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Posts Tagged ‘Ifor’

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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Hit and Run by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 November 2017

Oh dear, a carte blanche, and there are going to be two extra letters produced by the wordplay of every clue, that we are somehow going to sort into two instructions that will each occur twice but in a different order. This looks complicated and fairly difficult (which is what we have come to expect from Ifor).

Of course, I don’t need to check that Ifor retains his place at the Listener setters’ bar but I check anyway and find ‘Ordered tonic water after dropping in briefly to bar’; I remove I’ and TO from ‘tonic water’ and find RANCE which means ‘bar’ with extra letters TW. Tonic water? I hope Ifor ordered something with that tonic! Ah, there’s port too; ‘Port sent part way round, not yet emptied out’. (Must be one of those alcohol sales gimmicks where they say your port or cognac has been to the equator and back!) I am disappointed when I remove YT from SENT PART WAY and find my port is simply ANTWERP with AS extra.

No problem; Ifor is soon into the red, ‘Condition red: time to get out something like a lane marker’. This is promising until I realise that ‘red’ is an anagram indicator and that CONDITION minus T gives us CONOID with IN extra. Oh dear again – just a road cone. But all is not lost. I find ‘rum’ – Rum old hospital: “Doesn’t hurt keeping dead bits left over” Well, that sounds lugubrious but “Cheers!” anyway, Ifor.

We have already put UNSCRATCHED on row 1 and that last clue, after giving us ODD SAN D(ead) ENDS and an extra TO, fills the final row. We are still grand-child minding in California and the day is taken up with a visit to the magnificent Monterey aquarium, so solutions are slotted in between visits to otters, penguins and the astonishing hopping blennies but by late evening we have a full grid and two locations, ANTWERP and LAKE PLACID.

We have at last remembered something about a famous American, EDDIE EAGAN, who won gold medals in two different Olympic games venues, BOXING in the 1920 Antwerp games and the BOBSLEIGH event in Lake Placid in 1932, and, sure enough, there he is reversed on row 2 as EDWARD EAGAN. We have found that we can fit BOXING into one light and BOBBING into another by putting the two Bs into one cell – but which is which? That is clearly the ambiguity that has to be resolved

We have to sort all our extra letters into two instructions and we laboriously find READ ONE ROW IN REVERSE – well, we have already seen that so we  didn’t need that instruction, but we also find INSERT TWO ENTRY NUMBERS. Numpty head scratch; this was a carte blanche. How are we going to resolve that ambiguity by entering two numbers. I take the problem to bed with me together with that rum, port, red, tonic – whatever, and, of course, as I mentally insert clue numbers into the grid, all becomes clear. The 1920 and 1932 games. Auntie Google tells me that Eddie Eagan was almost refused entry to the 1932 games because he was thought to be too old.  He proved them wrong didn’t he!

There won’t be a setter’s blog from Ifor this week. He said to me “As you know, I am not keen on writing setter blogs, although I’ve no problem with others doing so and enjoy reading them. But by all means (if you wish) mention in your summary that the idea came to me suddenly and fully formed after I’d read the information (in The Times, as it happens) in a library, and was immediately prompted to demand a Chambers to check that BOBBING could indeed mean what I hoped it would.”

“I was going to apologise for the teetotal nature of the clues (that “tonic water”!) until I saw that I’d passed the port, hopefully in the right direction.”

So cheers, Ifor and many thanks for a real challenge.

Poat’s hare seemed to come to a sad end, transfixed by William the Conqueror’s arrow a week ago, much to the distress of a few fellow solvers who felt that like that TABU and KOHb, he had become somewhat of a Listener fixture. It seems that all is well, however, and that the arrow damage was skin-deep, as Ifor had a boxing and a bobbing hare tangled pugnaciously at the top of his grid.

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The Harmony of Ratios by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 February 2017

ifor-harmony-of-ratios-001Imagine my surprise when I scanned Ifor’s clues and found not a single alcohol reference. Do we have to withdraw his access ticket to the Listener Setters’ tippling club. Of course not! What did we find when we had completed our solve? CHAMPERS and probably vast quantities of it as in the NEBUCHADNEZZAR of Atlas’s crossword a couple of weeks ago. Cheers, Ifor.

The title and preamble should have given me far more help that they did. RAT = DESERT I = ISLAND and OS are discs. Typical of Ifor’s very clever setting. And what was the ‘Harmony’ that used to introduce DESERT ISLAND DISCS? It was ERIC COATES ‘BY THE SLEEPY LAGOON – but we were a long way from teasing those letters out of the extra pairs in 27 clues. Of course I gave myself a hearty kick when I realized that we are celebrating a 75th anniversary of the very first broadcast of the programme since Roy Plomley presented it before I was even born on 29th January, 1942.

