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Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

L4652: ‘8 x 8’ by Phi

Posted by Encota on 16 Apr 2021

A delightful Beatles tribute, with the lines “Will you still need me, will you still feed me” featuring in this puzzle consisting of eight eights, laid out to fill the entire grid.

Some gentle fun in a very well constructed puzzle from Phi – thank you!


Tim / Encota

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L4651: ‘That’s Your Lot!’ by Ploy

Posted by Encota on 9 Apr 2021

The Preamble quickly tells us this puzzle is about songs and music. 1ac’s answer STEELY obviously points to the band STEELY DAN and, sure enough, there is DAN hiding in the middle of 2d to confirm that.

But are we interested in Singles or Albums? 1d’s (serum)ALBUM(in) soon clears that one up. But now what? Am I getting warmer?

There’s clearly something going on in 4 adjacent cells in Columns 4 and 9. But what STEELY DAN album fits (4,4)? A quick bit of Googling and there it is – KATY LIED. So we need to replace those letters with KATY LIED. I haven’t read the Preamble too carefully but that must surely be what all that ‘replace 4 letters’ stuff means.

That just leaves the (7,5) requirement of the bottom Row. What can it be? Is there a (7,5) STEELY DAN album? Over to Auntie Google and yes, there it is – PRETZEL LOGIC.

That just leaves the Title, “That’s Your Lot!” to be unravelled. What does that have to do with STEELY DAN? Checking the Discography and, sure enough, it must be referring to their 2003 final studio album – EVERYTHING MUST GO. Neat!

Easy this week. Must get on with the Listener ‘Dinner’ Quiz now, else I’d have had time to check it a bit more thoroughly 😉


Tim / Encota

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L4649: ‘Get Weaving’ by Paddock

Posted by Encota on 26 Mar 2021

My thanks to Paddock for an excellent puzzle – just the right level of difficulty, I felt.

I had the grid filled by end of Saturday, with a few question marks here and there where I hadn’t quite parsed the clue-pair as yet.  After a day of rest (ok, other puzzling) I polished off the last few parsings on Monday morning, with all done by 9:10.

One of my last three to sort was (with one of the interwoven clues shown in bold):

1. Hated sham spending cuts following number one rule in such charged circumstances

It was interesting to me how hard I found it to be certain precisely which words were in each clue-half.  For example, “number one in such” for S seemed to take me an age to spot.  Yet it seems so obvious after the event!

Another was:

16. Top fragrance EU had withdrawn left leader wanting standards for non-flammability revised

For some reason my mind went blank associating ‘fragrance’ with AROMA.  I had AMORAL pencilled in the grid and it still didn’t jump out at me.  Again, once highlighted as above, it seems so obvious!  I guess the crossword clue as a one-way function would make quite a good discussion topic.  One to save for when we all next meet at a face-to-face Listener Quarterly, perhaps.  Oh, and the WP for the letter N above made me smile – not perhaps the obvious choice of word from which to derive it!  Aside: I wonder if anyone has used antidisestablishmentarianism in a clue to derive a letter A yet – if not, then maybe I’ll be the first!

And the third was:

14. African predicant declines priest’s cape conceding over case for stalls and initially
          expensive pews.

I had DOMINEE as an almost-certain in the Grid and could see DOMIN(o) but there seemed to be so many possible Container&Contents_indicators (over; case for; stalls) to put the A in SETS vs picking the EE from E(xpensiv)E  that it took me ages to see ‘stalls’=installs.  Once I had that and SETS for ‘declines’ then all finally fell into place.

What I also loved about this puzzle was the mild assist one got from the checkers.  From the solved Down entries sometimes it would narrow down to two options, sometimes more – but they were enough to give a gentle assist to the clues in the other direction.  And then a few Acrosses in place nailed some checkers into place, so allowing other uncertain cell options to be narrowed down further.  This process was very satisfying, I felt.

Oh, and I bet I wasn’t the only one to celebrate my first letter in the grid – in the top right, an S as the first letter of STOLID or SHEKEL.  That took about 20 mintues, I think!  Colouring the Down entries helped a lot – see diagram.

Finally, the theme was, of course, impeccable!  Arachne, the weaver and Minerva, battling it out.

Thanks again to Paddock. A beautiful puzzle!!

Cheers & stay safe,

Tim / Encota

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L4647 ‘Roundabout Sums’ by Oyler

Posted by Encota on 12 Mar 2021

We always expect something interesting when Oyler’s name is attached to a numerical – and this was no exception! My thanks to Oyler for what I managed to make a trickier puzzle than it probably needed!

I read the Preamble – the bit about ‘Some perimeter cells will contain two digits’.  I then – stupidly with hindsight – asked myself whether this told me that all other cells in the puzzle contain exactly one digit?  Unfortunately for me, I decided that it didn’t tell me that.  The ‘literal’ bit told me that the numbers 1 through 15 were most likely to appear in the fifteen edge cells – but what about the central ones?

Luckily some clues helped me out a bit – eg 7dr had to be two digits long and so have one in each cell.  Similarly 9dl had to have four digits, one per cell.  Bit by bit I crept around the grid, identifying cells which had to have just one digit in them and eventually I cracked it.  Of course, once I saw there was no possibility or need for any of the central cells to contain more than one digit then I knew that the simpler reading of the Preamble would have sufficed!

That made it a very enjoyable solve, even though I appear to have added an entirely unrequired additional layer of complexity.  Or maybe that was intended?  My guess is No!

With the help of OEIS (sequence A020756, I think) I managed to confirm that all pairs of joined number-strings round the perimeter were triangular, which seemed quite impressive, given it all linked up back round to the start.  My instinct is that such a sequence must be fairly uncommon, though I didn’t explore this further.

That left TRIANGLE SUMZ JOY around the edge, when taken ‘literally’, which was reassuring that I must have (at least) most of the puzzle correct.

Oyler has also hinted, with a Title including “Roundabout” and 8ac beginning “Yes” to a Prog Rock under-theme that elsewhere we’d perhaps be more likely to see from the setter Moog! I did wonder, for a moment, if that much later album from Yes entitled ‘90125’ was also going to feature. Apparently No – unless I’ve made a mistake (quite possible!)

Thanks again Oyler!!

Cheers & stay safe all,

Tim / Encota

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L4646 ‘Life’ by Hawk

Posted by Encota on 5 Mar 2021

I read the Preamble. My first thought: “What a monster!” Metaphorical containers (Schrodinger, maybe??); 2 clues side-by-side (I enjoyed co-writing some of those last year for The Magpie, under the {SHARK+ENCOTA}* -> Shakenactor pseudonym). Plus here we have misprints in one half & extra words in the other. Then letters highlighted in the grid in cells, and then drawing curves and then film quotations!!! Crikey!

And as usual, the giant hint in the Title went straight over my head. It was only when I pondered over where those 29 cells in a closed curve might be that I began to get what the subject actually was.

“Life … is like a box of chocolates …” Now how exactly does that quotation end? I had a look round the grid and decided that, since 29 cells were required, then the diameter of an equivalent circle would be approx 9 cells (+/- a bit to allow for the cycloid), and so the letters must be somewhere about there. It soon became clear that it was “…YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GONNA GET”. And, like Toby in that Topic advert, it was ‘funny how I remembered right at the end’.

The ‘almost’ symmetrical nature of a box of chocolates was a nice touch. In our case each pair of chocs/clues had ‘different centres’. Very neat!

There was a slightly worry for us poor solvers where the CLOSED curve needed to be drawn: luckily it only took a little bit of artistic licence at the top of the heart to ensure the curve was closed and so all was well!

This took me well into Saturday, having started Friday evening, so definitely one of the tougher ones of the year so far for me – fantastic!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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