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Posts Tagged ‘Mad Tom’s Traps’

‘Mad Tom’s Traps’ by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Encota on 23 Mar 2018

A setter with possible initials of HS and who had previously created a puzzle based on the HS2 train from London to Birmingham.  I had a strong hunch this puzzle would be some form of extension to HS2 – and so it soon proved.


With a Title containing ‘mad’ it would most likely involve a jumble of the fodder ‘TOM’S TRAPS.  Once it was clear this was TRAM STOPS, once simply had to align the map of the UK Midlands Metro Extension Programme (above) with the grid.  Noting that it includes HS2 (from his 2017 Listener puzzle) at its centre (& stage right) and those multiple TRAM STOPS marked with blue Os.  Simply line up the Os with those Os in the completed grid and Game Over.

OK, so I haven’t actually checked this final stage out – but it has got to be right? Hasn’t it??

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

2018-03-03 14.07.36 copy

PS More seriously, what a great puzzle, with such a huge level of thematic content!  Many thanks Hedge-sparrow.  With all those fluttering things around I was almost tempted to claim it was all based on the last line of Robert Graves’ poem, ‘Leaving The Rest Unsaid’ – but that would just have been silly, wouldn’t it …


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Mad Tom’s Traps by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Mar 2018

“What a lovely short pre-ramble” said the other Numpty and added, “Looks as though this might be about butterflies if he’s rambling amongst the wild summer flowers”. I was too busy commenting with disbelief on Hedge-sparrow’s amazing count of alcoholic clues. I suppose that with the setters’ dinner in Paris only a couple of weeks away, he’s getting ready to prop up the bar – but what an appalling mixture of drinks!

‘Strength of Perth’s Aussie plonk mostly makes a terrible weapon (10, 2 words)’  gave us FUSION for the Scottish strength, then BOMB(o) for most of the Aussie plonk so we had our terrible weapon. (I instructed in an Aussie ski resort, Mt Buller, for four seasons and can remember lugging boxes of the bombo up the icy slopes to our flat after the lifts closed, quite a terrible weapon some of it was!)

‘Going – gone? Knock back this vintage Norwich ale to get some of that (4)’ There’s NOGG reversed in that lovely clue. But what is it the Germans say? ‘Bier auf Wein, dass lass’ sein: Wein auf Bier dass rat’ ich Dir. I believe that advises us not to start with the wine then go on to the beer.

‘Cut consumption of wine (cut by half) (5)’ Gave us TB then ONE – that sounded promising but then ‘Drinks, spending day in the lowlands (4)’ told us to remove D from DALES and Hedge-sparrow was back on the ALES. It got worse, ‘Overlooking loch, recall Scottish island with a bit of a dram (4)’ Gave A MULL losing that L and we found that a LUMA is a bit of a dram in Armenian currency. So he’s into the whisky now. Then ‘Wilhelm’s blood left in cask (4)’ put an L into BUT giving BLUT (and no doubt back on the ale in that cask!) Next comes absinthe! ‘Bleating elderly couple swallowing a spot of absinthe (6)’ We found that a MING is archaic for couple and A A(bsinthe) made that into MAAING. ‘Head north on the sea (6)’ produced N + OGGIN. That NOGGIN could be wine or ale, and the whole alcoholic orgy finished with ‘Reach European port? (4)’ WIN + E. What is there to say? Cheers, Hedge-sparrow. I am amazed he was sober enough to produce such a delightful compilation after that binge!

But it was a delightful compilation with clues that had fine, sometimes deceptive, surface readings that steadily led us to a full grid with thirteen clashes obligingly appearing and an unambiguous instruction in the preamble telling us how to deal with those. In any case, it was fairly evident which letters had to be extracted, as in every case, we were left with real words in both the down and the across answer. That was a lovely achievement, especially as the ‘wild’ or anagrammed SUMMER FLOWERS were being trampled and the remaining letters TLDOTRPPSIEIE gave us our rambling hunter. – Oh no, surprise, surprise, no wonder there were all those alcohol references, they are all in it together: it’s an EDITORS’ TIPPLE so I suppose I am going to find empty bottles scattered all over the grid.

It was not to be, so I tried again and found a more satisfactory LEPIDOPTERIST.

We had to find MAD TOM’S TRAPS scattered around the grid (12 letters of course) and replace them with ‘the hunter’s usual equipment (two words – obviously the 12 letters of BUTTERFLY NET, though I had, by this time sorted out my usual equipment, a rather dated set of reference books that were all rather insular. Can you believe it, there wasn’t a BUGONG or a SILVER-Y in any of them! Chambers and Mrs Bradford, of course, came to the rescue and I was aided by the fact that I was soon left with only a couple of Ts and an S that had to be changed to an E an L and a Y.

I had my twelve victims, ORANGE TIP, RINGLET, ELFIN, LUNA, OWLET, BURNET, EGGER, BUGONG, GATEKEEPER, SILVER-Y, BLUE and LAPPET and could only marvel that Hedge-sparrow had managed to fit so much into his grid, with twenty-five of the original letters changing in a symmetrical grid, all in two series of moves in such a thematic way. Superb, thanks.

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Listener No 4492: Mad Tom’s Traps by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 Mar 2018

Last year’s H-s puzzle had HS2 running through the grid, much to his disappointment. It looked as though someone called Mad Tom would be causing him grief this week. I hoped that he wouldn’t do the same to me.

Clashes would need resolving in 13 cells. Eventually, a hunter, his equipment, some wild summer flowers and potential quarries would need to be sorted out — somehow!

Progress in the early stages was fairly quick. This was followed by a slightly slower stretch of solving and then another spurt. The last two clues took an age to resolve, mainly because they involved clashes that had me befuddled for far too long. I won’t reveal which ones they were — oh, OK, they were 20dn and 42dn.

The endgame now had to be tackled. It was fairly obvious that those letters forming SUMMER FLOWERS had to be dropped from the clashes to be replaced by a ‘rambling hunter’ The letters that I was left with were DOTIPERSIPLET. Because I sometimes like to cause myself maximum discomfort, I didn’t resort to an anagram helper, but tried my usual doodling to jog the little grey cells.

I SPOTTED PERIL was the first anagram I stumbled on, followed by I’D STOP REPTILE. A few more abortive attempts and I had PI DO PI SETTLER, and this somehow enabled me to spot LEPIDOPTERIST (don’t ask me how). It didn’t take much longer to guess that his ‘usual equipment’ was BUTTERFLY NET.

So, MAD TOM’S TRAPS had to be replaced by the net to catch 12 potential quarries. Well, there were lots of places that the first set of letters were scattered around the grid. It was seeing that GAMEKEEPER could become GATEKEEPER that got me on the right track. Chambers told me that it was ‘any of several large butterflies’.

So it looked as though we would end up with a dozen lepidopterous creatures in the final grid. All I had to do was find them! Again, I decided on a bit of masochism and shunned Mrs Bradford. It was very enjoyable weeding out the butterflies and moths such as the ORANGE TIP and SILVER-Y and that took me about 20 minutes. Who said ‘life’s too short’? Not I.

Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Hedge-sparrow. Lots going on from start to finish.

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