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Posts Tagged ‘Duck’

L4612: ‘Family Man’ by Duck

Posted by Encota on 10 Jul 2020

Another elegant puzzle from Duck – I’d expect nothing less, of course!

  • All items to be highlighted symmetrically placed in the grid? Check
  • Low average number of words per clue? Check
  • Well-executed hidden message. Check

The hidden message read:
This was a clue in its own right for the 12 letter title BUDDENBROOKS, a book by Thomas Mann, who resides on the leading diagonal. [BUD + DEN + BROOKS].

My knowledge of Thomas Mann is particularly poor – I’d read ‘Death In Venice’ and heard of ‘The Magic Mountain’ but that was my lot. A quick check on the Internet found this one for me. It’s apparently about four generations of a German family, hence the Title of the puzzle – I think!


Tim / Encota


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Duck by Vismut

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 May 2019

We have met Vismut before in an EV and a rather lovely IQ based on the Oranges and Lemons song but this is a Listener debut and we are at last welcoming a new lady setter, so I am delighted to see her pseudonym and download Duck. Rather anxiously, I scan her clues to see whether she gains entrance to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit. There’s ITALIAN which is promising, in ‘A Turpin person possibly reversing arrest; mainly involved in criminality (7)’. We decide the P is extra giving us ‘a Turin’ person’ – then she ‘Tapes around 50 cases for change in Macau (7)’ Again we extract a letter and decide she’s tapping those 50 cases (PATS around A CA = PATACAS). No problem then, Cheers, Vismut!

Solving moves along steadily with the occasional smile. ‘Sunny? Hit a tidy lob (8)’ produces TABLOIDY (A TIDY LOB*) It’s the first time we’ve met that word in a Listener crossword but we do find it in the Big Red Book. SALLIS has us puzzled until we find that we have to replace the content of S(teven)S with A LL I to produce the voice of Wallace (of Wallace and Grommit). Nice!

We have also realized, quite early in our solve, that we are not entering any Es in the grid  and that rings a bell – PEREC’s LA DISPARITION. Sure enough, that fills 25 across and we have an inkling of the theme. So E is the ‘character’ that is ‘missing’ in the work. The letters we have removed before solving have spelled out PREMIER AUTEUR. I have kept a careful tally of where those redundant letters appear in their clues. This is a fine, original device. Applying them to LA DISPARITION (5, 1, 4, 5, 11 etc.) spells out SLIP INTO ADAIR. Wiki, of course, tells us that Gilbert ADAIR translated the novel into English and his name appears at the foot of the grid so we have to ‘SLIP’ PEREC into those cells.

We remove that ‘trace of translation’ as instructed in the preamble and replace it with PEREC – we have introduced a couple of Es – the missing character. However, there are five more cells to erase and they are symmetrically placed – A VOID, the title of Adair’s translation. Very neat indeed, all leaving real words, and now we understand the title ‘Duck’. What a fine debut. Many thanks to Vismut.

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Listener No 4554: Duck by Vismut

Posted by Dave Hennings on 31 May 2019

This was Vismut’s first, so nothing to say on prior work. If it got your thumbs-up, you’ll know what it was all about. But if you think I’m going to publish this blog without you-know-what, think again — far too difficult, I’m afraid.

As it was, it was all about La Disparition, a story about a group looking for a missing companion, Anton Vowl (probably a chum of Francis Consonant). Anyway, it was soon obvious from row 7, LA DISPARITION, what was lacking from this crossword’s grid. Sadly, introduction and cluing did not conform, but that was probably asking too much.

Finally, A VOID in row 1 was struck out, and ADAIR, translator for you and I (!) in row 13, changing to La Disparition‘s original author.

Thanks for a bit of fun, Vismut.

Ooh, look, this blog is lipogrammatic! [Bravo, Ed.] — D’oh!

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‘This is not the HARE you’re looking for’ aka ‘Game Box’ by Poat

Posted by Encota on 21 Sep 2018

Thanks to Poat for a challenging and enjoyable puzzle.

SCAN0518 copy


There were several sub-clues I particularly enjoyed:

  • I damn Foucault’s concept (4), [for IDEE];especially
  • Wise or foolish – which mixing Roofies with this could be (6)
    [for OWLISH – fantastic dual definition and subtractive anagram]and the quite brilliant
  • one in the wings, advancing Othello’s end … (4) [for IAGO – fabulous!]

There appeared to be a possibility for the ‘glancing contact’ with the obstacles not to work as the physics might suggest – and so I spent more time than I should really have done on ensuring that the 90 degree turns were as expected and not some ‘random corner-turning generator’.  The latter luckily proved not to be the case!

The beginning of the PG Wodehouse quote, “THE FASCINATION OF SHOOTING …” appeared without too much pain: the focus was then very much on the specifics of the words in the Preamble, especially “ten targets of a specific kind”.  Sounds like singular ‘duck’ rather than ‘ducks’, I think?  So when, initially, I only found 59 cells covering the ten duck, I wondered what Poat had had in mind.  There were options for pluralising (up to) three of the duck – HARELD (ho ho, by the way!!), GOLDENEYE and SHIELDRAKE – though one of the three didn’t automatically pop up in the electronic BRB I did half-wonder if ‘Chambers is the primary reference’ was perhaps being taken rather seriously. Other adjustment options included DRAKE vs SHIELDRAKE but that didn’t free up the appropriate 61 cells either.

Eventually I realised my mistake – I’d initially gone with BALD as a type of DUCK and not BALDPATE.  The extra cells at ‘TE’ made up the shortfall and all was sorted – I hope!

From again re-reading the Preamble there didn’t seem to be any need to add bars and I wasn’t sure if the position of the six obstacles were required either.  As some bars were crossed by the duck I left those out; and I gently dotted in where the obstacles were, in case it was of any interest.

Teasing seasoned solvers with 2d’s HARELD (i.e. those who solved Poat’s last Listener, where some readers might recall there was ‘some debate’ about the location of a HARE) was funny.  Thanks again to Poat – I loved this!


Tim (the setter Encota)

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Against Expectations by Duck

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 May 2016

Duck 001Duck? Well we all know who that is. When I was just beginning to compile, I read Don Manley’s Crossword Manual from cover to cover and appreciated it enormously, learning something new on almost every page. Surprisingly, though, apart from those in the Manual, I have solved very few of his crosswords and see, from Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database that Duck hasn’t had one in the Listener series since 2009, so this was a relatively new experience for us. It cannot be denied that we become accustomed to a setter’s style and that tends to help in solving his or her crosswords.

In his manual, Don describes the Listener crossword as a ‘cruciverbal Everest’ and comments, ‘If, however, you find the blizzards blowing too hard in your face or your mental oxygen running low, there is no disgrace in enjoying lesser peaks’. I have to admit that when, after an hour or more of solving, we had a mere dozen solutions in place, we were tempted to head to ‘lesser peaks’ (or resort to a strong drink – I had, of course, confirmed Duck’s membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Club – but only just – with ‘Time to drink up – I will eat that ice cream (6)’ ((T+ALE)< in (E)GO)  giving GELATO).

Scanning the clues for that trace of alcohol, I couldn’t help admiring the economy of the setting style. ‘Duck’ ‘me’ and ‘I’ tended to figure large but so did a ‘topless mistress’, a ‘bag brewing tea’, a few sheep, a headless dog, a snake, parasites, thin fish (poisonous too) and a rodent (what sort of mental preoccupations does that list suggest!) – and all of that in a mere 36 clues. Even the 12X12 grid was surprisingly economical – but not so the difficulty.

Of course, all solvers quickly came up against the problem. ‘Doctrinaire colonist has hurried to the fore (6)’ was an easy clue to [S]PED + ANT = PEDANT and that confirmed DANGER at 2d. ‘Dreading changes, one avoided risk (6)’ but produced a clash with SISTER, ‘Topless mistress unsettled nun (6)’ which was apparently an anagram of (M)ISTRESS giving SISTER with an extra S. But it was not to be, was it!

Similar problems occurred with 8d where the letters of across solutions gave us N?PS?RC. How could that be a solution to ‘Male sheep in scripture forage for berries (7)’? and 18d, NOTS?IR -Tree-dwellers seen in Bristol sing ostentatiously (7)’. We were growing more and more puzzled and frustrated, especially when the message produced by extra letters in the across clues told us to SEEK LETTER MIXTURE (G). It sounded as though we were being prompted to look for jumbles. I only realized, some time after completing our solve, that the preamble prompted us to look for those jumbles in ‘the six “rogue” clues (the italics are mine) and, of course, those Newtonian apples were jumbled, with words that told us so, in the clues. (‘Topless misTRESS Unsettled nun’ giving us, for example, RUSSET jumbled, which ‘unsettled the ‘nun’ or SISTER of the word the clue originally led us to). Devious stuff, Duck!

Fortunately, it was the ‘hint to the answers’, GRAVITY DEFIED’ that led us to look for something going the wrong way, and sure enough, there were IDARED, RUSSET, CRISPIN, BRAMLEY, CODLIN and RIBSTON (at least, they were there once the penny/apple dropped with BRAMLEY and we consulted Wiki’s list of apples).

And what about those “rogue” clues? Well, with the help of friends, I have now sussed them all. DANGER (the risk) and SISTER, (the unsettled nun) were obvious, and BRAMBLE wasn’t too difficult (I set weekly cryptic for the leading farming national newspapers with its massive circulation, of which Duck is mildly belittling in his manual with his slightly comical remarks that “It is just possible that The Modern Lady’s Weekly (my invention) may want a puzzle or the Agricultural News, but don’t think you can start with The Times. … recognise that you’re at the bottom of the ladder.”) BRAMBLING is both ‘foraging for berries’ and ‘a little bird’ and regularly creeps into my ‘bottom of the ladder’ grids which have a bird nina (look up ‘ninas‘ in Duck’s manual!)

CLASSES resolved the ‘Girl may be seen in revolutionary’s lectures (7)’ with C[H]E’S (of course! Even Duck resorts to crossword platitudes) around LASS, and FLORIN was FLIN[T] round the conventional crossword OR, producing a rogue extra T. The last clue we solved must have been the most obvious of the lot – a ‘hidden’ OLINGOS in ‘Tree dwellers seen in BristOL [S]ING OStentatiously (7)’. I suppose I just didn’t expect a ‘hidden’ clue from Duck. Most editors limit us to just one in a crossword, maximum two, as they are supposedly too easy to solve.

So to summarise, those alternative answers to the rogue clues gave us:

DANGER = DREADING* less I with an extra D produced

SISTER = (m)ISTRESS* with an extra S 

BRAMBLE = BIBLE round RAM with an extra I

CLASSES = LASS in CHE’S with an extra H

OLINGOS = hidden in (in Brist)OL SING OS(tentatiously) with an extra S

FLORIN = OR in FLINT with an extra T

Of course, that is a weakness of this crossword. It was possible to solve the crossword and be confident of having a correct solution without understanding those rogue clues. There were lovely penny-drop moments for the solver who persisted with them, but I wonder how many solvers, as with KevGar’s Conversation two weeks ago, short-circuited the process and had to go back to those clues and maybe work them all out.

Thank you, Duck, for quite a challenge.

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