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Posts Tagged ‘Ifor’

Death Row by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 February 2020

Rather a threatening title from Ifor – ‘Death Row’ indeed. We study the preamble and don’t instantly spot the theme, though two delighted solvers told me that they did (one an American, who might be more likely to recognise the theme of a rhyme possible more familiar over there). We know Ifor’s style well – the challenging clues that use a number of subtle removals of letters from wordplay (or even definition) to prompt the solver how to handle the clue.

‘Wary Bruce ill, beginning to mistake feature of some spiders (9)’ we see, and we know that ‘wary’ must lose an A to become WRY – an anagram indicator – and BRUCE ILL + M gives is CRIBELLUM. ‘Late start caused by poor decision (3)’. This time we take out the U and find CASED, a containment indicator, and ORD is hidden there. What a wonderful surface reading Ifor has managed to engineer. That is his special crosswording talent isn’t it – to create flawless word pictures incorporting subtle shifts that mean that the entered word goes off in a completely different direction. Take ‘Skint following incomplete contacts (6)’. I’m looking for someone whose bank manager has let him down but the wordplay gives me F(ollowing) + LENSE(s) and I find that I am skinning a whale (FLENSE).

Not easy – Ifor’s puzzles never are (‘Stripey horse (5)’ isn’t his style) but we know that his clues are perfectly fair and when a number lead to definitions containing AX where the wordplay lacks the AX, we smile with delight and understand why our extra letters have spelled out MASS MURDERER. Another solver has commented to me that he was astonished how many AX words Ifor used, that worked perfectly without the AX (POLEAX, MAXILLIPEDE, MONAXIAL, TAXINGS, MALAXATE, TAXABLE, CLIMAXES, RELAXATIONS and LAXEST). “Who was it who ‘Took an ax’?” I ask the other Numpty, and, with his astonishing mental store of useless trivia, he immediately responds ‘Lizzie Borden – not a very charming daughter!’

Lizzie Borden took an ax/ And gave her mother forty whacks,” runs a nursery rhyme nearly universally known among Americans. “When she saw what she had done/ She gave her father forty-one.” (Wikipedia) It was the Massachusets murders, wasn’t it? So that explains the MASS at the start of the description – a fine play on words. Indeed, if there were 81 ax strokes, this was a MASS murder in a couple of senses.

The extra letters in the down clues have told us to ‘SHUFFLE LETTERS FROM ONE ROW as a way to find the name of the hacker, which solvers must write below the grid’. We work backwards from LIZZIE BORDEN to DOZIER BENZIL (No, Ifor wasn’t attempting to make his grid pan-alphabetical as we had initially suspected, a setter exercise I consider to be self-indulgent and futile, unless it is given some thematic purpose). That neatly balances the MOTHER/FATHER that we are now able to put into our final row. We had wondered how we were going to distinguish between CALM and CALF. What a lovely final touch with no frustrated grid-staring. Clues 40 and 41 – the icing on the cake.

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L4593: ‘Death Row ‘ by Ifor

Posted by Encota on 28 February 2020

                                                                                  
I found this a tricky and very enjoyable solve.  My thanks go to Ifor!   I was finishing about 10 a.m. Saturday, having started the evening before, so that puts it in the top third of difficulty, I’d reckon.

I thought the ambiguity on the bottom row a very good feature, to fit in with the Lizzie Borden rhyme. You had to know who got 40 whacks and who 41 to enter MOTHER and FATHER in the right places.

As ever with Ifor there were some tough clues: always fair, though (as I have come always to expect from him!).  I thought it a very good theme and the AX removals were all neat.  MAXILLIPEDE threw me for ages:

Bit of lobster that gets in food hamper in places carried by modern girl (9)

… parsed as PED (‘food hamper’) in (thoroughly modern) MILLIE

and: Endorsement passing test, one with only a single line of symmetry (6)

… for MONIAL was one of my last ones parsed.  It seemed so obvious when I eventually thought of (testi)MONIAL – and I do mean eventually! 

Finally I need to remember to think ‘the’, when reading ‘so much’ in a clue.  I bet I won’t, though!

