for example, might be near Glaswegian, SCRUNT/STRUNT (and, with his RICE BEER and ICE BEER at 26dn, yet another Listener compiler joins the compiler oenophiles club!) and so on.

We have been seeing a lot of  Ifor lately, in the Magpie, EV, IQ and with that fearsome one currently on the Crossword Centre message board. His clues always strike us as fine and fair and this time was no exception.  We soon had enough clues to have a stab at filling a grid, and when SLIDING-SEAT and PORTERHOUSE were in place, we were away.

A pattern emerged with all those twin definition clues having their ambiguous letters in a couple of columns. That, of course, rendered the remainder of the grid fill easier and we had a complete grid with only a couple of doubts about word play by mid evening.

The scientific numpty immediately spotted CENTIGRADE and FAHRENHEIT in what looked like two parallel thermometer tubes and the title clearly anaground (nice word!) to those words with just a missing A – we wondered whether Ifor had slipped up. (Silly, of course not – the Editors would have picked that up – think again!)

Of course, we had slotted in TANGRAM for ‘Puzzle that’s opening with anagram (one answer going missing)’ Fine wordplay: T = the opening of ‘that’, anagram with one A missing makes ANGRAM and a tangram is a puzzle, so that left us clue 39 as the extra one. Odd! ‘Fit it to cavity’?

I started to try to make sense of that ‘cryptic’ clue and had a sort of muddled F(ahrenhe)IT I'(n) T(o) C(entigrade) A'(t) VI + TY – forty – when light dawned.

Clearly, since MINUS FORTY is where those two scales ‘converge’ and those words were going to ‘resolve the ambiguity of which clue to ignore’, we had to remove clue 40. I was up the vae with no spoon with my tangram.

Ifor’s brilliance was suddenly apparent. (Shackleton, Kea, Phi, Samuel and all those stars up there in the Listener clouds had better watch it!) That same clue, ‘Puzzle that’s opening with anagram, (one answer going missing)’  now described exactly what we had in front of us.  A puzzle opening with an anagram of CENTIGRADE FAHRENHEIT (the title) with just the A (Answer – all 46 words of it) missing. Dazzling genius!

We still had to decide which word should go down and which should go up, and discover which two clue numbers had to be left in (yes, left in, since we had been inserting bars and numbers as we went along, how else does one solve such a white cat?) What was this ‘somewhat outdated corresponding couple’? It had to be a point at which the two scales corresponded. If we left Fahrenheit going upwards from 41 and Centigrade going downwards from 5, we had that correspondence. Google tells me (yes, I am supposed to know) that 41 Fahrenheit = 5 Celsius, and that even solves the question of why ‘somewhat outdated’ – Centigrade to Celsius.

Ifor, you’re a star!

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