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Claim by Raich

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Apr 2012

What a lovely concise preamble even if it did have those ‘extra letters’ in the wordplay of seventeen clues. It is more difficult, isn’t it, when the extra letters are only in some of the clues? I will admit now that we had already spotted KINNOCK and ELECTION when we finally saw where those letters were leading.

I’m leaping to the end of our solve – but, in a way, we did. After two weeks of fairly challenging clues, Raich’s Claim was a welcome gentle romp. In fact, Numpty No 2 was solving so fast and furiously that I was kept busy simply writing and checking the solutions as they came along.

That’s a good thing, too, as I had never heard of NIEBUHR, ‘Theologian misrepresented “Burn in hell”? Lines cut (7)’ Clearly we had an extra N here as well as the lines the clue told us to remove. DEEPAK was not a familiar name to me either, but it fitted the clue, ‘Indian guy went up and stripped oaks (6)’ So he ‘peed’ upwards as well as removing the O and S from [o]AK[s]. That final K was the gift that led me to spot KINNOCK, and, of course, ELECTION (with four peculiar unches) appeared at once.

We should have immediately hunted for the J of Major, but there has to be a numpty red herring and I searched vainly for a while for the Iron Lady – but ‘No No No’ – no sign of Mrs Thatcher. Of course, though, there was the usual Oenophilic Listener setter tipple in what I thought was the most complex clue ‘A gin meld without Collins penning left-hand player’s part’ (7, 2 words). I had submitted my entry with a putative TONE ARM in it, when a friend explained to me that this was TOM (Collins) penning, or surrounding NEAR (which is the left hand). I learn something with every Listener solve!

Mr Major duly appeared and suddenly we were in 1992 election country and memories were stirred. Wasn’t that the election when true blues were predicting ‘bodies in the streets’ if the Welsh gentleman won and wasn’t there that famous Sun headline ‘Will the last person to leave the country please turn out the lights!’ What dirty tricks, indeed.

Of course, IT’S THE SUN WOT WON IT! We had to work backwards to find the U of SUN in the NZ bird clue, ‘NZ bird by tent – one that’s flashy and unrefined (5). There wasn’t a ROGER joke this week, not a Kea but a T[U]I next to GER.

Now how slow can the numpties be? We had BARONESS, NINEPINS, NINETTE and NETWORK as our solutions to those four top corner clues and the helpful prompt that ‘Numbers in brackets are the lengths of grid entries’. Rule NUMBER ONE (Read the preamble!) but did we instantly put two and two together (and make 1992)?

We were puzzled and tried to remember whether it was called the SHAM, EURO, FAKE or WHAT? election. We remembered that we would probably have had a Scot, John Smith, as our Prime Minister, had he not unfortunately died shortly before – but no banana. We had to break for dinner before that lovely little final twist made sense. Oh the joy of the Listener pdm!

Many thanks, Raich. This was a very fair and enjoyable crossword.

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