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Posts Tagged ‘In Transit’

Listener No 4517: In Transit by Agricola

Posted by Dave Hennings on 14 Sep 2018

This was only the second Listener from Agricola, following on from Heisinger, Schrodinger and his cat last year (The Code Duello). That had two Playfair codes at its heart. Luckily, for those who don’t like them, this puzzle had only one. However, it was of the type where the code word has repeating letters which I guessed might make it a little trickier on the deciphering front.

A golfing holiday approached, so no time for much detail this week. Suffice it to say, it was a thoroughly enjoyable solve. It wasn’t too long before the UK to NZ theme popped out together with the two capes, Horn and Hope. The Captain Cook theme was pretty straightforward, but it took Wiki to remind me of his observation of the transit of Venus.

Even the Playfair code square could be deduced from the preamble — HMS END[E]AVOUR. If that wasn’t obvious, the encoding of 17 and 37 across was given, which I assume gave enough information to work out the code on their own.

All that remained was to move the astronomical symbol for Venus from the left to the right of that for the Sun with the F replacing it. (I checked with the notes for Mynot’s Stomach puzzle in 2016 to see what the accepted symbols were. I know there were alternatives, but I think most were accepted.) This gave JAMES COOK encoded in the central column as KDSNSFVAP.

Thanks, Agricola, good fun.

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In Transit by Agricola

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 Sep 2018

We have just been to the James Cook exhibition in the British Library and before we even read the preamble of Agricola’s crossword, we had made a guess at the theme – ‘In Transit’ indeed! As we read the preamble about a journey led by A (Captain James Cook) on B (HMS Endeavour) and two cells where groups of letters must be replaced by symbols (Venus and the SUN) we smiled delightedly. We saw Banks, Transit, South to Cape! and Maori people in the early clues and we were convinced. Before even starting to solve, we were expecting to find maybe Whitby, New Zealand and Tahiti somehow in the grid.

Of course I read through the clues to check that Agricola had included a fair dash of alcohol (hopefully some limes too, to combat the scurvy) and I got as far as 5d before finding that appropriate ration of rum that Cook would have distributed to his crew. ‘Real rum I sense (6, two words)’. Sadly the rum was just an anagram indicator for IN ESSE but it will suffice. Cheers, Agricola.

But it wasn’t all smiles. Playfair code-squares come just above jumbles and ‘not real words’ in my list of odious tricks and there it was, filling as much space in the pre-ramble as the genuine instructions. We immediately decided the code phrase had to be HMS ENDAVOUR (omitting the repeated E) and clearly that is not in Chambers or any reputable dictionary, so we were being given the encoding of a couple of clues that we still had to solve (LAYING and UNTRUE). The first four and last four letters of A must be JA ME….CO OK and, intriguingly, encoding that gave us KD SN FV AP. We could even back solve to produce LAYING and UNTRUE, so, for once, the Playfair was a touch less odious.

Ah, but of course there was still a crossword to solve and we had to find those stages on the journey. Yorkshire is very proud of their Whitby man and he and his ship were being included by way of the Playfair. Could Whitby and Tahiti somehow be squeezing into the grid. The clues were generous with those two 15-letter clues yielding quickly, ‘South to Cape! (repeated cry), Banks at first interjected, reasonable for a scientific venture (15)’ We put SO + C then IO IO round B(anks) + LOGICAL giving SOCIOBIOLOGICAL. 44ac was even more generous, ‘Black boxes first held grocer’s nuts (15)’ FIRST HELD GROCERS* giving FLIGHT RECORDERS.

Of course PARVENUS produced VENUS, and TSUNAMIS and SUNFAST gave us the SUN (which was going to stay in its cell while VENUS transited it) and I know that those observations took place in Tahiti in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I had a bit of a problem with the geography of the grid and had to look up a map of Cook’s journey to understand why UK, Cape of Good HOPE, New Zealand and Cape HORN were appearing where they did in Agricola’s grid but I then realized that it was a fair depiction of that journey as long as I sailed from right to left.  Nice one, thank you,  Agricola.

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‘In Transit’ by Agricola

Posted by Encota on 14 Sep 2018

SCAN0517 copy

This week’s puzzle was all about Captain Cook’s trip to Tahiti (and beyond), ostensibly to observe the transit of Venus (i.e. Venus crossing the face of the Sun, from the observer’s point of view) in 1769.  1 across set the scene:

“South to Cape!” (repeated cry), Banks at first interjected, reasonable for a scientific venture (15)

The puzzle included two Capes – HOPE and HORN – which were both rounded to the South on the voyage.  Though for me Banks immediately makes me think of the author Iain (M) Banks, this Banks was Joseph Banks, who was on board HMS ENDEAVOUR, along with Captain JAMES COOK & Co.  Thus this clue worked well as an intro to the puzzle and a clue that parsed as So.+C+IO+B+IO+LOGICAL – at least that was my interpretation!

Some other niceties:

I always like ‘group of’ as used in 20d, when the ‘of’ appears to pretend to be a linkword but one working in the direction disliked by editors (almost) everywhere.  You know the forms: ‘Definition of Wordplay’ is fine, ‘Wordplay of Definition’ is not.  But in 20d’s
Go too far with group of one dominating (7)
it can be confusing until, like in G8, you realise that ‘group of’ can be replaced with the letter G.  So the clue structure here is Wordplay Definition, with no linkwords, parsed as OVERDO (go too far) + G (group of).

And clue 2d’s ‘of’?  It is, of course ‘à‘, as in Thomas à Becket.  Supported by the lack of any requirement for the accent to be used in crosswords.  The clue was:
Marine officer in charge east of Norway (5)
It looks to be the adjectival meaning of OCEAN, i.e. Marine, but at first sight the charade-based wordplay doesn’t seem to deliver all the correct letters.  Until you parse it as OC+E+À+N, that is!

I noticed that the 8th row of the completed grid did contain VA?N.  Might Agricola be going for the Ford Transit Van* pun, with Venus (the symbol) ending up ‘in’ the VAN as VA(Venus_symbol=♀)N?  That would be ‘In Transit, as the Title suggests, wouldn’t it?  I did spend a few moments wondering if the movement of Venus around the Sun might end in this cell.

However, the F wouldn’t appear in the right place in the Playfair-encoded 13d, so a simple ‘horizontal’ transit must be what Agricola requires!

I think.

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

*Aside: is it only me that, whenever seeing Van, is reminded of the R4 comedian Arthur Smith’s version of Kipling’s ‘If”?  Um, yes, probably!

IF, By Arthur Smith 
If you can roll along at a decent pace 
And you find that your rear 
Contains lots of space 
If you have windows at the front 
Yet none at the side 
And offer a smooth unflashy ride 
If you have a red and white flag 
On your bonnet 
And can never imagine doing a ton 
Then yours is the road and everything on it 
And, which is more, you’ll be a van, my son.

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