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Posts Tagged ‘Serpent’

L4668: ‘Impossible Construction’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 6 Aug 2021

What an enjoyable puzzle – thank you Serpent! And that hidden message encoded in the 36 letters of the central square, as advice to those who think that retiring won’t make them busier and will give them more free time (e.g. for puzzles):
LEISURE RECEDES … ELSE RETIREMENT A SUCCESS“. So subtle, so subtle. It’s probably spelt out using Knight’s moves or something …

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota


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Listener No 4668: Impossible Construction by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 6 Aug 2021

Serpent’s previous Listeners have had snakes and ladders, alopecia, Margaret Thatcher and Ulysses as their themes so I think it’s fair to say that anything could crop up this week. The title was certainly intriguing and given that we were faced with a carte blanche grid I dreaded some tortuous endgame although no artistic endeavour seemed to be required.

Of course, difficulty number one was that half the answers had to be entered jumbled. At least they were symmetrically placed although I wasn’t sure whether that was with 90° symmetry like the grid or just 180° — or indeed mirror! I guessed the first of these but only time would tell. Difficulty number two was to work out how the forty clues we were given would translate into the 52 entries that the preamble told us would be in the final grid.

All would no doubt reveal itself, so I proceeded with the clues. They were fairly tricky as I expected from Serpent, so I was happy to get a few acrosses — ROBUST, TANNIN and ORCHARD — to start the ball rolling. I was pleased to get the last of these since it was one of the four clues with an extra word, in this case promise.

Getting the entries in the right place in the top left was also a bit tricky, and it took several attempts to be happy with the layout. The location of the 9-letter entries was also somewhat problematic, especially since they were jumbled.

All in all, this was a slow solve and the abundance of Es and Ss in the middle of the grid seemed like Serpent was playing with us! Eventually, however, courtesy of CRY and AGE on the left of the grid, I realised what we had to do to resolve these entries. Dotted around the central region were an awful lot of 3-letter words and it was unlikely that was accidental.

The superfluous words in four clues ended up as promise to settle up and this provided the wordplay for the feature that the grid would provide. After playing with IOU for a few minutes, word square finally popped into my head and that enabled the rest of the central area to be finished post haste. The four entries simply defined the boundary of the word square.

So a careful drawing of the bars around the central area was required, and my entry was squared off nicely. Finally, the title was resolved since the top row and left column of the word square were CIRCLE, and we had neatly squared the circle despite it having previously been proved impossible!

Thanks for a neat and enjoyable puzzle, Serpent.

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Listener 4619: ‘Artistic Licence’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 28 Aug 2020

First of all thanks to Serpent for a gentle and entertaining puzzle!

The extra letters / words were cleverly hidden.  In my solve, the words United States v one book called … appeared pretty quickly, along with a few other words.  I didn’t recognise the phrase but soon located it with the help of Auntie Google.  “His locale was Celtic and his season Spring”, from Judge Woolsey in the 1933 obscenity case against James Joyce’s Ulysses.

There were some lovely, ‘clean’ surfaces, e.g.
Blown-up image is enormous (4),
where the ‘i’ of image was dropped and MAGE* became MEGA.

The neatest feature in the grid, I thought, was the conversion from OBSCENE NOVEL on Row 7 to ULYSSES JOYCE whilst maintaining real words throughout.  

Just like L4618 last week, this felt like one of the easier puzzles of recent times – though perhaps several in a row are now going to feel like that, coming closely after ‘that Sabre’ at L4617!!

Thanks again to Serpent!

Cheers & keep safe all,

Tim / Encota

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Artistic Licence by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Aug 2020

First Numpty comment -“At last we have a short preamble!” We read through it and there is nothing to alarm us except that we are going to be looking for extra words OR letters and these might be anywhere in the clue, not just in the wordplay.

Serpent is a regular at the three-monthly gatherings of Listener enthusiasts in Farringdon and I haven’t seen him favouring the orange juice, so don’t really need to check his retention of membership of the elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit (Dave’s website tells me it is his fourth Listener) but I scan his clues anyway to be sure and gloom descends. There isn’t much to drink in them. ‘Refusal to harm consumers in area where police operate (5)’  (Well, I suppose that must be referring to police presence outside the pub at closing time). We extract the R from ‘consumers’ and the MAR (to harm) ‘consumes’ the ‘refusal ‘NO’ giving MANOR. That’s clever cluing! We found a combination of easy and generous clues and sneaky, more subtle ones in this puzzle (‘married’ producing ‘marred’, ‘opinions’ producing ‘pinions’ and so on).

‘Little girls stop kneeling over to drink fizzy pop (7)’ Surely we aren’t with that crossword setters’ favourite, ASTI. But no, it’s another of those device indicators – more obvious this time. We remove the extra letter N and have STEM (stop) ‘keeling over’ and ‘drinking POP* giving MOPPETS.

Fortunately for Serpent, he finally gets to something drinkable in his last clue. ‘Called learned revolutionary on the phone (4)’. That’s another old chestnut for setters isn’t it? When else do we call a revolutionary a RED? (This time we ‘hear’ READ and extract the extra word ‘Called’) However, let’s raise a glass of red. Cheers, Serpent!

The grid fills steadily and by the time the other Numpty disappears to cook the dinner, we have the bones of a message; HIS LOCALE WAS CELTIC AND HIS SEASON SPRING. I suppose that could be Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, G B Shaw, Samuel Beckett or James Joyce (I put those in a descending order with the one I appreciate the least at the end – my Grade Thirteen students, who slogged through some of Ulysses with me, were barely more enthusiastic than I was). Of course, I need Google and feeding that sentence in produces the final words of our crossword solve. UNITED STATES V ONE BOOK CALLED … ‘ULYSSES’ of course!

It’s all there in Google – how John Woolsey allowed publication of Ulysses in the USA on the grounds that the ‘obscene language does not promote lust’. I suspect that lust would be the last response of anyone who manages to plough through the novel (though I imagine there are some out there who consider it to be the century’s masterpiece?).

It takes me a while to find the three words to change. OBSCENE NOVEL leaps out at me but I expect to be producing JAMES JOYCE ULYSSES IS NOT … OBSCENE NOVEL. When the penny drops and WOOLSEY replaces ROUTINE, there is that pleasure of seeing all real words in the final grid. Nice one, Serpent.

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Listener No 4619: Artistic Licence by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 Aug 2020

This was Serpent’s fourth Listener, following on from last year’s subject of Tina (courtesy Maggie Thatcher) and Androgenic Alopecia in 2017. Here we had an extra letter or word that needed to be removed before solving which would give a comment and most of its context.

The clues came together steadily and it seemed that most of them simply yielded an extra letter rather than word. The acrosses seemed to reveal something to do with Celtic, so I assumed that we were dealing with a football theme. The first extra word I got was United in 26dn followed immediately by States in 27dn. That made football unlikely but not out of the question.

Perhaps the extra v in 29dn (vindicated becoming indicated) should have given me a clue that we were dealing with some US legal situation, but it didn’t. Eventually, the extras gave His locale was Celtic and his season spring. United States v one book called…. Talk about leaving you (me) dangling… not to mentioned confused!

Meanwhile, there were some entertaining clues. 6ac Said you must leave married circuit judge (6) where married became marred [(CIRCUIT – U)*] to give CRITIC, and 11ac Sailor’s stopped hostilities only to treat lovers (6, two words) (lovers becoming overs) for HOVE TO [HO + VET + O]. My favourite was probably 8dn Point one brightens the display (5) with the s of brightens departing to give TENTH [(brigh)TEN TH(e)] and a neatly devious definition. (I have to say that I thought displays should have been the hidden indicator.)

I first tried the ODQ to see if that helped track down what was going on, but it didn’t, so googling came to the rescue to give part of the summing up by one Judge Woolsey on whether Ulysess should be allowed to be published in the States back in 1933. It was.

Finding the three entries that needed to be changed to relevant names wasn’t too taxing as JOYCE, ULYSSES and WOOLSEY seemed likely candidates. They were slotted in at 25a, 23ac and 12ac respectively.

Not too stressful a week so thanks, Serpent.

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