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Posts Tagged ‘Merlin’

L4611: ’24 Across’ by Merlin

Posted by Encota on 3 Jul 2020

What a cheerful theme! And spotting YELLOW SUBMARINE and CHICKEN SANDWICH as being ‘cryptically equivalent 15-letter phrases’ – excellent!

Here’s my attempt …

The hidden message, with my added punctuation, spells out:
“Does 8d [Eleanor Rigby] give hint to theme? The reverse!”

And when Yellow Submarine was published as a single in 1966 the flip-side was of course Eleanor Rigby.

I’m assuming that the pun in the Preamble saying that the lines – which reveal FILM – reveal something that could cover either phrase. A chicken sandwich in clingfilm & Yellow Submarine is a film – I think that covers it …

My last one in was RNLI at 29ac. The uncorrected clue read:

Who may save from sales return limited stocks (4)

I’d spotted the definition was ‘Who may save from gales’ by that stage but it still took me far too long to read ‘stocks’ as a hidden indicator and see ‘retuRN LImited’. D’oh!

Cheers all & keep looking after yourselves,

Tim / Encota


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24 Across by Merlin

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 Jul 2020

This was one of those puzzles where the endgame took us just about as long as the grid fill. The clues were generous, but they needed to be as some, to answers like THECLA , KILKENNY, ETHYLENE. OCKHAM and ADAM had two or even three misprints in them. Still, a pattern quickly emerged  placing those misprints in an 8 X 8 square in the centre of the grid, so we knew where we were hunting for them.

Of course I didn’t forget to check that Merlin earns his seat amongst the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite (as I see that he hasn’t compiled a puzzle for eight years) but he left me in no doubt. ‘Second drink knocked back – local dram (4)’.  We already had the G of RECOGNISANCE in place so GINS had to be the answer but we also needed a misprint and needed Chambers to tell us that a SNIG is a ‘drag’ locally.

Not far below, we found ‘Wallop barrel not used for full round (4)’. Again the W corrected misprint changed the ‘Wallop’ (that’s beer isn’t it?) to wallow and when the barrel wasn’t used we were left with just the ROLL of a barrel roll (a full round), but the intention was there – Cheers, Merlin.

A generous spread of anagrams led us fairly quickly to the theme and we found ELEANOR RIGBY at EIGHT DOWN. ‘Ecstasy taken by bleary Ringo ruined his maths number (12, two words)’ {BLEARY RINGO E}* had to be a number written by his matEs, Paul and John.  DOES EIGHT DOWN GIVE HINT TO THE THEME? was the question that emerged, and when we were told it was THE REVERSE, I had a vague memory that YELLOW SUBMARINE (of which we see a model in Liverpool’s John Lennon airport) was the flip side of the record (or was poor old Eleanor the flip side? It sounds as though the editors are continuing the isolation theme that has appeared in the Listener during Covid19 with nobody even going to the old maid’s funeral).

With a full grid and after a break for supper, the other Numpty left me struggling with the 14 clashes and a putative I, to work out what the other phrase could be. I do often wonder what solvers who do not have the wonderful TEA or some computer means of resolving anagrams do with just pencil and paper in such situations.

CHICKEN SANDWICH earned a broad smile, (well, it is ‘cryptically equivalent to a yellow submarine, isn’t it?) as did the phrase that the ten lines we had to draw in four separate groups would reveal something that could ‘cover’ either phrase. Indeed, despite the growing resistance to the use of plastic, cling FILM still covers any chicken sandwich that we buy (or ROLL, as in 24ac) – the title now made sense.

FILM also ‘covers’ the phrase YELLOW SUBMARINE. I liked the thematic unity of this compilation. Many thanks to Merlin.

We are, of course, happy crossworders as it has now been announced that the Enigmatic Variations series of advanced thematic cryptic crosswords is not coming to an end at the end of August (see Encota’s comments and hilarious anagrams about five posts down). If you are a keen Listener solver (and, like me, have already done all you can in the Magpie) there is always the Inquisitor in the I on Saturday, then the EV in the Sunday Telegraph – thoroughly recommended – and please comment on them if you can, as it was the ‘apparent’ lack of solver interest that almost sealed the EV’s fate.


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Listener No 4611: 24 Across by Merlin

Posted by Dave Hennings on 3 Jul 2020

Oh dear, it was Merlin week again! It had been a long time since his last puzzle back in 2012. That was based on Euler and the Königsberg bridge (No 4209, City Crossing Tour) and, according to my annual stats for that year, was a fail — despite ages on the endgame. A few years before that in 2006, I vividly remember how ye Olde Treasure Hunt, based on Sherlock Holmes and The Musgrave Ritual, also caused me grief. I hoped for better luck [This is the Listener! Ed.] this week.

There were clashes in 14 cells, which, “along with one other (to be determined)” needed to be left blank. I hoped that it wouldn’t need too much determination. The rest of the preamble sounded quite tricky with lines to be drawn, two 15-letter phrases being revealed and a question and answer relating to one of the phrases, the other of which needed to go under the grid. Lawks!

1ac was a nice start What goes in Fort? Group of soldiers, English not American (6), with Fort being a misprint for Ford. Unfortunately, PETROL had to wait to be solved before being entered. Luckily, 7ac Change chemical firm in matter of law (5) came to the rescue with firm for form.

A few more across clues came through in the first pass, but the downs started well with ETTIN, THECLA (solved that somewhere else the day before!), ADEEM, CLERIC, TYPICAL and WENS. All those enable OTHER-WORLDLY to be slotted in at 12ac and I was getting happier.

My favourite clues were 6dn Attack Attach island cut off from state (7) for CONNECT [CONNECTICUT – I – CUT] and of course Ecstasy taken by bleary Ringo ruined his maths’ mates’ number (12, two words) [E in (BLEARY RINGO)*] giving ELEANOR RIGBY. The trickiest for me was the thematic 24ac Wallop barrel not used for full round (4) where I kept trying to add a B or BL somewhere before realising that BARREL ROLL – BARREL was the ROLL I was looking for.

On to the endgame, and the Q&A spelt by the corrected misprints was Does eight down give hint to theme? Reverse. Thanks for that, Merlin!

So could I make anything of the ten lines somehow in four groups? “No” was the answer to that question, partly due to that pesky letter that wasn’t a clash. So I took to googling ‘Eleanor Rigby’, et voilà, it was a song from the film Yellow Submarine. Identifying that in the clashes enabled CHICKEN SANDWICH to pop out from the unused clashes.

Thus we had YELLOW = CHICKEN and SUBMARINE = SANDWICH. The shape that came from those phrases was FILM, which referred to both the movie and the plastic wrapping. Discarding the answer that was 8dn related, I wrote the food item in the space under the grid. Personally, I think the corrected misprints should have given Does twenty-four across give hint to theme? Yes.

What a lot came together neatly, and hopefully I got home error-free. Thanks, Merlin.

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City Crossing Tour by Merlin

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 Oct 2012

This was one of those rare occasions when we knew where we were heading   even before the very first solution was slotted in (and that was the familiar word ULNA, ‘Bone left in possession of girl (4)’. That belongs with TSETSE, ANT, MERI and co. in the ‘Stop me if you’ve heard this one before’ category, doesn’t it?) The other numpty said, “This must be Euler’s seven bridges of Königsberg problem – but he proved that there was no solution to that, so perhaps we should stop right now!”

Of course we continued, with the advantage that a lot of solvers must have shared, of having a good idea what the down clue misprints were going to produce. However, some of those were the last ones we understood. Towards the end of our solve, we needed the B and E of Königsberg and had only ‘Doctor in agreement with thirst to slake (4)’ as the potential B. ADRY gave us a poetic word for thirst, so we decided the misprint had to be Blake for Slake. Now that really is working backwards!

SRADDHA had to be an anagram of ‘Rash dad’ – ‘Rash Dad could make offering to forefather (7)’ in the following clue, so our missing E had to come out of ‘Such as Clegg’s maths in old grammar school initially’ (7) (DONNATS). I had completed and sent my entry before a friend explained to me that Clegg appears in ‘The Last of the Summer Wine”. I wonder how many other people living overseas were stymied by that solution!

Happily, the misprints in the across clues were more generous, alerting us, in good time, that we were to SHADE RIVER BLUE. Of course there is always a numpty red herring or two, so I immediately began to hunt for the Pregel or some modern Russian version of it, but it was not to be, and, in any case, we needed a fairly extensive river that had to circle round the two islands of the classic problem.

Lucky finds of DUTCH AUCTIONS, REVIVOR, REVERIST, SRADDHA, SHAVUOTH, TARLATAN and PALSTAFF (just a few more words to innocently drop into dinnertime conversation this week) had helped us towards a fairly speedy grid fill and we were heartily reassured to see that Merlin shared the usual Listener setters’ love of the hard stuff, with a healthy number of tipply clues (‘Brewery’s by-product, one limited in stuff to be fermented’ (8), giving us MUST around LTD – MALTDUST, ‘Brandy perhaps, grounds for poet’s getting drunk’ (6) MARL + ON – though I don’t really understand the boozy reference – why the ON? ‘This pub in south-east is type from posh area’ (4) Interesting that one, as Merlin has split the hyphenated ‘south-east’ to give himself an S and an E to wrap round (S)LOAN(E) and finally, that ‘Doctor in agreement with thirst to slake?’ (4) AY around DR = ADRY according to Blake, we suppose).

There we were with a full grid and an astonishingly clever reconstruction of the Königsberg of Euler’s day that echoed the map that Google produced. Of course I always head there at once: the librarian in our little French commune would be somewhat challenged if I turned up there to do my hunt. Now we understood why we had those funny new words with all the Rs in them, REVERIST, VAIRY, REVIVOR and RORIER. I can just imagine Merlin’s compiler joy when he managed to find those to produce the bed of his river. Of course we coloured all the letters of R I V E R blue and hunted for bridges.

There they were: TAY, LONDON, FOOT, BAY, PONTOON, HUMPBACK and TOLL. I am stupid enough, after all these centuries, to imagine that Euler might have miscalculated, so, of course, I fiddled for a few pointless minutes attempting to escape from some remote area of Königsberg – was there a hidden airstrip, stilts, a wet suit, a ferry or something that would allow a leap from one side to the other of the grid? Of course, the other numpty is the scientific one. “Euler demonstrated that the addition of a bridge would solve the puzzle – there has to be another bridge!” SEA BRIDGE? It is there, but, sadly, it provides a fourth way off the island, only compounding the problem but EUREKA – sneaky Merlin has offered us an escape route. A TUNNEL!

We weren’t home and dry yet. I had pencilled routes all over my grid and inevitably ended up crossing my own tracks, so I handed over to the other numpty who finally produced the winning route.

What an impressive compilation. Thank you Merlin!

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Knight’s Move by Merlin

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 Mar 2012

“Oh no! Not knights’ moves again!” was our first reaction. Do we really have three days to spare? Sabre gave us our longest solve ever last year and we are still smarting.

We set to anyway and peace was quickly restored as one lovely clue after another yielded its secret. AHAB went in first; ‘Captain of whaler a hardy seaman (4)’ producing A H(ard) + AB and an extra Y. FL (Liechtenstein) is just over at the other side of Switzerland (I even worked there once, in Malbun, a delightful little ski resort) and that fitted with ATTEST to give FLATTEST ‘Must even Liechtenstein give evidence (8)’, so we had an O and a U when MUST changed to MOST.

The three different ways of producing extra letters gave Merlin lots of diverting ways to write clues and we thoroughly enjoyed solving this crossword. We must have been lucky, as the words YOU MAY KNOW quickly appeared and one numpty began to sing some song about ‘You may know by the clothes I wear that I’m a cowboy’. It was difficult to persuade him, even when ‘ALACRITY’ appeared in the down clue extra letters, that we were more likely to be in Shakespeare territory with a very famous huge knight.

Having ‘You may know by my size that I have a kind of alacrity in sinking’ as the phrase was a great help, and, in usual numpty style, we worked backwards, easily spotting the source of the remaining extra letters and had a full grid with a distraught (anagrammed) FALSTAFF in the BUCKBASKET where the Merry Wives bestowed him before we took a break for dinner.

No problems? Well not many. We liked the way the extra N could be produced by BAG around SKIN or BANG around SKI for BASKING in ‘Report about skin getting exposed to sun (7)’. As usual I learnt a sprinkling of new words, TAGLIONIS (coats indeed! They sound more like some exotic pasta), TEKTITE and the unusual LABILE, meaning ‘apt to change’. Of course I was reassured that Merlin shared the usual Listener setter oenophilia with ‘SmAll beer? Stop stocking fine cask (8)’ giving PIN in HALT – HALFPINT, and a ‘college drunk mentioned’ (to give Tech + tight = TEKTITE).

Our only problem came when, after dinner, we decided to throw Falstaff into the River Thames and I became mildly troubled by the words of the preamble.  We had to ‘replace him, yet more distraught … overwriting existing letters to make more new words’. It wasn’t difficult to see that LFAF/AFTS would convert ANGER to ANGEL, OTTERS to AFTERS, ENGRAINS to ENGRAFTS, SUMMON to SUMMAT and HAJI to HAFF, but what does OVERWRITING mean?

Chambers offers alternatives. One can ‘superscribe’, ‘cover over with writing or other writing’, or ‘type over and replace (existing characters)’. It seems to be that there are two possibilities there. Do we leave the original characters visible underneath? Hmmm! It is so often the preambles rather than the actual solving that give cause for doubt. It seems to me that either way of resolving the problem would be justifiable so I shelved my doubts and we left Falstaff at the bottom of the river after about two hours of very enjoyable solving. Many thanks to Merlin.

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