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Posts Tagged ‘Chalicea’

The Name of the Game by Chalicea

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 April 2020

I think people hear more than enough of the Numpties on these pages and don’t normally write a setter’s blog but so much has come to me from friends (and the many who were friends until they put the three billiard balls outside the bounds of the ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL billiard table, this committing a foul in the game of billiards, and wrecking their all-correct Listener records – if they still had them after mangling lower-case Greek letters in Opsimath’s the week before) that I thought I should write a few words of apology.

My original grid was carte blanche because it required no bars until a final set to be drawn around IKB’s name, thus delineating the thematic item. One of my problems, as a setter, is producing too many words and editorial tweaks pointed out that there was no need for the bars as a solver would realize that his three coloured blls had to be on the table – so words cut, as they were very cleverly by the second editor, producing succinct and better peamble and clues – we do owe those editors so much – but he had over-estimated the nous of the solver and the floor was littered with balls – so sorry!

Masses of praise has come over the ether, or whatever it is, for my knowledge of billiards, (actually I am rubbish at snooker which is the nearest I ever got and I know next to nothing about the game but the Internet is great isn’t it?) but It was Shark who did the last test-solve of my puzzle and he had a billiard champion in his family, and is also an astonishingly able test-solver. The warm comments about what was good about the puzzle should really go to him. My speciality is the Brunel bit – he is one of our heroes and I have been astonished by the number of solver and setter friends who tell me that they live within a mile, say, of the Great Western Railway and didn’t know it was Brunel’s billiard table. If he had played his game (billiards?) a little better we would have his wide gauge everywhere.

So many thanks to testers, our superb editors and dear John Green (no, not to Tim and Dave – fellow bloggers – what’s all that about alcohol!).


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Listener No 4601: The Name of the Game by Chalicea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 April 2020

It has only been nine months since Chalicea’s last Listener with its Brucie Boy and Bannockburn theme. This week we had a carte blanche with a final grid that was almost 180° symmetric. I’m not sure I’ve seen that spelt out in a preamble before.

Nine clues had to have a word removed before solving with a message given by the initial letters of the word either side. In the final grid, an area bounded by a name would need shading — in the conventional colour, and not too much I hoped — together with three items.

As you may know, Chalicea is a member of the Gin Worshipping Ring but tries not to reveal that in her clues. However, she frequently, and sub-consciously, introduces alcohol to her entries. Here, every one had a shot or two (or more) of GIN & TONIC. Some were quite blatant, such as KINGDOM and OVERBOOOKING. One was just neat gin — GLEEMAIDEN. Shame on you, Chalicea.

Back to the puzzle, and we had a fairly straightforward solve, although the link between the extra clue words didn’t jump out at me: red, Jenny, cannon, eccentric, nurse, white, kiss, pills, yellow. However, the two entries that made the grid slightly unsymmetrical (9dn and 25dn) were LONDON and BRISTOL.

A bit of googling was still required to find out how BILLIARD TABLE linked the two. At first, I wondered whether Brunel and his engineers used Maidenhead Bridge as a large snooker hall before the tracks were laid. Sadly not! Because the track was so straight and level from Paddington to Swindon and beyond, it was referred to as Brunel’s Billiard Table.

ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL could be found in the grid marking out a billiard table with letters O for the White, Red and Yellow balls. Lucky for Chalicea, a yellow ball is now used rather than a white ball marked with a black spot. Who knows how that could have been an extra word in the clues! Lots of green shading was required at the end, not any of the bizarre greys, blues, oranges and reds that I saw in Google images.

Another gentle puzzle, thanks Chalicea.

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L4560: Midsummer by Chalicea

Posted by Encota on 12 July 2019

The title reminded me that my puzzle featuring Nick Bottom the weaver featured in this same Midsummer slot last year – at least I think it was last year!  And 1ac’s clue reinforced the Shakespearean play link:

Destroys reputation of essentially naive Bottom chasing donkey after donkey (12)

Knowing Chalicea of course, these hints to a Dream on a Midsummer’s Night were more likely to be red herrings than not – and so it proved!  In the case of this clue it parsed as ASS+ASS+(na)I(ve)+NATES, defined as ‘Destroys reputation of’.  A great start to a puzzle!


I was educated during the period when knowing dates was seen to count as knowledge.  So knowing that Bannockburn was fought in 1314 came quickly to my mind, even if I was much harder pushed to know who actually fought who, and why, and who won!  And I hadn’t known the Midsummer link – it was fought on 23 and 24 June, it transpires.

So I did check what was at clues 13 & 14 – The Battle of MinnockBumbag.  Hmm.  No, that doesn’t sound quite right.

The hidden letters in some clues spelt out WHERE DID BRUCE WIN, so that answered one of my questions above.  The answer, included twice in the grid on the diagonals, spells out AT BANNOCKBURN.  My suspicion is that the details of Bannockburn feature more highly in history lessons in Scottish schools rather than English ones – but what do I know!

Unclued 39d was after solving checking clues, looking like B.UE.   And colouring all but the diagonals in Blue, as the Preamble demanded,  ended up with the Scottish flag (the saltire, or saltier) – very neat!

There appeared to be a Nina, or rather a NINA, in Row 6 – intriguing.

And as for Chalicea’s clue at 10d:

Floppy genitals, and away they dangle (7)

Fortunately the answer was AIGLETS, things that dangle, an anagram of GE(n)ITALS after the ‘N’ (and) was deleted.  Very funny 🙂

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota


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Listener No 4560: Midsummer by Chalicea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 12 July 2019

Last year, we had two puzzles from Chalicea: one based on Saint Patrick, the other based on King Lear with its “whoreson zed”. Here we had to finish the grid and make the grid thematically 39.

First of all, I had to check to see if Chalicea was trying to convince me that she was only a minor member of the Rum Or Beer, Everything’s Really Tasty alcohol society. Indeed, a puny three clues caught my attention: 26ac with its retsinas and tokays, 29ac with drunks on the job and 47ac with sailors and their angosturas and gins. But hold on! There’s a word chain lurking, exceptionally long to deceive us, starting from RUM (reversed in row 2) through RUB, ROB, SOB, LOB, LAB, LAG, BAG, NAG, GAG, GAS, GAN to GIN (in the bottom right). Nice try, Chalicea!

Attempting to sober up fairly quickly, I staggered through the clues and grid. There were some extra words to find with the words either side eventually providing the clue we needed: Where did Bruce win? It didn’t take long to find (twice in the grid) AT BANNOCKBURN, referencing Robert the Bruce’s win against Edward II at Midsummer, 1314.

My heart sank as I saw that 39dn was BLUE, and an enormous amount of shading was required, making sure that all the letters were visible. Thus, we had the flag of Scotland in blue with a white saltire.

Also in the grid, although I’m not sure how relevant, were PATRICK from last year’s puzzle, DOUGAL from The Magic Roundabout and IRIS MINNOCK (wrongly spelt, I’m afraid).

Thanks for a gentle week, Chalicea.

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Listener No 4527: Offender by Chalicea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 November 2018

Like three others before her (Schadenfreude, Dysart and Hedge-sparrow), this was Chalicea’s second Listener of the year. The first was the Saint Patrick’s Day puzzle Overseas Outing

Here, we had 32 clues with an extra wordplay letter, and 19 with an extra word. Well — they should be easy to disentangle! It was nice to be told how many of each; so often we’re just told it’s “some” or “most”. I don’t mind telling you that it actually didn’t make it any easier for me to do the disentangling.

But I get ahead of myself. Has Chalicea confirmed her membership of the Zealous Enthusiasts Drinking the Sauce? Well, of course she has — by its omission! Yet again she has gone out of her way to appear abstemious, here by omitting obvious Z-words like BOOZER, SOZZLED and SWIZZLED, as well as SHIRAZ, SLIVOVITZ and ZINFANDEL (which could become Shiraq, Slivovita and Finfandel, places in Eastern Europe, familiar to Listener solvers). See you at the bar in York, Chalicea.

In fact, this turned out to be one of Chalicea’s more tricky oeuvres. I was somewhat disappointed very early on that TARDIGRADES didn’t have any reference to Dr Who‘s Tardis! However, she compensated for that omission with 1dn List Director etc, etc in order? These might do that (12, two words), an excellent &lit clue to CREDIT TITLES — (LIST + DIR + ETC + ET[c])*. Bizarrely, I never knew that that was the full expression for credits.

It wasn’t too far into the solve that a few Zs in the top and bottom left gave the game away. Moreover, this enabled me to guess that they would all appear in the grid in the shape of a giant letter Z. A bit more work was required to jog my memory about the letter zed in Shakespeare’s King Lear: “Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!” I’m not sure that feeling is supported by American English where they seem to use it wherever possible.

And those extra words? Well they all had to slot into the grid so that the zed words became something else. DITZ became DITE, ZINC became C-IN-C and SNAZZIER became SNAPPIER. Very entertaining.

Well over two hours for this one, so thanks for a good challenge, Chalicea. I think putting KENT under the grid as the Speaker was a bit superfluous, and I pity anyone who thought the words were spoken by Cornwall or Gloucester. (Perhaps that was the reason for the hint SE in the two bottom corner cells.)

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