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Posts Tagged ‘Poat’

‘This is not the HARE you’re looking for’ aka ‘Game Box’ by Poat

Posted by Encota on 21 September 2018

Thanks to Poat for a challenging and enjoyable puzzle.

SCAN0518 copy


There were several sub-clues I particularly enjoyed:

  • I damn Foucault’s concept (4), [for IDEE];especially
  • Wise or foolish – which mixing Roofies with this could be (6)
    [for OWLISH – fantastic dual definition and subtractive anagram]and the quite brilliant
  • one in the wings, advancing Othello’s end … (4) [for IAGO – fabulous!]

There appeared to be a possibility for the ‘glancing contact’ with the obstacles not to work as the physics might suggest – and so I spent more time than I should really have done on ensuring that the 90 degree turns were as expected and not some ‘random corner-turning generator’.  The latter luckily proved not to be the case!

The beginning of the PG Wodehouse quote, “THE FASCINATION OF SHOOTING …” appeared without too much pain: the focus was then very much on the specifics of the words in the Preamble, especially “ten targets of a specific kind”.  Sounds like singular ‘duck’ rather than ‘ducks’, I think?  So when, initially, I only found 59 cells covering the ten duck, I wondered what Poat had had in mind.  There were options for pluralising (up to) three of the duck – HARELD (ho ho, by the way!!), GOLDENEYE and SHIELDRAKE – though one of the three didn’t automatically pop up in the electronic BRB I did half-wonder if ‘Chambers is the primary reference’ was perhaps being taken rather seriously. Other adjustment options included DRAKE vs SHIELDRAKE but that didn’t free up the appropriate 61 cells either.

Eventually I realised my mistake – I’d initially gone with BALD as a type of DUCK and not BALDPATE.  The extra cells at ‘TE’ made up the shortfall and all was sorted – I hope!

From again re-reading the Preamble there didn’t seem to be any need to add bars and I wasn’t sure if the position of the six obstacles were required either.  As some bars were crossed by the duck I left those out; and I gently dotted in where the obstacles were, in case it was of any interest.

Teasing seasoned solvers with 2d’s HARELD (i.e. those who solved Poat’s last Listener, where some readers might recall there was ‘some debate’ about the location of a HARE) was funny.  Thanks again to Poat – I loved this!


Tim (the setter Encota)


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Game Box by Poat

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 September 2018

The other Numpty said at about noon, “What are we going to get tonight?” and with an uncanny premonition, I replied, “It must be time for another Poat crossword.” And there it was. Even as I printed it, I could hear the pad of tiny hare paws (hopefully not in the preamble!) That little HARE who appeared in the searcH AREa in the preamble of Poat’s last crossword has made Poat a Listener legend and caused disarray and desolation in over half of the solvers of that crossword. We have been pursuing him ever since (and he did appear in the one about the HS2, only to be then run-over by the train) but finally, in despair, we let him head off for his hols at the start of this year. (Blackpool, I believe!)

We start solving and there he is! Clue 2 ‘Hubristic racer to try finding energy at the end (4)’ That’s a reference to The Tortoise and the Hare fable, isn’t it? The proud speedy hare being defeated by the diligent, plodding tortoise, and ‘try’ is HEAR with the Energy moving down in the clue. So Poat is honouring his little hero – or is he?

And does Poat retain his admission ticket to the Listener Oenophile Outfit? Of course he does. We find three solutions to ‘Seen up in expensive bar venue, Frank’s wine spilt by queen with old love for romance (5:6:3)’. In fact that ‘bar’ seems to be a legal reference to VISNE which is reversed in expENSIVe, then WINE* with ER gives us WIENER, the German sausage, and the initial letters of With Old + O (love) produces WOO, for ‘romance’, and we’ll have to drink to the little hare’s safe return, so ‘Cheers, Poat!’

Of course that gave us 14 letters that would stretch right across the grid, as did ORA/IAGO/PARITOR, ETIOLATE/OCTETS and CITHER/LETRASET so we had a starting point for our gridfill. We worked out how to enter HASTEN/WOOLCOMBERS in a total of four different columns and established the position of our first obstacle. AERIEST and FLATTERING clearly had to go off at 90° angles and they gave us our second. And so it went on. With an almost full grid and a second putative HARE appearing at the foot of the tenth column, we sussed that THE FASCINATION OF SHOOTING was to fill those alternate perimeter cells. SURELY NOT! Was this going to be Poat’s attempt to wipe out, forever, the memory of the little beast? OWL and TERCELET had appeared. Was Poat going on a rampage ‘MADCAP POTS BAG LOADS’?

We have to express a strong objection. Such violence, together with scurrilous terms, sexual references and all the rest of the forbidden guff, should surely be banned from Listener crosswords!

With a full (or almost) grid, we had to fit those letters into the gaps and realised that, in order to place all 18, we would have to use the six cells containing obstacles. This was a demanding but enjoyable endgame to produce ten targets and at first the little HARE seemed safe as they were not animals at all but sitting ducks that appeared: SHIELDRAKE, SMEE, POCHARD, GOLDENEYE, SCAUP, SCOTER, EIDER, BALDPATE and wisely beating a retreat, one I hadn’t heard of, a GARROT. That made nine ducks. The potential HARE in column ten becoming just another duck.

Surely the goldeneye, scoter, eider and pochard are protected birds. Frankly, this will not do. Google tells me that the hare is only protected in Scotland. That doesn’t seem fair.

Number 10? What can I say? Mrs Bradford tells me that a HARELD is a duck, so Poat has brought the little fellow back, just to convert him into a duck and shoot him. Shame! I rest my case!


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Listener No 4518: Game Box by Poat

Posted by Dave Hennings on 21 September 2018

I’m normally fairly good at remembering a setter’s previous puzzles and normally start each blog with a summary of their recent oevres. This week, however, my mind went a complete blank, pretty much like the grid which was a sizeable 14×14 without bars. No doubt Poat’s previous puzzle would come to me before this blog is posted.

Here, we had an interesting entry device whereby each clue led to one, two or three answers which were entered inwards until it met the edge of the grid or an “obstacle”. At first, I wasn’t sure whether inwards included diagonally. It soon became clear that it didn’t.

The first clue (excluding See 23 at 1) was 2 Hubristic racer to try finding energy at the end (4) and completely eluded me, but luckily 3 Unusually sportsmanlike, foregoing free pass to keep for Boris (7) was more forgiving with KREMLIN, and 4 was similarly straightforward Sturgeon’s intending change of title before new government (7) for ETTLING.

All in all, the clues were good fun, especially the likes of 12,29 Secretly broadcast opener of Two Ronnies (8, two words) for INTER NOS. There were also some tricky ones, such as 15-2 Young McGill student? Cheeky with a change of heart, showing internal transposition, straight to this point (5;6) leading to FROSH and HERETO (HE-TER<-O).

Once the grid was finished, apart from a few empty cells, the perimeter yielded THE FASCINATION OF either SHOOTING or, more likely I thought, SHOPPING. Unfortunately, Google didn’t have anything exciting for the latter although predictably it had lots of images of shops and also, less predictably, a discarded shopping trolley.

In fact, the puzzle was based on a quotation from P.G. Wodehouse’s The Adventures of Sally: “The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.” But what were the ten thematic elements that we had to find in the grid. Having seen some disgusting images of armed white hunters standing over dead elephants and lions, I hoped they were not the targets.

Seeing GOLDEN EYE, soon enabled me to narrow my search down to types of duck. The empty squares in the grid, including the six “objects”, had to be filled and the ten ducks highlighted. This was fairly straightforward given the letters provided by the preamble, MADCAP POTS BAG LOADS: GOLDEN EYE, EIDER, SCAUP, BALD PATE, GARROT (backwards), SCOTER, HARELD, SMEE, POCHARD and SHIELDRAKE.

Good fun from Poat, thanks. But as the envelope to St Albans slipped from my hands into the letterbox, I realised that I hadn’t actually gone back and solved clue 2.

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Buried Treasure by Poat

Posted by shirleycurran on 18 November 2016

poat-buried-treasure-001Poat has been compiling Listener crosswords for over a quarter of a century so I clearly don’t need to worry about his membership of the Setters’ Toping Club but, having read the short preamble of Buried Treasure, I skim the clues quickly to check that he retains his membership card. There is a brief foray into soft drinks at 39 across. I wonder whether that clue is totally fair on overseas solvers who don’t have the pleasure of those fizzy bottled and canned British soft drinks. ‘Relieve dreamer of soft drink to check case in Scotland (4)’ gave us FANTASIST with the FANTA removed.

‘A few pints on us? Volumes (7)’ produces the alcohol with QUART OS so ‘Cheers, Poat!’ obviously sticking with the beer. However, we have queried the rather strange A at the start of the clue and the OS for ‘on us’ and have a faint suspicion that something is going on in the clues as well as in the grid.

Grid-filling goes full tilt, because of some lucky solves of long words, and suggestions from TEA when we have a few letters in place (like COUNTER-FLEURY – the wordplay led us to that ‘Set clue for university entry with charges going the other way (13)’ = CLUE FOR U ENTER* but I still don’t really understand the word). Soon our grid is three-quarters full, though we continue to wonder about rather strangely worded clues. It must have been difficult for Poat, for example, to find a clue beginning with H and finishing with E for BIRD (Hammerhead maybe circling daughter and wife (4)’ = D + RIB<).

The north-east corner takes us longer as we have never heard of JOE BLOW, and even when we find him, we are not totally convinced that he matches with ‘For the average Aussie, a book picked up on the cheap (7, two words)’ Is this &Lit with JOE = average fellow + B = book + LOW = picked up on the cheap?

We have been spotting clashes, often fairly generously clued, as we went along and now the other Numpty solves our doubt about RE AD EV ER ?? ?? RD (I was sure the last word had to be WORD!) ‘THIRD, he announces and that leads us to solve our last two clues YEASTS and HERDEN, to give the letters we need. He sneaks off to prepare the G and Ts and supper while I am left with the fiddly task of spotting all the unchecked letters then reading every third one of them. What do I find, ‘ONE OF THREE CLUE ACROSTICS’.

Of course, I read down the first letters (and last letters) of the clues hoping to find the key and find a red herring. I find CHAL/ LOSS and RILE as four-letter words and, to my surprise find CHAL in the grid too. CHAL is a gypsy, so why would that be the ‘ultimate goal in the search area (four consecutive letters in a straight line)’? What was it we used to repeat ‘If you are not certain that your solution is correct, then it almost certainly isn’t!’

masquerade-001I look again. There have to be three clue acrostics so I take every third initial letter and find THIS GOES NOWHERE/ FALSE TRAIL AGAIN and Eureka! CLOSE BYgolden-hare-001 AMPTHILL. That, of course, is familiar and Wikipedia fills in all the details of that series of episodes that fascinated us thirty years ago. I fetch the book, Kit Williams’ Masquerade, from the basement and re-read it, confirming that our ultimate goal is the golden hare (maybe JACK?) and the grid-staring begins.

And continues … and continues. I can find SEARCH AREA in the grid beginning at the S in the fifth cell but I can find no HARE in a straight line there. I can find ARCH – is that another word for a GOAL? Well, not in Chambers.

There is only one HARE that is four letters in a straight line in the searcH AREa but that is in the preamble. Mr Green is adamant that he wishes those of us who live overseas and enter on home-printed documents to trim our grid with just the address details and one millimetre on each side (and to include a few used postage stamps if we can – that he donates to a charity). He surely can’t be happy if we send a highlighted preamble.

I’m flummoxed and have to admit that this one has defeated me. Many thanks, anyway, Poat for a really meaty compilation.


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‘Buried Treasure’* by Poat

Posted by Encota on 18 November 2016

*which could have been called ‘X doesn’t Mark the Spot’.
So there I was, armed with an earlier completed grid for Listener 4422, sitting on the Replacement Bus Service that forms part of the UK’s 21st Century transport network returning me from that day’s Listener quarterly update, staring at the darn thing, reading and re-reading …”Having followed the trail, solvers must highlight its ultimate goal in the search area (four consecutive letters in a straight line).”  What search area?  I think I laughed out loud when I saw it – esp. the ‘four consecutive letters’ sleight-of-hand wording.  Not too loud a laugh of course; only a few people quietly moved away 🙂
So my reading of the Preamble is that it is really saying: “Having followed the trail, solvers must highlight its ultimate goal in the searcH AREa (four consecutive letters in a straight line).
And highlight it in the Preamble, not in the Grid!  Let’s hope I am right, or this blog is going to look pretty dopey!  It definitely meets the ‘spec’ of the Preamble.
My next thought was for our esteemed marker.  As many of you will know he appreciates receiving puzzle entries as closely trimmed as possible to the puzzle grid edges to avoid him having to do the same many hundreds of times over – today that’s going to be tricky, I thought!
Back to the beginning.  This was a great puzzle – thanks Poat!  Whenever one reads ‘buried treasure’ or similar in a puzzle then it’s odds on that, in some way or other, ‘X’ will mark the spot.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, but what a delight when that isn’t the case.
And what a trail it was!  Firstly, organise clashing entries to make a phrase of interest: this gives READ EVERY THIRD.
Secondly, the Preamble says to apply this statement to the unchecked letters.  Highlight all such letters on my rough copy and the 3rd, 6th etc of them spell out: ONE OF THREE CLUE ACROSTICS.
Thirdly, acrostics.  I knew that sometimes these were messages sometimes spelt out with first letters and sometimes last letters.  Try both in each clue – nothing.  Try it across every clue, looking at the start of the 1st, 4th,… clues and it reads THIS GOES NOWHERE!
Now the 2nd, 5th,…: FALSE TRAIL AGAIN!  And the 3rd, 6th,…: CLOSE BY AMPTHILL.
So what does that mean?  Many of you will already have been aware of the late 1970s book ‘Masquerade’ by Kit Williams with a built-in treasure trail and real buried treasure.  If not then Grandma Google will help – what an interesting story!  But what was finally buried, close by Ampthill (the book’s final clue), was a (golden) hare.  So, back to ‘Buried Treasure’, and fourthly, now catch your Hare.
I started off assuming it must be in the Grid.  There’s lots of words for hare…
…and was 3/4 of every other known word for HARE, including HAR. somewhere in the grid?  I started checking through them and could find:

– BUC(k) in Col. 7,
– HAR(e) in Col. 6,
– MAR[E]A backwards in Row 4
– SCU(t) in Col. 7
– (h)A RE in Row 2
– HA(r)E again in Col. 6…
Is Poat teasing us?  I was almost disappointed that BAUD, BAWD, PIKA & PUSS weren’t there in 3/4 form as well!
But no HARE or synonym.  Now what?  And eventually I twigged – see Bus Service above!
P.S. Earlier alternative trains of thought included:
1) I guess someone out there might try and argue that ‘its ultimate goaL..’’ in the preamble referred to the letter L shape starting with Col6’s H then going down one and across right one.  Can’t see how to justify “(four consecutive letters in a straight line)” part of the Preamble there, though.  Discount.
2) Also, starting with the S at 4d one can spell out SEARCH AREA via a couple of routes thru touching cells, finishing on Row 6 heading left thru the double-entry at 24.  Might that be part of the solution, perhaps?  No straight lines again though so highlighting HARE around a reversed ‘L’ can’t count.  Discount this one too.
3) The hare in the original book was called Jack.  Could the J in Row 1 have some relevance? Could the Catherine of Aragon’s monument’s shadow from the original book somehow be recreated in the grid?  Surely too difficult to emulate ‘noon on the autumnal equinox’ in a grid.  Discount.

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