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Posts Tagged ‘Samuel’

Agreement by Samuel

Posted by shirleycurran on 6 Jul 2018

We are child-minding in California with a rather demanding two-year old, and I was dreading a really fearsome crossword with a GWIT leap from solving to a totally obscure and unrelated endgame, something along the lines of ‘All clues consist of two halves which must be differently attached in order to provide the definitions and wordplay to entries which are all jumbled, all but three of these must be entered using knights’ moves. The remaining three give a cryptic definition of the theme which solvers must highlight with a single curved line linking six symbolic thematic items ….’ You know the style!

What a relief, therefore, to see the name Samuel at the head of the puzzle and to read a preamble that we could absorb in a single reading. We could be sure of totally fair clues. (Are you claiming that ‘See how far one can get from moon containing Yttrium (7 three words)’ is fair? There are hundreds of moons Ed.) Well we put a Y into the letters we had and guessed the rest, producing TRY IT ON.

We had to find misprints in the definitions of all but eight of the clues. That’s always a challenge for the setter but tends to render the solving slightly easier when a few are instantly evident: ‘not Raving joints – surely that was ‘not Having joints, which gave us ENODAL.  ‘… town adjacent to where parties made peNce’ – surely they made peAce. First penny drop moment, “EGHAM is near Runnymede! It’s about the Magna Carta” said the other Numpty and, of course, we saw where the ten-letter phrase would go. Down the leading diagonal. That rendered solving much easier with so many letters in place.

No, I haven’t forgotten the inevitable setter’s tipple and it was there in ‘Striking head consuming drop of Ouzo and what some mean by “raki”‘. Samuel is into the relatively exotic alcohol. Cheers! We had trouble finding the misprint there but at the very end of our solve, when we had BAILI? we found that RAKE can mean ROAM (the O of ouzo going into RAM, striking head).

DISESTEEMED ‘Wasn’t fond of …’ had been our very first entry in the grid but we had wondered how the wordplay gave us the last four letters. ‘….dodgy sites in Delaware (11)’ led to DISESTE. Now we could complete the word with ‘Runny’ or anagrammed MEDE, and as the eight words that were going to use this device were symmetrical we soon found MISDEMEANOUR, ADEEM, REDEEM, ACADEME, DEMENT, MADE MEN and EDEMA. KANG and FOHN, converted to KING JOHN, neatly placed at 12 and 15, giving 1215, the year of the signing of the Magna Carta. That left us a few gaps to fill and the thematic group to complete. OFFICER, COURT, BAILIE, ??NCHAUSEN and OF BEEF. Well it had to be MUNCHAUSEN and I found that an IMPOT can be a ‘huM’ giving us the M, and  SEA DOGS can be ‘hUsses’ giving us the U. What did all those have in common I asked myself. Of course, they can all be barons – how beautifully thematic the whole compilation was – not over-difficult, three relevant devices. Just the way I like my Listener crosswords. Thank you, Samuel.


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‘Agreement’ by Samuel

Posted by Encota on 6 Jul 2018

2018-06-18 09.19.10

A gentle yet accurate Listener – one of the best sorts, I feel – where it doesn’t feel like 15 rounds with Mike Tyson yet all thematically and satisfyingly hangs together.

Aside: there does seem to be something of a mixed metaphor, or something, there.  My current favourite is, “Let’s run Aunt Sally up the flagpole and see if she floats …”.

I do love the tougher ones – but without the kind of counterbalance this puzzle provides it would all begin to feel a bit too much of a slog, I think.

I’d like to claim I didn’t know who John King is, or that his birthday was on 15th December, but that’d just be puerile.  Slightly more seriously I do like it when the numbers in the puzzle play some role in their own right, so it was good to see King John featuring in 12 15 in this ‘Magna Carta, Runnymede & Barons’ puzzle.  Perhaps I am slightly biased, though, having been guilty of using the numbers in my previous ‘2001: a space odyssey’ and ‘Radios 1 to 4’ thematic puzzles in recent years!

Out of time today – thanks again to Samuel.


Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4507: Agreement by Samuel

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 Jul 2018

Samuel’s last Listener was over three years ago with his Essentials and ORIENTEERING being highlighted in the shape of the letters M A P. Unfortunately, I made a silly mistake with one of the answers, RANGATIRA (a Maori leader or chief), entering it as RANATIRI. Hopefully, no such silliness lay ahead of me this week.

To start with, a thematic 9-letter place name could be used as partial wordplay for eight entries, with only the remaining wordplay provided by the clues. Other clues had a misprint in their definition.

