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Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

‘Word Squares’ by Elap

Posted by Encota on 8 December 2017

A very nice puzzle – thank you Elap!  The initial Preamble was pretty daunting and, combined with the terseness of the clues has perhaps set a new ‘High Score’ for:

(number of characters in Preamble)/(number of characters in Clues)

The numerical deductions took a while but it was all worth it.  I was briefly thrown when my electronic Chambers didn’t give SAIRS as a plural of SAIR but the BRB definition fully backed up its use – phew!

2017-11-20 10.22.42

And Elap did ask us to follow the instruction: VARY, to re-arrange all 25 letters involved.  What follows are my alternative results …

Introduction: I retire at Elap’s masterclass

Describing the squares and their contents: similar aspect (as letters are)!

Describing both letter square constructions: all are artist’s masterpieces!

And describing the endgame.  Crisp tail: same letters, areas

Great fun – thanks again!  In summary: Elap is a secret trial master!!

cheers all,



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‘Sharp Work’ by Puffin

Posted by Encota on 3 November 2017

Thank you Puffin for a neat and straightforward puzzle.  As usual I initially found the preamble baffling (that is more a comment about me, not the puzzle), so pressed on regardless.  Some of the extra inserted words were quite easy to spot, which helped.

The initial letters soon started to spell out SIXTY SIX near the end and something that could be WICKETS, so it looked like some form of cricket and 1066 crossover, given that two of the unclued words also looked suspiciously like WILLIAM and HASTINGS.  Once ‘ten wickets for 66’ became clear then it only took a little research to find Arthur Mailey and his autobiography “10 for 66 and All That”.  So I wrote “1066 And All That” under the grid.

That left the 12 cells to highlight, on the diagonal?  Is this ONE IN THE EYED?  I suppose it must be.  I tried to look for some preamble-based justification for highlighting the last letter of SWEYED to make the arrow-head symmetric, but without any success.  And 24d looks like it can only sensibly be DEPOSED, so I went with that!

2017-10-14 14.46.50 copy

Referring to my iPad version of Chambers I didn’t find the alternative spelling of TIGS as TYGS at 32a but did find it in Collins online.  When I re-checked the preamble and saw no mention of other dictionary sources I then checked the pristine new copy of Chambers – my prize from a Listener earlier this year and, sure enough, there was TYGS.  I’ll add updating BRB on iPad to my To Do list (that’s always easier than actually doing something, isn’t it?)

Good fun.  One of the easier Listeners of the year, which isn’t a bad thing – unless I have missed something significant (very possibly!).  Though, with a little trepidation, I suspect there’ll be at least a few very challenging ones lined up for the remainder of 2017 …

Tim / Encota

P.S.  Times Crossword Finals tomorrow – I look forward to seeing some of you there (Sat 4th Nov) or at The George, Southwark nearby.  Do stop and say hello!

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‘Rod and Bill’ by Stick Insect

Posted by Encota on 20 October 2017

When it comes to anagrams of Title and Setter above: brain’s distinctly blocked.

And trying to think of words that mean both a Man and a Measure is too tricky.  NORM service will hopefully be resumed with L4472.


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Listener 4468 Hide-and-Seek by Charybdis

Posted by Encota on 6 October 2017

aka Ruth Is Stranger Than Robin, or something like that …

Thank you Charybdis for a superb puzzle with a great Cultural Crossover!  I wonder how many people knew all angles covered in this puzzle – quotes from Twain and Bacon, books from Josephine Tey and albums from Robert Wyatt!

As ever, do read Shirley’s and Dave’s blogs for some more insight.

[You are now entering Twilight Zone mode…]

Or, alternatively … in this puzzle we were asked to help seek ‘three hiders’.

So what other musicians are hiding on Robert Wyatt’s brilliantly titled mid-Seventies album, ‘Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard’?   Aside: the only album (I know) that has a Side Richard and a Side Ruth.


And in what way is it connected to that other mid-seventies album, ‘Night Moves’ by Bob Seger, I hear you ask?  [Eh?? Ed.]  Clearly SEGER is jumbled in both the first and last rows.  Is it referring to Knight’s Moves to find the missing musicians, perhaps?

And yes, there they are, all three from the Robert Wyatt album:

[to be added]

Top left, the ubiquitous Brian ENO, who played guitar and synthesiser on the Offenbach rearrangement; top right Nisar Ahmad KHAN, saxophonist on two tracks, and mid-right Fred FRITH, piano on those three tracks on Side Richard.

And, of course, the two erased letters – which might be read as NO TE – appear to have a musical theme.

The Preamble said something about (presumably) other musicians: Mark – Knopfler? Ronson? and Francis – Rossi?  RENE of Rene and Renata made an appearance on Row 1, Jim REEVES in Col 14 and Lou REED on Row 10.  There was some bluff about a King, a novel, some proverbs and a place to leave the tour bus in the Midlands but I gave that bit a miss.

cheers all,

Tim / Encota

PS As I type I am listening to, the Prog Rock radio station (they are playing ‘Luminol’ by Steven Wilson, thanks for asking), so if I can’t solve a puzzle featuring Robert Wyatt then I am not sure who can!

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Is there a National Day for Everything*?

Posted by Encota on 29 September 2017

First of all, what a visually elegant puzzle – thank you Kea!  The mix of accurate clueing and vocabulary were a delight.

Next, the Title.  With Saturday 9th September being National Chrysanthemum Day* the publication of this flower-shaped grid with six unclued Chrysanthemums in the puzzle certainly matched the Theme of the Day.  The Unclued flowers were:

  • Button
  • Pompom
  • Korean
  • Corn marigold
  • Shasta daisy, and
  • Yellow ox-eye

It took me a while to tune in to the fact that the clues were presented in Clockwise and Anticlockwise groups.

One of my favourite clues was the ‘hidden’:

Inside submarine pen, the Annapolis is oblivious (10)

… for NEPENTHEAN, very well disguised.

There were some superb other clues too, including the beautifully-surfaced:

  • Germany no longer has strength in beer (7) for ALMAINE and
  • Colours Picasso used regularly for evergreen plants (7) for CLUSIAS

Probably in the easiest third of Listener puzzles based on the year to date, no doubt intentionally.

In summary: great puzzle – loved it!

Tim / Encota

* I did test my there’s a National <insert subject here> Day for everything theory.   I needed something random to try.  I looked around my study desk for inspiration.  I know, how about National Paper Clip Day?  Auntie Google’s reply?  May 29th.  Good grief!!!

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