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Posts Tagged ‘Pilcrow’

G & S by Pilcrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 January 2017

pilcrow-001Carte blanche with just the bars in it. Are we going to convert this into a set of fancy Christmas decorations or have Rudolph, Dasher, Donner and Blitzen and all that lot prancing round our final grid? We expect something Christmassy for the Christmas weekend. With that in mind, I do that essential check to see whether Pilcrow is imbibing the Listener Christmas spirit It’s a fairly dry run to begin with: I spot some BOVRIL, ‘[Intriguing] extract from first half of dance entertaining Queen Victoria (6)’ BOL(ero) around VRI, and tease out PORTER from ‘Songwriter [refuses] liquor (6)’ (double definition) but then realize that Pilcrow is benefiting from a hidden bar, ‘Missing opening of Thespis, drag oneself along to find [hidden] bar (4)’ (TRAIL less T(hespis) – so all is well. Cheers, Pilcrow.

These are very generous clues, and, since we have colour-coded the solution lengths and matched them to the spaces in the grid, we know that we are hunting for a 10,7 couple of solutions that will spell out our song title of four words.

Our usual weakness is spotting extra words in grids but only one of these escapes us. Later, back-solving, we have to work out why ‘chamber’ is the extra word in ‘Overtures of Pirates and Iolanthe begin-old fashioned piped [chamber] music (7)’ giving P I + BROCH.

However, even though the first 20 clues we solve produce lots of encouraging Vs and Bs, we have half the solutions before a lucky intersection of PIBROCH and OBVERSE allows us to start our grid fill. That was a good hour of solving but things speed up now and soon we have a full grid (and have to take a dinner break with storm Barbara battering on the windows).


Golden Hare hurtling down column three

I was expecting the end game to be laborious but after listing those first and last letters of just a few clues in conventional order, I smile happily. JOHN CAGE’S FOUR MINUTES THIRTY THREE SECONDS,  I am told. I don’t need to go to the Internet to know what that is telling me. Didn’t Cage instruct his musicians to play no notes? Nature’s sounds would be music enough?

Quite a few red herrings weren’t there? We found almost too many Gilbert and Sullivan prompts to be taken in, then expected another Simon and Garfunkel hit – say a ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ to be our theme but we were a bit more (or less?) highbrow than either of those with Cage.

I am left with ERASE EVERYTHING BUT THE NOTES IN CAGE’S PIECE. Am I really being told to send an empty grid or am I to leave ‘THE SOUND OF SILENCE’? Clearly the editors foresaw my dilemma, or Pilcrow did, since the preamble says very clearly that ‘the solver must alter all 40 entries to form the final submission’. Well, I can hear (not HARE but yes, the golden HARE is there in a straight line racing down column three!) my friends grumbling about having to send an empty grid but I liked it. Thank you, Pilcrow.


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‘G & S’ by Pilcrow

Posted by Encota on 13 January 2017

A classic Listener!  Almost in the ‘elaborate hoax’ category, many of the clues were heavily based on Gilbert & Sullivan’s works.  With a title like ‘G & S’ it’s simply about them and theirs, isn’t it?

Umm…no.  Or, to put it another way, do be serious.  This is The Listener, after all!  [If you aim to be that straightforward in crossword-land you’ll be telling me that ‘Supply pants (7,10)‘ is an M&S order next 😉 ]

The reason I’d label this one a classic is what feel to me like two ‘right-angle turns’ along the solution path.  You know the sort, you think you are heading in one direction, only to find the path turns a right-angle and you are heading somewhere entirely different.  And then it happens all over again…

So the G&S-based clues led to entries that fitted in surprisingly straightforwardly.  Having cold-solved (ok, with a hint towards the first letter) around two-thirds of the clues, my starting point was the two six-letter words sharing a first letter in what turned out to be 23a and 23d.  There were at most three possible pairs, given what I hadn’t at that time solved, so I picked the pair of WIDGET and WOMBAT and placed the appropriate 3-letter word (ACE) in place to fit with them.  From then on entries started sliding into place quite quickly.  However, I soon then got to the stage where the only word that could fit in at 4d was SILENCE but it wasn’t in the Answers….

It was a simple leap from there to realising the that the four-word Song included would be THE SOUND OF SILENCE by Simon & Garfunkel – another G&S, of sorts – what a sweet Title!  As soon as the missing letters started spelling out JOH… I guessed the rest (it was JOHN CAGE’S FOUR MINUTES THIRTY THREE SECONDS) and all that was left was to find the other phrase…

This one spelt out ERASE EVERYTHING BUT THE NOTES IN CAGE’S PIECE (my apostrophe).  4:33 famously contains no notes, so that appears to say ERASE EVERYTHING.  So the only decision left for me was how to interpret ‘everything’:

  1.  I was planning to leave my Name & Address on my entry, so they are staying!
  2. Clearly all Letters should be erased;
  3. There is no Enumeration in the original grid so clearly there should be none in the Solution;
  4. What about the Bars?  I decided that must be an optional delete – I don’t think The Listener is sponsored by Tippex, so I’d be surprised if we are being forced to remove all bars & gridlines, though I suspect it cannot be marked wrong either.  Hope I’m right.
  5. I think the outside square of the grid must remain, otherwise it might be hard to claim you’d not forgotten to send in your puzzle entry, as per the Preamble.

With 4:33 featuring I think there might have been some choices of relevant puzzle number – but I don’t think that has happened here(?)

Cheers all!

Tim / Encota

PS Great to see 2017’s must-have Xmas present already featuring in Column 1 – the STRESS WOMBAT.  (Potentially available in all good stores).

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Listener No 4430: G&S by Pilcrow

Posted by Dave Hennings on 13 January 2017

Last year Pilcrow’s Black or White was all to do with St Francis of Assissi and Popes, and before that (in 2012) we had one all about Arsène Wenger (one of only two football managers whose names I know). This week, Gilbert and Sullivan (or Gold and Silver) were giving us a hint towards the theme (or not).

listener-4430-animationHere we had an aphabetical jigsaw, with the added complication of two entries being unclued and the rest having an extra word which needed to be removed from each clue before solving. That was the bad news; the good news was that it was the Tuesday after Christmas, so all the kerfuffle was over for another year.

A quick tot up of grid and entry lengths showed that the two unclued entries were of 7 and 10 letters. Unfortunately, the only clued 10-letter word was no. 11 Amaryllid worn by Archibald initially, virile fellow (some women suppose), so elegant (10) and was so convoluted that I temporarily gave it a wide berth.

Starting from the beginning, I solved 5 of the first 9 and then 7 out of the last 15. In the middle was a horribly long gap of 14 unsolved clues, from FIACRES to RIA. Luckily with these alphabetical gizmos, the basic framework enables gaps to slowly get filled in, and after about two hours I had all but a few clues ticked off.

Even though there were some clues still to be solved, I decided to try some grid filling. The 3-letter word RIA could have FIACRES crossing if it went in the top-right corner, and putting BELIEVE in row 4 seemed to work with either DENVER and KELVIN crossing in column 9. It looked as though I had made some lucky guesses since the top row soon looked as though it could be THE WORLD OF.

Another short while later, and it was THE SOUND OF SILENCE that went into row 1 and column 5. So not Gilbert and Sullivan, but Garfunkel and Simon! The grid was soon finished off, and all that was left was to disentangle the first and last letters of the extra words to reveal another work and some sort of instruction which would affect all 40 words in the grid.

First, the extra words had to be arranged in conventional clue order to give:


My first attempt to derive the messages got off to an appalling start, with Erase everything but the forty-three seconds followed by John Cage’s four minutes… and then rubbish. Luckily, I had heard of the bizarre piece by Cage, and soon had:

John Cage’s Four minutes thirty-three seconds

Erase everything but the notes in Cage’s piece

Now it took me a few seconds (minutes?) to get my head around “Erase everything but nothing”, but in the end I had… nothing! This tied in with having to “alter all 40 entries to form the final submission”. (Mind you, every entry contains one or more notes of the form A–G, so who knows!)

listener-4430-my-entrySo I’m guessing that this was another attempt at a 0% error rate. Stick Insect’s Reductio ad Absurdum two years ago had a large number of entries but nearly 20% got it wrong! Better luck with this one, Pilcrow, and perhaps JEG had time to put his feet up this Christmas.

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Black or White by Pilcrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 June 2015

Black and WhiteWe’ve been saying it for years – “Read the preamble!” A slightly more careful reading of Pilcrow’s pre-ramble (well, it was a bit of a preramble this time) would have saved us some ultimate head-scratching. Two significant words there escaped our original perusal: ‘said’, and ‘nominally’. More of those later; first I had to check that Pilcrow hasn’t resigned his membership of the Listener Setters’ Imbibers Fraternity (sorority – whatever!) and what do I find? Barely a trace of alcohol. There’s a ‘Drop from trea[C]le say, lump under acceleration due to gravity (4)’ giving G + LOB, then ‘Maybe stee[R]s stomachs, containing arsenic repulsed by a medical man (5)’ A MO< round As, but it’s a fairly gloomy set of surface readings.

Things ‘flounder’, are ‘taken aback’, are ‘rough’ and ‘old’, ‘deficient’, faceless’, incompetent’, ‘tortuous’, ‘shortened in recession’, ‘snubbed’, ‘conceal crime’, and are ‘infested by forgotten bedbug’. Rather an ominous start to solving if Pilcrow was in that sort of mood!

Solving began anyway and the bottom left hand corner of the grid quickly yielded producing a rather strange ?YOT. That gave us three possibilities: RYOY, EYOT and PYOT and we went off on our first red herring – well, a black and white one, actually since the title was ‘Black or White’ and the Magpie (PYOT) is both. Were we in bird and animal country?

We continued to solve and the gloom was relieved when several words of a message appeared: ‘LORD MAKE ME AN INSTRUMENT OF THY PEACE’. That was Saint Francis of Assisi wasn’t it? Perhaps those other strange words that were appearing: WO?, ?OO and FOR? were going to be some kind of animals (WOL and ROO of A.A.Milne fame?) The significance of that ‘Nominally’ in the preamble took some time to creep to the surface of our solving processes.

The omissions in wordplay had produced F R PO A N C I PE S and we completely failed to understand how we had to read those, but worked backwards to POPE FRANCIS, then made sense of the instruction to read ‘the double omissions, followed by the single omissions’ and, of course, nominally we had another Francis and could put BENEDICT and JOHN PAUL into two unclued lights, producing the three predecessors of Pope Francis. So was the ‘Black and White’ connected to the smoke that appears when a Pope is selected by the Cardinals in the Sixtine Chapel? (Yes, by now, we had spotted SIXTINE and CARDINALS making a kind of extended cross that we must highlight in our completed grid.)

There was one more evil little word in the preamble. We had to find a series of five unclued entries and SIXTINE was clearly defined as one of them. With a grumble (well as a northerner who pronounces nothing the same way as you lot from down south, I haven’t a second’s patience for homophones, whether or not Chambers justifies them) we noticed that the hidden word CARDINALS was descriptive of the SAID (my caps.) five entries. So we filled our grid with WON, TOO, FORE, EYOT, SIXTINE and muttered a groan of thanks to Pilcrow. That was graceless, wasn’t it! Thank you, Pilcrow, I liked the Saint Francis link and solving was fun.

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24 Across by Pilcrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 August 2012

Here I am, sitting in front of my completed grid and wondering about the preamble. A speedy Friday solve produced a full grid, and, as the fireworks went off all around the house as the local French celebrated le quatorze juillet, la fête nationale (Bastille Day), we saw that a French topic was the theme. Could it be Arsène le Lupin (detective hero of French adventures). No, of course it was Arsène le Wenger. “They can’t be serious!” said one Numpty, as the other, soccer hater, fiddled on a piece of scrap paper, turning the lower case ‘e’s into ‘a’s, inverting the W or Wenger to get an M and fiddling with five of those central letters to produce Arsenal Manager. “They are!” she replied – a living person as the theme of a Listener crossword. I thought that contravened the rules. We’ll be getting Wayne Rooney and Andy Murray next or even that Scottish manager fellow. Heaven forbid!”

Solving had been fun with the linked clues giving convincing surface readings and sometimes deceptively concealing the split between the A and the B part. I was keeping a careful record, as we had been told that there were ‘ten pairs each way’ but I needn’t have bothered as our last two  sets proved to be one of each kind.

There was a moment of satisfaction when the resolution of the endgame produced only real words. SEA-KING became SNAKING and FORE-HORSE became FORM HORSE (I had to look that one up in Chambers but of course, any frequenter of Ascot could have told me what it was). Radix would surely approve!

‘Vessel used by Easterner, on the drink for an /eternity, getting tipsy after one Scotch’ had to be my favourite clue. Not only did Pilcrow demonstrate his participation in the habitual Listener compilers’ tipply club but he also beautifully concealed the join between PRO + A (for an) and AE  (one in Scotland) + ON (getting tipsy).

So why am I sitting here, staring at the grid and wondering about the preamble? It’s that word ‘Initially’ (Our hero is to be deduced at 24 across – ARSENE WENGER -, with an article befitting his country of origin inserted before his surname, – LE – and initially entered in lower case apart from the initials of his forename and surname (to remain as capitals).)

An ‘initially’ implies a ‘subsequently’ or an ‘ultimately’. When we have performed the turning and repositioning of five letters, are we expected to leave those letters of Arsenal Manager in lower case, or do we submit, as usual, in upper case? Oh the dilemmas of these preambles! Well, I suppose that a crossword submitted entirely in lower case would be acceptable and this won’t be the first that requires or tolerates a mixture.

Still, this moaning numpty thought the preamble was ambiguous and loathes the wall to wall soccer that seems to dominate much of British ‘culture’ but thank you, all the same, Pilcrow for some entertaining clues.

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