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Posts Tagged ‘Encota’

L4583: "Potatoes" by JFD

Posted by Encota on 20 December 2019

Starting with the Title, I am hoping my logic of approximately equal items is JFD’s train of thought:

  • Les nourritures terrestres ->
  • Fruits of the Earth ->
  • Les Pommes de Terres ->
  • Potatoes

This week’s puzzle was based upon a quote from Gide which translates, again roughly – my French is middling at best – to: “Let every emotion become an intoxication for you”. i.e. No half-measures – now that seems a good rule for life …

One clue in particular (6 across) stood out for me:

Out of bed, Queen dresses at Balmoral or Sandringham, maybe (7)

You may recall, the wordplay in this puzzle led to the answer with an extra letter. In this case it is (U)P (‘out of bed’) + ER (‘Queen’) + HAPS (‘covers up’, with Balmoral as a Scottish_indicator and Sandringham as an East_Anglian_indicator, the two regions where HAPS has that meaning!), and with the definition being that seemingly throwaway ” , maybe ” pretending to be a Definition By Example indicator. So the answer is PERHAPS. Fabulous! We see a lot of good clues in the better cryptic offerings each week but that has to be one of the best in recent times! YMMV etc. caveats applying, of course.

Wishing you all a great Xmas.


Tim / Encota

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‘Transformers’ by Yorick

Posted by Encota on 6 December 2019

Blimey! Not only were the Clues in Yorick’s puzzle very challenging – nearer the end I was solving at around 1 per hour! – but the entry technique was sneakily tricky – at least for this solver!! This must have been one of the hardest puzzles of the year as I don’t remember when I was last still finishing off the puzzle on the Monday morning!

You may well know the sort of progress – the sort when you’ve solved, say, 25 out of 40 of the clues and even have most of the hints for the endgame guessable – but have little idea what to do next! The swapped-around hints appeared to read:

  • ROTAT…

… with a few other gaps here and there. It was interpreting these that I had trouble with! I initially assumed that E-W meant enter the answers from right to left, and that N-S meant enter one Group of answers up the page. How wrong I was!!

I had drawn myself a little table, with Groups 1 to 4 across the top and the list of four techniques (above) down the side. And started to try and eliminate which couldn’t be which – Group 4 can’t be ‘NORMAL’ entries, as the word NORMAL came from that Group’s hidden word, that sort of thing. My next step was the one that wasted me a day! I noticed that 3- and 8- letter entries could only go in Across positions in the Grid. So, I thought, surely any Group containing any (3) or (8) length clues cannot have a NORTH-SOUTH FLIP applied to them ‘as a whole’ (as the Preamble states), since surely N-S FLIP can only apply to Down entries? Can’t it??

This soon led to a contradiction whose details I won’t bore you with (LIONS and RHINO appeared to have to be entered vertically but they couldn’t fit) – and so I was stuck!

I next tried swapping all Ns for Ss (and v.v) in what seemed to be an appropriate group before entering the results – but that went nowhere, too!

Eventually I re-started the Gridfill by assuming Group 1 were to be entered Normally and tried some interesting jigsawing of them until the gaps left looked a bit like some of the other Groups’ words. Those finally slotted in – but what now?

I had already found two of the Misprints and was trying to interpret them. My initial assumption: ‘bad’ in Group 3 looks like a possible Anagram Indicator, ‘backing’ in Group 2 looks like an ‘Across’ Reversal Indicator – all fell apart when ‘heads’ appeared in Group 4. I tried hard to interpret that as a ‘Down clue’ Reversal Indicator but (luckily) couldn’t convince myself. So what now?

I then wrote out the letter-specific changes from the three Misprints:

  • p becomes b
  • d becomes b
  • p becomes d

Those looked more interesting! The first could be achieved with a N-S Flip, the second with an E-W flip, and the last with a Rotation. Aha!

I did wonder if all entries needed to be in lower case, given the transformations above, but found that fell apart when an N flipped N-S had to look the same as an N flipped E-W (e.g. where SENNIT meets REINS in the bottom left hand corner). So capitals it must be.

As I type this it’s now Monday morning and for perhaps only the third time this year I’ll have to put a First Class stamp on my combined (here 4581 + 4580) entry to ensure it gets to JEG in good time for Thursday – and keep the faith with the Postal Service, of course!

My thanks go to Yorick for what must be one of the most challenging puzzles of the year! And I wish John Green the very best of luck with marking all those transposed characters!!

Tim / Encota


I only noticed (on the Tuesday after) that the paper copy of The Times on Saturday (in the UK at least) came with a ’tracing paper’-based ad for a new VW on the outer cover.  Clearly this was planned all along – and almost certainly commissioned – by Yorick and the Listener editors, as an essential tool for the Solve.  Thus could we draw the puzzle Grid on it, then enter Group 1 from the front the Right Way Up, two Groups from the back of the tracing paper (including one of those inverted), and finally Group 4 from the front again, this time with the Tracing Paper upside down.
Unfortunately I only realised this after I had finished solving it – this could have saved me hours!  I even missed the hint for the alternative clue for VIEW in Group 3:  “VW surrounding – that’s a thought” So obvious after the event …
Or maybe not 😉

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L4577: ‘The Gaudy’ by Paddock

Posted by Encota on 8 November 2019

I don’t know about you … but for me the theme for this neat puzzle by Paddock dropped out quite quickly. 14ac read:

Brave Joshua’s first to come out [2 7] after collapse (6)

… where the square bracketed part was explained by the Preamble to be part of a novel’s title. What with ‘Heroic’ being a synonym for ‘Brave’ then it looked very much like JHEROIC* being part of the book title and that looked very much like Jericho. But isn’t that part of a Morse novel’s title &/or part of Oxford? Ah yes, ‘The Dead of Jericho‘. After that the others soon became clear.

15ac originally solved as CODEX, with this being the one clue where the wordplay omitted a consecutive pair of letters. It transpired that two meanings of ‘consecutive’ applied, with the missing two letters in the Wordplay being the D&E of CODEX.

As an aside, I did wonder if I could spot a hint of COLIN DEXTER hiding in this part of the grid, that finally got changed to MORSE? Perhaps coincidence?

13ac’s WOX to mean WAXED or and old word for GREW was a new one to me and an intriguing word! I wonder if I’ll remember it when it next turns up in 1000+ puzzles’ time? Knowing me, probably not!

The one clue I failed to parse properly was 27d’s:

Felt revulsion at shifting [3 4] bodies about (5).

At this stage I had HA.ED and so it was hard not to jump to the conclusion that the answer was HATED, defined by Felt revulsion (at). But [3 4] had become ‘the dead’ from the relevant Morse novel. It almost felt like the missing D&E from 14ac had reappeared here with HATED being derived from {THE (de)AD}*. No other HA.ED possibilities seemed to make sense, so HATED I entered into the grid. Don’t you just intensely dislike it when that happens? I always feel that, if you can’t parse a clue in the Listener then you may well have the answer wrong. I await the solution with interest!

I also failed to get the full significance of the Title. Auntie Google noted that The Gaudy was an Oxford college celebration of some sort and referenced one Morse story and also Dorothy L Sayers. But that is as far as I managed. ‘Enigmatic death guy‘ or similar as a description of either Morse or his creator? At this point I will stop clutching at straws!

Many thanks to Paddock (& to the editors) for another classy puzzle!


Tim / Encota

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L4576: Striving by Twin

Posted by Encota on 1 November 2019

What is the Question? To Life, the Universe and Everything? Apparently it is What Is The Maximum Number Of Moves Possible in The Game Connect-4? And perhaps not the implication that the Universe counts in Base 13 from the “What is 9 x 6?” suggestion in the HHG2TG series after all.

Lots going on in this puzzle! First letters of spare words in most clues give the two instructions:

  • The first of these led to a new phrase: SPARE WORDS LAST LETTERS ARE MOVES IN COLUMNS A TO G.

At this stage anyone who had been guessing that the theme might be the game Connect-4 would most likely feel that the Penny had indeed dropped in the right place.

Six clues had secondary answers not to be put into the Grid. Working backwards and forwards I determined, I hope correctly, that these were CAPTAIN’S MISTRESS: SHADE FOUR WINNING DISCS. As an aside I’ve no real idea why the game is/was also called Captain’s Mistress. Ideas ‘on a postcard’ please (i.e. via Comments).

Shade those ones in and it is a welcome win for (Blue) Player 2.

And the Title as a cryptic synonym for Six-in-a Row? It seems strange to have embedded the Roman for six, VI, in a word for Row, i.e. STRING leading to STRI(VI)NG, instead of four? Maybe.

Tim / Encota

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L4575: ‘White becomes Black’ by Augeas

Posted by Encota on 25 October 2019

This was a subject that I only had a faint recollection of, so it was interesting to read up on the detail.

I particularly liked ‘Chopin’ as a type of shoe (a clog, if anyone is still asking). I also thought the ‘Shoeless’ theme applied to fourteen clues worked well to highlight what happened to Shoeless Joe Jackson, whose full name came be found radiating from the upper left hand cell.

And I have assumed that the removal of LANDIS from 36a is all that is required to meet the ‘his nemesis erased’ part of the preamble? I spent quite some time looking for something additional but if it is there I have failed to find it.

Finally, I hope to catch up with some of you at the S&B event in York this weekend!


Tim / Encota

PS Thanks to all who’ve provided me with some kind feedback for my recent Inquisitor thematic (#1615 ‘Corpsing’ by Encota), either by commenting online or directly to me 🙂 One of my favourite themes and I am pretty sure my easiest thematic puzzle published to date. I don’t mind confessing to being the E of ‘EP’ in the Magpie this month (Oct 2019) too – though that one definitely is a bit harder 😉

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