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Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

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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L4596: CRNT by Twin

Posted by Encota on 20 March 2020

This was a visually attractive and nicely created grid! Thanks Twin!

I found this a gentle puzzle, which is always a fun feature of The Listener where, apart from the Setter’s pseudonym, one is given very little advance warning of the level of difficulty that is in store.

I learnt a new word at 6ac in WOOPIE, so thanks for that – and for something to aspire to!

The five ‘alter ego’ clues were well disguised, I felt. My knowledge of such characters is fairly low (I love the wit of Deadpool, having said that!), though I did surprise myself remembering Kal-El.

Oh, and the Title? C(la)R(kke)NT seems to explain it!

Thanks once again to Twin for an enjoyable puzzle.

Tim / Encota

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L4595: Equality by Elap

Posted by Encota on 13 March 2020

I found this one tricky – but that was probably me. A couple of silly late-night errors on Friday saw me starting again Sat lunchtime, with it all sorted by 4pm. And when I say silly, I mean ‘putting the answer to 16d in 16a, that sort of stupidity’!

Elap describes the nine sets of 6 numbers as having a remarkable relationship, and I rather tend to agree. A bit of after-the-event Googling took me to something known as the Prouhet-Tarry-Escott problem, which seemed to focus upon two sets of numbers having this property. And from the references in some of these papers, I spotted that at least one other Listener setter appears to be fairly knowledgeable on this subject area …

Like in some mathematical proofs it can be simple to make errors with the edge conditions. One’s favourite online maths site (well, mine anyway) provides the appropriate handling of larger integers, letting me check that 5th powers summed correctly but 6th powers did not. So N’s maximum value is 5. What about the lower end?

It’d be easy to forget that anything to the power zero is 1. I do hope no solvers fell into this trap. So N=0 works, with each set summing to 6. And yes, zero is an integer, if anyone is asking about definitions 🙂

Now double-check that N=-1 does NOT work. A quick calculation shows that the sum of the reciprocals does not work for the first two sets.

So N = 0 to 5 goes in under the Puzzle.

There must be some literature out there for this special set of sets where the numbers are of the form {a, b, c, k-a, k-b, k-c} but I couldn’t immediately find any. I can see they guarantee their sums for N=0 (where the sum is 6) and N=1 (where the sum is 3k) for any set of a, b, c. After that it gets trickier! If there are mathematicians reading this who can provide a gentle pointer for me to relevant background material then I’d be keen to receive it!


Tim / Encota

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L4594 ‘Chat’ by Aedites

Posted by Encota on 6 March 2020

“Strangely know rarer cherub poet”

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L4593: ‘Death Row ‘ by Ifor

Posted by Encota on 28 February 2020

I found this a tricky and very enjoyable solve.  My thanks go to Ifor!   I was finishing about 10 a.m. Saturday, having started the evening before, so that puts it in the top third of difficulty, I’d reckon.

I thought the ambiguity on the bottom row a very good feature, to fit in with the Lizzie Borden rhyme. You had to know who got 40 whacks and who 41 to enter MOTHER and FATHER in the right places.

As ever with Ifor there were some tough clues: always fair, though (as I have come always to expect from him!).  I thought it a very good theme and the AX removals were all neat.  MAXILLIPEDE threw me for ages:

Bit of lobster that gets in food hamper in places carried by modern girl (9)

… parsed as PED (‘food hamper’) in (thoroughly modern) MILLIE

and: Endorsement passing test, one with only a single line of symmetry (6)

… for MONIAL was one of my last ones parsed.  It seemed so obvious when I eventually thought of (testi)MONIAL – and I do mean eventually! 

Finally I need to remember to think ‘the’, when reading ‘so much’ in a clue.  I bet I won’t, though!

Thanks once again to Ifor for a great & enjoyable puzzle.


Tim / Encota

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