As a setter, Samuel can be fairly easy-going or quite tricky. After about half-an-hour, with about a third of the grid complete, it became clear that this was one of his easier ones. It was entertaining nonetheless, especially with a good dollop of Samuel’s sense of humour. Misprints can either stick out like a sore thumb, or be nicely devious. Here, we had a mixture of both. I particularly enjoyed 22ac Like men leaving tailors sporting handy equivalent to ties? (8) where ties became toes giving DIGITALS, and (don’t ask me why!) 36ac Thong’s sex appeal: empty eroticism (4) for ITEM (thongthing).

Eventually, the grid was complete and the wordplay missing from the clues was an anagram of DEEM. I’m afraid that my first instinct was to look in the NW–SE diagonal and was rewarded with MAGNA CARTA. 7dn was an additional hint to the location we were seeking: Playing hard game in town adjacent to where parties made pence (5), EGHAM being next to RUNNYMEDE where parties made peace.

The corrections to the misprints in the clues spelt out types of baron: baron-officer, court baron, baron-bailie, Baron Munchausen, baron of beef. Magna Carta was forced on King John by 25 rebel barons. The final change in the grid was to turn KANG FOHN into KING JOHN at acrosses 12 15.

I know that some commenters elsewhere have complained about easy Listeners, and this was certainly on the easy side compared to the recent Sabre and Ifor puzzles. However, as a weekly blogger, it is a welcome relief to knock one of these essays out in an hour or so, rather than the 2, 3 or more hours they sometimes take. So many thanks, Samuel.

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Essentials by Samuel

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 May 2015

Orienteering 001We are a long way from home with intermittent WiFi, no printer and limited solving resources (not the usual heap of dictionaries and reference books etc.) so we download our week’s challenge with a touch of trepidation – then a modicum of relief. “Samuel! It’s bound to be well set.”

Then comes that preamble and the other Numpty starts growling as we read that there are either misprints or extra letters in 30 of the clues AND a clash AND three clues where the wordplay indicates the answer with one letter omitted. What’s more, we are going to have to perform some alphanumeric conversion AND draw twelve straight lines on our completed grid AND make a guess at three unclued lights.

There is enough there to suggest that we might have a long night’s solve ahead of us. Time to fix a stiff drink and do a quick check that Samuel still qualifies for the Listener Setters’ Tipsy Gang; a speedy run through the clues and I am two-thirds of the way down, finding medicine, a donut, cake, a cheap cigarette, trout and an olive, before he produces the Italian vermouth and confirms that he has retained his membership. ‘Olive left after Vice Admiral drinks Italian vermouth (5)’ [VA round IT + L giving VITAL and one of those misprints – this must be Alive].

Samuel orienteering 001A generous clue and, fortunately there were many like that, and since we were performing the alphanumeric conversions as we went along, a pattern was speedily emerging. N, S, E and W were appearing, interspersed with numbers which were clearly going to tell us how many cells to move in any given direction.

We paused to enjoy one of my favourite clues of the year, ‘Leaders of Ancient Britons stay in and look after puss for a night (5)’ [AB + SIT with pUss becoming pAss] then we examine our set of directions.

6N, 2SE, 2NE, 6S, 6NNE, 6SSE, 6N, 2E, 1SE, 1SW, 2W.

We have already almost filled our grid and discovered that we need a COMPASS and a SENSE OF DIRECTION so it doesn’t take much geometry or cartography (please tell me what the correct word is, some kind soul) to tell us that this would spell MAP and that we are ORIENTEERING.

But where to start?

We had one clue left to solve (well, no, two actually, as Wells’ perfect race was still escaping us, though we had encountered ELOI and Morlocks in books read at school); that clue about the stargazer had to be the one with the clash; AOR?. It made sense to begin our MAP there as that would nicely fill the grid.

It was some time later that we realized that each time the word turned a corner it passed through one of the letters of ORIENTEERING (and, of course, gave us the astronomer OORT of Oort cloud fame). That resolved any ambiguity about where to stand the feet of the capital A. How very elegant, Samuel! Many thanks.

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Pipes by Samuel

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 Jun 2013

Pipes by SamuelOh no! Not a carte blanche! The numpties read on in disbelief. There is an initial grid so there must be a different final grid and there are going to be six thematic clues with word-play only. Pipes? One of the numpties plays the bagpipes – are we on Scottish territory again? A touch of the pibroch? Music for a change from poker games? We abandon an early attempt to understand the preamble which is telling us how to rotate clues but highlight the word CAREFULLY lower down. That must be there for a reason (Don’t Listener solvers always attempt to obey instructions carefully?) and two final items to highlight. (We highlight that instruction too – what a gaffe to complete the whole thing and forget the highlighting – and it wouldn’t be the first time!)

A quick read through the clues shows us that Samuel isn’t in corny joke mode (as in so many of his hilarious crosswords like last month’s SHY NIECE WITH PURSE in the Magpie) but qualifies as usual for the Listener Setters’ tippling confrerie with is ‘Unoccupied evil journalist in New York, maybe, napped after drinks (8)’ Ah, but the drinks seem to be TEAS followed by E[vi]L + ED, as that is clearly a clue to rotate. I think ‘Unoccupied evil journalist’ has to go to the end of the clue which leaves 31 letters unmoved and that would give me an E.

I am beginning to despair of Samuel’s tippling tendencies as a series of rather negative surface readings appears. We have ‘frosty look’, ‘foolery’, ‘cruel’, ‘evil’, ‘All Saints’ missing out on ‘virility’, smacking a ‘tart’s bottom with a rubber bat’, ‘clash’, ‘weep’, ‘strive’, ‘spoil’, ‘accursed … about love’ and it is only in his last two clues that he redeems himself with ‘Dash of Rum and Orange, say, in rough bar in Glasgow (4) R[um] + ISP – well, my ISP is Orange – what a lovely clue) and Bottle the first of absinthe in village (4) A in VIL. Of course there is a different device operating for the down clues and I laboroiously work out that those two give me an S and a T.

March to May 2013 114Perhaps we are lucky that our solve gives us MUMBLERS as our first down clue (‘Bunglers getting money for fine could be unclear speakers (8) FUMBLERS with M for F) and a few other downs follow. That gives us an inkling about what is going on as our solving proceeds. The across clues don’t tally with the downs and we have a set of words that might well be thematic (GONG, PEAL, VESPER, BIG BEN) and a message emerging from the remaining across clues that is telling us to ROTATE  … We were told initially that the grid represents the curved surface of a thematic object so we begin to suspect that we are dealing with some sort of pipe or BELL? A quick visit to our Bradford confirms that those are indeed bells and she adds CROTAL and LUTINE to our list, providing the six we need.

Oh wonderful Mrs Bradford, she gives us another bell ‘TUBULAR!’ Haven’t I been playing that all week and isn’t this just about the fortieth anniversary? A quick Google check gives me May 25th 1973, so we have the theme and a good idea what is going to occupy one column and who the creator is (Mike Oldfield) who is going to occupy the symmetrically opposite column.

Oh but our solve isn’t over yet! Getting the across clues into the right order (and how clever of Samuel to make sure that there was only one order possible in each of them) was only half the battle. Counting the letters that hadn’t moved and converting them to letters was almost equally demanding. Take ‘Surrounding new style knight inhibits British noblemen (8)’ We unsnarl the clue to get Inhibits British noblemen surrounding new style knight (EARLS round NS + N = ENSNARLS), then we have to count those 23 letters that didn’t move to produce the last letter of the instruction: ROTATE EVERY ROW!

Wrong grid!

Wrong grid!

We haven’t finished yet. Our down clues give us a message too. First solve, then identify the letter that gives us the position of a key letter in the clue and hey presto! ‘THEME OF THE EXORCIST‘. Wiki told us that too so we know now what we have to do. We find an M and a T on the first line, and I and a U on the next, a K and a B on the third. Simples! We rotate the rows and what do we have? MIKE OLDFIELD/ TUBULAR BELLS.

We are patting ourselves on the back and preparing to copy this very satisfactory solution onto our sending copy when we remember that we highlighted that word ‘carefully’ in the preamble. What are Samuel and our Editors up to? Haven’t we rotated every row? Well, have we? I check carefully Tubular bells Right grid!and daylight dawns. How did they engineer that twist? We haven’t rotated row six! Back to the drawing board. (Actually I just cut my grid in half and got the desired result – every row rotated and there were TUBULAR BELLS followed by their creator MIKE OLDFIELD in the order given by Samuel in the preamble.

How beautifully this all came together with the circular nature of the thematic device echoing the tubular nature of the bells. And we got our pipes too, even if they were rather grunty and ughy Exorcist pipes. This was a massive challenge; thanks Samuel! It will certainly silence the critics who want a difficult one.

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