Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

‘Doing A Sort’ by Elgin

Posted by Encota on 16 February 2018

What a brilliant puzzle.   If this isn’t a strong contender for 2018 Puzzle Of The Year then there’s no justice!  Remarkable!!

[surreal mode on]

However, my logic might have gone something like this …

By complete chance I saw the comedy writer Graham Linehan’s excellent adaptation of some old Ealing comedy only last Autumn – you may remember it – I think it was called THE LADYKILLERS or something?  Perhaps it came to a town near you too?

So, because of this, I had Graham Linehan in my mind.  Early on in the solve I was looking for a relevant phrase with letters pattern (2,6,6).  I had, at that stage, the letters ON C.AG.Y I.LAND already from the cells marked with a * and suddenly it all became clear: this was ON CRAGGY ISLAND, an obvious hint to the excellent FATHER TED, co-written by Graham (of IT Crowd etc. fame).  Surely The Listener isn’t going to get a bit edgy and quote the endlessly swearing Father Jack?

If that’s the case (again, surely not?) then the two word phrase at 1ac may well be FOUR-LETTER WORD?  Let me check if that’ll create real words with the down clues:

  • First letter F?  Well 1d as .ESTAS could readily become FESTAS
  • Second letter O?  That’s unchecked, so put it in.  O
  • Third letter U? At 2d we have .TEN so, yes, UTEN. All on track
  • Check one more random one e.g. 9d. .ISEN gives RISEN.  Excellent

I’ll leave the rest as an exercise for the reader, as they say in all the best text-books.

But if this unlikely theme is right, then there’d be some of Father Jack quoted in the Grid, wouldn’t there?  Again, surely not – we are talking about The Listener here, after all.  Recalling (some of) what he used to say from his armchair – some of which is unprintable – there it is, in black and white, on Rows 5 & 6!  “ARSE. ARSE”

Of course perhaps I’m mistaken with all this?  I must be, surely?  Double check using the letters in cells marked with a + sign: TIOLETSTRODTEH.  Oh, goodness: “…OR TED’S HOT TITLE”.  And I thought I’d been joking – it really is Father Ted!

And so below is my final Grid to prove it.  The Preamble seemed to say, in some long-winded way, kill off all unrequired characters, so this must be the result:

2018-01-29 13.22.32


Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

[surreal mode off]

P.S. You’ll have to read the blogs from Shirley and Dave to get more of what was really going on.  Having the full quintet featuring in the grid was excellent, as was the falling signal knocking Professor MARCUS onto the GOODS TRAIN.  As an aside, I can only find 1d, assuming it is an alternative plural for TESTA, in the Quinapalus machine.  Everywhere else appears to have TESTAE, though I don’t doubt that usage will have ‘created’ the alternative TESTAS plural somewhere.  Or I am missing something (more than likely)!  Best puzzle of the year so far for me – and haven’t we have had some good ones already!


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

‘In Self-Defence?’ by Lavatch

Posted by Encota on 9 February 2018

First of all, thanks Lavatch for a cleverly constructed grid this week!

I found some of the clues hard, with their misprints in place.  There were four or so in the style of 1ac, 1d and 21d, where the solver had to “Think of a word that, when it’s first letter is removed (or similar), becomes a completely different word that means the same as another word that’s only one letter different from the (misprinted) word provided” – and where it wasn’t clear which of the words was the misprinted one!  Once you had the answer it was relatively straightforward to be sure it was right.  However, cold-solving such a clue was pretty much beyond me and I was pleased to have various letters from other clues helping me out with these few!

Once the phrase generated from the misprints began to appear: “The right of people to …” it was clearly very likely that it’d be the Fifth Amendment – the right to remain silent.*

After all, it’s the anniversary of the Presidential inauguration this week, and that might be relevant (The right to remain silent on Twitter, perhaps?  Just a thought.).
So, just to check, there’d be a confirmation at the 5th clue telling us what to do, if I’m right.  Ah yes, “PULL IT”, i.e. remove it.  There were thus clearly two hints that we should say nothing in our submissions this week, so I duly blanked everything out like so.  Easy!
And the ‘apt’ idiomatic phrase?  Is Lavatch suggesting we aren’t very adventurous in our drinking?  I dutifully added the phrase: STUCK TO ONES GINS below the grid.
Cheers all,
* OK, so I didn’t really.  My attempt looked like:
2018-01-20 16.34.18 copy

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

‘Mixed Emotions’ by Miss Terry

Posted by Encota on 2 February 2018

Thanks first of all to ‘Miss Terry’ for a very cleverly constructed puzzle.  My entry looked like this:

2018-01-13 21.11.20 copy

If you recall, several answers had to have a jumbled emotion subtracted from them before entry into the Grid.  For example, at 37ac, the Answer was NATIONLESS.  Spot that a ‘Mixed Emotion’ is within it – in this case ELATION*, i.e. N(ationle)SS, remove that and enter NSS into the Grid.

The two final ‘unused’ emotions from the clues were HOPE and WOE, so jumble them together and make Whoopee.  [Is it only me that can hear Sid James cackling at this stage?  Err, Yes.  Ed.]

I tried to picture the construction process.  Have I guessed right that it was (roughly) the following?

(a)         First spot that several real words can be made from pairs of words that describe some form of emotion

(b)         Pick pairs of such words of equal length and slot them symmetrically into a grid

(c)         I can’t quite picture the next stage.  Is it pick words where a jumble of one of the emotions used in (a) forms part of the answer and slot them in next, along with two extra ones that involve HOPE and WOE?

I was half-fooled by the clue at 37a:
What an unflagged vessel might be as Nelson engaged with it.
With NELSONIT* yielding INSOLENT, I pictured HMS Victory ‘in the Solent’ and tried to convince myself that being INSOLENT was ‘emotional’, sort of!  Luckily, however, once I knew that I had to add the letters ELATION* to one clue then NATIONLESS soon appeared as a much more credible alternative!

And I also missed that I had already subtracted ANGER* from 34ac.  The consequence of this was that I spent a good half an hour trying to shoe-horn ANGER into my Last_One_Parsed at 2d.  I already had ENA in the grid here but couldn’t find any suitable anagram of (ENA+ANGER)*.  I felt a right idiot when I spotted what I had missed – both the clue’s implicit reference to 35d and the  –ANGER* I’d already written in the margin against 34ac.

And finally I am sure there must be some half-decent ‘making whoopee’ joke to be made at the end: I’ll leave that to any passing ‘Carry On’ ex-scriptwriters.

Cheers all,


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

‘Quiet Guests’ by Schadenfreude

Posted by Encota on 26 January 2018

Welcome to the first solution & comments to a 2018 Listener Crossword …

A super puzzle to start 2018 with – many thanks Schadenfreude!  As ever with puzzles from one of the very best, there was some clue accuracy that I can only sit back and admire.  A couple of examples:

A group of [micro-organisms] put in to stop antibody (6)

Here I particularly liked the use of ‘group of‘ to define G, as in G8 = Group of 8 etc.  So this parsed as A G in REIN (stop) to give REAGIN.  [Note: the word in square brackets was removed before solving as per the puzzle’s Preamble]

Pompous [Quaker] possesses at least two-thirds of an acre (6)

It was the definition here – for BIGHAS – that I liked.  BIGHA is defined in Chambers as having quite a wide range of different areas.  The smallest of them is one third of an acre, so BIGHAS – i.e. presumably at least two of them – must be at least two-thirds of an acre.  Delightful.

2018-01-07 14.34.54

In the one cell that featured the George’s Bush, both 41 and 43 had to be ‘entered in thematic order’.  In practice that only appears to require a comma after the 41 to indicate their order – I hope I am not missing something here!

And the Title?  Quiet Guests = P + RESIDENTS.  Now if only I had spotted that before finishing the whole puzzle.  D’oh!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

PS If one was to create a Scoring System for Thematic Puzzles, what might you use to build up the Total score?  I’m currently experimenting with six, each marked out of 10:
Grid; Theme; PDM; Gimmick; Clues; Fun.  Do any of you already do similar?  If yes, I’d be grateful if you’d share with me via the Comments on this site.

Two or three of us compared notes at The Magpie party (many thanks Mark and friends!) very recently and were using very similar.  Thanks to Artix for suggesting the last one – I had been using ‘Overall’ – but that’s far more direct and Fun was exactly what I meant!

I’m not yet brave enough to share my marks per puzzle here – perhaps I’ll start later in the year once it’s clearer that these dimensions are working!


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Q. TSR2?

Posted by Encota on 12 January 2018

Q. What is this about?
Q. An aircraft, perhaps?
Q. But what sort of secret aeroplane might interest solvers of one of the more convoluted puzzles in existence?
Q. TSR2?
Ah, yes, the puzzle includes three approximations to SQRT(2) – clearly an anagram of the row above.
So the puzzle has to be folded into the shape of the experimental spy plane of the 1950s.  See photo below.  Easy!


Happy New Year!

Tim / Encota

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »