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Posts Tagged ‘Snakes and Ladders’

Child’s Play by Serpent

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 Aug 2016

SerpentChild’s Play by Serpent? There was a moment of instant recognition – surely not Dysart under a new pseudonym producing another version of his Snakes and Ladders game that delighted us when we were just new solvers and bloggers? Wasn’t that called ‘Child’s Play‘? I remember drawing all those snakes and ladders that were spelled out by the remaining letters when we had deleted the irrelevant ones. (That was in 2009, have I really been blogging Listen With Others for seven years!) But Ilver has produced two versions of his demoniacal Child’s Play in the Magpie, Rasputin gives us difficult chess games for precocious children and Wan had that winning game of Ludo in the Magpie too, so maybe this is some other game.

Nothing to do but solve. Well, of course I must first re-establish Serpent’s membership of the Listener Alcohol Imbibers’ Outfit so I scan the clues for evidence and find a rather scanty ‘Drinkers may pull on these old hats (6)’ STRAWS, obviously, and ‘Several measures taken by Bohemian county once to protect king from the east (6)’ SALOP< round K giving POLKAS. Not much alcohol – I’d better look for some other obsession and oh dear! The evidence is alarming.

He starts with the underwear: ‘Change article of underwear to start to eliminate odours (6)’ gives SMALLS with E(liminate) for A giving SMELLS. Then we get the NUTS: ‘Aquatic plants and fish colonising nuts(6)’ AYU or AI in NADS (by this time our Editor would be telling me ‘We have to avoid offending the more sensitive solvers’). Serpent hasn’t finished yet: ‘The ultimate pair of cojones is framed by dog’s legs (6)’ STAG[S] (or dogs) round ES giving STAGES (or legs).  It gets worse: ‘American with dangly bits set saddle askew (8)’ SET SAD[D]LE* giving TASSELED (US spelling).

It would be unladylike to comment on ‘I must blow divine instrument (7)’ CELESTIA[L] dropping I to give CELESTA or on ‘Perhaps African does lap dances with maid (6)’ LAP + MAI[D]* giving IMPALA. Indeed, I am going to have to rethink the Listener imbibers’ club if our initial clue scan has to be a hunt for louche, lecherous, raunchy and scurrilous clues so I solve ‘Nude art represented nakedness (6)’ NU[D]E ART* giving NATURE, suggest Serpent get his coat and resolve to stick to the drinks next week.

With all those solutions in place and some fine gifts like ANTE, NAAN, PILLOW, EARS and DENTAL, we quickly establSerpent gridish that this is indeed a board game with the words entered boustrophedonaly, most starting on the square where the player’s counter landed as he shook a series of sixes and, obligingly, Serpent has confirmed this as SNAKES going downwards and LADDERS rising fill our centre column. That was a clever touch that left us with little doubt about the endgame (though we did wonder whether, in Dysart style, we had to search for snake names or ladders – but the only type of ladder seemed to be that STEP at clue g ‘Fuel blocks up stage (4)’ PE[A]TS<).

The preamble was clear – ‘The extra letters identify the thematic items, which must be drawn in the grid to complete the puzzle’ and reading the across clues in order gave us a clear sequence of game moves. Following those clues told us where, for example, we had to climb the ladder from the end of SALUTE to the start of POLKAS.

I thought my final grid looked rather a mess with all those ladders crossing but we did enjoy the theme. Thank you Serpent.

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Child’s Play by Dysart

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Nov 2009

Child's Play by Dysart

The title was encouraging – a Listener crossword that is ‘Child’s Play’. Ha ha! Then there was the promise of a bit of drawing at the end – if we got there. Lovely!

We started with the thematic clues and NAGA and COMPANION leapt into view, but I didn’t know what a naga was and didn’t spot the obvious. Typical of the 8X8 team!

We plodded through the clues with our satisfaction only mitigated by our tendency to opt for the corrected letter rather than the misprint, which led to a few strange instructions.

However, the word LETTERS soon appeared and then ‘DELETE ALL BUT SEVENTY-FIVE’ – that was almost half the grid but didn’t correspond to the totted-up total of thematic clue lengths. We have almost a year of experience now and know that all will be clear in the end (sometimes!) so we struggled with the last clues.

13ac. Informer fails to complete hotel check (4) We were hunting for CHICK or CHUCK for our corrected word and played with  NESH for ‘cowardly’ or ‘chicken’ but the informer was likely to be NOSE (failing to complete – so NOS) with H for hotel. We couldn’t see the link with CHUCK until our wise friend told us that was a word for food. Of course, that letter made no difference to the final grid. I am beginning to understand why friends prefer crosswords where the corrected letters are the ones that count. Clearly, in a case like this, one can solve the puzzle without necessarily knowing what the correction should be – which doesn’t seem quite right.

I suppose the plural of an ancient Greek word is ‘child’s play’ to most of the regular Listener solvers but NAOI held us up too.

Having once played an infant Mustardseed in MSND, I had no problem with the Pyramus quotation and Bottom’s THISNE but we didn’t know where to look for it in Chambers. Is it there?

With all the clues solved and a sprinkling of white cells here and there, the grid began to look suspiciously like a familiar board game. The p.d.m! Wasp, losing W(ife) gave us ASP and all was clear. Once we knew that we were hunting for snakes and ladders, the thematic clues soon resolved themselves into a convincing knot of snakes and a slightly less convincing pile of ladders.

STY was up there near the finish of the game and was clearly the required ladder but that clue ‘Indeed in the past this would be frothy’ was almost too subtle for us – Indeed in the past (YEA) with this (STY) was frothy – so YEASTY. Hmm – clever!

The wretched ANACONDA was a threat too. If he stretched to his full length, he seemed to finish in the cell where the ASP started. That would be a vicious trick to play on any trusting little kiddy – to send him down a couple of snakes, one after the other. However, if those two brutes shared a cell, we were one letter short, so, clearly our little board-game playing friend was going to be allowed to climb back up the anaconda’s tail.

Had anyone told me, a year ago, that to complete these things, you need an encyclopaedia article on snake types, a set of coloured pencils and a modern Greek grammar, I would have assumed he was a crackpot. Ah well, the sting is in the tale.

This was great fun. Thank you, Dysart.

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