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Posts Tagged ‘Shark’

Listener No 4570: Bright Spark by Shark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 20 Sep 2019

The last three Shark Listeners were Quads I, II & III. You know you’re going to be in for a challenge with his puzzles. This time, not only did we have a tough puzzle in front of us, but “Solvers must sketch a thematic contrivance…” indicated that we were in for more artwork!

Here, we had one cell in each column with a clash and the non-clashing answer’s clues needing a letter to be removed before solving. Once the grid was complete, only another half a dozen steps would see the solution ready for submission.

Solving went fairly slowly (I expected nothing less), but gradually the gaps were filled with some fun clues on the way. My favourite was 44ac Fantasists ready in disguise to cover NI group at end of 1980s (11) for DAYDREAMERS — READY* around D-REAM + (1980)S — despite its sneakiness!

Eventually the endgame. The letters removed from clues spelt out Sheet, forked, chain, ball, blitz, all forms of lightning. Finding LIGHTNING in the grid was straightforward, covering cells in the top five rows.

Meanwhile, the clashes, reading left to right in the grid, gave:

It didn’t take long to see Ben Franklin lurking there, although I think Shark was being a bit too chummy not calling him Benjamin! So obviously we were back in the 18th century with Franklin’s kite experiment.

The related 6-letter word was STRIKE running SW and NE from the first cell of 22dn, and after that a bit of Wiki research was required to find the four components of a thematic contrivance. LEYDEN JAR, STRING, KEY and KITE were revealed to be the elements.

Still we weren’t finished as we had to drop one letter in each column into the entry at the bottom of the grid. ELECTRICITY was the word, but even then care was required to drop the correct occurrence of each letter. (I think I got it.)

All done, and another Hennings artistic masterpiece was winging its way to JEG. Thanks, Shark.

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Bright Spark by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 Sep 2019

Of course we are away from home when I download this week’s Listener. When Chambers and Mrs Bradford are not comfortingly on the table, we invariably download a Sabre, Quinapalus, Mash or a Shark. We are enjoying the end of season festivities of friends who operate activities in Morzine – a jolly ‘knees up’ with local musicians and traditional wine and song. The last thing we need is a tough solve, even if it is bound to be rewarding, compiled, as it is, by a previous Ascot Gold Cup winner.

Does Shark still qualify for his place in the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit? I scan the clues and have to say “Only just!” ‘Looked after old drunk (8)’ gives us a rather surprising double definition clue. I didn’t know that ‘overseen’ could once mean drunk. However, things become more interesting when we get to ‘Colour of seabed gunk dissipated’ (11)’ We discard the K from the anagram of OF SEABED GUNK and produce SANG-DE-BOEUF. Yes, that gives the colour red, but bulls’ blood has an intriguing past in the wine industry where, until it was banned during the ‘mad cow disease’ period, powdered bulls’ blood was used to clarify red wines here in France.

It gets better. Sangre de Toro is near to the bottom row of any Spanish supermarket shelf and we have quaffed a considerable quantity of it in our time so a hearty “Santé, salud, Shark”. Image result for picture sangre de toro wine

Yes, those were subtle clues and we could say that of most of the others too and we struggled our way to a grid fill, breathing a sigh of relief when we managed, for example to find a clash when two more generous clues, this time giving us an extra N (‘Wild rat (6)’ = DESERT and ‘River rising in Massif Central’s small lake (4)’ = TARN).

SOFI clashed with LIMBIC, BUMS clashed with VISEED, SALSE clashed with DAYDREAMERS, NEALE clashed with SEE A WOLF, and TAK clashed with AIRGLOW, and by opting for real words each time, we teased out an intriguing BEN FRANKLIN and, with the title Bright Spark had an inkling of the theme. The single letters we have been dropping from ‘clues that do not result in a clash’ confirm our suspicion. We have SHEET, FORKED, CHAIN, BALL and BLITZ so that we know that it is LIGHTNING that we are going to find and highlight in nine letters undoubtedly coming from the heavens.

Wikipedia obliges, as usual, and confirms that we need a wet hemp string, a kite, a key and a Leyden Jar

‘According to the 1767 Priestley account, Franklin realized the dangers of using conductive rods and instead used the conductivity of a wet hemp string attached to a kite. This allowed him to stay on the ground while his son assisted him to fly the kite from the shelter of a nearby shed. This enabled Franklin and his son to keep the silk string of the kite dry to insulate them while the hemp string to the kite was allowed to get wet in the rain to provide conductivity. A house key … was attached to the hemp string and connected to a Leyden Jara; a silk string was attached to this. … The kite was not struck by visible lightning; had it been, Franklin would almost certainly have been killed. However, Franklin did notice that loose threads of the kite string were repelling each other and deduced that the Leyden jar was being charged. He moved his hand near the key and observed an electric spark, proving the electric nature of lightning.

