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Posts Tagged ‘Radix’

Stiff Listener-like Special by Radix

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 December 2014

Radix Robotics 001There’s a touch of Schadenfreude in beginning the very last Radix Listener: pleasure that it is there at all, yet sadness that he isn’t able to give us any more.  He was almost the founder member of the Distinguished Listener Setters’ Oenophile League so I didn’t need to scan his clues to confirm his membership – but he did confirm it (of course) in style with five separate clues!
‘Railway team (drunk) drink but not in station … shipped taters for philosophical customer (6)’ Giving us TAM* and RAKI less I = AMTRAK and STATIO(n)* = TAOIST
‘Buckets of lager entertaining Australia (5)’ giving us PILS round A = PAILS
‘Cold drink, litre served by Neddy to ye maids and domestics (5)’ giving us LASSI and HELPS that we had to multiply to get RETRO
‘Tots bar person gives tots (4)’ giving NIPPERS less PER = NIPS
‘Dirk’s like in Ed’s bar: drink fortified wine and do something Amis put in shot (6)’ giving SHERRY and HANJAR that had to be added to give OSIRIS.
Let’s raise a last glass to Roddy – he did us proud! Even his title, this time, was reminiscent of a fine malt – ‘Stiff Listener-like Special’ by Radix – so we poured ourselves one and got down to the serious work of attempting to solve the clues, knowing that there was some sort of numerical treat in store for us at the end.
We were colouring yellow the clues that were clearly ‘normal but each answer must be entered with one unchecked letter misprinted such that the entered letters, … in clue order, reveal the source of the quotation’ and, not surprisingly, as it turned out, we soon had sixteen yellow clues and a whole series of potential letters for misprints (but none of those difficult ones we later coloured orange).
It was perhaps fortunate that we realized that the quotation was going to be ?????????? by ??????? and, when the other Numpty said “That looks like ASIMOV, we quickly checked in Wikipedia and established that the source was ROUNDABOUT by I ASIMOV.
The ODQ provided only one ‘Roundabout’ quotation; the famous one about the three fundamental laws of robotics (which, of course, led us to the title ‘Stiff Listener-like Special’ (ROB + OTIC + S) so Roddy wasn’t prompting us to enjoy a double malt at all but hinting at what was happening in his crossword.
 Producing our solutions for the other half of the clues was tough. It was a good thing that some of the words like OSIRIS, SEA STARS, RADARS, GENOESE and HEADMOST were the only words available but we still had to virtually blind-solve the two clues, ‘side by side’ that had to be mathematically adapted to give us the entry.
As solutions went into our grid, I suddenly realized that it was not ROBOTICS but ARITHMETIC that was appearing as our quotation and we took a lucky stab at THE THREE FUNDAMENTAL RULES OF ARITHMETIC, and an even luckier stab at our choice of addition, subtraction or multiplication, to decide how to combine the two clues.
It was after some time and lots of flailing (with no efficient calculator – just a pencil and paper) that we realized that the appropriate method for each pair of words was the one that had not appeared in the clue so, if one of the pair of letters had been added and one subtracted, the method to adopt in the resolution of the solution was the third method – multiplication.
What mental gymnastics we needed to cope with misprints, then blind solving, and finally a typical Radix requirement of deciphering of a kind of code. But we managed after perhaps eight hours of solving to produce:

Roddy is sorely missed – thank you Roddy for a fabulous finale!

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No Robbery by Radix

Posted by shirleycurran on 11 April 2014

RoddyNumpty surprise. There is a Mango solution this week (the Vivaldi Four Seasons), then I open No. 4286 and it is set by Radix, with the addition to the preamble that ‘This puzzle is published posthumously, as Radix (Roddy Forman) died in January. His family has instigated the Radix Auditorium Jug, a new prize to be awarded each year for the first-time Listener solver who sends the most correct entries. The first recipient will be the best new solver for entries from this puzzle to the end of 2014.’

What a beautiful trophy it is too. We were able to get a preview of it at the Listener Setters’ Dinner which took place in Cheltenham the following evening with an astonishing 140-strong company but sadly, no Roddy.  Sadly, especially at the end, when Roddy’s charismatic presence with the late group in the bar at 4 a.m. was lacking (I was ticked off for calling them stragglers this year – they were ‘the intellectual giants who could stay the course’.)

I have my doubts that the new solver who earns that distinguished trophy will start his (or her) solve with this week’s astonishing compilation but perhaps there is another solver like Roddy himself,  Simon Long or Neil Talbot waiting in the wings.  I wish her good luck and hope that one day, she has a shot at this crossword.

There was no Numpty need to scan the clues to see whether Radix qualified for the Listener Setters’ Distinguished Oenophile Elite, with James Leonard, he was a founder member, but it wasn’t the ‘[Cooly] to search north of the border when Senor imports liquor of French origin (5)’ (SR round KIR = SKIRR) in his hand in that photo of last year’s finale in the bar, but a glass of his favourite malt.

Fair Exchange is No RobberyOf course, we started by admiring that beautifully symmetrical grid. A model grid!

I’ve said it before: a Mango or Radix crossword is bound to be impeccably set, so we launched into our solve with a confident smile and slotted in solutions with ease, pleasure … and growing consternation. They just didn’t fit together! What was going on? With two-thirds of the clues solved we had realized that only the clues where a word was to be removed could go into the grid, so we created a skeleton grid with the words LATELY, MINT, REENTER, SKIRR, SPOUSAGE, SEE, AT HOME, TIER, ACADEME, ISOTHERM, ETUDE and EYE.

Mystified now, we attempted to work out the way that letters and words were to move, as not a single one made sense to us. This was not typical Radix. First penny-drop-moment (and I had been ‘on-the -solve’ now for about six hours) – I kicked myself. ‘No Robbery’, I should have realized hours ago that that was telling me which twelve letters were moving and my FA??E??HANGE resolved itself to FAIR EXCHANGE.

Didn’t Roddy have us struggling to cope with Base 24 some weeks ago? The next break-through was to think alphanumerically (Aaah so that was what that word ‘Added’ in the preamble was telling us. When will I learn to listen to the message I keep spelling out in the Numpty blog? READ THE PREAMBLE!) We had to add those single letters to the words that were clearly the intruders in the twelve clues identified by those letters.

So ‘Girl who may wish to gulls two girls with sailor returning [f]are (9)’ was telling us to add F (=6) to GULLS, getting MARRY, and we had a coherent explanation of INAMORATA, which we had already entered into the grid. Some alphanumeric calculation followed and we were able to justify a number of words that hadn’t quite convinced us before: ARIOSTO, ATOCIA, DRAFTEE, (oh how clever, that OZ + E = 5, gave us the TE that anagrammed with F[e]ARED to justify DRAFTEE – this really was spectacular compilation!) LEADERENE, OILSKIN, NATURE (was that a mildly smutty clue? I had to ask the other Numpty to explain the ‘creative JISM’ that seemed to appear when I added H (=8) to BAKE – but this was already dazzling us by its ingenuity and we hadn’t finished!), PERSEVERE, AMAUROSIS, ARRANGE and RECIPE.

Almost all of those words had already been slotted into the grid because they were the only Chambers words that would fit or because, like AMAUROSIS, they were clearly related to the definition word ‘blindness’, but that was not so with the remaining 12 words that seemed to have no relationship at all with the clued word. Obviously LADYBUGS was clued by ‘North American predators fancy bald guys (8)’ (You flatter the bald gang, Roddy, I think they go for the Leonardo di Caprio filmy types!) but we were entering something like FISTICAL.

Several clues had unambiguous solutions and we could enter MEDUSA, ILL and ACTIN but why was I entering ILL when the clue gave me EWE (‘Crone’s an old one – jug’s not right (3)’ EWER less R)? By this time it was after midnight and hailstones and snow were beating on the windows – and we had to drive south from the Dales to Cheltenham in a few hours, so I decided to sleep on it.

Brainwave and Numpty red herring at 4 a.m. Add EWE and it comes to 33 and so does ILL. I spent those F. Scott Fitzgerald hours (between midnight and the dawn when the past is all deception and the future futureless) doing mental calculations that didn’t work, but, of course, the seed of the solution was there and Roddy, with typical kindness led the way with that other preamble word that we should have listened to. LIKEWISE.

Of course, those twelve extra words had to be added to words of the same length to give the entry word, so we were adding DOG to EWE to get ILL, ALL to MOD to get NAP, THOUGHTS to LADYBUGS to get FISTICAL. How long did it take Roddy to find such astonishing fits AND to disguise them so convincingly in clues?

It was a joyous downhill coast now, adding EDAM to GAGE = LEHR, LIQUIDLY + FRANKEST = RARITIES, ACTS + FOAL = GRUE, BATHING + ANTLIAE = CONTROL, CINEMA + BEEPED = ENSURE, BLESS + COOLY = EATER, TOILET + SPUING = MEDUSA (I am sure Roddy is up there somewhere smiling about that one – I am), INEPT + ROOST + ACTIN. I could even work backwards to the clue we hadn’t solved and find that IMMERSE minus FELLERS gave us CHASMAL (‘Contralto’s complaint, I’m not really gorgeous! (7)’ C + HAS MAL).

Sorry, this an unusually long Numpty blog, but then again, it was an unusually long Numpty solve and an unusually stunning piece of setting.

Thank you Roddy for everything.

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Movements by Mango

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 March 2014

Red priest 001Mr Lemon last week and Mango this week when they have just lost one of the three compilers. Well, with the genius of that team, this promises to be quite something. OMG, that preamble! One of the Numpties almost despaired on reading about numeric values O to d-1 and ‘base d‘. Even the more mathematical Numpty stomped off in a huff at first but was tempted back when I commented that the clues seemed to be remarkably approachable for a Mango compilation and that the grid was filling nicely.

No problem reaffirming the Mango affiliation to the Listener boozy club. ‘Maybe like a dingy old Australian claret (5)’ gave us O + A + RED, though why setters with such taste would be imbibing dingy old claret, I can’t imagine. However, there was ‘A Mediterranean vessel acting something like a small schooner (7)’ TARTANA (TARTAN + A) – maybe they resorted to something Mediterranean in that schooner.

We speedily latched on to what was happening with those clues that required movement of a special letter before solving (a thematic number quickly defined itself as 12 since we know how strictly Mango observe symmetry and each one we solved in that top section of the grid was going to have a partner at the bottom or vice versa).

RA and TE were gifts, weren’t they? ‘Sun god had to eradiate beams essentially (3)’ required us to shift the E, giving ‘Sun god head to Radiate + beAms (essentially)’ and ‘Note ten wives anew (3)’ had to become ‘Note ten waives New, so TEN lost its N’. Once we had the trick, the remaining ten were fun – except 43 across where we were somewhat perplexed even after we had established, because of the endgame, that M had to be the moving letter. It was only then that we saw that this was a delightfully hidden word; ‘Attention from aid inside mart (3) became ‘Attention from amid insidE ARt’. Delightful!

An almost full grid with only a couple of clues in hiatus. We were not sure about ALWIN at 31dn ‘Boy accepted fifty penny coin out of circulation (5)’ but the next p.d.m. confirmed that and showed us where we were heading. There, in lovely Mango symmetry were SPRING, SUMMER, AUTUMN and WINTER and we rushed to Wikipedia to see whether this was a Vivaldi anniversary. Surprisingly, the year wasn’t but the date was (almost – we learned that he was born on March 4th 1678, which of course, gave us values for SUMI) and we practically side-stepped the calculating of  those base 12 summations when we decided that il prete rosso was going to give us PRIEST as the word the seasons would add up to, and that he had to be RED.

There was a Numpty red-herring since I used TEA to find that word but, initially, wasn’t aware that PERP was a valid word. We knew Vivaldi was born in Venice but TRIESTE? (Of course, that didn’t work, as each letter could only appear once in order to leave six to be placed in ascending numerical order in the six spaces on the top row.)

Our calculations were now rendered somewhat easier, since, of the 12 letters that had been played with in the clues, only six were left and two of those were automatically assigned to Alarums and Ute, and M already establised. We had only G,W and N left. It was not an excessively difficult calculation to work out how each of those, added to the letter that had moved in the clue, totted up to 11 and we soon established that G had to be O, the first in an ascending series, with W as 2, and N as 10. Even I enjoyed the maths – and this crossword in its entirety. I wonder how many more Mango crosswords are in the editors’ files. Lots, I hope! Many thanks to Radix and the other Mango men.

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Boxes by Radix

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 September 2013

IMG_0417The quarterly numerical puzzles cause havoc in the Numpty household as one Numpty is a double Numpty where Listener numerical crosswords are concerned, and the other one has all the solving to do. There is the occasional exception when the crossword might – just might – be considered to be within the range of a reasonably competent ordinary-level mathematician (as Listener wallahs claim they always are, ha ha!) However, that was certainly not the case with Radix’s Boxes. The first puzzle was attempting to understand the preamble. I got well out of range for a full day then dared to ask for a solver’s blog.  Here’s what the math Numpty said.

“I can only admire this remarkable construction, having finished the puzzle. However, … that little word … did anyone really solve this who could not write programmes to do it, or who is not a far greater expert at Excel than I am? I cannot believe it (but if somebody did, or found a magic method, I applaud with vigour!) I must also applaud the astonishing ingenuity that has gone into such a complex construction. At first, I struggled with what seemed to me to be impossibly vast sets of a,b,c values.

Use of base 24 gives the letters that then provide that subtly ‘hidden instruction’ but were difficult for the ordinary Joe to handle. Even programs proved to be very demanding when both strings and numbers needed to be manipulated. Our household calculators were not capable of the precision required (32 bit integers etc.) and I needed to download a freeware programming support system (Thin Air Basic) and re-learn it. The Radix Boxes 001puzzle crumbled quite fast thereafter, with K and M, for example, offering a unique a,b,c, and E, V and L offering 4, 6 and 7 solutions. Sufficient to start a jigsaw fill with not too many ‘alternative pieces’.

How was I going to find that word that was to be written below the grid? We were told that ‘The 24 integers c (the heights) should finally lead solvers to the thematic word that must be written below the grid, thereby serving to resolve any apparent ambiguity. We should have read this more carefully from the start (isn’t that always the case with preambles?). We know Radix will never waste a word. ‘Finally‘! Finally, we read those final letters and what did we find? TOTAL HEIGHT IN BASE TWO FOUR. We had two ‘ambiguities’ A/M and B/Q. This meant that there were four calculations of the total height (by adding all the heights together) and when I reconverted those figures to base 24 and letters, two possible words of the four appeared. I had CAME and CASE. Boxes? Clearly, I had to opt for CASE:

Indeed, there is no doubt that this was a truly brilliant compilation and I have to applaud Radix  even if this led to even more Numpty head-scratching, cursing and program mistakes than usual. There were none of the habitual Listener tipples in this one (well, perhaps there were, was Radix producing not one but a whole CASE full of bottles?) On the stregth of that suspicion, we decided to have one anyway to toast a compiler who can produce challenging and flawless verbal crosswords and numerical ones too.

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Double Cross by Radix

Posted by shirleycurran on 30 April 2010

What a good thing that it was a miserable, bitterly cold weekend here in the Alps, otherwise the ‘Black and white horse (5) Z???A’ team might have objected to spending most of Saturday and Sunday tussling with Radix’s wordplay – and then much of Monday debating his logical time bomb.

We have painstakingly broken down all those obscure clues and produced two grids. Great. Put one in an envelope and mail it. But hang on a minute – which one. One has clues that read ‘These answers should be used’ in the first of two crosses. Yet below it I find an alternative, ‘Please ignore these answers’. Now this is a binary situation: an alternative has equal value to an original, it doesn’t override it does it?

Let’s take the other grid: ‘Please ignore these answers!’ Right, no problem. But what do I read

Two crosses! Double cross!

below? These answers should be used. Dilemma! Ah well, those extra letters will surely resolve it. What do I find (carefully checked so that I have ten letters included and ten removed in both the across and the down clues).  ‘You may need to consider the other clues instead.’ Ha, that solves the problem – but does it? Which were the other clues – how can he know which I was considering first?

I can see that this discussion can go round in circles forever. I wonder what would happen if I put my original grid in an envelope and sent it. After all, I rather naively worked on a single grid for about two-thirds of my solving and then realized that the clues were actually splitting themselves into two completely separate grids. Of course it made sense to work on two grids, since that automatically gave strong prompts for the missing answers instead of the jumble of letters that had confronted the bemused Stripey Horse team. I suppose that is another lesson that experience is teaching us!

All day Saturday and Sunday? What about Friday evening? Well the Z????A team abandoned in despair and decided that this one had defeated us as we could rarely decide where the half clues started and ended. ORRA, MART and SAUTERNE  (yet another oenophile Radix?) – we didn’t even reach our aim of 12 clues on a Friday and this one had 80, not 40 to solve!

Only the knowledge that Radix was behind this fiendish puzzle and that, therefore, every scrap of wordplay and every comma and semi-colon was going to be justified, kept us slogging on.

Some magic moments: (20a would not tramp once home – after whee(D)ling) we find that NILLED was an old form of NOULDE or ‘would not’, so we look up DELL and find that it fits the definition of ‘tramp; (17d Rat in a state in washing liquid) we put a likely ‘state’, VA,  into ELUATE and suddenly understand that we have EVALUATE or RAT(E). Slowly we tease out those extra letters and can guess at ‘You may need to consider the other clues instead’.

I believe there is a limit on the length of blogs. It would take several thousand words to work through our cursings, mumblings, red herrings and muddy garden paths. Suffice it to say that it was noon on Sunday before the notion of separating what we had into two grids shed a little light into the gloom.

The TOCOS grid was easily completed and THESE ANSWERS SHOULD BE USED appeared. (That was a good thing as this grid was certainly easier to fill.) One cross obviously led to the other ‘PLEASE IGNORE THESE ANSWERS’ – a relief, as we had lots of gaps. However, with zebra stubbornness, (and help from our gifted solving friend) we completed the grid we hope we have to discard. But who would opt for SIERRA from the clue ‘S(T) Swithin, viz start of rain by God trashing indoors?’ OK: We trash ‘within’ (indoors) and we are left with two Ss, so one of them is the S of the International radio code words (Alfa Romeo, Golf, Porsche and whatnot) and gives me SIERRA as our definition; I have an S left, viz gives us IE, Rain starts with R and we need the God RA – SIERRA! I had trouble with OLLA, as I thought that it was only the equivalent of OLIO in the sense of a stew – can it really be a variety entertainment too?

There were dozens like this for us and a number of new words – SEREIN, SHASHES, PILCORN, NOCKET, TALAYOT, LEIPOAS, ALBUGOS. Does Radix use these in everyday conversation? Well, perhaps we will from now on. One thing is sure, after probably about ten hours of struggling, our ability to handle wordplay must have developed. Many thanks, Radix, for stretching us to our absolute limits! We just hope you never get to a triple cross!

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