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Posts Tagged ‘by MynoT’

No. 4120, Cross-country by MynoT (Local colour!)

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 February 2011

We were expecting something like this. The Burns supper is coming up this month. “Cross … country”, I gloated, resting my hand on the Caran d’Ache pencil box, “This is going to be a Scottish flag – that white cross on blue!

Solving was a pleasure, starting with the bottom right-hand corner (as usual! Is it because some compilers set in the other direction and these are the last clues that don’t have quite the same flair?) YARRAN was quite a find, ‘Fodder mother kept from cobber’s horse’ – MA removed from YARRAMAN. We were warned that the solution was not in Chambers, though I found it in the ODE as well as Collins, albeit with the ‘fodder’ definition lacking – and ‘Yarraman’ was in Chambers to give us a helping hand.

Solving went on full tilt with only a few hiccups. Fortunately, half the numpty team has heard of PSMITH, that character in the Jeeves stories,  (‘In essence, NCO’s a fictional character’ – SM in PITH) – we couldn’t find him in Chambers. PERL had us wondering for a while, ‘Learner following a language’. Is this a rather unorthodox reading of the Chambers’ definition of PER? (‘For each or a’ surely implies that PER means ‘for a’?) and DEVA really had us scratching our heads. ‘God out of condition to overwhelm with grief’. ‘Deva’ had to be the god and I suppose the condition is ‘a state’. ‘Devastate’ is ‘to overwhelm with grief’ but I couldn’t quite work out the wordplay. We toyed, for a whole, with DEAR, as that has adjectival and adverbial poetic meanings of ‘grievous’.

Of course, finding the instruction given by the ‘removed letters’ resolved those problems, ‘COLOUR APPROPRIATELY CELLS CONTAINING LETTERS OF THEME’. A bit of a vicious circle here. We need to find the theme to know what to colour and we need to know what to colour in order to find the theme. The initial grid had contained a rather evident cross in the centre (it didn’t look much like that putative St Andrew’s cross) and now that area was filled with an odd set of letters (SMSUSSYSUMWSYPSMUUPM). There had to be something there – PUSSY? MUMSY, SWUSSY?

We were suspecting, at this stage, that the Swiss flag was going to be our culprit – or perhaps, as a kind of partner for last week’s CERN, the Croix Rouge. The theme was to have 21 letters. We know that CONFEDERATIO HELVETICA, with its 21 letters, is one of the longest country names in the world (barring a few transitory ones like ‘The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Hadjabariaihanistan’). Our Swiss neighbours proudly remind us that the Latin name was chosen for this country with its four languages (more of us here speak English than Romansch – unofficially there are five languages now!) That name confers a kind of impartiality.

‘Read the preamble’. It cannot be said too often. ‘These letters in clue order give an instruction …’ – ‘Colour appropriately cells containing letters of theme’. So we did! What a pleasure it is to have that final colouring to do!

That is when our admiration for MynoT’s construction surged. Not only has he organised his letters into two groups (those with letters of CONFEDERATIO HELVETICA – all of which appear several times in the grid, and those that are not there – OK with a few absentees, Z, Q, J, B, G, X, K but so what?)  but also, he has engineered it so that, from his lovely symmetrical grid, a 48-letter message can be extracted. Now that is some feat. Many thanks, MynoT.


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Quartet by MynoT,

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 March 2010

Quartet by MynoT

TS Eliot? Vivaldi? The ‘Easy clues coffee break’ team is learning to give a thought to the title – and we were within a stone’s throw, but we were several hours of cold-solving further on before we realized it. We’re improving at the cold-solving as we learn that N can be a Knight, R is sometimes ‘take’ and so on. Still, it seems to me that it would be extremely difficult to solve the first quadrant of this demonish crossword without having a complete set of clues solved (or eight or nine, at least).

We were faced with the same two problems as everybody else. Do the sets fit into quadrants in some coherent order or has MynoT juggled them just to make our task even more difficult? Second problem: with nowhere to start, how do we have an inkling which letter to move to the periphery? A quick calculation produced the daunting figure of several thousand possible combinations in a single quadrant.

The obvious ploy was to colour-code the solutions for word length and to attempt to intersect the three longer ones in our almost complete set (Set 4). We tried it to no avail in the SE quadrant, then, with astonishment, found that a fit was possible in the SW, that gave us ‘ALL TH-NGS AR ‘ Adding the likely I of THINGS produced that astonishing IWNTER, and, assuming that we were seeing a word that was treated thematically (with the I extracted), we had a SEASON.

Were we back with Vivaldi? Or ‘A Man for All Seasons’? Or a biblical quotation? Or could it be Durrell (Nunc, Tunc, Bunk and Funk or whatever they are called). We regard ourselves as learners (not cheats) when we consult the Internet, but Google threw up a vomit-worthy mass of trite interpretations of biblical texts – and got us nowhere. At this stage, the ODQ wasn’t any help either. A Keats reference to four seasons was a typical Zebra team red-herring.

We struggled desperately at this stage, since it was difficult to go further without another complete or almost complete set of solutions and we had two or three missing in every group. Set 1 seemed a likely fit in the SE quadrant, but we couldn’t solve ‘One that’s after line dancing’. That deceptive word ‘dancing’ had us looking for an anagram of LINEI and we weren’t aware of that unusual spelling of CEILI or that CEIL means ‘to line’ – a pretty mean clue, I think. SALPAE, too was not thrown up by any of the sites I consulted in my attempts to learn about ‘sea squirts’. I know far too much about them now!

As soon as we had ‘THEIR COURSE AND ALL THINGS ARE’ the rest of the Confucian wisdom was evident and it was obvious that we had to omit the word SEASONS from the complete quotation, as those thematic elements were appearing in our quadrants. Now I realize that the sets were in their normal order: spring, summer, autumn, winter – so MynoT was not being deliberately curmudgeonly after all!

It was a lovely downhill homeward ride from there on. What a pleasure to juggle with the remaining words, and the missing ones appeared as I worked. But how easy it is to be led off track! I had spotted a wonderful solution to, ‘In a high degree employed wet’ – MADID. Of course, it wouldn’t fit, but for a long time, it led me to reject ASCUS for ‘Cell’s self-contained down under’ since I already had my quota of five-letter words. It was only when the grid produced SOUSED for ‘In a high degree employed wet’ that ASCUS completed my grid.

Lovely, MynoT but far too difficult for us, and do we highlight just the four seasons with their peripheral letters or the whole quotation and those seasons? After all, the whole thing is produced by those seasons running their course. I’m rather sad that there are no cherry trees to chop or wrens to send winging over the waves but dazzled by this superb construction.

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