Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Pointer’

In this World of Sin … by Pointer

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 Jan 2020

I wonder if I am the only solver whose first read through a lengthy pre-ramble produced nothing but total mystification. (The other Numpty did a count and found 300 words of preamble and 160 of clues – is this a record? We did once have a Listener where there were no down clues but are we due for one with a whole page of preamble and no clues? – The answer is ‘Yes’: It’s the second competition crossword in the December Crossword’ magazine q.v. we find InCUrL by MPOBO which has neither clues nor preamble.)

What we did gather was that each clue consisted of at least three parts – two prompts to words and a contained jumble of those two solutions, with a potential fourth word or phrase hidden in four of the down clues too. To egg the Christmas pudding a little more richly, the answers were going to be entered starting anywhere in their row or column, and possibly reaching the edge of the grid and continuing at the start of the same row or column in a carte blanche grid. The fun continued with a decagon to be drawn and loops round ‘nine words of a kind’, with something to highlight (for the cherry on the pudding).

We have already been defeated by a Pointer puzzle in the Magpie this month (It’s Magpie renewal time – highly recommended if you would like six more Listener-style puzzles each month) and we wondered whether this Christmas treat (a little early) was the editors’ response to eliminate an excess of ‘all correct’ solvers (if any are left after the last few toughies).

Well, I checked through the clues anyway to confirm that Pointer retains his place among the Listener setter oenophiles with this his sixth Listener crossword. He left me with little doubt with his first clue ‘Given greater power, gastropub opposed usual kind of noodles (8,4)’ We teased SOUPED UP and SOBA out of that. ‘Food scrapers evaluated a redesigned vessel for liquid (7,3)’ gave us RADULAE and VAT. With a whole vatful, Pointer clearly retains his entry right but it was in the later shenanigans of the crossword that he removed any doubt when we looked up ‘wood’ In Chambers and found that it is ‘The cask or barrel for storage of wine etc.’ What with vat, cask and barrel, it sounds as though Pointer intends to treat us all. Cheers!

We struggled on, slowly extracting likely words from the clues then seeing if we could find them concealed with a jumble of some other likely answer in the clue. Our Numpty delight was absolute when our own keynote clue (Stripey horse (5)) appeared in a slightly more advanced version as ‘African animals seize rats as boar trembles a bit (6,4)’ Yes, the ZEBRAS were obviously there, producing the Z, but it took us a while to work out that the bit was IOTA with the ‘rats’ as the extra word. Of course it was ‘The rising of the sun’ RATS< (but the realisation of that came later) I wondered whether we would even see the hare (he’s holidaying in the San Francisco Bay area now and popped out and posed for us when we were walking there last week!)

‘Girl guides they allow sixty in total (5,6)’ gave us TESSA and WHOLLY and suggested that our song might be The Holly and the Ivy (but how to fit that into twelve cells?) Of course, it was a different holly that finally appeared when we changed the D of radulae to an X and found ILEX ET HEDERA. Our potential extra words now made sense. GROAN* was ‘The playing of the merry organ’, ECHO was ‘Sweet singing in thE CHOir’ and the one that really produced a smile was FREE REIN, ‘The running of the deer’.

I should have attempted the gridfill sooner. We had a mere six clues to solve when I finally put my mind to it. The other Numpty had disappeared to complete dinner preparations and he is the solver – my role is usually the grid and endgames. It all fitted in surprisingly easily once I worked out that the first row had to be PEDUPSOBASOU (because of the placing of the Us) and potential solutions for the ones we hadn’t solved now emerged (TERATA and WAH-WAH for example). Full grid – now what?

Trees were the nine words of a kind round which we drew loops. We selected ANTIAR, LEMON, HOLLY, ACER, SAL, BAY, ASH, TAWA and RATA noticing two potential RATAs, and avoiding the red herring of PAN, that so clearly is begging to be looped. I read long and hard to find that PAN is only the leaf of the Betel which is a vine, not a tree. Yes, Chambers claims that ‘holly’ is a shrub but the carol claims that ‘Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown’. ‘Bears the crown’ – pdm. We see the TIARA and highlight the HOLLY bearing it, wondering whether that justifies the ‘two key lines of the carol’ – yes, I suppose it is the tree within Pointer’s decagonal definition of WOOD that ‘bears the crown’. How very clever! Many thanks to Pointer.


Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Listener No 4585: In this World of Sin… by Pointer

Posted by Dave Hennings on 3 Jan 2020

There are some setters who get me worried whenever I see that the week’s Listener is from them. Sabre and Ifor are certainly two of them. And Pointer is a third that comes to mind. Most of his puzzles appear in Magpie, and most of those are graded D on their difficulty scale, with the occasional E thrown in for good measure (as last month’s). His previous Listener was nearly two years ago with its Ship of Theseus and Trigger’s Broom theme.

Here we had a carte blanche with an interesting clueing device: each consisted of definitions for the two words in each row/column together with a jumble of the two words together. In addition, the two words were cyclic and could start anywhere in the row/column. I noted that there was an extended closing date which I hoped was just because of the Christmas post rather than the difficulty of the puzzle! Mind you, the end game seemed to have ‘tricky’ written all over it.

In hindsight, the clues should also have been labelled ‘tricky’. Even with 1ac SOUPED-UP/SOBA and 1dn STRIPE/BIKE, the permutations for their cyclic entry were daunting. It needed a few more clues to be solved before any semblance of a grid could be guessed, and this certainly helped with the last few clues to be solved — I forget which they were now.

Four clues had an extra word or phrase which could be taken as the answer to wordplay provided by each line of the chorus of a carol. I hoped that the title, with its religious nudge, would help. A bit of googling revealed “but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in”. OK, so no help for me there really. The four extras were rats, free rein, groan and Echo. The rising star and jumbled organ seemed a way in to the carol, but yet again, I was left perplexed until the grid was complete.

Scanning the grid, HOLLY was in row 6, so I guessed we were dealing with The Holly and the Ivy carol. We also had the bottom row which could have one letter changed to reveal ILEX ET HEDERA, also Holly and Ivy. So that was stage 1 of the end game sorted. The full chorus reads:

O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Sweet singing of the choir

These gave the wordplay for “rats” (STAR<), “free rein” (FREE + REIN (a rare word for reindeer)), “groan” (ORGAN*) and ECHO ((th)E CHO(ir)).

Next came identifying a “certain dictionary definition” through which we had to draw a decagon. I must admit to wondering why this was referred to as a certain definition. I assumed it was in the sense of all or some of “confident”, “reliable”, “inevitable”, probably in that order. Checking the BRB’s definitions for “holly” and “ivy” got me nowhere.

I scanned the grid and noticed FOR WISE in rows 2 and 3. Whether I would have got any further if I hadn’t entered the first word of 5ac, defined as stands, as RACKS instead of RANKS, I don’t know. There was also CASK and BARREL reversed in rows 8 and 9. Eventually, courtesy of Mrs B under Barrel, I looked up wood in Chambers and all was revealed: “the cask or barrel as storage for wine, etc”. Stage 2 done and dusted.

Finally, we had stage 3. I soon spotted the TIARA above the HOLLY, and they needed highlighting. The nine words of a kind were fairly straightforward, but excluded the VAT and PAN containers that I had initially thought needed enlooping. LEMON, SAL, BAY, ASH and ACER came first, followed some while later by TAWA, RATA and finally ANTIAR. Hold on! Only eight there. It took me a few minutes to realise that the ninth was what I had already highlighted — the HOLLY!

Thanks for a fairly tough puzzle, Pointer. Thankfully, it wasn’t an E grade!

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

L4585 “In this world of sin” by Pointer

Posted by Encota on 3 Jan 2020

What an excellent grid that was! Though after now solving a few Pointers over the years, I am beginning to realise that that maybe the norm!

Perhaps I was not the only solver who had also been grappling with another – tricky – Pointer in December’s excellent Magpie magazine. That one took me a little while to fill the grid – and a week after that I still haven’t finished the endgame. So when this week’s L appeared with Pointer’s name at the top, and it didn’t take too long to fill the grid, I was worrying that I might have been here before! What next?