It is in hunting for these ‘four components’ that we realize what a masterful compilation this is. KITE and STRING give us ten letters and we extend them with twelve more, LEYDEN JAR and KEY, but wonder how we can find a ‘related 6-letter word’ that can be ‘traced twice, starting from the same cell’ and then in a metaphoric flash of lightning, we see that STRIKE goes up through the kite and down the STRIng and into the KEy.

We do our sketch of the thematic outcome but Shark hasn’t finished yet. We still neeed to drop letters to the ground, producing ELECTRICITY and retaining real words. Brilliant indeed!

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Listener No 4526: Quads III by Shark

Posted by Dave Hennings on 16 Nov 2018

This was the fifth Shark Listener puzzle, and the third in the Quads series. I suppose it would be natural to expect a fourth, but this one would be hard to top.

There’s only time for some brief thoughts from me this week. For a start 33 out of 44 clues used a gimmick that took me a few minutes to get my head round: “… one letter and spacing have been changed in the definition…”. This was thoroughly entertaining, and made some of the clues a real pig (apologies to pigs). The first clue I solved was Five rallying game with Croatia (4) which became River allying game with Croatia (4) leading to RUHR (RU + HR). Shark clues are generally pretty tough but this added an extra dimension of toughness. Here are some highlights:

14ac EASES Almost stand opening of sitcom for us (5) became
Almost stand opening of sit comforts (5)
EASE(l) + S(it)
30ac QUI-HYE No longer arrogant after unionist’s introduced to chief fluent Anglo-Indian (6) became
No longer arrogant after unionist’s introduced to chi affluent Anglo-Indian (6)
HYE after (U in QI)
40ac ATTEST Man of estate travels round Thailand with mum (6) became
Manifest ate travels round Thailand with mum (6)
ATE around T + ST
8dn OLE In Spain, who online gets sucked into withdrawn game? (3) became
In Spain, whoop line gets sucked into withdrawn game? (3)
L in EO<
25dn MOGHUL Tom, possibly, with bulk to evict one liberally nasty member from India (6) became
Tom, possibly, with bulk to evict one liberal dynasty member from India (6)

Eventually, the message spelt out by the wrong letters in these clues gave Fourth letter in words — standard clues. It took a few minutes to sort this out. At first I thought it must be the fourth letter of the first word in each clue. Nope! It turned out to be the fourth letter in all words that had 4 or more letters — a nice thematic touch that fitted into the overall theme. These gave: Each grid corner’s four-by-four region taken en masse. Snipping the four corners out and rearranging them revealed the two-word term for what was left: GREEK CROSS.

Finally, the preamble told us that this remainder had to be cut into four identical pieces and rearranged to form another square with a 10-letter thematic word to be highlighted: TETRAMERAL was the word, meaning four-parted.

Fantastic puzzle, as expected, Shark. How can you top it?!

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Listener 4526: ‘Quads III’ by Shark

Posted by Encota on 16 Nov 2018

One of my favourite types of puzzle is the sort where you first solve a cryptic crossword and then have some clever dissection to carry out.  And Shark has certainly delivered here!  Being serious for a moment – I loved this puzzle!


In fact, I was so impressed by this one by Shark that I simply couldn’t resist building a set of coffee tables to match his clever dissection of a square.  It has only taken me two to three hundred hours but, with a puzzle such as this, it is entirely worth the investment.


The biggest clue was clearly in the Title: Quads III.  This definitely hints at something to do with 4 and something to do with 3 – but what?

Of course, with a clue as big as this I couldn’t go wrong – clearly it is based on that dissection of a square into an equilateral triangle.


So I started by selecting the wood.  After that, and having cut all pieces to size, judicious ‘screwing and glueing’ was required (is there any other way with decent woodwork, I hear you ask?).

It only took four coats of varnish – forgive me, I was skimping this time, I know – so only ten days later I had the completed article.

