Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Charybdis’

Listener 4658 Marxist Doctrines by Charybdis

Posted by gillwinchcombe on 12 Jun 2021

I’ve belatedly returned to blogging after a few hectic weeks on community projects. I thought Marxist Doctrines was a contender for title of the year!

At first, the method of solving seemed similar to the previous week’s Dos, but it proved a lot harder to find the principles – at least, until I realised they probably featured in Chambers so could search in my online dictionary. Reading Charybdis’s blog, I see that’s how he found them too! I must admit I hadn’t thought of pleasure as a principle, except when solving Listener crosswords of course.

Using the Chambers’ search facility enabled me to finish on the Friday night, unusually for me, partly because the clues were relatively easy to solve.

33dn made me smile because of “term of endearment”. 39ac TITRES was crying out to become LITRES or TITLES but turned out to be a red herring. I felt at the time that LUDOVIC might be significant but I can’t see anything in the blog.

Thank you Charybdis for cleverly introducing me to this example of Groucho’s wit.


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Marxist Doctrine by Charybdis

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 May 2021

Dave Hennings’ crossword database tells us that this is Charybdis’ 132nd crossword, not counting those he has co-set with other setters or produced for the non-thematic-cryptic outlets, so we are in good hands and I can rest assured that he will retain his place with the Listener oenophiles.

I check anyway, and find a couple of suggestions; ‘Key term of endearment in a bottle (5)’ We put (endearmen)T into a VIAL to get VITAL. Not much alcohol in a vial! ‘Eg Kingsley [dressing] up in Bacchic attire (6)’ Bacchus was the God of wine so there’s more hope there. We turn SIR BEN around and find NEBRIS which Chambers tells us was the fawn skin worn by followers of Bacchus. Hmm! We’re none too enthusiastic about that. Then I spot ‘Fairy queen’s shut up in [icier] brewing vat (7)’ Now he’s talking. We anagram SHUT in MAB to give MASHTUB. – The vessel in which the mash is mixed in a brewery or distillery’. Cheers, Charybdis!

We’ve noticed that the grid is not symmetric, which suggests to us that there will be a substantial amount of thematic material in it and we carefully record the extra letters in across and down clues finding THOSE ARE MY PRINCIPLES and EXCLUDED MIDDLE (and three more letters L, N and U – which we later have to eliminate and put down to our poor solving).

The grid is soon filled and we see a few principles in it; FOURIER, UNCERTAINTY, PLEASURE, RECIPROCITY and VITAL and Wiki tells us that the quotation continues ‘and if you don’t like them, I can supply others’. We have to study the preamble carefully at this stage to understand that we have to use the ‘EXCLUDED MIDDLE’ of the across set of extra words to supply the other three examples. We find DOPPLER, IDENTITY and PETER and admire the skill of this compilation when they replace FOURIER, PLEASURE and VITAL almost leaving real words – just a couple of hitches.

‘Solvers must identify two other examples and implement one (to eliminate any of the other in their minds)’. I had a bit of uncertainty in my mind about what that was cryptically telling me, but decided that ‘reciprocity’ was suggesting I exchange those two words, and, of course, that completed our grid with real words. What an achievement!


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Listener No 4658: Marxist Doctrines by Charybdis

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 May 2021

The previous puzzle from this setter was inspired by lines from Yeats’s The Second Coming (although not “things fall apart”). I always find puzzles from Charybdis very satisfying, as are his collaborations with Ploy under the name Harpy. Tricky clues were almost certainly in front of me, and the preamble intimated that the endgame might also be devious.

The only thing to look out for in the clues was, for most of them, an extra word. Those in the across clues would, courtesy of their first letters, give the start of a quotation and down clues similarly would give a thematic example — of what, we would have to wait.

