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Posts Tagged ‘Charybdis’

Listener No 4512: Putting the World to Rights by Charybdis

Posted by Dave Hennings on 10 Aug 2018

When I saw that we had a Charybdis puzzle this week, I knew we were (or, at least, I was) in for a challenge. Last year, we had Mark Twain, Josephine Tey and Robert Wyatt all jumbled together to reveal the discovery of Richard III’s bones under a Leicester carpark.

And talking of jumbles, that’s what we had this week — in droves! Every answer had to be jumbled before entry as described by 1dn which was unclued — obviously. Eventually an instruction would be revealed by the second letter of extra words in the across clues. A poet would be revealed by the wordplay provided by the second letters of extra words in 20 down clues and that would include a phrase from one of his poems. (Note that choosing the second letter wasn’t just a whim of Charybdis, but actually thematic.)

As expected, solving the clues was slow and painstaking, partly because of all those extra words, partly from some obscure meanings of words, and partly because of Charybdis’s excellent clueing. For example, it took me ages to look up ‘spiky’ to discover that 32ac High [Swiss] Church having a sharp point (5) was just a clue consisting of two meanings. 8dn One smelly [abelia] shrub that’s good in row (5) had me racking my brains for a 5-letter smelly shrub that turned out to be a 3-letter one RUE with row being the definition for ARGUE.

I guess my favourite clue was 42ac Fifty [kronor], the Swede’s part in church taxes (6) which was a simple, if craftily disguised, hidden for TYTHES. I also liked 9dn Château giving away [beery] brew right before noon — from this? (6, two words) for TEA URN, partly because I could see Shirley having another fainting fit with all that alcohol. I must say that the possibilities in the top right corner were manifest, but nowhere near as manifest as in the bottom right where I had 4 or 5 letter options crammed into some squares.

Eventually, we had the across message reading Unjumble down entries and the wordplay for the poet Rough beast, why no heart leading to WB YEATS, with ‘rough beast’ being the phrase from near the end of the poem. So, having gone through all the agony of jumbling the down entries, we had to undo all that good work and enter the original answers! The across entries that still had options could then be completed fairly easily.

Here we were dealing with Yeats’s Second Coming. This brought back memories of Poat’s puzzle back in 2008. (OK, I needed the Crossword Database to track it down.) That linked Yeats with Chinua Achebe, author of the novel, Things Fall Apart.

1dn was thus revealed as MERE ANARCHY (not ‘more anarchy’ which I originally guessed at) from line 4 of the poem. Although CENTRE had to go into the isolated area at the heart of the grid, it soon got changed, initially the C to G, and finally the R to L thus revealing the falcon or GENTLE (thanks, Malva).

A bit of fiddly line drawing, which was only marginally better than in the animation, wended its way from the centre of the grid to the north-east corner, and the puzzle was done and dusted. Of course, such a complex solution process then required me to double-check everything and make sure that I hadn’t made a silly error somewhere along the line. (Even that can be no guarantee of success!)

Thanks for a superb puzzle, Charybdis. I suspect it took more than a couple of hours to construct!

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Listener No 4468: Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 Oct 2017

Charybdis’s last Listener was three years ago with No 4310 Net Book Agreement and its theme of The L-Shaped Room. Towards the end of my blog for that puzzle, I had the words “I breathed a sigh of relief that my all-correct run for this year was still intact.” Well it wasn’t! It was down to my misunderstanding of how the “net” of the rooms was to be drawn. Hopefully, this week’s puzzle wouldn’t give me a problem.

As I read the preamble, it seemed possible that it would. My heart must’ve skipped a couple of beats as I was told how we had to identify who Mark, Francis and Robert were together with some of their relations, find two proverbs, “uncover” one, amend the other, find a title, and finish it all off with some highlighting. There was an isolated cell near the bottom right corner, and that would obviously need filling, and 15 clues needed a letter to be restored.

I started off fairly well, with 7ac RENEGER (good old Magritte helping) and a flurry of down entries in the top right corner. Working my way down to the bottom right soon had me see •A•GHT•• unclued at 28ac, and a daughter seemed to be one of the relations we had to identify.

