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Posts Tagged ‘Flying Tortoise’

What Can the Matter Be? by Flying Tortoise

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Oct 2017

‘Oh dear, what can the matter be? Johnny’s so long at the fair.’ Surely that doesn’t provide a theme for a Listener crossword (but who knows – we might end up with a bunch of blue ribbons wrapping the grid). No, it’s more likely to be some other kind of matter to insert into this carte blanche grid divided into quadrants with a six-letter word that is going to fill those helpful circles. A mere 28 clues too. Now that is worrying as a grid this size would normally have at least 36, probably nearer 40, but we are told that there are ‘no down clues’ in one quadrant – we are still about twelve short. I wonder whether we are going to have two quadrants that use that word square gimmick (I don’t know what it’s called but it is very clever – a particularly remarkable example is the SATOR square in Luberon) of using the six words in both directions. Nothing to do but solve and see.

Well, there is one thing to do – check the alcohol. I remember Flying Tortoise from his Leaning Tower of Pisa puzzle where we had to cut out two squares to demonstrate that a large and small object would fall simultaneously. He certainly confirmed his membership of the Listener Tippling Outfit with a few alcohol references in that one, so does he retain it? I read through the clues finding pâté and some more ‘matter’ but only ‘Measures of use to ge[M]ologists assessing the subsoil primarily after steep slope is stripped (6)’ There’s a lovely surface reading there (as there is in all of these carefully crafted clues) which eventually gave us (s)CAR(p) + ATS (initial letters of Assessing The Subsoil). Those had to be CARATS (no very useful alcoholic measures!) I’m more hopeful when I find ‘The sack about to be hidden in trees (6)’ – Sack, is, of course, an older form of sherry – but no, this time it’s RE in FIRS and that gives FIRERS – ‘TheY sack’. Fortunately I then find ‘Generally more accessible first episode (6)’. It takes a moment to work out what the ‘Generally’ is doing there but then I realize that must be just a normal clue, that somehow has to have the letter G at the start, as it gives ‘OPENER’. I think if Flying Tortoise is opening things, he can have the benefit of the doubt. Cheers!

We have a lucky breakthrough when the letters that are appearing in my coloured strip at the side of the clues produce CHOLER and a putative MELANCHOLY, PHLEGM and BLOODY. That really speeds the solve up as we can now work out which quadrant goes where. We are dealing with the HUMOURS and by putting HUMOUR in our six circles, we immediately establish that RADISH (one of the ‘misprint clues’ – mine have been colour-coded from the start) is the only one that fits into the MELANCHOLY square, the one linked to EARTH. What’s more, we have EARTHY for the top row, and soon spot that FIRERS, WATERS and AIRWAY will supply the other elements (FIRE, EARTH, WATER and AIR). That fulfils the preambular requirement that ‘a thematic element appears in the same place in each quadrant’. We now know, too, what the matter is (thinking back to Shakespeare studies where so much was explained by poor Hamlet’s melancholy),

“[…] The spirit that I have seen
May be the devil, and the devil hath power
T’ assume a pleasing shape; yea, and perhaps,
Out of my weakness and my melancholy,
As he is very potent with such spirits,
Abuses me to damn me.

Sure enough, we now find that we have one of those word squares, which explains the paucity of clues. With delight, I find that another six clues create the WATERS quadrant if we enter the down words upwards. It is going well.

We have nine clues for the AIRWAY quadrant and happily enter AIRWAY, IRON-ON, RAMSON, WOMERA, AVOCET, YENTAS,  COMMON, INSECT and ANNATS but are rather puzzled by two non-words that are appearing – until I read that ‘bars would be appropriate in only one quadrant (and need not be shown). So this is the quadrant!

We are left with the quadrant that has no down clues but we are expecting down words to appear when we insert FIRERS, FARERS, CARERS, CARETS, CARATS and CURATS (for which the place is fixed by that U). Of course, what appears is a string of Rs and Ss and, for a while, we are flummoxed until we see that we are changing a single letter with each new word. There’s a sequence here. I am surprised that there seems to be no justification of this in the preamble, but I imagine the setter and editors thought that would be giving too much away. Quite a challenge from the Flying Tortoise, thank you.

Circling Poat hares

Poat’s hares are becoming more and more devious and still reluctant to appear in a straight line. This time I find a couple of them in a neatly symmetrical jumbled circle in the EARTH quadrant (well, where else, obviously!)

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Listener No 4471: What Can the Matter Be? by Flying Tortoise

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 Oct 2017

Last year’s FT (that’s, Flying Tortoise, obviously) had us cutting and pasting our grids into a representation of Galileo dropping balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There didn’t seem to be any hint at grid mutilation this week, just a simple 12×12 carte blanche divided into four quadrants.

Moreover, the preamble was very mysterious about what went into the quadrants: one didn’t have any down entries and another had them reversed. Each quadrant had a different clue type: normal, misprints and extra/missing wordplay letters. Which went where was another mystery since we were presented with a single list of clues.

