Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

L4564 ‘There and Back’ by Stick Insect

Posted by Encota on 9 August 2019

Picture the scene.  You are catching up on those episodes of Killing Eve that you’ve been meaning to watch and hear all their talk about ‘The Twelve’.  Who can they be?  Then you pick up this week’s Listener crossword and – perhaps – all is revealed.

Given it was 50 years on this 20th July, it would have been a missed opportunity if The Listener hadn’t featured a Moon Landing Puzzle.

This one was delightful in that it included all Twelve U.S. astronauts to have walked on the Moon’s surface – in order of touching its surface, I think.  ARMSTRONG and ALDRIN were gently hidden on Rows 1 and 2, right through to CERNAN and SCHMITT on Rows 11 & 12.

My favourite clue was (before and after one letter was deleted):

Aptness of Bill Sikes’ girl following pro(f)’s contrary church rule (11)

… for CONCERNANCY, with its split of definition and wordplay in the middle of Bill Sikes – very neat!

Tim / Encota


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

L4563 ‘Odd One Out’ by Sabre

Posted by Encota on 2 August 2019

What did we do before the existence of VLOOKUP in Excel?  Another of those ‘First World’ problems, I hear you say.

For those who don’t regularly use it, imagine having a built-in lookup table that can be used to automagically update the rest of your spreadsheet.

So, if after realising the answer to the disguised clue

Frequency modulation of modems is folly (7)

must be FOPPERY, and you (rightly) assume that Sabre has disguised an anagram of OPPERY* as modems, and that ‘modems’ should really have read ‘pyrope’, then …

… simply add M alongside P in a Lookup table, D alongside R etc. and have Excel do the heavy-lifting for you.  A bit like this:

L4563 Sabre example 2

I always love it when I see Sabre’s name at the top of a puzzle, as it means we are in for a treat.  And sometimes they appear to have been much harder than this one – he has let us off lightly, I think!  Some of his trademark encoding, which must have been fun to create!  No knight’s moves this week, though!

Anyway, back to the plot.   There were five clues with one word (such as MODEMS<->PYROPE, above) encoded.  How are we going to spot those?

After a few checkers were in place, then the clue

Medals for a dill wine (11)

looked almost certainly to be SCUPPERNONG, a wine.  I can see PER for ‘for a’, and NONG for ‘dill’ (an idiot), but how does SCUP derive from Medals?  Looking up SCUP in the BRB shows it to be a fish, the porgy.  And an alternative spelling for that is PORGIE.  We already have M<->P and D<->R and E<->O and S<->E, so this looks right.  We now have letters for MODESA and L in our lookup table.

18d’s Dye unevenly, in play, half of shirts (6) looks like the answer must be KAMELA, so the letters -ELA must come from ‘half of shirts’, thus SHIRTS must be the encode version of a word beginning ELA-.  Our list so far tells us the word must be ELA..E, so we now have two more letters, R&T to add to our list.

The fourth encoded word was hiding in

Fiddled with an arresting power (6)

This looked like wordplay for ARM in {W AN}, i.e. WARMAN, so how does the definition come from FIDDLED?  Previous decoded letters give us .ARRIOR, and WARRIOR it is.

Finally of the five, 22d’s Colleagues in the army secure good buy (7) was clearly going to be WINGERS.  I could see WIN+G(ood) in the wordplay, but how did ‘buy’ become ERS?  The BRB yielded that definition for ERS – the bitter vetch, which the dictionary helpfully tells you is a ‘vetch’, which isn’t hugely enlightening.  Er, so how does this work? Um, got it!  So BUY<->UMS – sneaky!

So chuck them all in one’s lookup table – or the pencil-and-paper equivalent, either is fine! – and attempt the second half of the Preamble, i.e. which of the Answers/Entries might successfully decode to other English words.  There were several blanks to fill in but a consistent set soon allowed the words TORNADO, TYPHOON, BAGUIO, CYCLONE and OBOE to be found.  All connected by Wind, and one a clear Odd One Out.  I wrote OBOE below the puzzle.

A bit like this (note the VLOOKUP syntax in the function field, for those of us that need reminding) …

L4563 Sabre example 1

I did like finding that, at one stage of solving, one five-letter word appeared like it might decode to BACON – I had BACO- in place, I think.  Googling Bacon and Wind, I found ‘History of the Winds‘ by Sir Francis Bacon, which diverted me for a bit!


Tim / Encota

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

L4562: ‘My Nap’ by Mr E

Posted by Encota on 26 July 2019

As soon as 17ac’s entry began to look like -NCIERGE I knew we were in for a treat.  Mr E’s use of the not-so-easy-to-find quotation, “What an addition to company that would be”, from Beckett’s novella Company, was delightful.

It transpired that the ‘normal’ clues had to be entered in a jumble, such that the addition of CO- for Company at each start would form a new word.  So, as well as (CO)NCIERGE, the puzzle featured (CO)WRIE, (CO)NTUMELIES, (CO)CKSURE & (CO)PPERNOSE.

And the Title?  With Mr E, we’re clearly in good (CO)MPANY*.


Tim / Encota

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

L4560: Midsummer by Chalicea

Posted by Encota on 12 July 2019

The title reminded me that my puzzle featuring Nick Bottom the weaver featured in this same Midsummer slot last year – at least I think it was last year!  And 1ac’s clue reinforced the Shakespearean play link:

Destroys reputation of essentially naive Bottom chasing donkey after donkey (12)

Knowing Chalicea of course, these hints to a Dream on a Midsummer’s Night were more likely to be red herrings than not – and so it proved!  In the case of this clue it parsed as ASS+ASS+(na)I(ve)+NATES, defined as ‘Destroys reputation of’.  A great start to a puzzle!


I was educated during the period when knowing dates was seen to count as knowledge.  So knowing that Bannockburn was fought in 1314 came quickly to my mind, even if I was much harder pushed to know who actually fought who, and why, and who won!  And I hadn’t known the Midsummer link – it was fought on 23 and 24 June, it transpires.

So I did check what was at clues 13 & 14 – The Battle of MinnockBumbag.  Hmm.  No, that doesn’t sound quite right.

The hidden letters in some clues spelt out WHERE DID BRUCE WIN, so that answered one of my questions above.  The answer, included twice in the grid on the diagonals, spells out AT BANNOCKBURN.  My suspicion is that the details of Bannockburn feature more highly in history lessons in Scottish schools rather than English ones – but what do I know!

Unclued 39d was after solving checking clues, looking like B.UE.   And colouring all but the diagonals in Blue, as the Preamble demanded,  ended up with the Scottish flag (the saltire, or saltier) – very neat!

There appeared to be a Nina, or rather a NINA, in Row 6 – intriguing.

And as for Chalicea’s clue at 10d:

Floppy genitals, and away they dangle (7)

Fortunately the answer was AIGLETS, things that dangle, an anagram of GE(n)ITALS after the ‘N’ (and) was deleted.  Very funny 🙂

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota


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

L4559: ‘G’ by Xanthippe

Posted by Encota on 5 July 2019

How might one clue the letter G in Wordplay?  A bit of grit, perhaps?  Aha!  A touch of glass – that sounds more like it!

We have seen Trigger’s Broom in thematic crossword-land in recent times, and Only Fools and Horses – written by John Sullivan – appears to be a good source of material, as is shown in this puzzle by Xanthippe from the episode A Touch of Glass.  As successful solvers will already know, it’s the one where Grandad unbolts one Louis XIV chandelier from the floor above, whilst Del Boy and Rodney await below on stepladders, with a blanket outstretched between them, ready to catch this chandelier.  Of course, it’s the other one at the far end of the room that falls.  Available on YouTube, of course (what isn’t?).

As usual I managed to get delayed by some of those short words or abbreviations: pu=pulled up (horse racing), Et.=Ethyl (chemistry), en=nut (printing).  I must find a way to remember some more of those.  All tips welcomed!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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