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Posts Tagged ‘Kea’

Listener No 4500: What Have We Come To? by Kea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 May 2018

Last year’s Kea puzzle celebrated Chrysanthemum Day and, before that, we had the Dunmow Flitch, a Playfair puzzle. If I remembered correctly, Dunmow was tricky and Chrysanthemum not, so I wondered if we were in for another toughie.

Since 4500 was a relatively significant Listener milestone, I keyed it into my favourite mathematical site, Wolfram Alpha. It told me that 4500 was 1000110010100 in binary, 2²×3²×5³, 12²+66², 30²+60², MMMMD as a Roman number… and an even number, which I knew.

Now, MMMMD looked promising, and a quick check with Tea showed that those letters appeared in order in carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, which translates as Seize the day, put very little trust in tomorrow. Interesting. Tea also gave me the proverb … jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today. Also interesting, but contradictory! Time would tell if either were relevant.

A novel message-revealing device faced us here: we had to take the letter in the clue which preceded the first letter found in the answer, or first letter if that were found in the answer. Getting 5ac within the first two minutes had me up and running: Psychoanalytic test has gold and iron separated by talking (7) with AU and FE soon revealed AUFGABE. However, the drop-down entries were not your everyday words: ASCH (an author), UNWAYED (intractable, obs), FEART (afraid, Scot), ACOLITHS (statues) and ENSKY (put in the sky, Shak).

Three interesting surfaces appealed to me this week: 16ac Smash laboratory, freeing its experimental animal? Lamb’s very badly off (7) (gruesome), 22ac Closet’s function is to suppress a natural affection (6) (back to the ’60s) and 33ac Last longer than Jethro Tull’s vocal parts in items played at gig (6, two words). Loved the last which gave SEE OUT — (J)E(thr)O (T)U(ll) in SET. STORGE must be word of the week though!

Eventually, the message gave Song from Hello! and band in six parallel lines. It didn’t take long to reveal FORTY FIVE HUNDRED TIMES & STATUS QUO in the NW–SE diagonals. This was the final song on their 1973 album Hello!

My head started spinning — should I seize the day, wait for jam tomorrow or keep the status quo?

Good fun, thanks Kea.


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Is there a National Day for Everything*?

Posted by Encota on 29 September 2017

First of all, what a visually elegant puzzle – thank you Kea!  The mix of accurate clueing and vocabulary were a delight.

Next, the Title.  With Saturday 9th September being National Chrysanthemum Day* the publication of this flower-shaped grid with six unclued Chrysanthemums in the puzzle certainly matched the Theme of the Day.  The Unclued flowers were:

  • Button
  • Pompom
  • Korean
  • Corn marigold
  • Shasta daisy, and
  • Yellow ox-eye

It took me a while to tune in to the fact that the clues were presented in Clockwise and Anticlockwise groups.

One of my favourite clues was the ‘hidden’:

Inside submarine pen, the Annapolis is oblivious (10)

… for NEPENTHEAN, very well disguised.

There were some superb other clues too, including the beautifully-surfaced:

  • Germany no longer has strength in beer (7) for ALMAINE and
  • Colours Picasso used regularly for evergreen plants (7) for CLUSIAS

Probably in the easiest third of Listener puzzles based on the year to date, no doubt intentionally.

In summary: great puzzle – loved it!

Tim / Encota

* I did test my there’s a National <insert subject here> Day for everything theory.   I needed something random to try.  I looked around my study desk for inspiration.  I know, how about National Paper Clip Day?  Auntie Google’s reply?  May 29th.  Good grief!!!

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Theme of the Day by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 September 2017

What a beautiful grid – it’s a flower. Hang on a minute, isn’t tomorrow the ninth day of the ninth month? Chrysanthemum Day in Japan? A quick check with Wiki and we have the theme before entering our first solution. Kiku no Sekku, Wiki tells me, one of the five ancient sacred festivals of Japan. My pleasure is doubled when I see that the setter is Kea. He set my all-time favourite Listener crossword, ‘Admission’, the one that had the cherry tree that the juvenile George Washington is said to have chopped with his hatchet. I won’t be able to grumble about the quality of any of the clues this week!

There’s no way one of the editors can be excluded from the Listener setters’ boozy outfit either, but Kea gives me no cause for concern; ‘Dry run barring prisons (4)’ doesn’t sound too auspicious until I realize that that gives BUT around R(un) so we are celebrating the chrysanthemums with champagne. I have seen Kea, more often with a glass of beer in his hand, and, sure enough, ‘Germany no longer has strength in beer (6)’ proves to be not a comment on the weak quality of Germany’s favourite drink but MAIN in ALE, ALMAINE, an old word for Germany. So cheers, Kea, see you at the bar in Paris.

I haven’t enjoyed solving a Listener crossword so much for ages. Why? Because there is no gimmick – no misprint, jumble, missing letter from the wordplay, extra letter in the clue or any other of those tiresome thingumajiggies. Once we have seen that the clues are separated into ‘Clockwise’ and ‘Anticlockwise’, (which tokk us a moment – the alternative was rather fearsome to imagine!) this is a steady solve with smiles along the way.

‘Hunky beast associated with vinegar (9)’ has us resorting to Chambers; COPACETIC fits the cells that are already half completed and the BRB tells us that it means ‘excellent’ so we work out that ‘beast’ must be the COP bit and the ‘associated with vinegar’ not more leftovers from the boozy club but the ACETIC bit.

We have known from the start that the unclued  entries are associated with the theme and CORN MARIGOLD quickly appears, shortly followed by SHASTA DAISY, YELLOW OX-EYE and BUTTON, with ?OREAN prompting us to select KOREAN since we know that the chrysanthemum is celebrated in Korea. We are left with just one cell to fill and Kea is not going to give us everything on a plate (remember that TABU/TAPU event! Beware!) The ODE confirms 15, we were told and the ODE gives us a choice of POMPON or POMPOM.

Sly,  eh? Rather than obliging us to clumsily write CHRYSANTHEMUM below the grid, Kea is telling us to form the word from the letters in the asterisked cells thus fixing that final letter as M. A lovely final touch.

Did I say final? Well, I scoured the grid for Poat’s HARE and found a couple of HEARs as well as ‘Hear again’ in the clues but surely Kea wouldn’t descend to such subterfuges. Then I spotted that DOE cavorting with one of the HEARs so all is well.

No hare drawings from me this week – instead here’s a hare who came to me via Kea. He’s the one who was spotted at Dublin Airport apparently smoking a cigarette.

Hare was spotted having a cigarette

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Listener No 4467: Theme of the Day by Kea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 29 September 2017

Kea’s last Listener was just over a year ago with his Dunmow Flitch based puzzle The Bard’s Coupling. (For those of you who tackle the EV, he had a fun puzzle at the beginning of this month with Something Wrong.) Here he seemed to be taking a leaf (pardon the pun) out of Dipper’s book with a gardening-based theme, the grid being in the shape of a flower.

But what flower? Carnation and chrysanthemum came to mind, but a bit of googling revealed that it could be a dahlia. I was not in my comfort zone here, but I hoped that the unclued thematic entries wouldn’t take too long to deduce. We had a bit of spoon-feeding as well in that all entries went inwards, with clues grouped under Clockwise and Anticlockwise.

In general, the clues were fairly forgiving. For example, 5ac Inside submarine pen, the Annapolis is oblivious (10) was a generous hidden, and 7ac Natty ball requires dressing without shame (9) a generous anagram.

Eventually, the unclued flowers came through, 17 being my first with Y•L••WOXE•• leading to YELLOW OX-EYE. This is defined under ox-eye in Chambers and given as “the corn marigold”. That in turn gave “Chrysanthemum segetum” (obviously) and finally revealed the flower that we were celebrating, 9th September being Chrysanthemum Day. This is observed in countries such as China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.

All in all, less than two hours to solve this one, so thanks to Kea for a gentle week.

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The Bard’s Coupling; Dunmow Flitch by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 July 2016

Kea Dunmow Flitch 001Oh no! That was our initial reaction when that horrid little Playfair square appeared at the right of the grid, though we couldn’t fault the grid with its dual symmetry (and, as a fellow solver pointed out to me later, it was pangrammatic – that’s a sign of the master and a fair hint that we are dealing, here, with one of the stars) Oh no, no, no. It got worse. there was not just one Playfair code in use but a second one ‘another Playfair code phrase that is an anagram of The Bard’s Coupling and provides a hint to the theme’.

Of course, we feed that into an anagram solver and get … precisely nothing. This looks ominous, as we are not going to be able to solve those eight symmetrically placed clues that are enciphered or even enter any of the other solutions to these paired difficult clues until we manage to solve two or three that intersect.

Well, whoever this demon setter is, I can maybe confirm that he retains his ticket for the Listener setters’ boozy do (after all, I could hardly expel this setter could I?) but consternation. I find a drug fix,  ‘…with babes during drug fix: I’m thinking “scrubby” (DUMOSE) and ‘substance’ ‘On account of substance on next page’ (OVER + LEAF), some bananas, ‘Little Welsh girl gnawed bananas’ (GWENDA) but not much wine or even beer. Then he redeems himself when we solve ‘…book sack for lags in Barlinnie’ (which we decide has to be laRK in Barlinnie) giving us GAL + RAVAGE. And what is that? Chambers tells us that it is a ‘noisy frolic’/ ‘riotous merrymaking’. Cheers ‘Mr Whoever you are’, see you at the bar!

Solving was tough to say the least.  GWENDA, GNUS, FUTONS, ACID, PACA and HAYLEY (I didn’t much like that clue) appeared fairly quickly, but, of course, they had to be enciphered so we couldn’t enter them and the last two of that set of eight single clues were the last two we solved. ‘Blonde bombshell backs having a cut’ DORSA less A giving us DORS. (I wonder how many younger solvers have heard of Diana Dors – though, of course, if you feed ‘Blonde bombshell’ into Wiki, she leaps to the forefront.) Then ‘Ordinary rector and Anglicans are boring’ PIE + R + CE. The definition puzzled us there and I wasn’t aware that PIE could be ordinary.

Fortunately we were able to begin a grid fill with HELLWARDS intersecting with COAGULASE and GALRAVAGE and we were away. Some of the easier clues now peopled our grid: SHMO, VESPER, DIESEL, SWORDS, HEELBONE, FLEAMS and we were slowly able to build up sets of pairs of letter with which to construct the ‘other’ Playfair code that anagrammed to The Bard’s Coupling (with, of course, the letters that don’t appear there forming the last nine letters of the Playfair square). Just a hint of a theme emerged when that gave DUPLE BACON RIGHTS, and that was confirmed when VERULAMIAN appeared rising in the secondary diagonal.

Who he? I ask the knowledgeable Numpty and learn that that is ‘of or relating to St Albans or Francis Bacon. Baron Verulam, Viscount St Albans (1561 – 1626)’ “Everybody knows that” he says scornfully. A red herring here! I jump to the conclusion that our unknown setter must be Trev – Mr Green of St Albans.

However, the clues are there. Bacon is, in some way, our theme and here I strike lucky. We have to find the keyword in order to complete the enciphering of FUTONS and so on. Of course I resort to an on-line Playfair Cipher, I need only feed in one set of paired letters DO leading to UD in the Qinapalus tool and I am given a string of words from which DUNMOW FLITCH leaps out at me.

The Dunmow Flitch is a familiar concept and vaguely ties in with the ‘Duple Bacon Rights’ of the original key phrase and more so with VERULAMIAN. I excitedly attempt to encipher FUTONS using DUNMOW FLITCH BY TREV but, of course, immediately realize that TREV cannot be our culprit as that would give two Ts. There are only two available vowels (since U O I and Y are already used) Now which setter has a short pseudonym with the letters EA? You don’t need to go to Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database to work that one out. Great setting whoever you are! Thanks.

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