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Posts Tagged ‘Listener anniversary’

Progress Report by Tibea

Posted by shirleycurran on 31 Jan 2020

I had forgotten that Tibea was a combination of Tiburon and Kea (and we saw Tiburon just three weeks ago with that lovely little tangram hare didn’t we? (Ed. “Surely you mean Christmas tree?”) Had I remembered earlier, the title would have been an excellent prompt about the theme and the preamble a real give-away. We had to go back three decades or so, that takes us to January 1990 and, of course, with about 520 Listener crosswords in a decade, that’s over a thousand and a half Listener crosswords. Ye Gods! We numpties have been seriously solving them for around thirteen years and probably average around five hours – for the two of us – that comes to approaching 7000 man hours. “Get a life!” I hear you say.

“Do we really want to continue doing this?” said the other Numpty as we read the preamble with more than a degree of consternation. We learned that two blocks of 4×4 letters were going to give us a message read row by row and ‘In clues for the affected entries, the wordplay leads to the mutilated form, and the definitions have been randomly exchanged among these 18 clues’. That word ‘among’ was worrying (not even ‘between’) – randomly 18 definitions were not going to match their wordplay and we had to enter 18 solutions somewhere in the grid using wordplay only.

The 4x4s were symmetrically opposite, so we knew, when the top right-hand corner of the grid filled up with RETROVERT, OILPAN, THALAMI, EXPO, OSIER and IGNITION, that we could look for normal entries in the bottom left, SIDEARMER, CRISIS, LAVAGE, GURAMI, POPADOM and those 4×4 squares had to be in the other two corners.

That was the real test – making wordplay like ‘Gums open wide with wine knocked back (7)’ into YAWN + RED reversed – DERNWAY – not even a real word! (Ah yes, but I hadn’t forgotten to check the two editors’ right to remain in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit – not as if they could be expelled from it – and they had already been ‘Concerned with non-drinker outside Rover’s Return (9)’ in the very first lovely clue, producing RE + ROVER< in TT + RETROVERT. Cheers, Tibea!)

We were lucky in that sussing the ‘six-word announcement’ cut short our agony. LAST OF LINE UNDERNEATH THIS MASTHEAD. “Surely that’s referring to the moment the Listener was taken over by the new ‘masthead’, The Times?” I said, and he went off to finish cooking dinner and prepare the G and Ts, while I performed the relatively easy task of sorting those 32 letters into new places according to the 18 definitions (Silky cotton = VELVERET, sure to work = FAILSAFE, Fine shawl = PASHMINA, Gums = ANIMES and so on). That was rendered easier too, by the message that began to appear: THOUSAND AND A HALF THE TIMES LISTENER. What a stunning feat of construction! Many thanks to Tibea.

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Vive la Différence by Kevin

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 Jun 2010

The numpty team does like it when the clues to words that go right down the middle and the lengthy ones along the top and bottom of a crossword are easy to solve, as was the case with Kevin’s easy anagram for INTERTRAFFIC (Reciprocal dealings are cancelled when certain tariff changes), his TRINITY TERM (Trustee adjusted short trying time for court session period) and SUPERSCRIPT  (Waving stirrup cup’s less socially acceptable, masking Earl’s elevated character).

Clearly we were in for a relatively easy ride after last week’s numerical slog. I can’t say often enough what a pleasure it is for newer solvers to occasionally have a Listener crossword that boosts our confidence – and this one did. Words simply slotted into place, one by one, with not a single one that would really stop conversation dead. Even GLAIKIT, a lovely expressive northern word (except that we had to spell it GLAIKET) and RHYTINA – we gossip about those all day long.

We were left with one or two gaps. I believe GREW at 32 dn (Became dull with passing year) caused friends a lot of head-scratching, but, as usual, being poor at wordplay played into our hands. It seemed perfectly obvious to me that we had ‘grey’ for dull, losing its Y which passed away or perhaps was surpassed by the W of ‘with’ to give us GREW.

KREESE (Endeavour returned conserving last of her energy for a cutter) gave me more trouble, as CREESE, FRAISE and a few other words seemed possible but I finally sorted out the wordplay – ‘seek’ returned, conserving, or holding E (energy) and the last letter of ‘her’. That ‘cutter’ was the sneaky trick, especially as we had been playing with the idea of MAYFLOWER, for the ‘vessel’ in the clue before – sneaky again! Of course it was JAYWALKER (I make reckless crossings, bobbing weakly in vessel).

One more little hitch; 30 dn. AJAR had to be the solution to ‘Just about to advance conflict’ but why? What a clever clue! A door that is ajar is ‘just about to’! And we were there!

No red herrings? Of course there were. I hate those mathematical things and assumed that the difference between an across and a down letter must be precisely that – so, if the across letter were Y (PROVOSTRY) and the down letter M (YAMA), I would be finding the difference between 25 and 39 (M next time round). Well that’s 14. You can imagine what comical words I produced before realizing what a simple task we had been given. TIMES crossed TIMES, so we assumed we had a cross word and a rather rudimentary 3 superscript appeared formed by the LISTENER letters. X cubed is a thousand (10 x 10 x 10). What sort of millenium were we dealing with?

There was the answer. It seems the Times has been hosting the Listener crossword since number 3089.  Thank you Kevin – You gave us a Friday finish that we appreciated enormously. (Especially as we were not yet aware of it but AZED’s 1984 was to be a tough challenge).  Who could resist colouring in the X and the 3, even if we were not instructed to do that?

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