So, twenty-eight clues altogether and I solved a dozen of them on a slow pass through them. Alphabetical order of answers gives enough information to be able to narrow down the initial letters of remaining clues. However, for clues 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11, I had ALCINA, ANNATS and AVOCET followed by CARATS, CARERS, CARETS and CURATS and a couple of other C words. Something strange seemed to be going on here.

Alongside my list of answers, I had four columns, one for each of the clue types. I wondered whether the four thematic words would be spelt out by each column in turn, or sequentially across all clue types. My guess was the former. [Never guess in a Listener. Ed.]

My guess was wrong. [Told you. Ed.] This was finally revealed when I solved clue 1 Until Sabbath cleaves trees. It was a mystery which clue type this was: normal, with S splitting trees; cleaves becoming leaves; trees becoming threes; or until becoming untie! It was the second of these with AS FAR AS – S leading to AFARAS. This gave me a C letter removed, and I saw Choler spelt out by the clue letters in sequence. Checking Chambers, “one of the four bodily humours” was there for all to see.

The problem then was “What were the other three?” I could see that Melancholy was probably the second, but I confess that I needed to google to get the others, Phlegm and Blood (here bloody).

This enabled me to slot HUMOUR in the four circled squares, and I managed to slot words in where they fitted. I was sidetracked for quite a while by trying WOMERA backwards in row 3 of the south-west quadrant. That was before I sussed clue 10 Gentlemen bitten by striped carnivore — that’s gross grass for everybody, leading to COMMON.

It didn’t take long to see that EARTH and WATER were were in two of the entries, and then AIR and FIRE. A bit more reading revealed that these elements (the preamble even told us that) were associated with the humours, and this confirmed the placing of the quadrants, although the circled squares had already done that. The four humours were also used to determine an individual’s characteristics.

So, we had the EARTH quadrant in the north-east, with the same entries going across and down; WATER in the south-east, with entries going across and up; and AIR in the south-west with a normal mini grid with bars (not required).

That just left how to enter FIRE in the north-west corner. It obviously started with FIRERS and ended with CURATS. The others could then be placed one after the other with one letter changing to give the word below. However, although this seemed obvious, there was nothing that I could see that determined that this was the required solution.

All in all, an enjoyable and educational puzzle. Thanks, FT. I leave it to others to determine my humour!

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We’ll Always Be Together by Flying Tortoise

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 May 2016

Falling tortoises 001Rather an appropriate crossword for a Flying Tortoise to produce (though I hope his shell survived the fall) and how enjoyable. We were surprised by the small grid and, after speedy confirmation that Flying Tortoise retains his membership of the Listener Drinkie Club, (‘Ship 7 innkeeper’s bottles (3)’ where 7 gave us ROBOT, which, of course, bottles an OBO, a ship; then ‘Fear coin’s lost for Jean’s drink trip (8, two words)’ giving us FEAR COIN* = CAFe NOIR) we raced through a speedy solve of the clues.

Some unusual words there; LENITES for ‘softens’, GROSSART for a Scottish gooseberry, WOLOF for African people, that unusual spelling of TATU. However, the extra words did sometimes stand out and we teased out a message ‘CUT OUT PRINTED L AND S, HALVE GRID VERTICALLY, PLACE R(ight) HALF ABOVE, SLIDE STRIPS OF THREE ROWS, HIGHLIGHT SITE.’

There was some head scratching now and the other Numpty disappeared to make supper whilst I cut my grid into two and pondered about how I was going to ‘slide strips of three rows’ and use that L and S, since the preamble told us that we were going to be ‘converting the filled grid using all cells’.

Galileo 002I should have poured that G and T and made the supper and left the other, scientific Numpty pondering, as the moment I showed him the vertically divided grid, he said ‘It’s the LEANING TOWER OF PISA’ – and of course it was, with Galileo somewhere up there (according to the possibly apocryphal story) and dropping a large and a small sphere to see whether one or the other reached the ground first.

Of course they hit the ground (or one of the hordes of tourists) simultaneously.

So I chopped up my grid and produced a fairly convincing Leaning Tower of Pisa, highlighted, with the L and S ‘spheres’ falling together and a brief description of the experiment’s result and I was left with just one small quandary.

Galileo’s initial was G and his experiment was into g (acceleration due to gravity). We’ve been here before when lots of competitive solvers spoiled their ‘all
Flying tortoises 001correct’ Listener solving runs by putting an upper case B on KOHb. Well, I suppose a capital G (the constant of gravitation) is ‘rather apposite’. I hope so.
To complement my rather rueful interpretation of this maiden flight, I am including the quirky and highly entertaining SCAN0058interpretation of the experiment that came to me from a fellow solver and setter.

I love puzzles which are pictorial. This was a beautiful example. Many thanks Flying Tortoise.

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