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Posts Tagged ‘London Traffic Jam’

Listener 4305: Not a Blocked Grid by Lavatch

Posted by Jaguar on 22 August 2014

Home once again, this time for a lengthier break. I was on the train again, but unlike in Jago’s Tour de France puzzle, No 4301, there was to be no speedy solve scribbled on a gap in Friday’s copy of The Times. Instead, I opened up this week’s Listener, saw the name Lavatch, and realised I’d probably need rather more than a quarter of an hour…

I’ve now seen four of Lavatch’s puzzles, including three Listeners. Of those I suppose you could say that I probably have been defeated by two — I may have submitted an entry for his Christmas snowflake puzzle, In Season (No 4221), but I needed rather a lot of help for that one. And his Carte Blanche (No 4252) was also far too tough for me. On the other hand they were both utterly brilliant conceptions, so that while I knew I was in for a tough challenge I was looking forward to it. So this was my chance to take the score to 2-2.

4305 initialNot that Lavatch was going to give up his lead without a fight, it seemed! At least the overlong entries were clearly signposted, but the clashes weren’t and indeed for a long time I had a clash in the wrong place. At last opening the puzzle on Friday night, two hours later (on and off), I’d managed to nail down most of the top-right, but not much else. It took another couple of hours in the morning to get to a 90% full grid, but with that mistaken clash in 11ac (I had Redescribe, don’t ask me why…) I still couldn’t see what was going on. It was the bottom-left corner’s fault…

Then it all clicked. That weird-looking clue at 46ac looked like it needed a J and a K somewhere, but then JACEK isn’t a character in The Odyssey — and good thing too, since I would never have been able to fit anything at 27dn. But finally I found MUJIK (mu + I in JoKe), and the various letter pairs all made sense. “….ON TRAFF?CJAM” was emerging, and of course gave TRAFFIC JAM in somewhere (probably London). And the other letters give something-or-other SOLUTION.

So armed, I could repair the damage of some lazy work at the top of the grid to put REDECORATE at 11ac (Not parsed as Eco in Dr. + something, but as Red + Rate (drive by scolding) about Eco), and the rest followed rather quickly. Oh, and 27dn, that had confused me for ages, turned out to be DISHELMS from Dish + Elm + S… what a deceptive surface!

And at last, all that was left was to resolve all those clashes. But indeed that was rather quick: the “solution” to the “London traffic jam” problem was of course the Congestion Charge, introduced by that universally popular politician Mr. Ken Rivingshone.

And there’s the equaliser! I hope… some super clues, some that are perhaps just a little too tough, quite a few that only made sense once I had the answer by other means. But oh well, another fine puzzle by Lavatch and I’m looking forward to the next one.

4305 final

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Not a Blocked Grid by Lavatch

Posted by shirleycurran on 22 August 2014

LavatchI always appreciate it when the letter count at the end of the clue immediately identifies which solutions are going to behave differently. Of course, although we were told which eleven solutions had to have two letters squeezed into one, we still had to find five clashes. Looking back, on completion of the grid, I smiled when I realized that Lavatch had to include both devices in order to make his double message and the final entry letters fit into the grid – quite a feat.

I believe Lavatch is busy with a young family: I haven’t ever seen him in the happy drink till dawn gang at the Listener Setters’ dinner, so I had to do a careful run through his clues to check that he qualifies for the setters’ tipsy club but the evidence was there. He had ‘Wretched people dropping in for parties (5)’ (INSECTS less IN), ‘Local wanton imbibing foreign booze, shows old piercing (6)’ (RIVING = RIG round VIN) and ‘Glaswegian picks women’s drinks (W + ALES) so all was well.

August 1st is the Swiss national day, with a magnificent firework display as soon as night falls, so we set to with our solve at breakneck speed, and, with a few grunts of pleasure at some of the really subtle and rewarding clues, had the grid almost full before dinner. It became clear, very early on, that the clues with two letters squeezed into one cell were performing that trick in the unchecked cells, so clearly the five clashes were going to be in words where the endgame hadn’t permitted that.

Those clashes were the difficult ones to find and we struggled for a while trying to find a word STEM?S for ‘Incline to fill vessel in Highland springs (6) (to intersect with BRIM – ‘Dash shaking over motorway, almost run over (4) BRI(o) + M) It was the other Numpty who finally pronounced that to ‘stend’ is to bound in Scotland. Another of our Lavatch2clashes!

Of course, the top area of the grid was the tough part to complete as there were three clashes there, but I hit lucky and spotted that the letters we already had in the grid gave ???DON TRAFFIC JAM/ ???ER THE SOLUTION. It didn’t take much imagination to work backwards from that to LONDON. (Surely not another Londoncentric crossword after we ‘minded the gap’ just a week ago!) That gave us our final clues and clashes and I called to the London-based children who were clearing the supper dishes downstairs “What was the solution to the London Traffic Jam? And who was the ‘instigator’?” “Every fool know that! CONGESTION CHARGE – Ken Livingstone’s thing!” responded my son.

I had enjoyed the crossword, finding the clues difficult but compiled with Lavatch’s usual panache but it was his endgame that produced a broad smile. As each of those letters created a real word, or two real words where there were clashes, I was almost excited and remembered why we besotted Listener addicts do these things every Friday. BETHER and TRUSH held me up for a moment but then, of course KEN appeared, just south and east of symmetrical, and all was well.

Great stuff, thank you, Lavatch.

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