And having said the grid filled quickly, I did manage to hold myself up for a while in 1 across, where I had converted ‘noodles’ (the verb) into BOPS, as creating a certain sort of music. However, when it didn’t fit with ZEBRAS as ‘African animals’ at 8 down and I had double-checked that there wasn’t a cross called a ZEPRA first (well, it might have been a cross between a ZEBRA and part of a coconut, mightn’t it?), then I realised my mistake and SOBA for noodles went in.

My solving route then went a bit like this:

  • spot TIARA over HOLLY as a representation of ‘the holly bears the crown’. That’s the highlighted bit found …
  • double check the extra four words from the Down clues: STAR< as ‘the rising of the Sun’; FREE REIN as ‘the running of the (rein)deer’; GROAN as ‘the playing of the (merry) organ’, and ‘sweet singing in thE CHOir’ for ECHO. Good carol chorus. Not bad at all 🙂
  • try and guess what path the Decagon might take in practice. Get nowhere
  • spot a few more trees to go with HOLLY: LEMON, ACER, ASH, BAY jumped out easily. At this stage I wasn’t sure why trees!
  • use reference book to try and find more: there are two SALs, two RATA, a TAWA and an ANTIAR. That makes eleven – and we only wanted nine! Check the Preamble to see if repeats are allowed or not. Seems ambiguous to me.
  • Look again for the Definition to form the Decagon. Finally spot STORAGE FOR WINE ETC. Trace it back to find ‘THE CASK OR BARREL AS STORAGE FOR WINE ETC.’ Ah, that’s a definition of WOOD!
  • See if that helps eliminate two trees. One can draw the decagon through the edge of Column two so that the left-hand SAL still remains within it. Is that required? Re-check that ‘in nine distinct rows and columns’ part of the Preamble and decide that only one of the RATA/TAWA pair on Row 7 can be used.
  • Finally decide that Pointer must have been thinking of nine different trees and opt for ignoring Column 3’s SAL and Row 7’s RATA. Triple-check that PAN isn’t a tree, given the upper part of the Decagon makes its way round those letters so clearly. No – betel or betel leaf, not a tree. Hope that I haven’t fallen into a trap
  • Take a step back and finally cotton on to it being a representation of ‘for all the TREES that are in the WOOD … the holly bears the crown’.

And relax! Many thanks, Pointer! Now back to the seaside to solve that other puzzle ….

I hope you’ve all had a decent Christmas and I wish you all the very best for this New Year.

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Listener No 4489: Ocean-going Vessel by Pointer

Posted by Dave Hennings on 2 Mar 2018

Soup was on the menu for Pointer’s last Listener two years back. I remember the endgame being really tricky and wondered if I’d be all at sea this week as well.

A pretty small grid faced us — just 13×7 without symmetry — and a puny twenty-five clues, some of them to be entered going off one edge and continuing at the start. Knowing Pointer, I guessed that they would be on the tricky side. In the endgame, it seemed that all entries would have to change.

Well, I was wrong with the difficulty guess. Although I got only half-a-dozen on my first pass through the clues, the remainder came together fairly quickly. In fact, the grid was filled in just over an hour. Mind you, I suppose that with so few clues it was still a relatively average solve.

On to the endgame, where SKIP OF THE SEAS had to have a letter changed to be more in line with the title. Well, SHIP OF THE SEAS was more appropriate, and the non-word it produced, LASHETS, then had to have another letter change to make a word down, but a non-word across. These changes continued until every entry had had two.

I wondered if we were actually meant to start at 2dn or at another word, and it struck me that FATWAHS couldn’t have too many variations. FAT CATS came to mind, but that was two words and we were specifically told that a new word would be created, so I guessed that was ruled out. Also, at 1dn, SPINATE didn’t seem to have too many options, SPINETS being the obvious.

Back to LASHETS then. It seemed that LASHERS was the likely change, follwed by DESIRE, HEADSET and PATENT. A few more changes, and I reached 14dn where PELF could become PALE, PALL, PALM, PALP or PALS with the crossing word ?AWN intersecting with the W of FATWAHS and needing a letter change.

So, if FATWAHS needed two letters changing, I had no idea what that word could be. After some time cogitating, I decided to give it a break and go down the pub!

The following day and it was time for a bit of a cheat, I’m afraid, and both NORSELS and FATWAED were proposed as likely candidates and I managed to make further good progress until I came to FAUCES changing to SAUCER and SESAME changing to…? RESAME stared at me for a couple of minutes before I realised that the central phrase needed to change to reveal SHIP OF THESEUS and give RESUME.

The grid was complete, every entry having had two changes, including the middle row. It was at this point that, for some reason, I looked at fatwa in Chambers, only to discover that the past tense and participle wasn’t fatwaed, but fatwa’d. I checked my Chambers iPad app and, luckily, that gave the ‘e’ version so I felt easy again… sort of.

All that was left was to unravel the object to go under the grid. Each down clue contained a sequence of three letters made from the replacements in its entry and its contribution to the object. TRIGGER’S BROOM soon came out in the wash, a reference to Only Fools and Horses where the question of whether it was the same broom if it had had so many changes of head and handle. A similar question was raised by Plutarch regarding a ship that had been restored by replacing every single wooden part.

I wondered whether I had been lucky with the replacements I had made or whether other solvers had spent hours with letter replacement dead ends. Still… not my problem!

All in all, good fun thanks Pointer, and not too tricky this week.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ocean-going vessel by Pointer

Posted by shirleycurran on 2 Mar 2018

Trigger’s Broom

“Nice little grid and this looks like fun” said I and we proceeded to fill the grid with disturbing ease, considering that this was set by Pointer. We’re used to struggling with relatively difficult Pointer compilations in the Magpie. The preamble didn’t sound too daunting, though we completely passed over that interesting statement that one change was going to ‘trigger’ another (wasn’t there one about the second amendment a few weeks ago? – Surely not more guns!).

The phrase that emerged with no unchecked letters ‘SKIP OF THE SEAS’ was rather odd and we have heard of the SHIP OF THESEUS paradox (which must apply to so many objects stored and restored in museums) and suspected that with two changes we might be heading to that. Can an object whose original parts have been renewed, one by one, still be the object it started as?

Let me say at once that I bungled completely in working out which letters were extra in the triplets we were extracting from the down clues, even when we had the pairs of changed letters, as I stupidly read them in the order clues appeared in the grid and began with an unconvincing TNR… The family are staying after a week of ski-ing in almost three metres of superb snow and when, later, I asked “Has anyone heard of TRIGGER’S BROOM?” they all responded with great hilarity. Of course they had. It’s in Only Fools and Horses‘ “In the episode “Heroes and Villains“, Trigger wins an award for having owned the same broom for 20 years. He reveals that it has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles, but insists it is still the same broom. Well, there we are. We solvers who live overseas and don’t have the joy of watching East Enders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and things like that do have a slight disadvantage when it comes to things that seem to be common knowledge in the UK (as a US solver friend said – “Thanks for Google!”)

The same friend said he found the endgame relatively simple. I wish I could say the same. I went up a few blind alleys, chasing RECITE, CTENES, COUPLE, SCENTS – you name it – before I found the series of replacements that worked:

LASHERS/ DESIRE/ HEADSET/ PATENT/ SOUPLE/ STIRS/ ARCHER/ ENTAME/ TOMCATS/ COMSAT/ STENOS/ SOSS/ SPINETS/ ELSE/ SPLINES/ NARAS/ PALS/ SEWN/ LAND/ FATWAED/ POSEUR/ INSULT/ SAUCER/ RESUME/ SHIP OF THESEUS (and not a drop of alcohol in the grid unless that SOSS in the SAUCER could have admitted Pointer to the Setters’ Wine-loving Setup, but cheers, anyway),

This really was an impressive construction and I wonder how many hours went into creating that astonishing grid – especially working with words like FATWAHS – who would think that could be changed into anything! So many thanks to Pointer.

Posted in Solving Blogs | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »