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Posts Tagged ‘Shock Therapy’

Shock Therapy by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 Aug 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.


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Listener No 4459: Shock Therapy by Serpent

Posted by Dave Hennings on 4 Aug 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!

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‘Shock Therapy’ by Serpent

Posted by Encota on 4 Aug 2017


I loved this puzzle.  The bottom half went in fairly straightforwardly, revealing the letters that would finally form the first row: WIG TOUPÉE HAIRPIECE.  The top half I found much more challenging!

The next stage for me was to find the ‘Condition’ talked about.  Given it had to be 2 words and 18 letters in total, I had no idea.  Some combination of BALDNESS (male pattern or otherwise) or ALOPECIA with something else, maybe?

I’d solved half a dozen or so of the upper Down clues, so had an attempt at finding words that began with the first letter followed by a jumble of all but one of the Upper Down answer’s letters.  For example, in 16d, four letters  E _ _ _ , with the letters of SOYA to choose from seemed to yield either EASY or EYAS.  I then tried to spot a synonym for either of these in the Across clues: 43 across had SIMPLE in it that I’d already removed from an earlier solve of:

  Behave like bird and others in [simple] turn (7)

i.e. EMU and (ET AL)<, giving EMULATE.  So EASY it was – one found, seventeen to go!  The A and the S helped me find 20a E-MAILED and 22a SNAILED, so identifying Woman and Eddies as two more of the required final synonyms.

After some consultation with Auntie Google, the only plausible 18-letter, 2-word condition appeared to be ANDROGENIC ALOPECIA, so I pencilled that in and happily found that each Row 1 letter was also found in the Upper Down clues I had already solved.  Phew!

Did anyone else notice how the puzzle also had a secret, secondary plumbing theme in it?  There was RING (Row 4), for olive rings etc used in compression fittings.  There was ROD (Row 5), for that part in the cistern connected to the float.  And there was COCK (Column 5), as in stopcock.  Clearly Serpent appears to have a DIY interest, too 🙂  Oh, and TRAP (i.e. a U-bend) upwards in Column 14.  Even a PLEET and a TROG were present diagonally, those Suffolk-dialect plumbing terms…

Many thanks Serpent for a very enjoyable solve!

Cheers all!

Tim / Encota


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