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Posts Tagged ‘Shark’

Quads IV by shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 Aug 2022

When we see the name Shark, we know that this will be a fair but challenging puzzle, probably one with a considerable step from the full grid to the one we finally submit and the preamble tells us that: three clashing crossing answers with careful instructions about how to enter a backslash and both of the clashing letters. Then we are told that we must change a letter that occurs twice in a column so that two affected entries will become new words and identify the theme.

I found a number of repeated letters in unchecked cells in columns but we were lucky to spot that a couple of Es could become O and A, giving us MINOR ARCANA. What on earth is that? Something to do with Tarot cards – I have to consult my friend Wiki who gives me the name A E WAITE and points me towards the four elements, FIRE with a WAND symbol, AIR with a SWORD, WATER with a CUP and EARTH with a PENTACLE.

Working copy

Now I see why we had to enter those letters around the backslashes: AIR is spelled above the slash and the W of SWORD below it. FIRE is continued to complete the WAND. WATER appears over a CUP in the northeast but finding that PENTACLE that will spell out EARTH for us is a real challenge. It is finally the hint about mirror symmetry that gives me the five points of the star. Very satisfying. And then I realize that the letters of PENTACLE have been staring at me all along – typical Shark endgame that gave us some minutes of puzzling.

I’ve forgotten something – the alcohol. Well there wasn’t a lot but I think RED RUM qualifies. ‘One with Red Rum after start of race (5)’. No, I don’t think this was a royal mount – we just had to take the R of race, the I for ‘one’ and anagram the RED (rum = *) giving us a RIDER. Mixing RUM and RED – Oh dear, but ‘Cheers’ anyway, Shark.


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Listener No 4721: Quads IV by Shark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 12 Aug 2022

Last year’s Shark Listener was Manhunt and won the Ascot Gold Cup for best puzzle of the year. This year we had another Quads outing after nearly four years since Quads III. They’ve all involved some combination of rotating bits of the grid, chopping some of it, shuffling bits of it and generally throwing your hands up in despair. This week, just three clashes to deal with but some illustrations in the endgame which got me worried before even reading 1 across.

As it was, 1, 6 and 11 passed me by, but 12 Battleship retreats, besieging once enough for these battleships (7) with its ENOW shout-out went in as MEN-O’-WAR and then 13’s nice &lit. One with Red Rum after start of race? (5) for RIDER [I + RED* after R(ace)].

Not all of them were that straightforward though. As usual, Shark’s clues were generally tough but scrupulously fair. The three clashes certainly caused me a bit of a headache. 29dn Easy bull’s-eye? (5) eventually resolved itself as SWEET, just a double definition, the question mark standing in for “for example”. (Personally that’s not my favourite technique, but heigh-ho.) 35dn Medical agency programme dismissing Doctor (3) also took me longer than I care to admit, being the abbreviation the preamble warned us of (even though it is also just a straightforward word — WHO [Doctor Who – the Doctor]. Great fun!

Probably my favourite clue, even though somewhat gruesome, was 17ac Predicament of medical examiner having dropped heart (6) for CORNER [COR(o)NER]. And of course, there was 7dn Drippy = dippy (without second consonant) (5) for INANE [IN(s)ANE].

And so, after a slightly longer than average solve, onto the endgame. First, find a letter occurring twice in a column and change each (not necessarily to the same letter) to give two new words. It didn’t take me long to spot MINER and ARCANE which could change to MINOR and ARCANA, the latter being a bit of a guess. Luckily Google confirmed that we were in the bizarre world of the Tarot.

All that was needed then was to translate some element of the cards into the grid and seeing the FIRE and WAND in the south-west corner got me going. According to Wiki, the four suits are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles and the Wand, Cup and Sword got slotted in nicely. Not for the first time, I stared at the grid wondering how to get the EARTH in before putting it down, having a glass of wine, and revisiting it a couple of hours later to see it all in the top left as shown in the animation.

A nicely mysterious puzzle. Thanks, Shark.

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Manhunt by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 29 Oct 2021

Yet another different and intriguing grid and we note with pleasure and a touch of trepidation that the ‘Manhunt’ is by Shark (part of Rood, a previous Ascot Gold Cup winner). It won’t be a thirty-minute solve but it will certainly be fair and introduce us to some theme that will appear substantially in the grid. I haven’t counted but suspect there are more words in the pre-ramble than in the clues – did you ever see such a long one! Eleven lines.