The top left and then the bottom left were soon looking healthy, and it didn’t take too long to see TRUTH IS (28ac) STRANGER (column 4) THAN FICTION (row 9). The restored letters meanwhile were spelling out Twain and Bacon (Mark and Francis), but it needed me to solve all the clues before Wyatt popped up. Robert Wyatt then needed some googling to find his album Ruth is Stranger than Richard.

I didn’t get to the final highlighting by trying to work out what went into the isolated square. My eye was casually looking at the finished grid and saw CAR PARK in row 3. Looking in the row above it, LEICESTER made me break out in a broad smile, what I have recently started calling my BGM — Big Grin Moment. Of course, slotting an I into the isolated square revealed RICHARD III, whose bones were recently discovered beneath a car park in Leicester, although I’m pretty sure they didn’t use a bulldozer to uncover them!

In summary, these are the steps in the endgame:

  • TRUTH IS THE DAUGHTER OF TIME: Francis Bacon & Josephine TEY

What a wonderfully roundabout journey it was. Great fun, thanks Charybdis.

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Listener 4468 Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Posted by Encota on 6 Oct 2017

aka Ruth Is Stranger Than Robin, or something like that …

Thank you Charybdis for a superb puzzle with a great Cultural Crossover!  I wonder how many people knew all angles covered in this puzzle – quotes from Twain and Bacon, books from Josephine Tey and albums from Robert Wyatt!

As ever, do read Shirley’s and Dave’s blogs for some more insight.

[You are now entering Twilight Zone mode…]

Or, alternatively … in this puzzle we were asked to help seek ‘three hiders’.

So what other musicians are hiding on Robert Wyatt’s brilliantly titled mid-Seventies album, ‘Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard’?   Aside: the only album (I know) that has a Side Richard and a Side Ruth.


And in what way is it connected to that other mid-seventies album, ‘Night Moves’ by Bob Seger, I hear you ask?  [Eh?? Ed.]  Clearly SEGER is jumbled in both the first and last rows.  Is it referring to Knight’s Moves to find the missing musicians, perhaps?

And yes, there they are, all three from the Robert Wyatt album:

[to be added]

Top left, the ubiquitous Brian ENO, who played guitar and synthesiser on the Offenbach rearrangement; top right Nisar Ahmad KHAN, saxophonist on two tracks, and mid-right Fred FRITH, piano on those three tracks on Side Richard.

And, of course, the two erased letters – which might be read as NO TE – appear to have a musical theme.

The Preamble said something about (presumably) other musicians: Mark – Knopfler? Ronson? and Francis – Rossi?  RENE of Rene and Renata made an appearance on Row 1, Jim REEVES in Col 14 and Lou REED on Row 10.  There was some bluff about a King, a novel, some proverbs and a place to leave the tour bus in the Midlands but I gave that bit a miss.

cheers all,

Tim / Encota

PS As I type I am listening to, the Prog Rock radio station (they are playing ‘Luminol’ by Steven Wilson, thanks for asking), so if I can’t solve a puzzle featuring Robert Wyatt then I am not sure who can!

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Check This Out by Charybdis

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 Dec 2013

Tarantula 002The Numpties almost despaired with this one when, after almost an hour of grid-staring, we had about half a dozen very dubious solutions in place and no real sense of what was going on. Words like ONCE ‘A small number about a hundred – not any more (4) (ONE round C)’ and ‘AMOUR ‘Aflame, there’s uproar after chucking chlorine (5)’ (CLAMOUR less CL) seemed vaguely correct but not quite right.

After checking the surface readings and finding that Charybdis didn’t really qualify as a member of the drunken Listener setters’ mob with just one mildly boozy clue ‘Where post is put by Ted’s tavern, a feature of The Stag’s Head (6) (Spenser’s IN + TRAY – something to do with third-year antlers) we almost abandoned. Fortunately we didn’t abandon, as he redeemed himself with ALES in the pile of things at the checkout later on.

It was SPAN that gave us the way in. ‘Pair of horses dead in Senegal (4)’ “Well”, said the other Numpty “SN is Senegal and a SPAN is a pair of horses.” “PA!” said I. “It’s DAD, not DEAD. There’s an extra letter in the clue!”

