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Posts Tagged ‘by Nutmeg’

Aft by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 August 2015

Nutmeg Holmes 001Nutmeg! That produced an instant smile. Anything compiled by Nutmeg is sure to give pleasure, be it in the Listener, EV or IQ series, in the Magpie or in the Guardian. Her Magpie Porkies was one of my all-time favourites with its delightful use of the AA Milne line ‘The more he looked, the more Piglet wasn’t there’. Her name is frequently in the top five in the clue writing competition in Derek Harrison’s Crossword Centre: she was placed second in the last set of results. (And she gets a special smile from me as she is one of the very few lady setters of advanced thematic crosswords.) So what does she have in store for us this time?

A very short preamble – that can be the harbinger of a fearsome crossword. She speaks of a ‘few’ thematic answers that are clued by wordplay only, of a ‘few’ cells where letters from across and down answers clash and ‘must be replaced by a single dot’. That is intriguing. We solve 16 across first, ‘Stellar student’s briefly off course at the outset (7)’ (ASTRA(y) + L) and immediately notice that clue lengths are not always the same as the number of available cells, so happily, we can at once identify the suspect entries.

Of course, I have scanned the clues to confirm Nutmeg’s membership of the Distinguished Listener Oenophile Society and she confirms it with good taste, ‘Lose market’s top source of malt whisky (6)’ (M(arket) + ISLAY). We spot a few clues connected with jewels and food and the rather randy clue, ‘Indian open to any sex, a lot of wives wanting male (6)’ (BI + HARI(m)). Hmmm!

Solving is steady and enjoyable and the first penny-drop moment comes very quickly when HOLMES fits into the first of the unclued lights. “Ah”, says the other Numpty, “then WATSON must be 27 down and ADVENTURE will fill 17 down.” (We already had most of the letters.) Now we realize what we are going to colour, as we have BEECHES, BAND, LEAGUE and CARBUNCLE in the grid. We are going to have to invent some way of colouring those ‘copper’, ‘speckled’, ‘red-headed’ and ‘blue’. By my reckoning, assuming that only the ‘head’ of LEAGUE is coloured red, we need five more cells for a further treatment, in order to reach the 26 cells of the preamble.

We complete our grid fill, with a bit of a struggle in the top right hand corner, where we have that rather strange clue, ‘A single record recalled hosts knowing man’s name (6)’ That has to be the ‘One six-letter answer’ that ‘is entered in an unorthodox form (indicated by the wordplay) to as to suggest one adventure of Homes and Watson’. I LP reversed hosting HIP gives us PHIPLI, which is, of course, a jumble of Philip and suggests ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’, so all is hunky dory – except for those dots.

We have understood that we are replacing the beginnings or ends of words with a dot, where clashes occur, and a moment’s thought reveals that these give SEE(thed)/(Lin)D (producing SEED), (a)ST(ral)/(Bih)AR(i) (producing STAR), BLEE(ders)/(se)P(tic) (producing BLEEP), SPL(enetic)/(overw)EEN (giving SPLEEN) and BLACK(en)/(tea)BALL (giving BLACKBALL). I look up PIP in Chambers and am delighted to find that those are the first five definitions for the word. So, with a smile, we put dots in those cells and colour them orange.

Many thanks, Nutmeg, great fun.



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A Noted Performance by Nutmeg

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 November 2012

We had  the pleasure of a highly amusing puzzle by Nutmeg as the B in the current Magpie and here is Nutmeg again. This was fun. With our first three entries (RAWEST, SHEEN and WELDED) we established that some clues were to be entered upwards. UNTRUE came next and one numpty said, well, that one will go in ‘neither up nor down’. Oh how that early nursery rhyme training comes in useful. Here we are in the Yorkshire Dales (under our first fine layer of snow) and here is our Noble Duke:

Oh the noble Duke of York/ He had ten thousand men,/He marched them up to the top of the hill / And he marched them down again. / And when they were up they were up, / And when they were down they were down, / And when they were only half way up, / They were neither up nor down.

With a couple more clues in place and having established that Nutmeg is a member of the Listener Compiler imbibing fraternity – there were the tipply clues; ‘Abroad Englishman sampled port (4)’ (ADEN hidden) and ‘More gin drunk by one embosomed by Caesar (8, 2 words)’ (MORE GIN I* = IN GREMIO) we were able to fit THE DUKE OF YORK down the leading diagonal. We had already placed his 10 THOUSAND MEN, the BATTLE ROYAL and the GRAND OLD MAN in the grid.

This was fun. We were keeping a record of the solutions that were going up, those that were going down and those that were half up/half down or half down/half up. ‘Approximately equal numbers of each’, said Nutmeg. That was helpful, as we needed no more than six of any one type. We quickly had six normal down clues and 22d couldn’t be a half up half down solution as it had seven letters, so it had to go up, as indeed it did. ‘Carping critic, “cross one” on series (7)’ (ZO + I on LIST = ZOILIST) – Now that’s this week’s new word for me to drop casually into dinner-table conversation. But indeed, I am not a zoilist. We had a wonderful whoop of elation as our grid was filled before dinner and we sent Nutmeg a silent vote of thanks.

We are travelling a long way tomorrow to Doc’s splendid crossword event in Budock Vean and this impeccable but not too difficult Friday evening solve was just what we needed. Many thanks, Nutmeg.

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An Unsettled Spell by Nutmeg (Where was Eeyore?)

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 June 2011

After last week’s struggle with the numbers (we had just a few sheets of paper and a sticky calculator) the numpties were almost looking forward to the first of twelve ‘normal’ Listener crosswords. However, it was not to be – not for us anyway. We were basking in Ibiza sun when disaster struck. A beekeeper accidentally lost control of his equipment in gusting winds and the northern part of the island caught fire and burned out of control for three days causing ferocious damage to thousands of hectares, villas, cars – and it raged very close to the villa we were in.

Evacuated in the clothes we stood up in, with no Internet, prospects looked bleak. I couldn’t even save my Bradford! (but rescued it later). All the same, needs must. We got to a wifi cafe outside the burning area and downloaded the weekly fix – then stared at it in dismay and chewed the one pencil stub for twenty-four hours.

Samuel, commenting on Nudd’s Pushmi-Pullyu, said how pleased he was to have a break from cartes blanches. Well, so were we, but this was almost worse. We were cold solving, as no word was actually going to appear in the grid in its true guise.

Ten clues yielded to scrutiny – ARDENT had to be ‘Full of hea(r)t, perhaps worker crosses road with energy’ (ANT round RD with E, with the R creeping from the solution into the clue, so we entered ADENT, REBEC was ‘Dissenter not h(e)aving last century’s instrument’ (REBEL losing L and gaining C with that E from the solution again creeping into the clue) – and so on.

Clearly we had about as much chance as a chocolate rabbit in Hell of solving this crossword the way we were going (we got the RABBIT clue – Top monk – ABBOT – shuns holy books – remove the OT – in scripture lessons (RI) – (T)his teacher wouldn’t – well a RABBI wouldn’t shun holy books would he? We added the T that had slid down into the solution and it gave us that RABBIT but we were slow on numpty uptake and didn’t see where this was leading us.

It was a full day later that just a few letters in 5d, when fed into a search engine, suggested Winnie the Pooh! Of course, the ODQ at once yielded the quotation that fitted the title. ‘It wobbles and the letters get in the wrong places (Milne)’

Even with those helpful letters, solving was difficult, mainly due to Nutmeg’s astonishing mental agility in those fearsome clues – including the one slightly risqué one that we loved ‘Adult left in Bristol tipping lover’. A + L in TIT, giving ATILT with the L leaping up from the solution into the clue. There was a touch of typical sheer Nutmeg brilliance there, in the wordplay and the superb surface reading.

This crossword was a step up in difficulty but the work of a superb setter and we could only admire it. We had almost filled the grid when we found RABBIT, BEETLE, OWL, PIGLET, KANGA, BEAR (and his HONEYPOT) and, of course, TIGGER.  Working backwards from TIGGER solved that clue for us (‘What’s needed for sho(r)t horse on screen’ – T(R)IGGER, a double definition). Undoubtedly Nutmeg deliberately led us into the red-herring box, looking for ‘short hose’.

Yes, this was one of the unforgettable stars of a year of extremely difficult crosswords – or so it seems to us so far. I have only one mild reproach for Nutmeg. Our old friend Eeyore, as usual, drew the short straw and was missed out – so here he is!

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