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Posts Tagged ‘eXtent’

Two Listeners in One by eXtent

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 December 2020

That pseudonym suggests two editors to us (a combination of one of the Magpie team and the EV editor) so we suspect that there is going to be some subtle cluing and indeed there is. Because of Covid 19, we have sadly been told that there won’t be the usual January Magpie gathering (in the Magpie – where else?) but  a number of us still raise our glasses during Zoom crossword gatherings. Does this pair qualify to retain places at the bar (or in front of the screen) in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit. The other Numpty is already slotting GAOL, OPAL, PEGS, ONER and KOPEK into the grid as I hunt for the malt, ales or even a hint of the usual crossword red or Asti.

Things are looking hopeful, ‘Followed trail of spy ultimately becoming communist? (6)’ That communist is almost always RED and we decide that SPOORED means ‘followed trail’ with that Y of SPY changing to the RED. Strange, though as KOPEK has put a K in that light and our SPOORED has become SPOKED. We have a hint of what is going on.

I don’t have to read very far for the next hopeful dash of alcohol’ Return of vinyl records has whipped up publicity (6)’ I invert LPS with ‘HAS’ whipped up or anagrammed and get SPLASH. The Big Red Book tells me that is ‘A little soda, tonic etc. (with a spirit)’. There’s hope for this pair.

However, I am almost at the end of the clues when I find them leaning on the bar, ‘Groups in bar at college teased gentleman (6)’ We decide that ‘bar at college’ tells us to remove the letters UP from the GROUPS IN leaving us with an anagram ‘teased’ of SIGNOR – the gentleman – crafty cluing! Cheers eXtent!

There is more crafty cluing and we slowly spot our nine words where the thematic person has had an effect, and nine extra words that define the adjusted words that appeared in their lights when we had removed the gold (OR or AU) and put the remaining letters in the cells left after entering other clues. We teased out SPOKED = BARRED, WHIP = LASH, RENDER = MELT, GATE + OPENING, MANGEY = SHABBY, DINT = FORCE, ADDERS + SUMMERS, SAGER + WISER, and SIGNS + ENGAGES and, of course, those ‘untouched letters’ spelled out our culprit whose DONKEY’S EARS had appeared earlier in our grid, together with the PHRYGIAN CAP that we had to remove to reveal the foolish Phrygian King’s penalty for his avidity. Poor KING MIDAS.

Very clever! We really struggled to understand the last solutions we entered. ‘Having engineer [lash] out, swatting rat (4)’ Of course we had to remove WATT (the engineer) from SWATTING to give us ‘SING” (like a canary = ‘rat’). ‘North American fish dish, good for starter in cafe (5)’. We had to replace the C of Cafe with G changing a SAUCER to a SAUGER (and removing the gold AU producing that SAGER = WISER). Luckily we had Mrs Bradford to tell us that a SAUGER is a North American fish. What a feat of compiling. Thank you eXtent.


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Doing the Rounds by eXtent

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 March 2019

“What a lovely grid”, we said – “rather like Kea’s chrysanthemum last year.” The preamble wasn’t quite so lovely as it had that hated word, ‘jumbles’ in it and we didn’t really understand, initially, what we were going to do. However, within ten minutes, the other Numpty had solved all but two of the first twenty-one clues. That was extremely disconcerting as they could only be so ‘easy’ in order to give us a framework for far more difficult things to come (and how!). Still, it was a pleasure to fill a skeleton grid and see 19 words appear, clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Fitting those words (like ‘blinded’ in clue 11 matching the HOODED that circled that bit of the flower was original and most enjoyable, and, along the way, eXtent, in a rather bolshie way, confirmed his membership of the Listener oenophile elite with ‘Son and alcoholic scrap (5)’. “That’s SHARD (S + HARD)” said the other Numpty, so cheers, eXtent.

The twelve-letter entries were of quite a different nature and it was soon fairly clear that my scrappy little grid on its A4 page was nowhere near big enough to fit in all those potential letters that were going to be reduced by a laborious process of elimination so I blew my grid up to a larger size and carefully slotted up to six letters into each of the little concave triangles. The task became easier as we went along and helpful letters appeared, but still, these were tough clues and we almost had to cold solve them all to complete our grid.

Where did I expect the thematic, un-jumbled answer, ‘clued clockwise and by wordplay only’ to be. Well, in the centre of course but it didn’t leap out at us, though when TEA suggested FLOWER OF LIFE, we could back-solve to the wordplay in the clue. It was rather like that for several of those clues,like BRAINGLE’S SALT and FAMILLE VERTE – a fine balance for those easy ones in the first three sets.

It only occurred to me when finally checking my grid, that those letters on the hexagon’s points had to be identical as there was no way of distinguishing them from each other. That, of course, justified the rather obscure choice of SCIATIC NERVE, BRAINGLE’S SALT, PEARL DISEASE, and METATHEORIES. What a feat of compilation!

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Listener No 4541: Doing the Rounds by eXtent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 1 March 2019

Although this is the first eXtent puzzle here at the Listener, they have a few IQs and a Magpie under their belt. It wasn’t that difficult to suss that this was a collaboration between eXternal and Serpent, both of whom can be on the tricky side. However, the Magpie puzzle was a C-grade, so I wasn’t too sure what to expect.

Over at the Crossword Database, one of the bits of information available is the size/shape or otherwise of the grid. I had no idea how I was going to describe this complex shape. [I’ve just had a look. Ed. “The grid is hexagonal in shape, consisting of 19 overlapping circles, each inscribed with 6 triangles with concave arc edges.]

Across, Descending and Ascending clues were pretty straightforward, and provided a basis for the 12-letter answers that, apart from one, needed to be entered jumbled within each circle.

And that’s when it began to get tough!

The clues to these 12-letter answers, each with one or two extra words defining the 6-letter word surrounding them, varied from pretty easy to downright monstrous! Homing in on the clue that would likely be entered unjumbled, I sussed it would be 17 in the centre, and FLOWER OF LIFE was soon slotted in. Wiki soon elaborated.

The first of the easy ones that I got was 11 Ale [blinded] writer, man laced drink (two words) leading to MINERAL WATER and HOODED. I was determined to try and solve this without the help of anagram solvers, not that there many obvious ones. After about half the clues were solved, I needed to revisit the puzzle three or four times, eking out two or three answers with each visit.

Eventually, I was down to four.

23 should have been easier than I found it: [Careful] warning unlikely to stop Carol heading off. If you’re having trouble with a clue, the first thing to check is that you’ve identified the definition correctly. For ages, I had it as warning. TALL for unlikely was sneaky too — FORE + (TALL in SING).

15 did me no favours either: Philosophical discussions of [the lead] in eg aluminium windows, completely out of line since, as you can see, I had [the lead] marked as the definition of HALTER, rather than just [lead]. The the was part of the wordplay — METAL + THE + ORIELS – all the Ls. Annoying, since I could see it was META- something very early on and kept overlooking METATHEORY in Chambers.

18 next: China’s [embryonic] manufacturing base always beset by ill-fortune (two words) was EVER in something but needed Chambers Crossword Dictionary to eventually reveal FAMILLE VERTE under porcelain — (MILL + EVER) in FATE.

And finally, 28 To start, model (German) [showily dressed] in fragile material is out of A-list compound (two words) with DOLLED as the 6-letter word. However, although I could see that SALT was word two of the 12-letter entry, ending with A-LIST – IS, the rest of it was total gobbledygook. I confess that eventually I had to cheat and use Tea to help look for the answer. Thus we had UBER- (to start, model (German)) in GLASS + A-LIST – IS to give GLAUBER’S SALT. Lawks!!! (Glauber is in Mrs B under the 7-letter salts.)

Word of the blog, “eventually”. And no animation this week, I’m afraid — I wonder why.

All that said, this was a phenomenal puzzle and my hat off to the grid constructor. My other hat off to the cluesmith. Go easier on us next time, guys.

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L4541: ‘Doing the Rounds’ by eXtent

Posted by Encota on 1 March 2019


2019-02-11 14.13.10 copy

Was I the only one fooled by the relative simplicity of the Across, Ascending & Descending clues?  And the 6-letter circular ones?  I suspect not …

The ‘solver vs setter’ battle only really started after all the above were in place.  A bit of deduction re. the Preamble led me to suspect that the triangular-curved sections each also required a letter to be added – and so it proved.  So nineteen x 12-letter answers were still required, with six of the letters available in each case.  I solved three or so quickly but then it slowed right down.

I particularly liked how, in those ‘triangles’ near the corners of the ‘hexagon’ where two adjacent sections were unchecked, that each must be filled with a common pair of letters – both are A in the top left’s 6 Round’s PEARL DISEASE, for example.

This grid was an excellent construction!  Based on the FLOWER OF LIFE pattern with 19 intersecting circles, it must have been fun setting!!

I also particularly liked some of the misleading definitions, with my favourite being ‘Supplier of sensational information’ as the definition for SCIATIC NERVE.  Loved it!

My thanks again to eXtent.  This was one of the two I end up solving overnight each year on the Eurostar to & from the Alps, which makes it even more memorable.  Great fun 🙂

Tim / Encota

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