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Posts Tagged ‘Eck’

Listener No 4552: Mortality by ’Eck

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 May 2019

’Eck’s previous Listener was based on Ariel’s speech in The Tempest reporting Ferdinand’s cry “Hell is empty and all the devils are here”. This week, a bit more gloom and doom with a lot of people seemingly suffering a fatal affliction!

The preamble started by telling us that there were three normally clued entries which needed changing. That left an awful lot where the clues themselves needed amendment: extra words or phrases appeared in nine clues; seven required two or three letters to be repositioned; six clues had wordplay only and 24 had a misprint in the definition.

All of this was cunningly disguised by ’Eck and required a bit longer than usual for me to get past the post. However, once the grid was complete, a quick scan enabled me to see PIMPERNEL in the middle row. Thus we were in the midst of the French Revolution, courtesy Baroness Emmuska (didn’t know that) Orczy’s elusive character.

The three normal clues gave SEJEANT, RELUCT and MAGNESIA, with the wordplay-only clues giving GASTON, EMILE, JULES, ALAIN, LEON and CHARLOT, all French guys. It didn’t take long to see that the last group would all give new words when decapitated which happened when JEAN, LUC and AGNES left the grid. These new words were all defined by the extra words/phrases in other clues.

Finally, the letters disappearing and appearing in their clues gave Sir Percy Blakeney, and the correct letters in the misprint clues gave Enter nom de guerre in apt hue, thus requiring PIMPERNEL in the middle row.

It all reminded me of the TV series of my youth. I think it was the one starring Marius Goring, which shows you how long ago it was. Also, MAIGRET at 21ac had me harking back to when Rupert Davies played the character on TV back in the 60’s.

Good fun, thanks, ’Eck.

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Mortality by Eck

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 May 2019

Wasn’t Eck’s debut Listener crossword the one about the Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock that was in the shape of a stick of rock? Then we had two Shakespearian themes, Hamlet and The Tempest, so we could expect a literary theme. Mortality, indeed – wasn’t that Scott?  Vaccination (or the dangerous lack of it) is a current media theme so we wondered whether our preamble was leading us towards Pasteur, and as French words and names filled the grid (Alsace, Charlot, Merlot, Leon Gaston, Emile, Jules and Alain) that still seemed to be a possibility.

Yes, that Merlot appeared fairly early in our solve ‘Dusty blackbird going back as far as plank’. “Plonk”, I said – ‘”that’s a misprint, and we have an old word for a blackbird and TO reverse”. “Merlot is not plonk!” Muttered the other Numpty, filling his glass “but misprints can be tough to find so that’s probably it.” So with just ‘plonk’ do we renew Eck’s membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite? Then we saw ‘How many old trews are drunkenly ripped losing ragged end? (6)’ – drunkenly – Hmmm, drunk on plonk (we opted for ‘trees’, removed ‘END* from *DRUNKENLY” in a subtractive anagram and decided that ‘KNURLY’ is ‘How many old trees are) – but there is the redeeming ‘Alsace’ – I think we can say “Cheers, Eck!” We certainly can for such a fine compilation, packed with devices and clues that had us head-scratching till midnight.

So many things going on: there were three ‘normal’ clues that had to be changed ultimately, extra definition words hidden in nine clues, seven clues where groups of two or three letters had to move within the clue and also to be sorted into a thematic name, AND the dreaded misprints. We groaned and started solving very slowly.

When we realized that all those Frenchmen could be beheaded, leaving real words, Guillotine sprang to mind and we laboriously worked out that the moving letters were EN, BL, EY, AK, CY, PER and SIR. Penny drop moment (mixed metaphor, I suppose – it’s a dropping guillotine blade with Madame Defarge gleefully knitting in the audience). SIR PERCY BLAKENEY, the Scarlet Pimpernel. He has to save three of the doomed aristocrats and we realize with delight that they are JEAN (from SEJEANT), LUC (from RELUCT) and a lady, AGNES (from MAGNESIA).

The corrected misprints have spelled out NOM DE GUERRE IN APT HUE and we find PIMPERNEL in the most likely place. I have to combine pink and orange to produce a colour that Wiki would accept as scarlet.  What is left to do? Confirm that we have definitions for the nine new words that have appeared. Not easy, as we were confused about ‘abode’ and ‘assigned’ – which was SET and which was LAIN? Well it didn’t really matter: we opted for

ABODE – probably a badger’s SET.
This was a very challenging compilation but what an achievement. Many thanks, Eck.

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Disappearances by Eck

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 Jul 2018

I usually devote some hours of Saturday morning to the creation of these blogs but it is now Sunday afternoon. OK, I do have visiting two and five-year old grandchildren which renders solving and blogging rather intermittent experiences but that is not the only reason for the late start. (Do I hear a murmur of agreement? This was tough and I haven’t fully deciphered that message from the misprints even now and have a sneaking suspicion that my final interpretation of its import might be flawed).Eck

The preamble told us to use ‘some of the letters from region B’ to ‘locate the reporting’. Yes, we had, after an immense struggle, completed our original grid and found that it resolved the question of which of three pairs of letters to omit when we worked out that we were using the third speech of Ariel, reporting Ferdinand in The Tempest. “Hell is empty, the devils are all here.”

However, I had something like ALTERNATING HITCH (or NITCH) SWITCH for which letters to move. Clearly we had to ’empty’ the underworld or Hell and move alternating letters, but did I need only to move some of them to put all the devils in the upper world or did I need to move all the alternating ones? I opted for the second alternative but wonder whether a better understanding of the message might have led to the first.

I found my eight devils, with Mrs Bradford’s help: INCUBUS, EBLIS, DAVY JONES,  MEPHISTO, APOLLYON, BEELZEBUB, SATAN and LUCIFER. (SATAN was a lovely give-away and confirmed what was needed. This part of the solving was pure entertainment after a very long drawn out battle to produce our original grid. What difficult clues some of them were with misprints that didn’t always leap into view.

But have I forgotten something? Does Eck maintain his place at the Listener bar? He left little doubt: ‘Apparently a patient producer of drams (6)’ led to ONE ILL or ‘a producer of DRAMA – O’Neill – no drams there then, but the next clue continued the alcohol theme. ‘Phoenician betters level of acidity in drinks (6)’ Giving us a misprint for letters, ALEPHS and putting PH into ALES.

Mixing the drams and ales produced the expected effect, ‘I am primarily blotto, ensnared by eg Kolsch (7)’. Google tells me that Kolsch is German beer so that gave me I’M with BIER round B(lotto) or IMBIBER. No wonder we got ‘one in pickle’ in the next clue which put SOUSE round BI to give us a SOUBISE or an old tie. With all that imbibing, I am amazed that Eck could create such subtle clues – or such a masterpiece of construction. Thank you Eck!


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Listener No 4509: Disappearances by ’Eck

Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 Jul 2018

It has been 2½ years since ’Eck’s last Listener. That was based on Hamlet’s “…I could be bounded by a nut-shell…”. Before that, we had Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock, so I guessed that ’Eck liked literary themes.

Upon first reading of the title and the preamble, with its omission of letters in answers, erasure and replacement of letters, I wondered if ’Eck was Ifor in disguise after his Multiple Deletions two weeks previously! In fact, he is Ron in disguise, having set two puzzles under that pseudonym in 2012/13. [Not even Ron is his real name. Ed.]

So, no clue numbers or bars in the printed diagram, but clues in the right order, but not numbered. What could possibly go wrong?!

Well, what went wrong was in the top left corner. Failing to get the first across clue Maybe catch support vocalist (8, two words) — and I don’t just mean on the first pass through, I mean for about three hours — I incorrectly assumed that it started in the top left corner, as did INFANTAS running down. I had it as [IN][OD]C••(I failed with BAH as well!)•S. Its symmetrically opposite entry SOUBISE was also a long time coming which would have helped clear things up sooner. (The catch turned out to be ROCK BASS.)

All this meant that the grid fill, and consequently the various messages, were a long time coming. But what was more bizarre was that the grid was divided in two by the bar across the middle. Effectively we (for that, read “I”) had solved two separate puzzles without realising it. And one half, region B, had to be erased. Half the puzzle disappeared before my eyes!

As for the messages, I wondered if we were dealing with a Hitchcock theme or the three witches from Macbeth, before the various letters revealed what was going on. Having said that, the “original speaker” and “the reporter and the source” needed unjumbling first. There were some ambiguities, but, for region A, I had R F [A/D] E [I/N] D N A I, and a bit of doodling soon revealed FERDINAND. Google revealed lots of Ferdinands, mainly emperors and kings, but googling “ferdinand quotations” obligingly revealed him as a character in The Tempest. Ah, yes, that one. Of course.

That enabled the letters in region B, again with ambiguities, which were S A E R T [E/P] L [I/M] T I E P [E/P] T, to be disentangled to form the play and ARIEL. At least I’d heard of that character. The two sets of misprints were: Alternating hitch switch and In his third speech. It didn’t take long to track down “Hell is empty And all the devils are here.” This explained why region B, Hell, had to go bye-bye. Unfortunately, I had no idea what hitch switch was. A knitting term, I suspected, but googling didn’t help me. Unless PILEI wasn’t “fear wear of Romans’”.

Anyway, casually looking at the grid, I could see possible devils: MEPHISTO was partially there in row 3 of the top grid and BEELZEBUB in row 6 of the bottom. With a bit of guess work logic, I tried replacing alternate letters in the top half of the grid with their corresponding letters from the bottom, and there were INCUBUS & EBLIS in the top row, DAVY JONES in row 2, MEPHISTO, APOLLYON (row 5), BEELZEBUB, and finally SATAN & LUCIFER in row 7. What’s more, they were symmetrically positioned and we liked that.

And so a fantastic puzzle from ’Eck was finished — correctly, I hope. Great fun, thanks.

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‘Disappearances’ by ‘Eck

Posted by Encota on 20 Jul 2018

A clever puzzle from ‘Eck – many thanks!  I particularly liked the Symmetry of the final eight thematic appearances in the top half of the grid – very smart!

The letters from the Clues provided ALTERNATING HITCH STITCH and IN HIS THIRD SPEECH.

And “Alternating hitch stitch”: I don’t know categorically what that is but I think I can guess, based on the puzzle.

I had some vague recollection of Shakespeare with the phrase, “Hell is empty and all the devils are here” but when I Googled ‘Third speech’, was I the only person for whom the first item to appear was General S. Patton’s rousing – though uncensored speech – to the Third Army?  And there, on rows ten and eleven in the completed grid, in a kind of upturned army hat shape, was PATTON.  Surely The Listener wouldn’t be containing his somewhat unsavoury language?  So I checked on Rows 5, 8 & 9, then gulped.  OK, these must be from the ‘cleaned up’ version – surely TOOL, BOOBY and ANUS weren’t in Patton’s original speech?  I knew he used some language that could be described as ‘anatomical’ but ….???

Enough puerile nonsense.  Great puzzle – many thanks!

2018-07-05 21.22.46.jpg

Tim / Encota


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