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Posts Tagged ‘carte blanche’

L4725: ‘Carte Blanche’ by Piccadilly

Posted by Encota on 9 Sep 2022

Great fun! I always love it when a Numerical appears by Piccadilly. The puzzles entitled ‘The Properties Of Numbers’ in earlier Listeners were an absolute delight – perhaps my favourite ever numericals – so this puzzle immediately got my interest.

As ever it needed careful concentration throughout to avoid any simple mistakes creeping in. But there was enough cross-checking to ensure (I hope!) an error-free gridfill. Here is my effort.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!


Tim / Encota

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Carte Blanche by Chalicea

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 Oct 2014

'Stripey horse (5)'

‘Stripey horse (5)’

“You will be writing a ‘setter’s blog’ won’t you?” Well, the answer is “No” really. As so many setters have commented to me, about three years after completing the compilation, there isn’t a lot that you remember – but two issues were raised by friends and solvers. Why wasn’t NICE used as another thematic word when it was roughly in the right place in a map of France? Well, that ‘roughly’ half answers the question as Nice is a lot further east; the other half of the answer is that the other seven thematic words (Alsace, Moselle etc.) were geographic regions – yes, I know there is a Numpty  with an oenophilic tendency but they don’t produce much wine in Brittany, so they were not wine regions.

The other issue – the similarity with Samuel’s lovely January one about Napoleon’s sneer that the English were a nation of shopkeepers. The truth is that this one sprang directly from that and a discussion with Samuel (who consulted the Numpties just to confirm the French of that one for whom we did one of the test solves). My comment was that a real ‘Carte Blanche’ should be of France, not England – and this one grew out of a discussion of that idea.

A break from solving Listener crosswords

A break from solving Listener crosswords

However, I did wait a month after his was submitted before sending its ‘offshoot’ and he didn’t object to the ‘copy cat’ thing.

Starting earlyAnother comment that came my way was that there would be no artistic work in this week’s blog. Well, the Numpties have spent the whole month of September in Silicon Valley and I handed over all crossword solving to my one-year old grandson so that we could decorate his bedroom wall (with ‘Stripey horse (5)’ of course).

Yes, that’s Columba’s Spectator he’s just finishing off – but you have to start somewhere.

I was rather anxious that Carte Blanche would be far too easy for solvers and have been delighted by the lovely input so many thanks to all who wrote, and to our great team of test-solvers, vetters and very long-suffering editors.

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Listener 4311: Carte Blanche by Chalicea

Posted by Jaguar on 3 Oct 2014

Chalicea makes her second appearance in the Listener Series, after her debut Listener No 4244 last year themed around Emily Davison, who somehow or other ended up underneath the King’s horse. A relatively easy puzzle jam-packed with thematic material, and I guest-blogged that one. Could we expect the same this time? Well, probably, as that’s pretty much Chalicea’s signature puzzle: relatively easy clues with an artistic grid as a result. On we go then!


Only… this didn’t look quite so easy at all! “… roughly a third of the cells of the presented grid are not utilised,” said the preamble, and the already ominous blank grid became a step harder before we’d even started. On the other hand, it seemed likely that the shape of the grid would be somehow thematic, so that might be some help. Or not. Still, as always with cartes blanches you need to solve a fair few clues to get going, and at least I could rely on those being fairly easy.

4311 wrong

A botched first attempt!

By and large this was actually true, although one or two caused more problems than perhaps they should have. 1dn was evidently GANYMEDE ((judgement + a  y[ear] – ju[ry])*, extra T), and after a while I had enough material from the first few clue numbers to try and get working on that jigsaw. Those clue numbers had been puzzling me, too, but of course I was being told rather generously that the top half of the grid was going to be rather thinner than the 14 cells available. Once I discovered CANINE and AD COURT crossing with NORMANDY, I was away! And this puzzle clearly was going to be French-themed. “Mais oui, monsieur,” you might say, “did not Chalicea’s last feature ‘cherchez la femme’?  Does she not live in the neighbourhood?” She’s in that neck of the woods anyway. What more natural inspiration for a puzzle than the view from outside your window?

As Friday evening came and went, I’d worked my way steadily through the top half, with just one problem: where did GANYMEDE fit? Perhaps I’d parsed that wrongly after all? And what’s going on near the left of the grid? Lots of unanswered questions. Time to sleep on it.

