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Posts Tagged ‘His’

His by Nebuchadnezzar – Thinking outside the box

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 Dec 2017

Not a long pre-ramble but one that caused us some trepidation as we read that there were extra words (yes, I called that a setter’s cop out last week but it was used in an original way to get pairs of letters this week), clashes (ugh!), and one or two omitted letters in 16 clues that were to lead to a closed outline. What’s more, there were two clues with wordplay only. Yes, those are what gave us our pdm after several hours of solving.

I believe I have seen Nebuchadnezzar, glass in hand, at a Magpie event – he’s an established compiler there (Magpie plug – six Listener-style crosswords available each month and a lively editorial with a mass of crossword related comments) but this seems to be his first Listener crossword, and what a debut! Does he get his admission to the bar at the next Listener setters’ dinner in Paris? Resoundingly “Yes”. ‘Dipso, drunken pest? (6)’ was his first alcoholic clue and that gave us PSOCID with an extra C emerging from the wordplay. “City’s dropping prohibition from us (3)” gave us URBAN dropping BAN and an extra O in the wordplay, so that we entered OUR.

An entertaining clue ‘Camp bed, beer or [blonde] afterwards, displayed heartlessly (4)’ produced that extra word giving us two letters (RA) of the message and we heartlessly used LA(G)ER and LA(T)ER to enter LAER. Not satisfied with the blonde and the beer, our drunken dipso pest concluded his alcoholic references with ‘Pub stop — Queen entering place of debauchery (8)’ HO = stop and ER enters STY producing HOSTELRY with yet another of those extra letters, L. See you at the Paris hostelry Nebuchadnezzar? Santé!

We solved slowly and steadily and it eventually became evident that a square or box was being created by those omitted letters and they were spelling something about COLUMBUS. Wikipedia was, as usual, a great help here and led us to something I should have seen far earlier as I had a puzzle published on this very theme on the crossword centre’s message board not quite five years ago. My ‘Thinking outside the box‘ was a far simpler puzzle just called Beyond the Pale. We needed a further prompt to finally produce the penny-drop-moment we Numpties needed. Clue 1d clearly spelled DUDENEY: ‘Admirable fellow’ = DUDE and ‘the old’ =YE, ‘mathematician at last’ =N both returned (with a fine reference to the mathematician of the theme) – so there it was. LOYD seemed to be the inevitable accompaniment, as the other clue consisting of wordplay only at 31d but we needed a long scribble on a sheet of paper to justify that (‘encyclopaedia’* – ‘piece’*, ‘about’ = C  and ‘a number’ A N. Yes, we muttered imprecations at Nebuchadnezzar at this point!)

However, all was now clear. Our theme was the nine dots puzzle. We still had some improbable words appearing in our grid at 13d and 14d, 24ac and 36 ac but those were going to incorporate the clashes that had to become the dots of the puzzle. How cleverly that message was concealed. We scribbled out the ‘omitted wordplay’ letters and, sure enough, there it was. REPLACE WITH DOTS/ CONNECT WITH FOUR STRAIGHT LINES WITHOUT LIFTING PEN.

Of course, drawing the box was no problem but, at first, it seemed to us that there were four possibilities for the solution to the nine dots puzzle. Ah, no. Nebuchadnezzar was far too cunning for that. (Nudge, nudge, remember to read and obey every word of the preamble!) ‘with a unique solution guided by the original contents of the affected cells’.  We found THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX in those clashes and a well-placed I and T in the grid margins. Brilliant! How very clever! Of course that was a problem for the setter and I went back to my own use of the theme and found a more simple way of resolving it.

Ah, the Poat hares. Nebuchadnezzar may be a new Listener setter but of course they were there, if, as usual, somewhat jumbled. I was a bit worried about that clue ‘Fleeces hot (supermodel) overcome by a French hauteur (7)’ but decided it wasn’t a case of mis-spelling or stripping the coat from the animals. (It gave us UN AIRS around H(ot) = UNHAIRS).  My vote this week went to the little creature ‘thinking outside the box’ and gambolling on the bottom line of the grid.



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Listener No 4476: His by Nebuchadnezzar

Posted by Dave Hennings on 1 Dec 2017

A new Listener setter this week, although he does have a couple of C-grade Magpies to his name. I didn’t (and still don’t) know whether this pseudonym is taken from one of the kings of Babylon in days BC, or a 15-litre bottle of champagne.

An intriguing method of revealing the message this week — an extra word with the letters either side of it spelling out two instructions. Some clashes and all occurrences of the letter K (!) needed special treatent according to one, and a unique solution to the puzzle would be indicated by the second. 16 other clues had wordplay omitting one or two letters, the missing letters giving a related phrase.

I started off fairly well, with 6ac ABSEIL and 10 UNTENABLENESS, the latter Indefensibility of exotic dancer Anne’s new blue set (13) helped by the ABLE and NESS standing out in ANNE’S N BLUE SET (oh, and the UN- too). All this meant that I reckoned to be finished within the hour.

Famous last words, of course, since the extra words (which were only in 30 clues) seemed cunningly hidden. Moreover the missing wordplay letters weren’t easy to identify either. I suppose the most tricky was 17 Effective failing condition, too, after shift — back by six! (4) where the exclamation mark was truly warranted — TOO shifted back in the alphabet by 6 to give NI[S]I.

And then there was 14dn Once true life account [filmed] in river holds Universal certificate (9) for INDUBIOUS — BIO in INDUS containing U. I wasn’t helped by thinking that the life account would be BIOG, but finally Mrs B helped with that although it still needed an age to identify the Indus.

All in all, a tough solve, certainly in excess of four hours. [Nearer five, I suspect. Ed.] I hoped the endgame would be slightly easier without too much grid-staring. Of course, the two wordplay-only cues, DUDENEY and LOYD, the two puzzle-smiths at 1dn and 31dn, didn’t hold out much hope for that. The two instructions spelt out Replace with dots for the clashes and the letter K (just one), and Connect with four straight lines without lifting pen.

The EGG OF COLUMBUS was the way in for me, although my first googling indicated that it was a way of standing an egg upright on its smaller end. Eventually, the way of connecting the nine dots without lifting the pen off the paper revealed itself and all was sorted.

I found this a truly enjoyable, taxing and satisfying puzzle. Many thanks, Nebuchadnezzar.

(PS Still don’t get the title!)

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