We’ve shared a few bottles in the past but I still need to confirm that Shark retains his place amongst the Listener Setters’ Oenophiles. We see that he ‘Nicked English wine, … (5)’ and opt for E ROSE (Yukk – do they really make that in England?) … one inferior to Austrlian declared passé (4)’ We put the RED under A(ustralian) producing an old word for declared. What is he going to do with these poor vintages? Ah, ‘Wide, fast – but we have openers dismissed (6)’ We remove a few opening letters to produce ASTUTE. As long as we have ‘openers’ all should be well. Cheers, Shark!

A mere 35 clues and we fill the grid very carefully, making sure to get those diagonal lines sloping the right way so that across and down entries are read in letter order and, reading one letter from each of the double-letter entries (how kind that the word-lengths were given!) we learn that A MURDER HAS GUST BEEN COMMITTED AT …. That rings a bell and makes sense of the five words that we extracted from five ‘normal’ clues (five clues with no shared cells, those to BENI, GAGE, HILL, XIS and WELD).

‘Wheatstone two-needle telegraph’ are redundant words and remind us the famous transmitted message about JOHN TAWELL. We see SALT HILL in the grid and can change the HILL to HALL so that we have the ‘cornered culprit’ in six letters at the foot of the grid.

How are we going to decode the grid to produce a description of John Tawell that was transmitted to London police so that he could be tailed from his arrival at Paddington and subsequently arrested and hanged for his murder of his second wife? We remember that the early telegraph had only an upright and two or three slanting bars and Wiki helps us decipher the message that is in the grid in front of us telling us that he is in the GARB OF A KWAKER (Of course, with no Q or J – that explains the Gust!)

What a superb compilation. Thank you, Shark.

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L4680: ‘Manhunt’ by Shark

Posted by Encota on 29 Oct 2021

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Cheers & stay safe,

Tim / Encota

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Flappy by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Oct 2020

It is always a pleasure to see Shark’s name at the head of a crossword. We know the clues will really challenge us but also that there will be a stunning endgame. The last half of the preamble tells us that, but first, we have to solve those tough clues.
Of course I hunt for the alcohol though I know this one-time Listener Ascot Gold Cup winner (as half of the Rood team) has to remain in the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophiles. I’m halfway down the down clues with no solutions leaping out at me before I get to ‘Stacked barrels in wet – it’s pelted (7)’. No half measures for Shark, (and who would have thought that bbl was an abbreviation for barrels!) This is a typical Shark clue – there’s that touch of smutty humour as his ‘wet’ is PEED and we get PEBBLED when we put all those barrels in (no wonder there was some peeing) but we have to hunt in Chambers to confirm that ‘pelted’ can be a synonym for ‘pebbled’ (to stone or pelt, the Big Red Book tells me) so with all those barrels, Cheers, Shark.
We fumble through the clues for  long time, trying to see what the words that we putatively extract might have in common but then we have our first penny-drop-moment. They all have an odd number of letters – there’s not much else we can see in common for ‘batsman’, sparkling’, ‘serious’, ‘scrapping’ and so on. The obvious letter to extract is the middle one and doing that gives us a curious series of words and partial words. However, it also delights us when we realize that the words we are leaving are also real words (brilliant, Shark – that’s masterly!) Second p.d.m. We have RUMEN around SKIPPER, KINGSHOOD around MONARCH, BIBLE around PEACOCK and MAW around HEATH. We have no trouble recognising those butterflies (we had them as flutter-byes in a recent Spoonerising Listener not long ago, didn’t we, and in Eclogues EV just a week ago?), but we have to check the stomachs and are delighted to find that the four stomachs of a ruminant appear in order here. So we are ‘Flappy’ because we have ‘butterflies in the stomach’. That was fun but it was in the clues and Shark, of course, has something in the grid too – we have already guessed what those curves we are going to draw will represent, but we get a double surprise when ADMIRAL, PAPILIO, VANESSA and BRIMSTONE go into a second set of stomachs, PAUNCH, BONNET, FARDEL and READ, and my amazement knows no bounds when I learn from Chambers that this is another set of names, in order, for the ruminants’ four stomachs. We have the final pleasure of linking letters that match into two ‘curves’ (and of course, spelling ‘CARDINAL’), adding the oval FLY bit of her stomach and a pair of antennae. A bit of Googling adds icing to the cake (or colour to the butterflies or something): the 3rd of October is National Buttertfly Day in the USA. A wonderful creation. This will be one of my all-time favourites. Thank you, Shark.

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