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Posts Tagged ‘Poat’

Listener No 4518: Game Box by Poat

Posted by Dave Hennings on 21 Sep 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 Nov 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 Nov 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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Listener No 4422: Buried Treasure by Poat

Posted by Dave Hennings on 18 Nov 2016

Remember last year’s puzzle about the Cambridge Spy Ring (no 4375, Five One-time Pads) and before that the Christmas truce of 1914 (no 4325, Christmas Truce)? Well they were by Poat. I think that he’s come close to tripping me up, but I’ve managed to escape unscathed.

listener-4422-animationThis week’s Buried Treasure reminded me of Merlin’s Olde Treasure Hunt from ten years ago. It was based on the Sherlock Holmes’ story The Musgrave Ritual, and required us to find and identify the Ancient Crown of England in the grid. That did trip me up — indeed, the puzzle had the fewest number of entries for 2006.

Having said all that, I’m not 100% sure that I solved this week’s puzzle correctly!

But first things first. Nothing too complicated in the grid, just seven cells with clashes where both letters, side by side, would reveal an instruction relating to the unchecked letters. I had only 45 minutes before my Monday visit to the local pub, so a quick scan through all the clues seemed the best way to start.

As I strode down the road, I had a pathetic six entries under my belt.

The following day, and I was up early and two hours of steady solving saw significant improvement and over half the grid filled. The session started with trying to untangle the long entry 25ac in the middle of the grid Set clue for university entry with charges going the other way (13) which was an anagram of clue for u entry, COUNTERFLEURY. It ended, at about 7:30am, with Class swot can do this as tragic hero in Old Norse (8) (for which good old Noggin the Nog initially came to mind) giving OUTLEARN (UT LEAR in O N).

I was impressed by some of the wording that Poat used in his clues. For example, 31ac Early doctor’s rash openings in pursuit of appendix (5) had early doctor indicating an obscure medical term and PS was the appendix! Elsewhere, LINNAEUS was described as a ‘family organiser’, and the ‘Holland’ at 35ac had nothing to do with the country (despite its capital letter), but referred to the fabric.

I think the most convoluted clue was 26dn In Excelsis Deo — at last — premier soprano must hold in leading note (6): In Excelsis defined UPMOST with O (deO) which PM S must hold, all in UT (leading note). I also had a bit of trouble with 14dn He’ll refrain from a giggle when horse falls for a second time (6) : TEEHEE, with H replaced by another T and TEETEE being a teetotaller (TT)! (I’ll refrain from my normal gripe about H being used for horse!)

The most amusing clue was 39ac Relieve dreamer of soft drink to check case in Scotland (4) for SIST — FANTASIST – FANTA!

All in all, nearly four hours was required to complete the grid. The cells containing two letters gave READ EVERY THIRD. Applying this to the unchecked letters in the grid then gave ONE OF THREE CLUE ACROSTICS. It seemed fairly obvious that this would have to relate to the initial letters of the clues, and by starting with the third letter and taking every third I got Close by Ampthill. (It was only later that I checked the other clues and found that taking the first letter and then every third gave This goes nowhere, and second letter and every third gave False trail again.)

I guess Ampthill must have rung a distant bell, because I had a sneaky feeling that we were dealing with the Masquerade treasure book from the late 1970s. This was a book by Kit Williams containing a story, sixteen paintings and clues to the whereabouts of a jewelled golden hare. Googling revealed that the clues in the book did indeed lead to the phrase Close by Ampthill. I did buy the book, but got absolutely nowhere in deciphering the clues from the paintings.

The final bit of the preamble told us that, “having followed the trail”, we must “highlight the ultimate goal in the search area (four consecutive letters in a straight line).” I started looking for a hare and/or Ampthill in the grid. I also tried to find any reference to the monument to Catherine of Aragon which stands near the hare’s burial place.

listener-4422-my-entryBefore I had spent too long grid-staring, I noticed that SEARCH AREA was in the grid running down from the top row and with three right-angled turns. The trouble was that, in the grid, HARE was at one of the right angles so couldn’t be highlighted in a straight line. It also used one of the cells containing two letters, and the fact that the preamble referred to four letters, rather than cells made me think I was on the right lines. (There was also another HARE in the grid, at another of the right angles, but only had one letter shared with SEARCH AREA.)

I tried a number of ideas before I decided that tilting the letters at 45° and positioning them carefully in their cells enabled the HARE to be read in a straight line, sloping north-east to south-west.

Lawks! This was a complex solution, but I felt that I had identified all the clues and carried out all the instructions. Of course I got it right!

I think this was your trickiest puzzle to date, Poat, and if WordPress allowed a pseudo programming language:

If my-solution.correct = true then “Thanks for the challenge.” else “Curse you… till next time!” endif


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Five One-time Pads by Poat

Posted by shirleycurran on 25 Dec 2015

PoatNot too many clues here and we soon established that there were five unclued lights as well as a three-word unclued phrase at 1ac. There was a sigh of relief when we saw that the clues were normal with no extra letters, omitted letters, words skipping from one clue to another, misprints, jumbles or any other of those Listener staples that I love to grumble about.

Of course I checked Poat’s continued membership of the Listener Setters’ Tipsy Club and he barely crept through the door with only ‘Filthy sink, apply cold water to one in pub without end (6)’ (C + A in LOCA[l] = CLOACA) – is some inveterate boozer having cold water poured over him? Then ‘Short measure  backing little volume with old plain face (5)’ (what a clue! OZ< + CC + O = ZOCCO, a plain face on a plinth). However, there were some queer relationships in the surface readings of Poat’s clues: ‘Best mate’s strong feeling when hugging bishop (7, two words) (Might round RR = MR RIGHT) and ‘Prisoner and topless warder grew together way back (9)’ (CON + [s]CREW + ED = CONCREWED)

An enjoyable set of clues, all in all and we quickly had an almost full grid with some doubt about YELLS at 36ac. ‘Thematically, you’d get offer from patsy with these encouraging cries (5)’. This was where we really paid attention to the preamble and the other Numpty did a quick calculation and announced that indeed, if you alphanumerically added YELLS and PATSY, you got OFFER.

We had five words and five ‘pads’ of four letters each (well, no, actually we hadn’t yet sussed what that H?NT ?L? CA?RE? at 1ac was telling us, so one of our pads had only three letters. There was just enough to go on and we carefully did our alphanumerical maths coming up with:

ULEMA  SDYIF   OOAOJ  ESLYC   SSCNR                                                                                                                                                                                               BURGE  SSBLU  NTMAC  LEANP  HILBY

Yes, I’ve cheated there and jumped the gun as there was a bit of head scratching before those four infamous names appeared and, of course, led to ARNOLD DEUTSCH as the ‘associated talent scout’ (which anagrammed into that rather uncomfortable ‘HUNT OLD CADRES’ – a new use, for me, of the word ‘cadre’ – ‘a group of activists in a revolutionary, orig Communist, party; a member of such a group’, according to the BRB). TEA had obligingly produced THE CAVERN CLUB as a potential 1ac and I had been toying with the idea that Beatles were somehow going to emerge from those encrypted words!

The fifth name had to be CAIRNCROSS but, even though I had looked up CATTABU half an hour before in Chambers, I was still red-herringed into thinking that the STONES of ‘RIBSTONES’ had to be the cairn and that a five-letter cross would somehow appear in the grid. It was only after supper and a couple of glasses of red that light dawned and I was able to highlight BARP CATTABU.

Nice one Poat. Many thanks.


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