Listen With Others

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin

Posts Tagged ‘Serpent’

L4557: ‘Choice Words’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 21 June 2019

For several years I have exchanged birthday cards with a brother, where the aim is to send the naffest card one can find.  This allows a whole year for browsing to find something that is really ghastly, or at the very least memorable in some way.  It becomes quite addictive …

This year he recently sent me a card (available from O’Neill Classics) with a picture of an empostered Ford Anglia, alongside Margaret Thatcher campaigning in Finchley for the 1964 General Election.  So the theme was timely – for me, anyway!

2019-06-10 10.53.14 copy

I could of course claim an almost complete lack of FMC knowledge and declare it a Ford CorTINA …

I really enjoy the accuracy to the definitions in the BRB in Jason’s clues – there is something so satisfying stumbling across the appropriate one.

I haven’t seen the gimmick using aORb words before – a great idea!  EN-OR-MOUS as the answer, for example, but where either EN or MOUS is only entered into the Grid.

With the phrase THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE arising from jumbling together of the discarded parts from across answers, that simply left TINA to be found as its acronym in the grid – upwards in Column 4, if you are asking.  And the equivalent jumbling from Down clues gave, of course, MARGARET THATCHER.

I did try hunting for some alternative jumbles.  Across clues could fancifully describe her supporters, with A ROSETTE IN THEIR NAVEL.  And Down clues couldn’t possibly be complete without THAT GREAT CHARMER.


Tim / Encota


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

Listener No 4557: Choice Words from Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 21 June 2019

Listener No 4557 was from a getting-prolific setter! Previously, we’ve had No 4459, Shock Therapy on the subject of alopecia, and before that No 4408, Child’s Play with its snakes and ladders.

This week, adjustments to answers before entry (ten of them) and adjustments to clues before solving (another eight). The dropped bits from the acrosses could be arranged to form a 20-letter phrase, and those from the downs gave someone who was a proponent of said phrase. Exactly how big the bits were was for us to discover but two or three letters seemed likely.

Of course, it turned out that most of them were longer. In the acrosses, 12ac Original sin lacking appeal on vacation strangely for young men (4) led to SIGNORINI which had to be entered as SIGN and 13ac Intrepid learner takes space for parking in vain (3) giving [VAPOR]OUS. The downs were equally deceptive, especially in 7dn Players caught in opening of Greco-Roman wrestling get flattened essentially (5) where Greco-Roman eventually got truncated to Oman.

It soon became clear that the bits dropped from the acrosses gave far more than the letters required for the 20-letter thematic phrase. Similarly, the downs for the 16-letter mystery individual. As usual, I decided to carry on until the grid was filled and all the missing bits had been identified.

I particularly liked the clue to 35ac Giant tailless rodent giving up front of den to rest (4), which looked like ENORMOUS but needed a bit of head-scratching to reveal DORMOUS(e) having D(en) replaced by (d)EN. Also, 17dn Pan(orama) losing focus to fashionable circle by complaint (8) for SWINE-POX — SWEEP with middle E replaced by IN + O + X. 16ac Craft clerical role with nothing for established church (4, two words) had me confused for a bit, pondering whether the clerical role was PRIESTSHIP or PRIORSHIP (in fact it was RECTORSHIP). I was lucky to double-check my entries as I originally scrawled RESOURCE in at 19dn Secure And[orra] or disrupt freedom to return (8) instead of RECOURSE.

The abundance of ORs in the dropped bits of the across answers and all the ors in the down clues was apparent fairly early on and pointed us in the right direction. Well, sort of… they needed to be ignored. I decided to try and identify the individual from the downs: T H GREC T TER AMA RA R initially led me to Graham Ratchetter who was close enough for me to stumble across Margaret Thatcher. Unfortunately, her 20-letter phrase eluded me, mainly, I suspect, because I lived in the States for most of her time as Prime Minister.

The across bits dropped from answers gave INI VAL ROT E T H SH E TER OR and it wasn’t too difficult to wonder if alternative was lurking. A bit of play with the remaining letters gave there is no alternative. Despite having come across this as TINA in crosswords quite a few times, I had never associated it with Thatcher. Well I do now.

Thanks, Serpent, good fun.

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

Choice Words by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 21 June 2019

Serpent is a regular participant at the three-monthly gatherings of Listener aficionados (editors, solvers, setters and the marker) that take place in Farringdon, London, and I regularly see him with a glass in his hand so I was astonished to find what was apparently a TT set of clues but, of course, he had tricks in store and by the end of our solve we were staggering drunkenly as he produced example after example of our local rather rich wine (the vin d’or –, so he retains his place in the  Elite Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit. Cheers Serpent, see you at the bar in the Sir John Oldcastle!

I said ‘by the end of our solve’. We were really flummoxed as we filled in our first 20 or so solutions, MATCHBOX, ROPILY, FLIP SIDE, INTAGLI, TWINGE, etc. SNIPER, SHIP and RIDER seemed to fit in that north-east corner but the clues didn’t quite work. ‘Original sin lacking appeal on vacation strangely for young men (4)’ spelled out that we must anagram ORIGINAL SIN less AL, and that gave us SIGNORINI – but which four-letter real word should we enter? NORI or SIGN?

SNIPER seemed to be the ‘critic’ of ‘Reporter is upset about northern critic (6)’ ( IS< round N + REP<) but REP is not ‘reporter’ in Chambers so we had those extra letters ORTER to explain. We argued about RIDER with the other Numpty insisting that DRIER had to be ‘cycling’ (but that doesn’t give RIDER) but then light dawned. TORRIDER is also more dehydrating and also had that extra OR, as did HORACE. We were removing OR and using the remainder of the word for the RIDER solution, for example, and to produce a T for the ’20-letter phrase’ or, with HORACE to give us an H of the ‘proponent of the phrase’ and ACE = A which we added to PSIS to give us APSIS.

‘Choice words’ now made sense (is OR used in computing for ‘alternatives’?) and our grid filled. There had to be no ORs and who said THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE? (Am I allowed to say that a US solver friend commented to me that there seem to be rather too many ‘alternatives’ in the current Brexit situation and that Mrs May hasn’t been able to wield an iron handbag in that respect?) Yes, it was Margaret Thatcher. We knew what our twenty letters had to anagram to and who our sixteen-letter proponent was, and TINA was climbing in the fourth column of our grid, but the tussle to actually work out the wordplay of those eighteen ‘OR’ clues took us almost as long as the gridfill.

SWINEPOX was the most difficult of all. ‘Panorama losing focus to fashionable circle by complaint (8)’ That is real ‘Listener’ for me. We removed the OR and used SWEEP for the PAN but that had to exchange an E for IN (yes, I hadn’t realized that E = focus), so we had SWINEP, followed by ‘circle by’ = OX and AMA – three of Mrs Thatcher’s letters. What can I say? Brilliant, Serpent.


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

Shock Therapy by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 August 2017

I have a tiny suspicion that there has been some collusion between Serpent and Poat as YES, that elusive HARE in four letters in a straight line has finally climbed prominently to a glorious place at the top of Serpent’s grid. I’ve been saving my best HARE for this long-awaited event and here he is. Thank you Serpent (BOA – BOAT – POAT?) Not just a HARE but a stripey horse too. He has long been the Numpty bloggers’ favourite – ‘Stripey horse (5)’, though Serpent’s clue was rather more complex, ‘Foreign football official hounded Zagreb (5)’ as we had to remove a letter from the wordplay ‘hounded Zagreb’ (with that rather lovely anagram indicator ‘hounded’) and place it at the top of the ‘Upper down’ clues instead of whatever jumble that clue produced. This was the first clue we solved and we hooted with delight as the ZEBRA was slotted in. We took the C to the top of the column and at once opted for GREAT (or GRATE) as the unjumbled entry of ‘Find time to compete (5)’ T + RACE as GRACE would involve no unjumbling. That put a C above our grid.

Of course, I had scanned the clues to check Serpent’s continued right to membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit and his clues were astonishingly TT, so that I had to scan his final grid to find evidence of a CRU at the bottom of column 11 (hidden in ‘Material used in hire car upholstery (4)’ – ECRU) and RED at the top of column 13 ‘Death by hanging with decapitation (6)’ which gave us decapitated PENDING = ENDING = DEATH, which unjumbled to REDING or ‘advising’ when we had replaced one of its Ns with the R that was extra in ‘Gloomy literary sweetheart (4)’ D[R]EAR.

I had, a first suspected that SUAVE, ‘Sophisticated aircon in 4X4 with electronic starter (5)’ (AC in SUV + E) was a translation of SOAVE suggesting that the Italian wine was sweet and sophisticated, but Chambers disillusioned me – the dry white wine is named after the village of Soave! However, that clue did send a C to the top of the column that finally converted DINGY to a ‘Woman’, CINDY, and gave us another letter of that two-word condition – G. So cheers, Serpent, see you at the bar in Paris. Well, maybe we should be opening a bottle of Champagne to toast the HARE!

This was very clever and very meaty compiling wasn’t it? The lower half of our grid filled fairly quickly and we had taken enough letters to the top of the grid to see the humour of the title. WIG, TOUPEE and HAIRPIECE were slotted in, so that solving could speed up, though we took far too long to work out what the condition was, as usual because of our careless reading of the preamble. It had to be, and of course was, a form of ALOPECIA but I had overlooked those words ‘(starting at a point to be determined)’ and our solve was almost complete before we nudged ourselves and saw that ANDROGE…NIC was split.

Completed with a real sense of satisfaction but we had to do a careful check that we had selected the correct extra words to use as definitions since we had one slight doubt. HURRIED, WOMAN, EULOGY, EDDIES, PASS, FIGURE, IMPLEMENT, JUDGEMENTS, LEGEND, WILLOW, ADVISING, SIMPLE, VAINEST, FISH, FLAP LABOURERS, and RIVER all fitted with the words that had appeared at the top so that we realized that we had assumed that ‘reversal’ was our anagram indicator in clue 50, when, in fact it had to be ‘abuse’, leaving REVERSAL as our missing U-TURN. What a superb compilation, thank you, Serpent.

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

Listener No 4459: Shock Therapy by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 August 2017

An interesting grid this week from Serpent, he of last year’s Child’s Play with its Snakes & Ladders theme. Here we had an 18×10 grid which looked as though it was without symmetry, although it was two identical 9×10 grids (still asymmetric) stuck together. [Thanks for that. Ed.]

Across clues were normal, as were the upper down clues which had to be enetered jumble-wise. The lower down clues had an extra letter which needed to be moved to the top row transforming it from a jumble to a real word; I liked that idea.

I was fairly slow solving the acrosses (just half a dozen) and decided to tackle the Lower Down clues next which were listed separately from the Upper Downs (thanks, Serpent). I was a bit worried when I got to 29 Initially thin people disliked pastry dishes (5) where I suspected that F was the extra letter, referring to old [F]ARTS in the wordplay! It turned out to be [W]ARTS.

After about 50 minutes, I had what looked as though it could be WAG TO UPPER EARPIECE in the top row. A bit more concentration, and a smile broke out as I realised that WIG TOUPEE HARIPIECE were likely to be the three words required. My first guess at the condition was FOLLICLY- [Wrong spelling. Ed.] CHALLENGED.

Having the top row in place certainly helped with the remaining Lower Down entries, but it still took nearly 90 minutes to fill the rest of the grid. I particularly liked the clue to 4 Number: band regularly does covers? (6) for DEADER, although I wasn’t sure why there was a question mark. I also thought that it was a shame that the amusing 28 Informal request, the same in French (5) LEM[E]ME wasn’t in Chambers.

The condition was finally revealed as ANDROGENIC ALOPECIA which isn’t in C, although male pattern baldness is.

Thanks for a very entertaining puzzle, Serpent, and thanks also for smile number two — the title!

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