As usual, “answers came thick and fast” was not a phrase I could use with Charybdis! The puny HEAD for 11ac This guy [overplies]: notice curling round (4) and a little later GIBE at 14 Joe’s [appeals] preceding live taunt (4) hardly had the grid filling fast. I decided to try the downs and was pleased to get 1 SHOUT, 2 RACCOON, 3 IDO and 4 DOUR to get the top left corner looking good. Of course, 1 Nothing in email to TYPE LIKE THIS (5) was obviously SHOUT (as in text messaging), but that sneaky little to for SHUT was typical of this setter.

And so the top of the grid came together nicely, and not for the first time, I sympathised with overseas solvers grappling with 21ac: A Kennedy shot, loud [Elise] turned civil (7), the Kennedy in question being LUDOVIC [LOUD* + CIV<], the British broadcaster, rather than JFK.

Working down the right side of the grid and then across the bottom got the grid fleshed out and it was finished more quickly than some other puzzles from Charybdis. Favourite clues were 8dn College includes this elected member (3) with elected as its extra word and 23dn Crash recalled for one posho (6, two words) with GET OFF and crash both referring to sleep. I also liked 9dn Eg Kingsley dressing up in Bacchic attire (6) with Sir Ben (not Amis) being inverted to give NEBRIS. Bizarre surface reading of the week came with 24ac Twisted limb pinching radius, [yodeled] for aids when climbing (5).

Now we had our two sets of initial letters from extra words giving Those are my principles and Excluded middle. The first was the start of a quotation, but neither edition of my ODQ helped but luckily the interweb did, and provided the continuation “and if you don’t like them… well, I have others” from Groucho Marx. The phrase provided by the down clues was a principle confirmed by Chambers.

Given that, another look at the extra words in the across clues was necessary and middle letters came to the rescue, after all just using their first letters wouldn’t explain Charybdis’s use of overplies and engouements. Thus we had more principles in the form of Doppler, identity and Peter.

Back to the grid and we had to identify three more that the ones above could replace. It didn’t take long to find FOURIER, PLEASURE and VITAL which, on being replaced, gave new words. Well, not quite! We had to implement one other example to eliminate any of the other in our minds.

Was this the final step: RECIPROCITY forced us to exchange it with UNCERTAINTY — for sure! At last, all real words in the grid.

Of all the above, my favourite is the Peter principle: “the theory that members of an organization, etc, are generally promoted to posts one stage above their level of competence.” I sometimes wonder whether one stage is adequate for some currently in high places!

Thanks for a fascinating puzzle, Charybdis.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

‘Putting the World to Rights’ by Charybdis

Posted by Encota on 10 Aug 2018

I think this excellent puzzle from Charybdis let me set my personal record for the number of copies of the grid I needed to complete it – in all I used five.  Two I binned but the other three feature here.

Early on the jumbling meant that many cells had multiple options in them during the earlier phase of solving.  Here’s an example where I had made some progress …

2018-08-01 15.14.58

Finally, once all clues are solved, I make it 21 cells that are unchecked by down clues – marked in green in the attached.

2018-08-01 15.13.52

Of these:
  • 4 are already identified
  • 6 more are identified by adding MERE ANARCHY from the poem, at 1d
  • and the remaining 11 are found from the (inferred) requirement for all final words in the grid to be real words, each one using one of the options in the green cells above.  Why the inference, you may ask?  Well, I couldn’t see any reason for 17ac to explain that GAND is a word, the French version of the place-name Ghent, unless all Across entries are words.  Am I missing something?

And finally it looked something like this rough copy:

2018-08-01 15.12.46

A bit more background.  It’s all based on W B Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming”
The instructions to change cells in the centre turned CENTRE into The falcon = GENTLE

And the phrase to be higlighted with a smooth curve, from the poem, was:

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre”

Aside: haven’t we seen GENTLE in another 2018 Listener (or did I dream it)?

25d includes a nice hint with ‘Gyring bird …”

In 24d I’d initially picked the wrong word to delete, resulting in ROUGH BEAST WAY NO HEART



  • … the second of these might be parsed as {BEAST W(h)Y}*,  resulting in the poet W B YEATS

And ‘Gand’ is the French form of the placename Ghent, or so I read.
Phew – a tough workout!
Tim / Encota

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Putting the World to Rights by Charybdis

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 Aug 2018

A friend just commented to me, “What is the most hated sentence in the English language? ‘All answers must be jumbled’!” and I loudly agreed.  That was followed in this preamble by ‘An extra word must be removed before solving from all across and 20 down clues.’ Hmm! Actually that requirement was quite helpful. Had we not had that message in the second letters of across clues that prompted me to begin a second grid and ‘UNJUMBLE ALL DOWN ENTRIES’ I imagine I would still be sitting here solving and muttering foul imprecations at Charybdis as I was until 2 a.m. this morning.

Does he retain his admission ticket to the bar at Listener dos? Well, he started off on the soft stuff, ‘Active ingredient is in demand for cordial (7)’ and we decided that A + IS in NEED gave us ANISEED so the ‘ingredient’ was extra and provided us with a second letter N. There was a touch of hope in ‘Estate producing mostly fruit (6)’. We guessed this had to be the Napa Valley mostly ‘RAISIN(g)’ and that’s what we use here for our wine but the alcohol scene was not impressive. ‘Château giving away (beery) brew right before noon – from this? (6, two words)’ removed that CHA and left us with TEA U + RN – clearly not premier cru but admission ticket valid. Cheers, anyway, Charybdis.

Of course Charybdis’ clues are polished and fair and we solved steadily but he had imposed on us a task that was almost a total cold solve. He tells me one of his setting rules is that the puzzle must be more difficult for the setter to set than it is for the solver to solve. What can I say? I should include a photograph of my initial grid at an intermediate stage when I still had all those tiny words pencilled in, ready to be erased and pencilled in again when the intersecting jumble didn’t share a letter. Do we really do this for pleasure or is it some kind of masochistic self-torture?

The redeeming feature came with the first p.d.m. We had WHY NO HEART appearing at the end of our down clue extra letters and ROUGH BEAST rang a bell (didn’t I teach that Yeats’ Second Coming‘ to IB classes with that dreadful suggestion of a second nativity when that ‘rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born’?)

How do I find the poet’s name there? ‘Rough’ is telling me to anagram BEAST and WHY with no heart so W.B.YEATS.
Looking back at the preamble tells me that I am going to find the first line of the poem in the grid, 34 cells, but for now I can see no hint of TURNING AND TURNING IN THE WIDENING GYRE, though clearly it is the CENTRE that cannot hold and I can, for now, fill those six central letters. R will later change to L and the falcon must appear there, so I imagine the C will have to become G to give us a GENTLE.
MERE ANARCHY indeed, that initial grid, and we had to change that phrase to describe the text. This has appeared before in a Magpie by Ifor, hasn’t it? He converted that MERE ANARCHY to an ARCANE RHYME and that is really helpful here. One step further in the solve!
Thankyou, thankyou for that message UNJUMBLE ALL DOWN ENTRIES! I still had 13 solutions to go and that didn’t bode too well for the meticulous task of ‘filling as much of the grid as possible‘. I wonder how many other solvers created a second grid with the down entries and worked backwards from that, producing, for example SK?NNY at 45ac and MI?I at 40ac then using the potential ultimate letters to complete the grid (Well, it could be MINI, MIDI or MIRI but 40ac was HORN so that fixed the N as the choice and the I of SKINNY was the only option.)
Even more joyous was the moment when a circling GYRE appeared and gave me my final words in the top right sector of the grid, where two of my gaps were lurking – so I could back solve to SYNTH and ARGUE and confirm the presence of the falcon in the gyre.
This was the toughest challenge of the year so far for us but what a compilation. Thank you to Charybdis.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »