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Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

L4605: ‘Times Listener’ by Artix

Posted by Encota on 22 May 2020

I finished filling out the grid with it being almost certain that the missing words were SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN and WINTER, given that they all successfully created new words.  But – at that stage of solving – why?

I went to bed on the Friday night mulling it over.  Fortunately, early on Saturday morning I spotted the three TURNs in the grid and all became clear.  A bit of Googling of the song Turn! Turn! Turn! and its source of Ecclesiastes appeared.  I could then double check the twenty words from the material to be certain how the six entries that abutted (rather than crossed) the empty rectangles were treated – and all was sorted.

Apologies for the OTT nature of the bars in the above image. Roughly half of my errors in thematics over the years seem to be from missing out bars that should be there, so I was determined not to be caught out this time. I wonder if I have still stuffed it up!?

Thanks once again to Artix for a tough and very enjoyable puzzle!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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L4604: Tour de Force by Kea

Posted by Encota on 15 May 2020

It is a very close thing comparing with the ‘Brock’ a few puzzles ago – both must surely be serious contenders for Puzzle of the Year.

As an aside, there are rumours that one resident LWO oenophile* considered this puzzle as not meeting the requirements for alcoholic content: however, with WKD clearly placed at the top of the grid – in fact on top of the BAR (in place close to the bottom of the grid in ring 5) I will beg to differ.

Back to the puzzle: 0, 1 or 2 letters had to be moved from its starting place in each word, toward the end of that word, with the remaining letter order unchanged. How exactly was not initially clear!

I found I was solving the clues on the right-hand half of the grid much faster than the rest, such that it looked very likely that the message hidden in Ring 5 seemed to begin CENTRIFUGE USING … The grid is round, so that seemed to fit nicely. Ring 1 seemed to be saying TURN ….. , which (kind of) backed it up. But now what?

The following morning I have solved a few more clues such that the message might have been reading something like CENTRIFUGE USING SCRAMBLE … Was this a hint at anagrams? Then suddenly the PDM – and CENTRIFUGE USING SCRABBLE … appeared!

Might the higher-scoring letters get moved further to the outside, as if their mass was greater? This allowed several of the entries to be sorted, plus greatly reduced the options for what might fit in the last 6-10 clues/entries that I hadn’t got. At long last I had them and, sure enough, the final message: CENTRIFUGE USING SCRABBLE VALUES FOR MASS (!) And, for completeness, ring 1 spelt out TURN LOOSE.

As an example where two letters were moved, BHOONA becomes OONABH, i.e. the B (3 in Scrabble) moves to position 5 and the H (4 in Scrabble) to the end. All the other letters, OONA, in this case each with a Scrabble value of 1, remain in unchanged order.

Another neat feature was shown in the answer to 7, which was FU YUNG and its entry as UUNGFY, where the G (Scrabble value 2) was still correctly placed even though it wasn’t moved in the order and only the F and Y had moved ‘outwards’. Equal-valued letters stayed in original order too, even if moved – see the pictured entries of FU YUNG (again) and LOCUMS.

What a brilliant puzzle, with a beautiful Title, too. Creating that must have been such fun!

Bravo Kea!


Tim / Encota

*Other lovers of alcohol are available

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L4602: Ahead of the Game by Apt

Posted by Encota on 1 May 2020

The Listener can sometimes be a world of illusion – you think you’ve discovered something – only to find out it was, or might be, something different entirely.

In this week’s puzzle this took the form of the famous illusion of a head of a duck … that could be a head of a rabbit. Or was it the other way around? Definitely a head of (the) game, anyway.

More info on its history can be found at:–duck_illusion

The neatest feature of this puzzle was that, in 12 cells there was a clash. If you read one set of 12 in the correct order it spelt out A QUICK PLUNGE, which pretty much means Duck. The other set of 12 was TALK AT LENGTH, which is Rabbit, as any Cockney will tell you.

The clues were fairly gentle, so this one all slotted in nicely. “Should the path be closed or not?” I suspect I wasn’t the only one asking myself. “Leaving it open can’t be wrong“, I thought, so that’s how I left it.


Tim / Encota

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L4599: Triumvirate by tnap

Posted by Encota on 10 April 2020

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this one. Distracted by the endless bombardment of C-19 ‘news’, I found it hard to get fully engaged: it was probably just me.

My puzzle ended up looking like this:

The US Army / Infantry Divisions – the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 10th & 23rd to be precise, appeared highly ‘vexed’ in those locations in the grid which was a nice feature: i.e. BIG RED ONE, INDIANHEAD, RED DIAMOND, MOUNTAINEERS & AMERICA all appearing in anagrammed forms in the grid.

29d took me the longest to get my head around:

Cubs having ball for me to toss (6)

A nice surface. Initially ‘cubs’ was changed to ‘clubs’. So the definition was ‘clubs’ = DISCOS. But how did the wordplay work? Eventually it appeared that it was DISC(us)S for ‘toss’ and ‘us’ for ‘me’. So ‘us’ needs replacing with O (‘ball’) and DISCOS it is.

Back next week. Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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L4597: 'Bunch of Fives' by Brock

Posted by Encota on 27 March 2020

Feels like the puzzle of the year to me, so far at least!

I was only recently introduced to the term OP: it arose in a novel written for an online puzzle hunt that I and several others of the Listener community recently took part in. I suspect that clarifies that my playing of video-games peaked a long while ago. I understand OP to mean OverPowered, where a player or card etc is almost too strong in a certain situation. Of course my children laughed at me for not knowing!

On a related train of thought I recall, somewhat with awe, when the computer virus Stuxnet was first analysed. It had utilised four previously unknown or unaddressed vulnerabilities (so-called zero day attacks, for those that love the jargon). Stick with me!

So how many new (zero day?) features were concurrently involved in this puzzle? There was the hiding of five each of Seas, Stars, Fish, Asteroids & Digits/Fingers. There was the hidden message based on first letters of those 25 clues [CENTRE AND TWENTY FIVE OTHERS], asking for the centre and 25 others to highlighted. There was the re-use of Asteroids / asteroidae as those minor planets and the ‘family’ of Starfish. There was the use of fish – well, PISCES – to create each ‘arm’ of the central starfish. And, for me, the pièce de resistance, the fifth letter of the fifth word in those 25 clues to spell out another message, purely to remove an ambiguity as to which S one should pick for the SE arm of the Starfish. [CHOOSE THE RIGHTMOST’S OPTION] If that feature ain’t OP, then I don’t understand the term!

The letter to be added at the centre? “I’ll have a P please Bob.” Sorry, I meant Brock. A Blockbuster of a construction. Delightful!! Fabulous!!


Tim / Encota

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