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Posts Tagged ‘Colleague’

In Round Numbers by Colleague

Posted by shirleycurran on 8 May 2020

Sometimes we have a guess at the theme when we read the pre-ramble but not this time. We Numpties gazed at each other in mystification. “What does it mean?” Nothing to be done, we had to start solving and hope that all would become clear. BEN NEVIS appeared at once and I burbled happily that perhaps it was about mountains (I proudly climbed it on my sixth birthday in a school raincoat and wellingtons – that was in May and the snow came over the top of the wellies just short of the summit!) But it was not to be. For a while, we were under the illusion that these ten answers were going to be replaced by another word from the grid, and BEN NEVIS seemed to fit at 24d where ultimately we put DAY-LEWIS, the Poet Laureate who came three before Andrew MOTION (‘Top cat’s [enemy] brought up a proposal (6)’ giving NO 1 TOM’) but it took ZETA, clued where the grid was clearly prompting ALPHA, to give us our penny-drop moment. That was when I looked up BEN NEVIS on Wiki and found a racehorse, and another Grand National winner called WEST TIP.

We were away … but were we? A clever friend tells me he solved this in about an hour: it took us about five hours. We soon had an almost full grid and a good idea which answers had to give way to other ‘members’ of the same set, as eight of them had different word-lengths, but we are particularly poor at solving when we have no letters in the grid to hint at a solution and no idea of the word-length.

SOLDIER, for instance, had to be the answer but it took us a lot of fumbling to spell out PANTALOON, and, of course, wily Colleague generally gave definitions for different senses of his clued words. POND was our very last solution and we needed something or someone of the same set who would fill BL?SS. I wonder how someone who doesn’t have the Internet could learn that POND and BLISS were Astronomers Royal – or that there is a US winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature called SINGER who could replace BELLOW (clued, of course as an outcry).

We are on total lockdown and collecting our groceries from a ‘Drive’ with no human contact. Sadly, bread, eggs, flour, salad and tomatoes are ‘not available’ each week but I seem to have accumulated vast quanities of whisky and gin so we poured  ourselves consolation and I checked that Colleague had the right to join us. Well, his clue to OENO, ‘There’s space for body of Orvieto wine in combination (4)’ put EN in the place of ‘rviet’ in OO, so he clearly earned his place among the Oenophiles. There was an ‘IMPROVER’ at 17 across, and, ‘In case of emergency second character gets recipe for strong drink (7, two words)’. We put ICE then BEE and R, giving ICE BEER. Ticket earned. Cheers, Colleague!

We hadn’t finished yet. First there was that alternative title to find and Colleague was tricking us again. Since the extra words had five letters each, how was I going to find a ten-letter title? I jotted them down and stared and fiddled, then smiled when I saw that the alternative title was MORE OR LESS. Of course that explained those preambular words ‘the word’s position in the clue indicates the extent of the change’.

Even a Numpty can see that ‘fails’ coming second in a clue to TANGO must be telling me that I have to select ROMEO or VICTOR (I’v already opted for ROMEO anyway).

That was, naturally, a hint about what to look for in the grid in the ‘endgame’ and when PLUS FOUR appeared with PROVERBS crossing it, I had to return to Wiki to see which book of the Bible came four further on than PROVERBS. JEREMIAH, of course.

Thank you, Colleague, for the challenge.

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Listener No 4603: In Round Numbers by Colleague

Posted by Dave Hennings on 8 May 2020

Colleague’s previous two Listeners had that (not very well-known) Bach aria, Schafe können sicher weiden (Sheep May Safely Graze) as its theme, and before that in 2017, a circular grid with that (in my view annoying) sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles. Hopefully, I wouldn’t find anything too obscure or annoying in Colleague’s current puzzle. [Spoiler alert: one or two of the thematic entries would be obscure.]

From 1ac, it was obvious that the figure in brackets related to the answer rather than the entry, so that was some comfort. In fact 1ac Ancient prayer covering nationalist power march — a high point in Scotland (8, two words) gave BEN NEVIS so it looked like highest mountains were required with the position of march in the clue indicating it was 6th highest after BN but nothing I googled seemed to fit. 11ac led to ZETA with five away giving ALPHA, and I was finally off on a roll.

Now while the normal clues were fairly straightforward, a couple of the thematic ones were not. Of course, they had to be cold-solved since they bore no relationship to their entry apart from being in the same to-be-discovered list. The last three I got were 1ac WEST TIP, six years after BEN NEVIS won the Grand National; 6ac Isaac SINGER who won Nobel prize for Literature in 1978, two years after Saul BELLOW; and 19ac which was obviously SOLDIER but took some time to solve Peter [Piper], maybe, with nothing in stock for comic character (9) giving one of the seven ages of man from Shakespeare’s As You Like It, PANTALOON (PAN + O in TALON).

The full list:

1ac Ben Nevis Grand National winners WEST TIP
6ac Bellow Nobel prizes for Literataure SINGER
11ac Zeta Greek alphabet ALPHA
19ac Pantaloon 7 ages of man SOLDIER
32ac Canning British PMs EARL GREY
5dn Leather Wedding anniversaries PAPER
10dn Tango NATO alphabet ROMEO
33dn Diamond Birthstones GARNET
34dn POND Astronomers Royal BLISS

The extra words in clues, apart from all being five letters, progressively forwards then back gave More or Less, which was an alternative puzzle title. Finally, and very pleasingly, row 3 held PROVERBS while column 3 had PLUS FOUR, leading to the book of JEREMIAH to go under the grid.

A bit tricky in places, but a very enjoyable theme. Thanks, Colleague.

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Cordon by Colleague

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 Aug 2018

Sheep may safely graze

We are in the Yorkshire Dales where one is never far from a maaing sheep or a bleating lamb and I have the very enjoyable role of setting the weekly cryptic crossword for the Farmers Guardian and frequently do that with a favourite Bach adagio playing in the background so you can imagine my delight when SCHAFE KONNEN SICHER WEIDEN appeared in that fifth circle and the centre four letters were clearly going to spell BACH.

No, it wasn’t an instant revelation and I had already muttered my habitual imprecations against Colleague when I saw that word ‘jumbles’ in the pre-ramble. I always think it is a bit of a setter cop-out and would be happy never to see another jumbled solution in my lifetime, though, on this occasion, those words ‘no two adjacent answers having the same method of entry’ rendered those jumbles fairly a later stage in the solve and having set very many circular crosswords in my time with no jumbles, I know how frustrating it can be to reach word 36 or 48 and find that there is no possible entry.

I haven’t forgotten, even if Colleague is wandering in the pastures, that his/her entry ticket to the bar has to be confirmed. I wasn’t left in doubt for long! ‘Old-style white wine less likely at first to undergo diffusion’ gave us MOSEL less L(ikely) after OS = OSMOSE.(Actually we worked backwards to that one as BESOMED had already gone into the grid, confirming the B of BACH in the centre, and giving us the OSE of a word that had to go inwards or be jumbled.

Colleague produced the beer next (obviously a German speaker with his ‘Schafe konnen sicher weiden’ but he must have forgotten the German adage ‘Wein auf Bier, das rat ich dir. Bier auf Wein, das lass sein.’) ‘What the right arm may be used for – as in Special brew’ giving us UT in S + ALE, so SALUTE. Well, with that beer chasing the wine, I salute a rather drunken Colleague. Cheers!

Dales black-faced sheep grazing safely.

DORCAS was a lovely gift so we realized at once that the outer circle was going to contain a series of shepherds or shepherdesses and ABEL (the first), MOPSA (Dorcas’s ‘other’ in The Winter’s Tale) and GABRIEL OAK from Far From the Madding Crowd were likely candidates. Those four nicely framed the ones that were less obvious to me, OLD NOD (which produced a smile), CORIN, SILVIUS and DELIO. He was my very last entry into the grid and caused a bit of head-scratching.

WOLF was my first ‘sheep’. With all those shepherds around, I am surprised he snuck in (but, of course, he was in that part of the grid where ‘OLD NOD’ was on duty, so I imagine he is going to make a meal or two of the AMMON, the MOUFFLON, the SOAY, the SOUTHDOWN and the MERINO. DOLLY died, didn’t she? Sadly, as the Farmers Guardian campaign ‘TAKE THE LEAD‘ regularly tells us, it isn’t wolves so much as unrestrained dogs that are the menace. Well, there’s my bit of politicising, but it was prompted by a crossword that I thought was sheer delight. Many thanks to Colleague.

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Listener No 4514: Cordon by Colleague

Posted by Dave Hennings on 24 Aug 2018

Last year’s puzzle from Colleague was based on the BBC One sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles and the Oozlum bird. I think the Inquisitor is normally the place for TV programme themes, but it was a fun puzzle nonetheless.

This week we had a circular grid. Now, I must have blogged a dozen or so circular puzzles here at LWO. Between you and me, they’re not my favourite, just as others dislike puzzles with jumbles or Playfair. Still, my shoulders are broad.

Normally circular puzzles have a mixture of entries going inwards and outwards. Here, we had jumbles as well. (I bet someone was thankful that there weren’t a couple of Playfair entries as well! [Now there’s a thought. Ed.])

As I expected, this was tough. As well as all the 6-letter entries, each quadrant had a 7-letter one which strayed into the central ring, but we were told that wasn’t a jumble. In hindsight, I should have got 1 Not all in sea bottom cleared by a sweep straightaway, but I didn’t. In fact very few came quickly and there seemed like a lot of cold (or, at least, luke warm) solving. Being told that no two adjacent answers had the same entry method certainly helped.

With the grid about two-thirds full, I had SCHAF… in ring 5. It looked as though it could be German, and that idea was supported by “… in its original form…” in the preamble. A check with Google translate gave SHEEP, although it would probably end up being plural (SCHAFE). The first idea that came to mind was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but Ein Wolf im Schafspelz didn’t really fit.

Eventually, ring 5 spelt out SHAFE KÖNNEN SICHER WEIDEN which translates to Sheep May Safely Graze and I was surprised to discover that it was an aria by JS BACH, words courtesy of Salomon Franck. It didn’t take too long to work out that shepherds needed to go in the perimeter with sheep in ring 3, apart from the WOLF en déshabillé in the north-west quadrant.

The sheep were fairly cut and dried, with AMMON, MOUFFLON, DOLLY, SOAY, SOUTHDOWN and MERINO. All that was left was to finalise the shepherds, except that took an awful lot of googling. As You Like It provided CORIN and SILVIUS and The Winter’s Tale MOPSA and DORCAS. OLD NOD came courtesy of Walter de la Mare, GABRIEL OAK from Thomas Hardy, and ABEL from the Bible.

That just left one shepherd in the north-east quadrant to be tracked down. Eventually, after an awful lot of googling, I found him in The Seven Books of the Diana, “…a pastoral romance written in Spanish by the Portuguese author Jorge de Montemayor.” I must admit that seemed a bit like clutching at straws, but further research didn’t elucidate any other Delio, so I settled for that. Of course, I could have got something else wrong!

Oh, and BACH is in the centre!

In the end, this wasn’t as tricky as it seemed at first, although it was by no means a short solve. I’m still not sure about Delio, so I’ll just have to wait and see. Thanks, Colleague.

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It’s Dark Up Here by Colleague

Posted by Encota on 1 Apr 2017

I’ve just noticed that the splendid efforts I thought I’d put in on the evening before driving up to Newcastle for the annual Listener dinner had come to naught – as clearly I’d left my blog post on ‘It’s Dark Up Here’ somewhere in the depths of one of my browsers and so it didn’t appear here yesterday afternoon.  OOPS!  Take two…

What a fine puzzle and a great theme, or should I say pair of themes – thanks Colleague!

Clearly the fact that MARTIN, PAUL, ANN, HOWARD, HILDA could be jumbled to show that they HAD WORLD HUMANITARIAN PLAN was a vital part of the puzzle.
[Eh???: Ed]

The TV show EVER DECREASING CIRCLES was one of those programmes I recall enjoying.  The oozlum bird however was complete news to me.  Part of 23d perhaps hinted at what was to come – and the Title made me laugh out loud!

The last part I sorted was the eight ‘circles’ in the Down clues of ever decreasing lengths.  I’d found around four of them for certain and two or three other possible – and then was delighted when the word lengths from 10 chars down to 3 became apparent, namely:


I spent probably too long at the end deciding how to represent the two overlapping characters when the OOZLUM BIRD’s (presumably?) bill disappeared up where the sun doesn’t shine.  Should the Os be inside the loops of the R and D?  Should the R and D be inside the Os? Or should they just share cells?  None seemed wrong and one could argue the case for any of them, I think.

Many thanks again to Colleague.

Tim / Encota

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