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Listener No 4671: Ours by Xanthippe

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 Aug 2021

I don’t think I realised that Xanthippe had such a prolific output with over fifty puzzles, here, there and everywhere. This was his fourteenth Listener, his previous one being no. 4613, Escape, with rooms and riddles, and before that the chandelier episode from Only Fools and Horses (no. 4559, G).

This week, a long preamble with ten lines. Downs were to be entered jumbled and acrosses as definition and letter mixture for one or more clues run together, to be entered thematically. I should have tried the acrosses first, or at least the single word ones like 13 Pursued race kart drifts (5;7). That was relatively straightforward, giving TRACKED — ((ra)CE KART D(rifts))*. (I may even have guessed the entry requirement for that one! [Reading ahead, I don’t think so. Ed.]) As it was, I started on the downs. Although they were to be jumbled, we were given the positions in the answer of the first and last letters in the entry.

I was relieved to get 2, 3, 4 and 7 quickly — KAISER, MAGNESIUM, HOSTEL and TAUREAN. In fact, the first pass through got me well over half the answers and a second pass a couple more.

Time to tackle the downs, and that’s where the fun started! If I’d persevered with 1 Woman was jester’s sidekick, teaching abhorrent person (boy), unusual one behind table at rear (12;4,4,3,5), I might have sussed it all, but the four DLM clues put me off. Even getting 13 TRACKED didn’t set me straight. [Told you. Ed.]

Soon after, however, 14 came to the rescue with Malingerer Erik sulking inside a spiral recess (9;5,4) giving SKULK + APSE and leading to SKULLCAPS. From there it was relatively straightforward putting the sounds of all the words together to form the entry. Going back to 1, we had JESS + TICK + YOU + LATER for GESTICULATOR, and finished up with 32 CISSY + PARRY + TEE for SCISSIPARITY.

All that was left was to find the two writers extracted from one of the letters where the definition and letter mixture part of each across clue meet. That gave {NW} {GA} {LO} {DT} (from 1) {EC} {GR} (from 12) {DR} (13) {RE} {LR} (14), etc. It didn’t take too long to identify WALTER followed closely by DE LA MARE and then JAMES GUNN. From the former, The Listeners was easy to deduce and find in the grid. That was lucky since I found two James Gunns by internetting, and one of them didn’t write the science fiction novel The Listeners.

So finished an entertaining puzzle. Thanks, Xanthippe.

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