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Posts Tagged ‘Surprised’

Surprised by Sabre

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 May 2022

Were we surprised to see Sabre at the head of this crossword! We had just flown to Athens, without our copies of Chambers and Bradford, for a sunny week by a brother’s pool, and we knew we were in for a challenge. Even the preamble suggested that, with the original device that ‘in each row, one answer must be entered with an extra letter (provided by a crossing entry) anywhere along its length’ … We were told that ‘clues and answer lengths are normal’ – which, reassuringly, suggested that solutions would not be anagrammed or jumbled, but it wasn’t long before we realised that ‘something was up’.

Long ago Sabre confirmed his comfortable place in the Listener Setters Oenophile Outfit so I didn’t really need to check that, but, of course I did and “Oh dear!” A dry set of clues until I got to ‘Badly off, with one third of Beaujolais being corked (7)’ Our local vigneron delivered the Beaujolais only last week and the corks are now that modern plasticky stuff but ‘corked’? That must have been awful for Sabre. Aaaah! AWFULLY – we used AWAY with FULL for the ‘third’ of Beaujolais (= A) FULL being ‘lit’, ‘tiddled’, ‘tipsy’ or ‘corked’. The other Numpty has pointed out that ‘drink’ occurs twice in the clues – one just above that corked Beaujolais, ‘Whinge to some people: drink harbours taste of radishes (4)’ Things are getting worse! But we put just the first taste (R) of those radishes into the GIN and got our Yorkshire word GIRN. I would girn if my gin tasted of radishes.

The other drink ‘Tears are caught in drink containers (4)’ was totally understandable now. Who wouldn’t be distressed! We put R into DOPS, giving DROPS. Thankfully there was the usual RED in the down clues, ‘Refuse deal to get in shape (6)’. I wonder how many other solvers had DENIAL there (shaping or anagramming DEAL getting IN) before the penny-drop-moment of RED + ACT = REDACT + get in shape. Well, it’s a rather muted “Cheers, Sabre!”

We had more than two-thirds of the clues solved and were truly flummoxed when, despite having created a plausible grid with potential places fo extra letters in every row, our across and down clues simply would not intersect, then, in one of the best p.d.m.s of the year, REDACT had those last two letters C and T that would gel with TROT and COMBER. From then on, it was sheer joy as I inverted all those down clues, even guessing that the extra letters would tell me to REVERSE DOWNS (as they did).

It wasn’t a direct run to the tape as Sabre had tested us with his usual clue complexity. For example, even after we guessed that ‘One swims a mile at sea, possibly (10)’ was an anagram of some swimmer, everything we attempted to anagram failed – until we used A M and POSSIBLY and AMBLYOPSIS swam into view. ‘ Ambylopsis, the blind fish of the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, is not the regular subject of our dinner-table chat. However, it was a pretty BALLSY (gutsy, tough and courageous) crossword. Many thanks to Sabre.


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Listener No 4710: Surprised by Sabre

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 May 2022

Here we had the annual Sabre outing following on from last year’s Greek foodfest and the previous year’s two old men eating soup from Goya. It doesn’t really need me to say this at the start of every Sabre blog, but I knew this was going to be a tad tricky.

For a start, we had a carte blanche with the clues in the normal order. The across answers would need an extra letter added which, in row order, would tell us (or at least confirm) how to complete the grid. Now I suspect that this puzzle sorted solvers into one of two groups: those for whom everything fell into place very quickly and those for whom it didn’t. I confess that I was in the second group.

My first pass through the clues was pretty woeful with only a handful solved, and none of them intersecting. It didn’t help that the second across clue eluded me for ages — ARSINES [IN in ARSES]. Plus One swims a mile at sea, possibly (10) wasn’t an anagram of swims a mile, but A+ M + POSSIBLY* for AMBLYOPSIS. It was only when those got slotted in, that KAROSHI and TREE ONION (for which I needed to cheat) enabled me to suss what was going on. Eventually the extra letters added to the acrosses confirmed it all — REVERSE DOWNS.

There were a lot of fine clues, these being my favourites, primarily because they were pretty devious:

  • Three miles to the old hospital, furlongs away from one more? (4): H + FOUR – F
  • The New Yorker’s admitting current themes (6): MY + THO + I
  • Detective needing uniform to become quite brave (6): BUSY with ALL for U
  • Badly off, with one third of Beaujolais being corked (7): AWAY with FULL for (second) (Be)A(ujolais)

I’ll also confess that A little shy, periodically showing ADHD? (5) eluded me for a ridiculously long time since I was treating periodically as a selection indicator. Of course, having AGAR, instead of MEER, for Title of Commander Queen’s given to setter (4) [AGA + R, although AGAR is actually a thickener rather than a setter] did me no favours in the bottom left of the grid.

As expected though, a tough but very satisfying solve. Thanks, Sabre.

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