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Posts Tagged ‘Ifor’

Hatched? Matched? Despatched? by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 Jan 2022

Almost nine lines of preamble (but no jumbles or clue gimmicks – a sigh of relief) We got the highlighter ready and were soon highlighting redundant words in clues that gave us forenames.

Earth’s within narrow valley. We put E into GORGE and found GEORGE. Marks year behind annual return; that gave us M and Y behind AR so we had MARY. Journey fast with active superseding united. We had to change the U to A in HURRY, producing HARRY. Finally we found ‘Cleaner caught silly’. Silly had to be an anagram indicator, producing CLARENCE.

The Numpties know embarrassingly little about British media but just feeding those four names into Wikipedia produces what is required at once and we were able to confirm it by words in down clues 1, 4, 6 and 9 which, when put into the order of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, gave us 1946 – the appropriate year.

But what were these questions? We learn that Clarence ODBODY explains to George how Bedford Falls would be transformed into POTTERSVILLE had he not been born (hatched), had his wife, Mary, not been married (matched),- but that his brother Harry would have been buried (despatched). So we put ODBODY into those empty cells at the foot of our grid and draw some bars to separate off the answers NO, NO, AY.

All done, and yet another Listener crossword learning experience for us. All done? No, I haven’t confirmed that Ifor retains his membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite! ‘Hold nakedly insolent drunk [fast] (6)’ Hmmm! We had to resort to drunkenness to find the proof! Sobeit – Cheers, Ifor!

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Listener No 4629: Right-wing Majority by Ifor

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 Nov 2020

We’d already had an Ifor Listener this year with Death Row back in February. That had Lizzie Borden taking an axe to her parents. Before that, we had a different form of dismemberment when Ifor presented us with the Russian Matryoshka dolls.

This week, all across clues and twelve downs lost a word each. Knowing how Ifor likes to dismember words by removing letters, I wondered if the words to be removed could be parts of other words. Without giving too much away, it soon became clear that that was unlikely. The removed words would give the wordplay to seven answers “from which a thematic set of answers nominally derive”. The endgame would require a bit of jiggery-pokery by the look of it.

I was off to a flying start with 1ac AGNATE, 5 EMERSE, 2, ICTAL, 16 ARUM and 17 ANIONIC. With that many acrosses, it seemed churlish not to try the down clues, and 1 ACHAR, 3 ARAMAIC, 4 TAMES, 7 ECHO and 8 SALIAN, although that last one needed to be verified in Chambers.

10ac Coagulated part within brittle dried fruit (7) took a bit of time to unravel despite appearing to be CURRANT from the letters already in the grid. Chambers has a huge list of meanings for run, but near the end of the vts was “coagulate”. The CURT bit needed a back reference with “curt” appearing under brittle, but not the other way round.

Another tricky clue (for me) was 13ac Ditch secret, issuing it shifts heartaches (4). Again, the answer was obviously HA-HA, but it needed the extra word issuing to be removed to see that it was a compound anagram (SECRET + HA-HA = HEARTACHES*).

The top left quadrant of the grid came together nicely, and I basically worked my way down slowly filling in the entries. The grid turned out to be only marginally more difficult than the average for an Ifor puzzle.

So what did we have to do next. Well, the wordplay clues gave the following:

  • Every second part from issuing — SUN;
  • Mine water shows — NEW;
  • Invite out keeping advanced command paper — INACTIVE (that one took a bit of time): INVITE* around (A + C);
  • Hotel nut died erroneously — HIDDEN;
  • Inside more marked orienteer’s originally becoming absent — STRANGER [STRONGER with A for O(rienteer)];
  • Fearful Scottish institute united mass — RADIUM;
  • One’s sun again red — OGANESSIAN (well that anagram didn’t exactly leap off the page!! with red being the anagram indicator).

Obviously (from the above comment), Oganessian was the last to be solved, but it was when I got RADIUM that I knew we were in chemical country. A lot came together here reasonably quickly for me. The word that would probably need replacing was INERT, although I needed Wiki to remind me that the inert gases are now called NOBLE and this was confirmed by Chambers. The seven such elements were:

  • Helium (He, atomic number 2), derived from the Greek sun, Helios;
  • Neon (Ne, 10), from the Greek “new”;
  • Argon (Ar, 18), from the Greek for “inactive”;
  • Krypton (Kr, 36), from the Greek for Superman “hidden”;
  • Xenon (Xe, 54), from the Greek for “stranger”;
  • Radon (Rn, 86), all tied up with Radium (?);
  • Oganesson (Og, 118), named after a Russian physicist Yuri O, ie Oganessian.

