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Posts Tagged ‘The Holly and the Ivy’

In this World of Sin … by Pointer

Posted by shirleycurran on 3 January 2020

I wonder if I am the only solver whose first read through a lengthy pre-ramble produced nothing but total mystification. (The other Numpty did a count and found 300 words of preamble and 160 of clues – is this a record? We did once have a Listener where there were no down clues but are we due for one with a whole page of preamble and no clues? – The answer is ‘Yes’: It’s the second competition crossword in the December Crossword’ magazine q.v. we find InCUrL by MPOBO which has neither clues nor preamble.)

What we did gather was that each clue consisted of at least three parts – two prompts to words and a contained jumble of those two solutions, with a potential fourth word or phrase hidden in four of the down clues too. To egg the Christmas pudding a little more richly, the answers were going to be entered starting anywhere in their row or column, and possibly reaching the edge of the grid and continuing at the start of the same row or column in a carte blanche grid. The fun continued with a decagon to be drawn and loops round ‘nine words of a kind’, with something to highlight (for the cherry on the pudding).

We have already been defeated by a Pointer puzzle in the Magpie this month (It’s Magpie renewal time – highly recommended if you would like six more Listener-style puzzles each month) and we wondered whether this Christmas treat (a little early) was the editors’ response to eliminate an excess of ‘all correct’ solvers (if any are left after the last few toughies).

Well, I checked through the clues anyway to confirm that Pointer retains his place among the Listener setter oenophiles with this his sixth Listener crossword. He left me with little doubt with his first clue ‘Given greater power, gastropub opposed usual kind of noodles (8,4)’ We teased SOUPED UP and SOBA out of that. ‘Food scrapers evaluated a redesigned vessel for liquid (7,3)’ gave us RADULAE and VAT. With a whole vatful, Pointer clearly retains his entry right but it was in the later shenanigans of the crossword that he removed any doubt when we looked up ‘wood’ In Chambers and found that it is ‘The cask or barrel for storage of wine etc.’ What with vat, cask and barrel, it sounds as though Pointer intends to treat us all. Cheers!

We struggled on, slowly extracting likely words from the clues then seeing if we could find them concealed with a jumble of some other likely answer in the clue. Our Numpty delight was absolute when our own keynote clue (Stripey horse (5)) appeared in a slightly more advanced version as ‘African animals seize rats as boar trembles a bit (6,4)’ Yes, the ZEBRAS were obviously there, producing the Z, but it took us a while to work out that the bit was IOTA with the ‘rats’ as the extra word. Of course it was ‘The rising of the sun’ RATS< (but the realisation of that came later) I wondered whether we would even see the hare (he’s holidaying in the San Francisco Bay area now and popped out and posed for us when we were walking there last week!)

‘Girl guides they allow sixty in total (5,6)’ gave us TESSA and WHOLLY and suggested that our song might be The Holly and the Ivy (but how to fit that into twelve cells?) Of course, it was a different holly that finally appeared when we changed the D of radulae to an X and found ILEX ET HEDERA. Our potential extra words now made sense. GROAN* was ‘The playing of the merry organ’, ECHO was ‘Sweet singing in thE CHOir’ and the one that really produced a smile was FREE REIN, ‘The running of the deer’.

I should have attempted the gridfill sooner. We had a mere six clues to solve when I finally put my mind to it. The other Numpty had disappeared to complete dinner preparations and he is the solver – my role is usually the grid and endgames. It all fitted in surprisingly easily once I worked out that the first row had to be PEDUPSOBASOU (because of the placing of the Us) and potential solutions for the ones we hadn’t solved now emerged (TERATA and WAH-WAH for example). Full grid – now what?

Trees were the nine words of a kind round which we drew loops. We selected ANTIAR, LEMON, HOLLY, ACER, SAL, BAY, ASH, TAWA and RATA noticing two potential RATAs, and avoiding the red herring of PAN, that so clearly is begging to be looped. I read long and hard to find that PAN is only the leaf of the Betel which is a vine, not a tree. Yes, Chambers claims that ‘holly’ is a shrub but the carol claims that ‘Of all the trees that are in the wood, the holly bears the crown’. ‘Bears the crown’ – pdm. We see the TIARA and highlight the HOLLY bearing it, wondering whether that justifies the ‘two key lines of the carol’ – yes, I suppose it is the tree within Pointer’s decagonal definition of WOOD that ‘bears the crown’. How very clever! Many thanks to Pointer.


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L4585 “In this world of sin” by Pointer

Posted by Encota on 3 January 2020

What an excellent grid that was! Though after now solving a few Pointers over the years, I am beginning to realise that that maybe the norm!

Perhaps I was not the only solver who had also been grappling with another – tricky – Pointer in December’s excellent Magpie magazine. That one took me a little while to fill the grid – and a week after that I still haven’t finished the endgame. So when this week’s L appeared with Pointer’s name at the top, and it didn’t take too long to fill the grid, I was worrying that I might have been here before! What next?

And having said the grid filled quickly, I did manage to hold myself up for a while in 1 across, where I had converted ‘noodles’ (the verb) into BOPS, as creating a certain sort of music. However, when it didn’t fit with ZEBRAS as ‘African animals’ at 8 down and I had double-checked that there wasn’t a cross called a ZEPRA first (well, it might have been a cross between a ZEBRA and part of a coconut, mightn’t it?), then I realised my mistake and SOBA for noodles went in.

My solving route then went a bit like this:

  • spot TIARA over HOLLY as a representation of ‘the holly bears the crown’. That’s the highlighted bit found …
  • double check the extra four words from the Down clues: STAR< as ‘the rising of the Sun’; FREE REIN as ‘the running of the (rein)deer’; GROAN as ‘the playing of the (merry) organ’, and ‘sweet singing in thE CHOir’ for ECHO. Good carol chorus. Not bad at all 🙂
  • try and guess what path the Decagon might take in practice. Get nowhere
  • spot a few more trees to go with HOLLY: LEMON, ACER, ASH, BAY jumped out easily. At this stage I wasn’t sure why trees!
  • use reference book to try and find more: there are two SALs, two RATA, a TAWA and an ANTIAR. That makes eleven – and we only wanted nine! Check the Preamble to see if repeats are allowed or not. Seems ambiguous to me.
  • Look again for the Definition to form the Decagon. Finally spot STORAGE FOR WINE ETC. Trace it back to find ‘THE CASK OR BARREL AS STORAGE FOR WINE ETC.’ Ah, that’s a definition of WOOD!
  • See if that helps eliminate two trees. One can draw the decagon through the edge of Column two so that the left-hand SAL still remains within it. Is that required? Re-check that ‘in nine distinct rows and columns’ part of the Preamble and decide that only one of the RATA/TAWA pair on Row 7 can be used.
  • Finally decide that Pointer must have been thinking of nine different trees and opt for ignoring Column 3’s SAL and Row 7’s RATA. Triple-check that PAN isn’t a tree, given the upper part of the Decagon makes its way round those letters so clearly. No – betel or betel leaf, not a tree. Hope that I haven’t fallen into a trap
  • Take a step back and finally cotton on to it being a representation of ‘for all the TREES that are in the WOOD … the holly bears the crown’.

And relax! Many thanks, Pointer! Now back to the seaside to solve that other puzzle ….

I hope you’ve all had a decent Christmas and I wish you all the very best for this New Year.

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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