Here it is in Quads (III) form …


And here it is rearranged in the other – (Quads) III – formation …


Now some people might be thinking, “However good the puzzle, surely you can’t have time to spend on re-creating it in furniture?”  Well, I feel if a puzzle is this good then it is definitely worth celebrating and well worth the effort!


Thank goodness I solved the puzzle correctly, otherwise I’d look a right idiot, wouldn’t I?

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota



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Quads II by Shark

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Sep 2016

Shark Quads IIB001Shark! Well, he usually lives up to his pseudonym and this is sure to be a challenge, but a most enjoyable one too. I am expecting rather tough clues so am surprised when many of these are most approachable. Naturally I have checked Shark’s continued membership of the Listener Setters’ Toping Outfit and, of course he doesn’t disappoint as he even opens his clues with evidence. “Starved following drunk losing weight (6)’ gives us F [w]ASTED – and, becomes WASTED (thoroughly drunk) in the endgame.

Then we find ‘Serve stupefying drink in front of the Italian …(5) …restaurant from hostess counter (4)’ giving us AVA + IL and TART inverted = TRAT. It’s not surprising after that AVA and the TART turning up in the TRAT, he says ‘After knocking back fizz I’m behaving like a schoolgirl (7)’ (We found an extra S there) HISS IM gave MISSI[S]H. Next we find ‘Handle draughts? (7)’ Mrs Bradford suggests DISCUSS to us, and indeed, there it is in Chambers under Handle. Shark still hasn’t finished! ‘Gentlemen organised orgies (7)’ we are told, and it’s those Italians from the TRAT again – SIGNORE*. LSTO membership confirmed – See you at the bar, Shark (or sipping from another Ascot Gold Cup).

I rather like carte blanche challenges, especially when there is no rogue sneakiness and the clues simply slot in as soon as a grid is established, and this was the case here, so that we soon (about 90 minutes) had our first full grid with no doubt at all about any of the solutions. That is a rare state for us. What was even better was that as we solved, the other Numpty had been saying ‘Those letters are going to spell FOURTH DIMENSION’. We had a total of 21 extra letters and were not sure of all of those but fifteen conveniently spelled out those two words so with great trepidation (as we know this Shark has teeth) we began to search for forty cells that we could blacken out – 20 in the top and twenty in the bottom half of the grid, since we were told that we were going to construct a grid with 90-degree symmetry.

Shark 40 cells removedIt was far easier than we expected (famous last Listener words! Why, oh why, after all these years, have I not learnt to read every letter and comma of the preamble?) After about ten minutes we thought we had the desired second grid. Doesn’t that look lovely! – and those desired words are exactly where we thought they should be.

It was fairly obvious that we couldn’t divide that into four pieces of the same size and shape that were anything other than quadrants, so I drew my lines and sat back smugly and began to look for length, breadth, height, and time – the fourth dimension.Wrong grid 001

I’m including these pretty pictures as a kind of lesson to myself. The grid staring went on for just as long as we had taken to solve the original crossword and got me exactly nowhere. It wasn’t until almost the stroke of midnight that I realized where those four words had to be (in the diagonals) and spotted the problem.

Actually there are two problems. Look at the four sides of the grid! The instructions are very clear. ‘The grid now has 90-degree symmetry and all entries are real words.’ (The italics are mine.) In my rush to finish, I had jumped a stage and had odd words like ‘SERVERSORE’. I had also highlighted the wrong I at the start of dImension. Numpty, READ THE PREAMBLE!

Shark Quads IIc with dimensionssSecond time round, of course, it was straightforward and this time the words were evident, and produced lovely changes, like SORELY becoming SORELL, Shark becoming WASTED or thoroughly drunk, in the place of FASTED or STARVED, a MODEL-T replacing MODELS and NAVAJO turning to NAVAHO (of course, if we had needed a hint, that was it! Who would choose NAVAJO to clue with that fearsome J if an ETAOIN SHRDLU letter was available?).

This was typical Shark – so much included in the grid, delightful clues and real smile moments like that astonishing clue to DEMENTIA where all the extra letters have to be extracted leaving only ETA, producing ‘Upset about condition of upper storey (8)’ (ATE<). There was, of course, a rather naughty clue; we laughed at ‘Wall Street office would be protective if attached to New York (4)’ JOHN(NY). A fabulous piece of compilation that left me feeling very frustrated with my solving skills – and a little bit ‘upset about condition of upper storey’. I can understand how Dave felt about his little blue port-hole in Nudd’s Yellow Submarine a few weeks ago. Lovely – thank-you, Shark.

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