All that was left now was to find where those elements could fit into words already in the grid. Some of these were easy to decipher, some less so! They were GU-RN-ARDS, BAN-K R-ATE, TA-XE-MES, GAMB-OG-IAN, MILIT-AR-IA, SA-HE-LIAN and PHO-NE-TIC. Joining up these points in the grid gave 18, the group number for the right-hand column in the periodic table where they all sit, hence this puzzle’s title.

Blimey, guv!! Ifor puzzles always have a lot of thematic material, and this was no exception. Thanks.

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Right-wing Majority by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 Nov 2020

Ifor’s preamble gave us no hint at all about his theme though with the US elections coming up, we did wonder whether there was a political significance. I had to read through the entire set of clues to. confirm his continued membership of the Listener setters’ elite oenophile outfit – and at the end I found the red. ‘Red cross marks source of rubber (4)’ We ultimately decided that the ‘red’ was the word we had to remove (it was going to be an anagram indicator for ONE’S S[un] AGAIN, which, later on would give us OGANESSIAN – the Russian nuclear physicist who discovered OGANESSON) and that gave us M + ULE (the rubber-producing tree, and the cross, a MULE). So with that rather sparse red, ‘Cheers, Ifor!”

The words going into our grid appeared with more ease than Ifor’s clues sometimes do but we had a second set of solving to do of the mini clues produced by those extra words and we teased out SUN from the first five: EVERY SECOND PART FROM [i]S[s]U[i]N[g].

The second set simply said MINE WATER SHOWS and we decided that a hidden word, NEW, was being indicated.

Then we found INVITE OUT KEEPING ADVANCED COMMAND PAPER. We anagrammed INVITE and put A[dvanced] and C[ommand paper] into it and found INACTIVE

Next came HOTEL NOTE DIED ERRONEOUSLY INSIDE. We put an anagram of DIED into H[otel] N[ote] and found HIDDEN.

STRANGER followed from MORE MARKED ORIENTEERS ORIGINALLY BECOMING ABSENT. (We had to change the O[Rrienteers to A[bsent] in ‘stronger’.

FEARFUL SCOTTISH (that was RAD) ONE UNITED MASS gave us RADIUM, and, of course, we found OGANESSIAN.

It was the other Numpty who had the ‘aha’ moment. “Those are the sources of the names of what used to be called the INERT gases – they are the NOBLE gases of group 18 in the modern table of elements: He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe, Rn and Og, so we have Helium from Helios the sun, Neon from new, Xeno- for strange, Argon the Greek word for inactive, and so on.

We had eight down solutions that produced no extra words and one of those, INERT, was clearly going to become NOBLE maintaining real words, so it was left for us to insert the symbols for those elements into the remaining seven and sure enough GUARDS became GURNARDS, TAMES became TAXEMES, MILITIA became MILITARIA, SALIAN became SAHELIAN, GAMBIAN was GAMBOGIAN, BANATE – BANKRATE, and PHOTC – PHONETIC. Astonishing that Ifor could find all of those and even more astonishing that he managed to place them in the grid so that they formed 18! What a compilation!

(Ah, the 18? Well that’s the age of majority in the UK isn’t it and those noble gases do form the right wing of the table.)

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L4629: ‘Right-wing majority’ by Ifor

Posted by Encota on 6 Nov 2020

I found by far the hardest part of this puzzle was making sense of the extra words.   And the second hardest was being certain I had all the right extra words!

The slightly strange outcome was that, having being able to identify which words must have something ‘addable’ to them, it soon became clear that the 2-letter additions were the 2-letter abbreviations for the right-hand column of the periodic table.  SO I could work out all the insertion points and I then assumed we were drawing the number 18 (given these are Group 18, I understand) through those points.  So I think I had completed the puzzle without making any sense of the extra words.  I am going to feel very foolish when it turns out that I’ve missed something entirely!

So on Saturday morning I returned to the puzzle – just because – to try and make some sense out of those extra words.  In 25a I wasn’t quite sure if it was ‘are’ or ‘advanced’, though hoped in either case it would simply deliver an ‘A’ in the wordplay & so wouldn’t matter.  And in 19a I wasn’t too sure if ‘frustrated’ or ‘moved’ was the anagram_indicator.

It took me most of the day – on-and-off – to decide that these must clue the ‘source’ of each elements’ name.  So SUN gave Helium, NEW gave Neon, RADIUM gave Radon, OGANESSIAN (the Russian physicist) gave Oganesson etc.  None of this changed what I had in the grid but was an enjoyable additional puzzle!


Tim / Encota

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Death Row by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Feb 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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