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Posts Tagged ‘Colleague’

Cordon by Colleague

Posted by shirleycurran on 24 August 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 August 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 April 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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It’s Dark Up Here by Colleague

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 March 2017

I wonder how many other solvers initially imagined we were somehow going to be considering the legendary flier Icarus (though obviously it wasn’t very dark where he flew – so near the sun that his wings, glued together with wax, melted). We were at the Annual Listener Setters’ dinner event and the hotel had kindly printed out the puzzle for me but the grid hadn’t appeared, so while the other Numpty began to solve, I was hand-drawing the grid into the empty square. I realize that this passion is some kind of OCD (Obsessive Crossword Disorder). I wonder how many other crossword solvers would go to that extent!

Still, I did have time to check Colleague’s right to admission to the Listener Setters’ Imbibers Outfit and thus to check whether he would be among the valiant band who survive the post-dinner party where the ultimate heroes last almost until dawn, at the bar. I didn’t have to read far. ‘A degree of acidity (to such a degree a taste of tannin is lacking) is a symptom of thrush (6)’ (A PH + THAT – T[annin]. The Australian Shiraz we chose was most acceptable so I don’t know where Colleague got his acid beverage with no taste of tannin but “Cheers!” anyway, Colleague.

Actually, the situation worsened with, ‘Turned right on with a mix of acid and cleaning agent perhaps (5)’ giving RT< + ON A and Chambers confirmed that TRONA is a ‘native combination of acid and normal sodium carbonate’. No wonder we had the clue ‘Disheartened [Circassian] is one who commonly vomits (6)’ HUR[d]LER.

The word CIRCASSIAN stood out as being an ‘extra word that must be removed’ in that clue and, as our grid filled, we removed a ‘series’: ANTARCTIC, VIRTUOUS, TRAFFIC, FAMILY, DRESS, CROP and HUT. We had country dance lessons at school and the ‘Circassian Circle’ was a popular dance and we soon saw that the other words could all be followed by ‘Circle’. It was the other Numpty who commented that each was a letter shorter than the preceding one so that these were ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’ but we overseas solvers were, as usual, totally ignorant of a TV series of that name (helpfully, of course, provided by Wikipedia).

Wiki gave us a list of names: MARTIN, ANN, PAUL, HOWARD and HILDA and four of them appeared almost symmetrically around the margins of the grid with HILDA being spelled out by the five letters that had filled those circles. A little bit of head-scratching followed. We found the name of the series that we had to highlight, with six Os completing the name but that gave us only 20 letters and we needed 28. Who was the flier?

Clue 29 had given a hint that hadn’t meant very much to us at first, ‘Greatly affect where our flier disappears (5)’ clearly had to be UPEND. When we drew ‘ever-diminishing circles’ with the names in the outer one of the grid margin, an inner circle, using the double-letter OR of DIOR and CENSOR, that had intersected, and the OD of BLOODHOT, that we had squeezed into one cell spelled OOZLUM BIRD.

Faithful Wiki told us that this was a legendary bird that flew backwards in ever-decreasing circles until it disappeared up its own fundament. Could The Times really be telling us that the bird was to complete its peregrinations up its own rectum? We laughed and decided that it had to be so – but dilemma! How do we depict that?

If the bird is flying backwards (DRIBMULZOO) then the DR is going to disappear into the OO and that would satisfy the hint in the preamble that the fifth character was displayed in a thematic manner (her letters were in circles). However, if the bird is to disappear when it enters its anus, we shouldn’t see the D and R any longer. Dare I do that? It leaves CENSOO and BLOOHOT with a fashion designer DIO. No! It’s almost impossible to create an advanced cryptic crossword without this sort of ambiguity isn’t it! Many thanks to Colleague, anyway. A relatively gentle puzzle for what was a busy time for setters and solvers.

Post script – the GOLDEN HARE? “Hare” was a forbidden word last night at the dinner since a large number of potentially ‘all correct’ solvers had been eliminated because of that elusive beast. Each year, there’s a table quiz and the team at the winning table fills its bronze casket trophy with sweets to be distributed the following year. Last year’s winners had a sense of humour as what was hiding underneath all the fudge and caramels? Not just one but a whole series of little golden hares! Here’s one of them.

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Listener No 4441: It’s Dark Up Here by Colleague

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 March 2017

Colleague’s seventh Listener greeted us this week. His last had the Aubrey holes at Stonehenge (Spots), and then there was the sneaky How to —— (with Hotel as its missing word rather than Spell) from five years ago.

This week, just eight down clues with an extra word and no misprint wordplay shenanigans. Solving started relatively quickly with acrosses 1 APHTHA, 9 NEUR (the prefix mentioned in the preamble) and 15 LAIRS enabled downs 1 AND HOW, 2 HURLER and 4 HASID to be slotted in. Thus the top left quadrant was soon fleshed out, despite never having come across the slightly weird 13 Work at growing up becoming like one-time immigrants to Crete (8) for DORISING.

Two extra words that I had ditched from down clues were Circassian and Antarctic and these were soon joined by dress as LIENTERY was slotted in at 12. It seemed to me that any similarity between those three extra words was purely in the mind of the setter.

It hadn’t escaped my attention that three clues had letter counts that disagreed with their entry lengths. 18ac Spiritual guide drops in reference to court fashion designer (4) was DIRECTOR – RE CT to give DIOR but it took some time for me to suss 5dn Homer keeps being virtuous for moral guardian in Rome (6) where the inclusion of Homer and Rome prevented me from seeing homer=cor which would normally come to mind fairly quickly. [You know Homer was Greek?! Ed.]

I strayed down to the bottom right and that was soon fairly complete, followed by the bottom left where I don’t think I’d come across DODDY before, and was surprised that the clue didn’t reference Knotty Ash! SCHMELZ at 24ac Decorative glass produced by East London rascal with earlier marks unknown (7) was also unknown, as was its subsidiary SCHELM (SKELM), a rascal in South Africa (not Whitechapel).

After about 2½ hours the grid was complete, and time for the endgame. It included BLOODHOT at 21ac where the OD had to occupy the same cell, as did the OR at 18ac and 5dn.

In the end, th extra letters in the down clues had no meaning in common but were of decreasing length from 10, 9, 8 letters down to 3. This brought to mind Elfman’s Revelation of John in June 2015 where the countdown led to Rocket Man.

Four characters from a related series were also in the grid together with a fifth in the circled squares. I jotted down H A D L I, but don’t ask me why I went anticlockwise. It didn’t take long to see that it should be HILDA, nor that there were four other names in the grid: HOWARD, MARTIN, PAUL and JESSE. Luckily, despite not having seen many episodes, I was aware of the programme Ever Decreasing Circles, a BBC sitcom starring Richard Briers and Penelope Wilton. I was also aware that there wasn’t a character Jesse, but ANNE (or was it ANN), to be found here in the top row.

Back to the preamble which required us to find both a legendary flyer and its habitual flight path. Pegasus, Unicorn, Roc and Emu all crossed my mind while trying to unravel this bit. And what about that OR and OD crammed into single cells? Did they form part of this flyer? However, I remembered that I hadn’t fully resolved 29dn Greatly affect where our flyer disappears? (5) with its reference to our flyer who disappears UPEND. Ah, yes, the OOZLUM BIRD, and in the course of the next ten minutes, I had it highlighted in the centre of the grid and EVER DECREASING OOOOOO around it.

Now, I have to admit that the programme wasn’t one of my favourites. I found the lead character, Martin, extremely annoying with his obsessive attention to procedure and detail. [Having said that, I’ve just watched a few minutes on YouTube and it had me giggling!!] Despite that comment, I thoroughly enjoyed Colleague’s puzzle with all its thematic content — and its title! Thanks a lot.

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