Thanks once again to Ifor for a great & enjoyable puzzle.

Cheers,                                    

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4545: Polyfilla by Ifor

Posted by Dave Hennings on 29 March 2019

One of our more prolific setters greeted us this week and no doubt it would be quite tricky. His last was the puzzle that combined John Donne’s Holy Sonnets and single-letter chemical elements. This week, as with other Listener’s recently, an oddly shaped grid.

1ac and 5ac were quickly solved: AFEAR and GIMME. I liked Ifor’s definition of the latter: giveaway, not needing a hit. It is more realistically defined as an agreement between two golfers, neither of whom can putt very well! After those first two, my success with the acrosses was somewhat sporadic, made a tad difficult because each had an extra word that had to be removed before solving.

As for the downs — well. Lots of 3-letter answers, plus a lot more 6-letter answers that could be split into 3-letter words. Each had a number in brackets that dictated which clue(s) each 3-letter word thematically contributed. Moreover, the letters either side of each extra word would spell out two messages: an instruction that had to be applied to the unclued 8dn, plus a clarification of what that entailed.

It became fairly clear to me that all these little words would somehow anagram to the entries they contributed to. However, I confess it took the messages from the across clues to fully spell it out. I saw Cyril lurking there, followed closely by Russ, but it took Dolly’s discovery for everything to fall into place. The down entries would be like those Russian dolls that fitted inside each other with one word inside another inside a third and, in two cases, inside a fourth.

Finally the two messages were Enter Russian doll and Cyrillic capitals. My Russian is a bit rusty, so I needed Google to reveal how MATRESHKA needed to be modified for the Russian equivalent. I think it was MAPЁшKA, although I’m not 100% certain if the dotdot over the E is mandatory or not. I must also confess that I’m flummoxed by the clue to 21ac Whoop [unlikely] approval and take time after flight to Medina; it obviously referred to HIJRAH but I couldn’t see what knocked the HIJ off.

All in all, good fun as usual, so thanks to Ifor. Great title, too. Apparently, the world record is 51 dolls!
 

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Polyfilla by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 March 2019

Yet another rather unusual grid, We read through the preamble with no undue concern and noted the ‘Iforish’ device of extra words in across clues producing letters that would lead to two messages, one telling us what to enter at 8dn and the other telling us what entering that would entail. I scanned the grid for a sprinkling of alcohol and didn’t find much – in fact only a BAR in ‘Support for women without needing right to be promoted’.  We had to promote the R in that clue leading to BRA so it was a rather reluctant ‘Cheers, Ifor’ until the clue ten further down ‘Lots of fluid from burst blisters after removing skin’ led to an anagram of (b)lister(s) and LITRES. Hearty cheers, Ifor!

Solving as many across clues as possible was clearly the way to go and the three-letter ones went in fairly quickly, followed by WARLORD, GIMME, AFEAR and TABARDS. HEADSHEETS had to be the answer to ‘Bows change these in pursuit of titles’, (HEADS+ SHEETS*) and we were helpfully told that this had to be 10 letters long and tentatively placed the SH in the centre of the answer.

We were producing a message (well, the beginnings of two messages) ENTER RUSSIAN ????  and CYRILLIC CAPI ????, and what was even more helpful, TEA and Chambers gave us suggestions for those long down clues, WITHEREDNESS, AGALACTIA, FIREBRAND, AMOURETTE, REREDORSE and DISFEATURING.

I am sure Ifor didn’t expect us to solve those small clues in reverse but that was, in fact, in many cases the way we did it. 10d, for example, offered us MAHSIR or
MOHAIR and we could see that AHS must be the entry to the first of the downs, nested in MIR – penny drop moment!NESTED! Suddenly it all made sense. We had LAC, nested in GAT, nested in AIA. DISFEATURING was made up of EAT, in FUR, in SIN nested in DIG. Nesting dolls! Surely we each received a set of nesting dolls as a present when we were small.

Of course the unusual shape of the grid now made sense – there was our Babushka!