Saturday morning saw me finally break into that elusive bottom section of the grid and, eventually, I was all but finished. But still some annoying questions remained. Where was 8dn going to fit… TC or YM makes no sense! Why is the bottom row unused at all? And, still, what is 1dn? And why does it seem to have 5/8 cells unchecked? Surely there’s no way that would pass the editors, even after that recent Third Man puzzle that broke all the Ximenean unching rules in the book several times over? Oh, and, for that matter, France seems to have developed an odd land bridge near Vannes and Paris appears to have disappeared altogether! Maybe it’s representing the Black Hole that everyone was worried about at CERN (well, silly people were worried about anyway)? Or some satirical shot at the French economy…

And so, I would have to give the puzzle a third viewing, apparently… Off to have a go at the IQ instead.

Thankfully, Phi’s offering didn’t take too long and so I was able to look again in the afternoon, and lo and behold, GANYMEDE was there after all, resolving all those nasty unching problems in the middle of the grid! Some tidying up later, and 8dn RF (République Française) appeared, that strange geography sorted itself out, and all of the rows of the grid were used after all. Phew!

Naturally, after Samuel’s excellent Generalisation, No 4278, featuring a map of most of the UK (or, perhaps, all of it? As I type this the referendum is just five days away!), people were bound to draw comparison, but this was well done and certainly more accessible. Chalicea flexes her artistic muscles once more! What next from her, I wonder? And tune in next week when we’ll see a wonderful crossword grid in the exact shape of the state of Wyoming…



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Carte Blanche by Lavatch

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 Aug 2013

Listener 4252 (1)Another carte blanche? That was our first reaction, but we soon realized that Lavatch’s creation wasn’t exactly that as he had given us letters to tell us which row or column our solutions were to be entered in, and a rough grid soon appeared. We spotted that there was a sort of imbalance in the symmetry since column A was composed of a 6-letter and a 4-letter clue, while column M had a 7-letter and a 4-letter. Obviously, we were being shown where our seven blank cells were going to be.

Finding the three clashes was not so easy and, noticing along the way that Lavatch just squeezed into the Listener Setters’ tipply club with his ‘Extract of coffee liqueur provides flavour’ (FEEL hidden) we managed to produce a convincing grid-fill with only one clash at the conjuncton of BAT and LEAK.

We had strange gaps at B?G?T?D and E?TI?N and clearly our remaining two clashes would have to appear there. We opted for NATION (NON round A + T’ + [Berlscon]I) which gave us yet another strange pair of misprint/correct letters and finally realized that we had another BL clash if we chose LIGHTED rather than BIGOTED for ‘Got down solution no. 1 in paper’  (LIGHT + ED).

SolutionEven more worrying, (we were being especially numptyish numpties) those pairs of letters (DO GY GR JT FW BT IU CT LT FP BV HW DS and BR) didn’t seem to spell anything out to us, though we did realize that the first of the two was always earlier in the alphabet. Doh! It was after a night of pondering that the word COORDINATES was shouted out in glee and it was a speedy move to SWIFT AFRIC MAPS, where we found:

So geographers in Afric-maps/ With savage pictures fill their gaps;/ And o’er unhabitable downs/ Place elephants for want of towns.

More head scratching! We spent an unconscionable time attempting to work out which savage pictures we were expected to draw in our gaps (squeeze a couple of boa constrictors in?) before realisation struck us and those letters neatly fitted into the gaps to give real words (SAUSAGES, SALUTER and so on!)

It now made sense that those clashes had produced pairs of letters that consistently produced real words like BLAT and BLEAK so had we finished? What was that bit about the geographers placing elephants in the big white spaces of Africa (in the ‘here be dragons’ style – I was reminded of that wonderful opening of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness where he talks of the fascination of those vast, white, empty spaces). We had noticed that we had TOWNS on the second row of our grid. Was this the place for a little bit of artistic licence? But how would Mr Green be expected to mark my mini pachyderms?

Yet another p.d.m. If we wiped out the TOWNS and put ELEPHANTS up there in this genuine ‘carte blanche’ we were consistently using pairs of letters to fill yet more cells. How very clever this was! Thank you, Lavatch.

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