Of course, just counting clue lengths told us which solutions were going to have a ‘thematic item’ removed from them. We are not very knowledgeable about varieties of modern music so some of those extracted words were quite a surprise. We found LAY, RAP, RAG, CATCH, ARIA, PORT, MENTO and OAT. I wonder which celebrity opted for that lot (David Beckham, maybe?) We were mildly puzzled by SCABBARD (B BAR in SCAD) but then remembered that the castaway is allowed to take his Shakespeare with him, so we entered SCAB.

2ac had us puzzled too. The clue seemed to give us TOTIENTS but four letters had to come out. Then we remembered that the castaway has his Bible so this was the clue where the thematic item was in two parts OT and NT leaving TIES.

The grid was nearing completion when we saw that fine clue ‘One who supports boxer, maybe (6)’ that gave us B/PACKER and produced not only the CHAMPERS but also what every solver needs: CHAMBERS. We hadn’t found it easy to solve this crossword, but that solution really produced a smile.

A moment of hesitation. ROY PLOMLEY was the originator of DESERT ISLAND DISCS and his name (forename and surname) add up to 10 letters but, after a moment of hesitation, we opted for the creator of The Harmony, ERIC COATES. Nice one, Ifor. Many thanks.

And the elusive HARE? He’s kind of stewed up this week in clues 14, 17 and 18: I imagine his days will be numbered if he turns up on a desert island. He’ll be castaway stew.

Castaway Stew

Castaway Stew


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Listener No 4435: Harmony of Ratios by Ifor

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 February 2017

Ifor’s last Listener was nearly two years ago with Prometheus Bound and Unbound. Before that we had Pirandello, the Dam Busters and Flying Scotsman. This week, a bit of musical trigonometry?

listener-4435There was an interesting clueing device this week — not one, but two extra letters to be removed from the clues that didn’t lead to 4-letter entries. Choosing one letter from these pairs would give us a harmony and its creator.

The first thing I noticed when reading the preamble was the use of slightly odd wording: ‘abandons’, ‘cast out’ and, the reference to thematic items, ‘one a luxury’. Only that week, I had come across an article with a picture of Kirsty Young regarding the upcoming 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs. Well that confirmed the musical element of the title; the trigonometry would have to wait.

2ac related to a 4-letter entry and needed something removing from its 8-letter answer. However, the clue had me foxed Dash in to test numbers of inferior figures that have little in common (8) (indeed, it would confuse me right up to the end). Luckily, 5 Furious debating about right to display artificial skin (7) wasn’t thematic so just needed two letters to be removed and it looked like ‘debating’ would become ‘dating’ or eating’. INTEGRA® meant that it became ‘eating’.

I tried the down clues and managed 1 Bands bustled across, leaving Dover and embracing France (6) SCARFS (dropping L and D in the clue) followed by 2 Tease troops caught among wrong squaddies (9) leading to TORMENTOR. I nearly thought this was wrong since I couldn’t see what 5-letter word could be dropped, but I checked Chambers and was rewarded with seeing that MENTO was a form of Jamaican song or ballad.

4dn looked like it should be SCOPAS, but C told me the plural of scopa was scopae. Luckily, my eye wandered and I saw that scop just above had a plural of scopas. 6dn NATURE, 9 RAGOUT and 10 ABULIA meant that the top of the grid was coming along nicely.

Sadly, this early flurry of activity slowed to a bit of a crawl and clues needed a lot more work to unravel. This wasn’t helped by some of the bizarre words that were left after the two letters were removed from clues. For example, 3dn False reaction with little credit devolved (9) became False rection with little credit evolved (9) and 21dn Do Spanish walk cliff, upset with ape? (6) had ‘cliff’ becoming ‘iff’ (a word in logic meaning ‘if and only if’).

Clue of the week for me was 29ac Word of agreement binding spotty curate’s clerk in Canterbury (7) which became Word of agreement binding potty curat’s clerk in Canterbury (7) leading to ACTUARY. And best new word of the week: ARCHONTATE, an ancient Athenian magistrate’s tenure of office.

In the end, the grid took the best part of three hours to fill. When it was about 75% complete, I checked the letters dropped from clues, and wasn’t surprised to see that they were just a few short of Desert Island Discs and By the Sleepy Lagoon, the theme music. These were followed by Roy Plomley, the creator of the show, and Eric Coates the composer of the music. Its 75th anniversary meant that the show came to life in the midst of World War II — 1942.

The 4-letter entries were all derived from clues to longer words that lost something thematic. In clue order, these were: FORE(LAY), AIRT(RAP), T(RAG)ULE, (CATCH)ABLE, FIL(ARIA)L, S(PORT, a bagpipe composition)ING, TOR(MENTO)R, D(OAT)ING. That gave the eight pieces of music that we, as guests, could take to our desert island, and a bizarre concoction it was.

Guests are also allowed to take the Complete Works of Shakespeare, a Bible plus a third book and a luxury item. The first was provided by 12ac SCAB(BARD). Now, where was the Bible hiding. That was there, ‘in two abbreviated parts’, provided by the Old and New Testaments in 1ac T(OT)IE(NT)S. I needed to refer to Wolfram to understand this and hoped that this month’s mathematical setter hadn’t been beefing up on them!

Time to find the luxury and something ‘more relevant to solvers’, which would be the third book. We were guided to these by the clue that had two definitions to words differing by one letter: 24ac One who supports boxer, maybe (6). This led to BACKER and PACKER which in turn gave us CHAMBERS and CHAMPERS in the NW–SE diagonal.

The creator who had to go under the grid was the creator of the harmony, namely ERIC COATES, rather than the creator of the programme itself (I hope).

listener-4435-my-entryAs for the title, I assumed that it was referring to the symmetry of both titles having the same number of letters as did both creators. I wasn’t too sure of this, and a bit more investigation revealed that ECCE RATIOS was an anagram of the composer. Very satisfying!

Thanks, Ifor. A superb implementation of the Desert Island theme and great fun.

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Fast and Loose by Ifor

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 May 2015

Fast and Loose 001Of course, in retrospect, it is clear how the letters of extra words in down clues were ‘thematically’ used to spell out two instructions. We were lucky in that our initial guess that we were using the ‘sides’ of the words was going to spell out something and we had only solved half a dozen of the down clues when we were able to extrapolate ‘ERASE SOME LETTERS FROM GRID/ REORDER TO SINGLE WORDS’ as the two instructions that told us what to do with the final grid and how to handle extra phrases that were to appear in six across clues.

But I am leaping ahead. Naturally, as if I needed to, I scanned the clues to confirm that Ifor has the right to retain his membership of the Listener Setters’ and, of course he reassured us that ‘Clubs rarely alarm drinking parties (7)’ giving us C + AROUSE, and ‘Weaker, not with redistilled spirit (5)’ (w)EAKER* leading to RAKEE. Indeed, Ifor was in the spirit with that lovely original anagram indicator ‘redistilled’. Nice!

These clues were generous for Ifor; we were expecting a far more gruelling solve, and when we broke off for dinner, we had a full grid with a few fairly surprising words in it, PIECEN, ASUDDEN, SWEIRT, ABORE, and a number of likely phrases that we had to ‘reorder to single words’. Yes, ‘a number’, in fact eight! But there were supposed to be only six. Head scratching!

We had ‘to start with’ in 9 across, and that doesn’t reorder or anagram into anything very useful and we were convinced that there had to be something in the IONA clue as we simply couldn’t parse it (but we can now – what a delightful clue, ‘More than one railway separately stopped from leading across island (4)’ Of course, the leading ‘across’ clue solution gave DIVERSIONARY, from which we had to ‘stop’ or remove DIVERS and RY, leaving IONA.

However, ‘abject Sun‘ was rather obvious and obligingly gave ‘subjacent’ as an anagram, so we were at last on the right track. We were rather surprised when ‘can be just’, in 17 across, gave the same anagram solution, and even more surprised when ‘late par’ and ‘pearl at’ both resolved themselves to ‘apteral’ and ‘casual hope’ and ‘has a couple’ both gave ‘acephalous’. Chambers told us that these words meant ‘wingless’, ‘underlying’ and ‘headless’ and we knew from the preamble that ‘the results of this treatment suggest how the final grid differs from the initially-filled grid’.

Quandary! Each instruction appeared twice, so were we to remove the top, sides and bottom of the grid twice over? Thankfully, Ifor had used that familiar diagonal (OK – one step up on the conventional – he used the non-leading diagonal in reverse, just to make it a mite trickier) and there was PROMETHEUS, confirming that we had to do the unbinding just once.

Oh dear, surely not! I remember Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbounded’, a work I simply couldn’t get my head round many years ago, and seem to remember that Milton dabbled in Promethean literature too. We needed Google and it was a relief to find that only AESCHYLUS actually compiled works on both the Bounded and Unbounded Prometheus (or ‘traditionally’ is claimed to have done so – and what a delightful title ‘Fast and Loose’! Obviously AESCHYLUS was required below the grid. At least, I hope so.

Many thanks to Ifor. This was fair and fun.


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