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Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

Listener 4526: ‘Quads III’ by Shark

Posted by Encota on 16 November 2018

One of my favourite types of puzzle is the sort where you first solve a cryptic crossword and then have some clever dissection to carry out.  And Shark has certainly delivered here!  Being serious for a moment – I loved this puzzle!


In fact, I was so impressed by this one by Shark that I simply couldn’t resist building a set of coffee tables to match his clever dissection of a square.  It has only taken me two to three hundred hours but, with a puzzle such as this, it is entirely worth the investment.


The biggest clue was clearly in the Title: Quads III.  This definitely hints at something to do with 4 and something to do with 3 – but what?

Of course, with a clue as big as this I couldn’t go wrong – clearly it is based on that dissection of a square into an equilateral triangle.


So I started by selecting the wood.  After that, and having cut all pieces to size, judicious ‘screwing and glueing’ was required (is there any other way with decent woodwork, I hear you ask?).

It only took four coats of varnish – forgive me, I was skimping this time, I know – so only ten days later I had the completed article.

Here it is in Quads (III) form …


And here it is rearranged in the other – (Quads) III – formation …


Now some people might be thinking, “However good the puzzle, surely you can’t have time to spend on re-creating it in furniture?”  Well, I feel if a puzzle is this good then it is definitely worth celebrating and well worth the effort!


Thank goodness I solved the puzzle correctly, otherwise I’d look a right idiot, wouldn’t I?

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota




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Listener 4524:  ‘A Little Night Music?’ by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Encota on 2 November 2018

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Text of my letter to The Editors & The Statistician follows …

I liked this puzzle a lot – please pass my thanks on to Hedge-sparrow.

However, I was left with one uncertainty in the endgame, as explained below.  Was this a very subtle ‘elimination round’ to reduce greatly the number of people all-correct so far this year, something missed, or something else entirely?

For me this reduced to: “Of the eight owls that I can find in the grid, which one should I not highlight (and why)?”

[“Eight?”, you may say.  Well, I could find those listed in the table below]

This table summarises my dilemma:

Screen Shot 2018-10-15 at 07.19.29

For the eight candidate words to highlight (assuming I haven’t missed other ones), I’d categorise them as:

Definitely OK (all-green rows in the above table): LONG-EARED, LITTLE, TAWNY, SNOWY, BARN.  That’s 29 of the 44 required characters.

Required at the very least to have a chance of reaching 44 total: SHORT-EARED, ten characters.  Even though not in Chambers, it can be easily found in other reference books.  That brings the total up to 39 characters used in six words.

Thus leaving the solver to choose between EAGLE and DESERT to provide the remaining 5 characters.  But which one to pick?

  1. As per my table above, one might discount DESERT because it is entered upwards in the grid.  However, a precedent has already been set in the puzzle with the phrase TU WHIT TU WHOO in the grid, so clearly Upwards entry is allowed in this puzzle.
  2. As per my table above, one might discount EAGLE, since only the single word EAGLE-OWL appears in Chambers.
  3. As per my table above, one might discount DESERT (owl) because it isn’t in Chambers.  However, we allowed SHORT-EARED above when it wasn’t in Chambers, so a precedent has been set for allowing words / phrases not in Chambers but that can easily be found in other reference books, which DESERT OWL of course can.  Therefore no reason to discount it.
  4. As per my table above, one might discount EAGLE since it’s the only one of the eight that couldn’t correctly be the answer to; “What sort of owl is it?” An EAGLE simply wouldn’t be correct.
  5. Finally we come to the (possible) clue provided by the setter’s name, Hedge-sparrow.  It’s given as one word (i.e. hyphenated) but Chambers only gives it as two words.  Is this a clue to think carefully about the hyphenated possibility?  But one couldn’t shorten Hedge-sparrow to HEDGE, that’s a different thing entirely.  So, similarly, I don’t think EAGLE-OWL could become EAGLE, that’s a different thing entirely.  Therefore DESERT is the stronger candidate.

So, after all that thinking, it appears to me that either DESERT or EAGLE could be argued as the correct five extra letters but that DESERT ‘wins by a nose’.  I suspect it would be harsh to mark either of these as wrong – but I’ve little doubt that I have missed something!

One might also argue that, if one picks DESERT, only the MADGE equivalent owl (BARN) was already there prior to the five letter changes – the other six appearing only after the five letter changes.  That would feel a nice touch in the puzzle’s design, though there doesn’t appear to be anything in the Preamble saying this must be so.

The only other secondary argument that tempts me to highlight EAGLE is that, if one owl had been missed in the setting & editing process, then that one missed would almost certainly be DESERT.  Or the argument’s converse, EAGLE is easier to spot.  I don’t think that makes it any more right, though!?

Thanks to Hedge-sparrow (Hedge sparrow?) for an intriguing puzzle.  I look forward to seeing the resolution to the above in a few weeks time!


Tim (the setter Encota)

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‘August Break’ by Aedites

Posted by Encota on 19 October 2018

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August Ferdinand Möbius was a German mathematician, immortalised by his one-sided surfaces formed (in the simplest case) by taking a strip of paper, twisting it once and then fastening the ends together.  This one-sided shape then has more interesting properties than you might first imagine.  Has everyone tried cutting one down the middle lengthwise, as a simple example?  Or cutting down its length but in a width ratio 1:2?  Or inserting multiple twists before fastening?  All good fun I can remember trying over half a lifetime ago …

In this week’s puzzle it seems to be being used to instruct the words starting horizontally on the right to finish horizontally on the left, in the 180deg rotationally symmetric locations.  Going with this approach appeared to be right, and it let the eleven-letter phrase MOBIUS STRIP appear diagonally down, starting at 2.

To visualise it some more, I envisaged it being solved on a piece of acetate and then formed into a strip after one twist.  This allowed the words to be seen joined up with the letters in the correct order but with some inverted.  I experimented with inverting some letters in the original grid but I couldn’t find a combination of inversions that worked both Horizontally and Vertically, so decided I must be overcomplicating it and stopped there.  I am going to feel a twit when I find out I’ve missed something!


Tim / Encota



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‘Translate into Spanish’ by Cagey

Posted by Encota on 12 October 2018

I loved the endgame on this one!  The phrase hidden in the clues told us solvers to move whole columns around.  By chance I’d spotted that Row 8 was also an anagram of GLORIOUS REVOLUTION, so that simplified things a bit, to result in the year in Row 1 moving forward by 180 years.

And what a great spot that the two entirely different occurrences named the GLORIOUS REVOLUTION just happened to occur on dates that were an anagram of each other!

But perhaps that was all too obvious and we, the solvers, were being led into a trap?  Perhaps other results could be achieved in different rows by rearranging the columns into different orders …

[add examples here]

Here is my real attempt:

[add image here]

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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‘My Retirement Plan’ by Artix

Posted by Encota on 5 October 2018

What a clever construction this was.  Once the letters DONNE started to appear around the border, and the misprints backed it up by being corrected from DONNE (to HANDS), then the poet hinted at in the Preamble was clear.  But which poem?  My knowledge of John Donne’s poetry being pretty much non-existent I resorted to that ‘font of all wisdom and knowledge’ that is Wikipedia.

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Soon to appear was the poem, On His Mistriss Retiring To Bed, or something similar, with the lines requested from the Preamble being:

License my roving hands and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land

I guess ‘roving hands’ is a reasonable instruction to swap all letters L and R in the grid – the result appearing as per the diagram above.  This change allowed LICENSE, ROVING, O MY AMERICA and NEWFOUNDLAND all to appear in the grid, as well as MISTRESS from the Title.  The Preamble said to highlight only O MY AMERICA, if I am reading ti correctly, so that’s what I did!

I loved the gloriously OTT Scottish indicator Captain Kidd’s in 27d and 18a’s
With 8, this might make Italians drunk (4)
The answer to 8d was NAIL, so {NAIL+ASTI}* could give ITALIANS, so Asti it was!

Many thanks to Artix for another enjoyable Listener solve.

And why ‘font’, I hear you ask [Really? Ed.]  The Title’s jumbling MEANT MERELY PRINT, “MEN TRY PLAIN METRE”, providing MERRIMENT-A-PLENTY.

Or something …

Tim / Encota

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