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Posts Tagged ‘Chalicea’

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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Listener No 4494: Overseas Outing by Chalicea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 April 2018

Chalicea’s last Listener was a mere 36 weeks ago and concerned the Owl and the Pussycat and their lack of a ring, represented in the puzzle by the lack of any letter O. Here, as if to remind us, the title had that letter prominently placed — twice!

The grid looked as though it had been constructed by the Beer, Lager Or Alcoholic Tipple Squad! It had no symmetry, had six blank cells completely barred off and one entry across the bottom with a double-unch.

Time to see if any alcohol was hidden in the clues. Well, 20ac Valets put beer into containers (6) CLEANS (extra w/p letter A) was very lacklustre, but 32/35ac was slightly more robust Container for wine, vintage from French vineyard etc … (5) … besides what’s bottled by feeble losers (4) for CRUET (extra w/p letter C) and ELSE (extra w/p letter O).

Just three alcoholic clues?! Well, even a teetotaller could see that there was more lurking. Indeed, eight of them (9ac, 13ac, 22ac, 24ac, 2dn, 5dn, 25dn, 30dn) contained all the letters of that 8-letter beverage most commonly associated with Ireland: GUINNESS. And the day of the puzzle was 17th March, Saint Patrick’s Day. Too much of a coincidence, methinks.

On with the puzzle, then. A swathe of across solutions quickly got slotted into the grid. Despite there being no 1ac, 1dn Dreadful pests … (4) for SEPS (extra w/p letter T) and 2dn … turning up in Taiwan, topless (4) for NAIA (extra letter W) were obligingly straightforward, and it seemed that it wasn’t alcohol but serpents that may be missing from the grid, especially if 1ac itself were to be SNAKES…

… which it was, and a flurry of activity enabled the grid to be completed in double-quick time. The extra wordplay letters spelt out Erase one across. Colour twenty one. Complete six.. As well as the seven entries which were snakes, BOA and ASP were also lurking in the grid and needed to be erased. That left 21 SEA to be coloured in the 40 cells now empty within the grid which would represent a map of Ireland, and 6dn to be completed to give SAINT PATRICK.

Legend has it that St P. chased the snakes into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast atop a hill — sounds a bit vindictive to me. Of course, every schoolboy knows that wasn’t the case and that there haven’t been any snakes in Ireland since the Ice Age, about 10,000 years ago.

Be that as it may, I was left with one gnawing question: what colour to use for the sea? Blue would be normal, but green is the colour most commonly associated with Ireland. Obviously, then, cyan should be used and I managed to find exactly the right shade for that. I know that JEG is a stickler for colouring to be exactly that required by the setter. [Don’t believe him. Ed.]

All done in about an hour. Thanks, Chalicea.

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‘Overseas Outing’ by Chalicea

Posted by Encota on 6 April 2018

What surprised me initially was Chalicea returning to a theme of a previous Listener of hers from 2014 (See Listener 4311 in Dave H’s superb database,, if you don’t believe me!) – surely she could come up with something original?  And then the geographical errors – ALSACE running down near the Western side of the final map in Column 2, for example??  But let me start nearer the beginning:

This is how one might approach this puzzle from Chalicea* …

  1. Guess that it is going to be a map
  2. Look at the Title – ‘Overseas Outing’ – and note that the puzzle coincides with that event enjoyed by Listener Setters and Solvers that is the Annual Listener Dinner
  3. Realise that said 2018 Dinner is held outside of the UK – in Paris – in the weekend of the Puzzle’s publication
  4. Conclude that it must be a map of France**
  5. Check that some of the adjacent countries line up – as demonstrated in the picture below: ES short for Espana, DE for Deutschland, etc.  [I’ve left out all other letters in the puzzle for clarity]

I puzzled for a while why it had PARS and not PARIS at the centre.  I then realised it was the péripherique-centred pun: ‘I’ had to visit (Paris) too – and all became clear.

Screen Shot 2018-03-19 at 09.27.30 copy

And there was a nice touch down in Chalicea-land in the South East of France under the Jura mountains – half of the largest CERN ring on the French-Swiss border, with of course only two of the letters being visible on the French side and the rest of the ring in Switzerland.

Easy, eh?


Tim / Encota

* If one was an idiot, that is.

** OK, so it was a map but more like this one of Ireland …

SCAN0444 copy

A clever puzzle, with a very nice, unambiguous and visual endgame.  Thank you!

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