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Posts Tagged ‘I-spy Choices’

I-spy Choices by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 February 2018

A carte blanche with that unusual opening of the preamble, ‘All clues are thematically similar’ and the additional comment that we are going to find nine clashes. The other Numpty has worked out what the thematic similarity is and is happily running off answers while I laboriously colour code my grid identifying the lengths of words and cells.

That device of listing clues by the opening letters of their solutions is a great help and when we spot PERSON-TO-PERSON ‘P Involving contact assigned to drunkard taken in by Prince Edward say (14)’ (P + ON TOPER in ER’S  SON) our grid fill can begin. And in goes the ‘drunkard’, the ‘toper, and a few clues lower, I find ‘Y Maybe Guinness but not C Clinton studied here (4)’ (Y + ALE) I don’t need to look further for confirmation that Xanthippe retains right of admission to the Listener Setters’ Toping Club.  Cheers Xanthippe – à Paris!

Once we have that initial P in place, the grid fills steadily, when the only two three-letter solutions giving us NAS and EGM and by a stroke of luck initially going in the right places. We have a couple of hiccups when we put URAL and DAHL in the wrong places  and struggle to fit ALBIGENSIAN (suggested by TEA), where we needed AMBIGUITIES but filling the grid is enjoyable because of those generous initial letters and soon we have a full grid. Now what?

The other Numpty almost immediately spots JAMES BOND and feels that his work is done. ‘I spy’ – “Well he does, doesn’t he?” He leaves me to look for Ian Fleming but, consternation. Who do I find? R. LUDLUM. Something very fishy is going on here. Then I find I.L.FLEMING and the plot thickens. Of course JASON BOURNE is hiding in those clashes too – so that is why the preamble said ‘their creator’ rather than ‘his creator’. Was that a subtle hint?

Both of these sets of ‘Spy + creator’ add up to 18 letters so which set do we opt for and highlight? We are told that a three-word phrase from a quotation appears in the completed grid, as does its source lacking a conjunction. ROMEO and JULIET must be the source. And so the grid stare begins (and takes just about as long as the grid fill! I took the problem to bed with me.)

Nothing for it but to re-read Romeo and Juliet (which I thought I almost knew by heart having taught the play more times than I can count, and what a lot of early Shakespearean long-windedness there is in it – of course, later Shakespeare would have avoided the retelling of the entire plot by the Friar in Act V). I was looking for some reference to exile in Mantua that puts Romeo beyond the BOURNE, or some comment by Friar Lawrence about the BOND binding the young lovers and as I reached the last Act and Scene, I had almost given up hope when the word AMBIGUITIES leapt out at me (particularly because we had initially entered ALBIGENSIAN in that light!)

Montague Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while,/ Till we can clear these ambiguities,/ And know their spring, their head, their true descent,… Act V Sc.III Lines 216 to 218.

Of course that obliges us to opt for the U of the E/U clash in AMBIGE/UITIES and, in effect, clears the ambiguities and spells out LUDLUM. What an inspired finish to the crossword. A superb compilation, many thanks to Xanthippe.

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Listener No 4488: I-spy Choices by Xanthippe

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 February 2018

Xanthippe’s last Listener was 18 months ago with its theme of the Adam Smith quotation “connections that unite the various appearances of nature”. That had a strangely constructed grid with basically four quadrants all linked together by the quotation.

A more straightforward carte blanche this week with clues almost in alphabetical order of their answers and some clashing cells. For the endgame, we would need to identify a phrase from a quotation. This would be the first chance for my newly-acquired ODQ, courtesy of some Christmas gift cards, to be put to good use.

The clues weren’t numbered, but given a letter. The first bunch were labelled LISTENER I-SPY XANTHIPPE followed by letters in order. The preamble started with “All clues are thematically similar…”. What all of them?! [Yes. Ed.]

Actually, it didn’t take long to discover that the wordplay in each clue omitted the first letter of the entry. The first S 11-letter entry was an easy one, leading to SNOWBOARDER. Unfortunately, the A one wasn’t, partly because it was a bit of a tricky blighter: Meg is accepting liability, no latitude in English loopholes? (11) where Meg was short for megabyte and led to A + MB IS containing GUILT (liability) – L (latitude) + I (in) + E (English).

In my first pass through the clues, well over half were solved, and I managed to slot a few into the grid. Unfortunately, the central 14-letter entry wasn’t one of them, and that was scarcely odd because… it was devious. Beginning with P, we had Involving contact assigned to drunkard taken in by Prince Edward say? (14). Wordplay: ON (assigned to) TOPER (drunkard) in ER SON — son of HMQ! This is the Listener, isn’t it?!

Clue of the day was H Number put in Solway Firth principally are active when all ebbs (8), a perfect &lit. with TEN in S(olway) F(irth) + A (are) + A (active) all in reverse (ebbing).

And so to the endgame. The clashes could be seen to spell out either JAMES BOND or JASON BOURNE, both heroes of spy novels, and either IL FLEMING or R LUDLUM, their authors. But which? We were told that the source of the quotation containing the three-word phrase appeared in the completed grid, although it lacked a conjunction. Well, ROMEO and JULIET were in the south-east quadrant, so that was what I scanned in my new ODQ.

Five minutes later, and I was none the wiser. The only quotation that looked relevant was “How oft when men are at the point of death Have they been merry! which their keepers call A lightning before death.” I couldn’t find the last three words anywhere in the grid, so assumed that wasn’t the quotation. I looked up a few words in the ODQ index, including ambiguityambiguities wasn’t mentioned.

Some of you are probably thinking that I should stay off the ‘sauce’ before tackling a Listener. Shame on you!

After a couple of 30-minute sessions trying to work out what was required, I resigned myself to reading the whole of the play. How many three-word phrases were there likely to be? Before that — and don’t ask why, because I can’t remember — I decided to compare my old ODQ with the new. The old one had 41 quotations, the new 33. Well that was a big difference, so I scanned my old copy. I was on the verge of giving up when the very last one gave “Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while, Till we can clear these ambiguities.” Kerching! In the old but not the new.

This confirmed that yank Jason Bourne, rather than good old James Bond, as the required spy, since R(obert) LUDLUM confirmed the U in AMBIGUITIES.

Thanks for the challenge, Xanthippe. You nearly tripped me up, but it’s always nice to get there — in the end. I have refrained from sending a strongly-worded email to OUP!

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