So SPA went into INN, CAN into ARE, HEM into TIS, ASH into PED, and BAN into LIT and our grid was complete, except that we had to. ENTER RUSSIAN DOLL in CYRILLIC CAPITALS. We had a putative MATRYOSHKA down the centre of our grid and knew we had to be careful after that KOHb of some years ago so carefully checked our capitals with the Russian neighbour and opted for MATPEWKA – or a version of that.

Very ingenious. Thank you Ifor.

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Listener No 4506: Multiple Deletions by Ifor

Posted by Dave Hennings on 29 June 2018

Last year’s Ifor puzzle noted the achievement of Edward Eagan and the coincidence of his two Olympic wins for boXing and boBBing. Without jumping ahead too much, this puzzle delighted us with an even more fascinating coincidence.

I’ve always thought of Ifor as the deletions king. For example (from another puzzle): Revamped department after sacking rogue and seductress (7) leading to DEPARTMENT* – AND* for TEMPTER. So this week, he was in seventh heaven with clues and entries having deletions galore. I was somewhat worried that 20 clues would lead to non-word grid entries, but hopefully things would be definitive.

It took me some time to get my head around the different clue types: all of them had an extra letter; 20 clues were normal, nine had definitions for the entry but wordplay for a longer word, and nine had definitions for a longer word but wordplay for the entry. I decided to highlight entries in the grid according to their clue type: yellow for normal, green for entry given by definition, and orange for longer word given by definition. I won’t show you my worksheet since I got the colouring wrong a couple of times and it looks a mess!

I failed with 1ac Contents of noisy show shot during filming (8) and 6 Tricks on University senate going wrong, taking in Academician by agreement (13) looked like CONSENSUAL or some variation; it turned out to be CONSENTANEOUS — CONS + (ON U SEN[a]TE)* containing A. 13ac Poe paid him to shift large river creature (9) looked like an anagram of Poe paid him but with an extra letter. It didn’t take too long to see HIPPO, but I needed C to reveal HIPPODAME, which was new to me. Mind you that had to go into a 6-letter space.

After a pass through all the clues, I had solved precious few. Even the straightforward normal clue at 24dn Sounded like a horse we hid[e] craftily outside pub (8) WHINNIED couldn’t be entered as the letters needing to be dropped for a 6-letter entry could be any of them. It did, however, enable me to mark its symmetrically opposite entry 3dn as a normal clue.

Progress was very slow, almost as slow as Sabre’s from the previous week. All the clues were up to Ifor’s high standard but, even so, some were tricky to unravel. For example, 15ac New zoo that unveiled trick flying after acquiring one group of sparrows (11) led to ZONOTRACHIA — (N ZOO [t]HAT (t)RIC(k))* holding A. There were also some far-from-everyday words, such as SCINTISCANNER and HIGH-MUCK-A-MUCK.

The message finally spelt out by the extra words in clues was nothing to do with Winnie the Pooh (“I am a bear of very little brain”) but I am a little world made cunningly of elements. Even then, it took a couple of seconds for it to sink in: the letters that were in the grid were all the single-letter chemical symbols. Thus there was no A, D, E, G, J, L, M, Q, R, T, X or Z. The quotation was from John Donne: “I am a little world made cunningly / Of elements and an angelic sprite”.

The final tidying up was spotting that Nadal becoming nada was the “change in capitalisation” in the preamble, and working out what some of the longer words were before being reduced. 14dn PIC was reduced from its longer word DEPICTED (described minutely), and 23dn Let down hammer of Colt — in rearming must prepare to shoot with bow (8) wasn’t UNCOCKED but TURNCOCK: rearming became rearing and we had C (Colt) in RUT< (must) + NOCK (prepare to shoot bow) — now that's the devilish clue of the day!

The last step was to work out the deletions that needed to go beneath the grid. This wasn’t all the letters in the list above, but just those from [D]ONN[E] HO[L]Y SONN[ET] FIV[E], and they spelt out the best BGM (Big Grin Moment) for many moons: DELETE!

Once again, I was amazed at the foresight of authors and other famous people of yesteryear who have been used in Listener themes. John Donne could have written Holy Pentameters or included these lines in Holy Sonnet Four, but no, neither would have enabled DELETE to be spelt out.

Thanks for a really tough challenge, Ifor. Phew!
 

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