Now we were able to make sense of the clues we had already guessed at. AMOUR is ‘flame’, so we get an extra A; it’s Ed’s tavern, so we get an extra T; it’s ‘cot’ not ‘coat’ that gives us the BED of BEDELL and so on. We laughed at the ingenuity of some of these extra letters. ‘Milton’s celebrated aquatic grass smothers what’s growing in pond with time (8)’ (clearly Charybdis has had a similar experience to ours where reeds dominate and completely squeeze out the water lilies!) We had REED going round PEA (what’s growing in pod) + T, giving REPEATED, which Chambers told us was ‘celebrated’ for Milton.

Tarantula 003Of course, we were now keeping a record of those extra letters and UNEXPECTED ITEM IN THE BAGGING AREA – REMOVE IT! soon appeared. We had already fed I??O??P?C???S into TEA and learned that only INCONSPICUOUS served our purposes. The ODQ was not particularly obliging (the second time it has let me down this year, a mis-spelling in the work a couple of months ago left me with my tail between my legs!) However, Wikipedia produced that hilarious quotation from the second of Raymond Chandler’s novels, Farewell My Lovely: ‘He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel cake’.

For once, those words giving the unchecked letters were really useful. We had guessed fairly early on that 14 or 24 that ‘can be seen here’ in the CAFE of clue 6dn had to be TEA and COFFEE and soon we were able to complete NAAN, SALT, ALES, WATER, SUET, BUTTER, MEAL and TART. Bit of an odd diet, Charybdis seems to be adopting.

Naturally, with a full grid, we hunted for the anomalous item that had to be removed from the bagging area and, with a hoot of delight, I found the TARANTULA lurking there. I was all set to simply wipe it out when I read those words in the preamble ‘In the final grid there are no empty cells and all entries are real words’. We had already completed the words of group two with the only possible letter (ANIL, for example, had to have a V, making ANVIL and giving us the V of REMOVE). At first, we were simply doing that, but then there was another moment of glee when the obvious place for the TARANTULA appeared to be ANGEL FOOD. So we had to remove the TARANTULA and leave ANGEL FOOD below.

This was a superb endgame that took only moments but gave total satisfaction. What skill to ensure that only real words appeared in the final grid. Delightful compiling. Many thanks Charybdis (and who could resist illustrating this one?).

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The Bottom Line by Charybdis (Grow thin, Population!)

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 Jul 2011

I know that there are setting styles: I believe there are solving styles too. Looking back at Charybdis’ The Bottom Line, the clues all seem so transparent and logical, yet I, Numpty 1 (busy packing for a 20-hour drive home in humid 35° weather) found this one really difficult, while Numpty No 2 simply filled in the answers and had an almost complete grid in a couple of hours.

I glanced over his shoulder and completed the quotation “Something wicked this way comes”, and jointly we pieced together “We need to see a downturn at ten!”  We had a rather strange word at 10 NO?TA?U?OP. Obviously, if it was going to perform a downturn, we had better examine it the other way up. Aha! POPULATION!

Now those squares with multiple letters in them began to make sense. We had SPEC(tres) and (gutt)IES giving us SPECIES, FO(otie) and (flo)OD(water) giving us FOOD, (fat)WA and (typeset)TER providing the WATER and (Kung)FU and (evang)EL the FUEL.

Soon Numpty 2 was giving me a lecture about the linear nature of the increase in those four, and the exponential nature of the other part of the Malthusian argument – the growth in population that appeared on ‘The Bottom Line’ and climbing up to 10. Surprise, surprise, we turned the word down and real words still appeared. Cleeever!

Obviously MALTHUS (MAL – ‘Something wicked’ and THUS ‘this way’) had to replace that peculiar word we had slotted in at 19 across. (‘A thematically relevant name to replace the entry at 19’).

Food, fuel, water and thus species are going to run out, so we obviously had to delete those, leaving just one letter in each of those lights (sometimes resulting in non-words – that was a shame but it isn’t fair to expect miracles of compilers).

So there it was; a Friday finish with just that rather strange METICAL to relate to its clue, ‘Quote encapsulating capital prevailing mood’. What has the currency of Mozambique got to do with that? Capital? Well, a thousand miles further away from that solve and two days on, I have finally understood that the clue is (as the preamble so succinctly said) a cryptic one, so CITE had to ‘encapsulate’ LIMA (the capital) to give CLIMATE (prevailing mood) and that was to be cryptically changed.

Thanks to Charybdis. I thought this one all came together very attractively with a convincing theme.

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