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Posts Tagged ‘The Ladykillers’

‘Doing A Sort’ by Elgin

Posted by Encota on 16 Feb 2018

What a brilliant puzzle.   If this isn’t a strong contender for 2018 Puzzle Of The Year then there’s no justice!  Remarkable!!

[surreal mode on]

However, my logic might have gone something like this …

By complete chance I saw the comedy writer Graham Linehan’s excellent adaptation of some old Ealing comedy only last Autumn – you may remember it – I think it was called THE LADYKILLERS or something?  Perhaps it came to a town near you too?

So, because of this, I had Graham Linehan in my mind.  Early on in the solve I was looking for a relevant phrase with letters pattern (2,6,6).  I had, at that stage, the letters ON C.AG.Y I.LAND already from the cells marked with a * and suddenly it all became clear: this was ON CRAGGY ISLAND, an obvious hint to the excellent FATHER TED, co-written by Graham (of IT Crowd etc. fame).  Surely The Listener isn’t going to get a bit edgy and quote the endlessly swearing Father Jack?

If that’s the case (again, surely not?) then the two word phrase at 1ac may well be FOUR-LETTER WORD?  Let me check if that’ll create real words with the down clues:

  • First letter F?  Well 1d as .ESTAS could readily become FESTAS
  • Second letter O?  That’s unchecked, so put it in.  O
  • Third letter U? At 2d we have .TEN so, yes, UTEN. All on track
  • Check one more random one e.g. 9d. .ISEN gives RISEN.  Excellent

I’ll leave the rest as an exercise for the reader, as they say in all the best text-books.

But if this unlikely theme is right, then there’d be some of Father Jack quoted in the Grid, wouldn’t there?  Again, surely not – we are talking about The Listener here, after all.  Recalling (some of) what he used to say from his armchair – some of which is unprintable – there it is, in black and white, on Rows 5 & 6!  “ARSE. ARSE”

Of course perhaps I’m mistaken with all this?  I must be, surely?  Double check using the letters in cells marked with a + sign: TIOLETSTRODTEH.  Oh, goodness: “…OR TED’S HOT TITLE”.  And I thought I’d been joking – it really is Father Ted!

And so below is my final Grid to prove it.  The Preamble seemed to say, in some long-winded way, kill off all unrequired characters, so this must be the result:

2018-01-29 13.22.32


Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

[surreal mode off]

P.S. You’ll have to read the blogs from Shirley and Dave to get more of what was really going on.  Having the full quintet featuring in the grid was excellent, as was the falling signal knocking Professor MARCUS onto the GOODS TRAIN.  As an aside, I can only find 1d, assuming it is an alternative plural for TESTA, in the Quinapalus machine.  Everywhere else appears to have TESTAE, though I don’t doubt that usage will have ‘created’ the alternative TESTAS plural somewhere.  Or I am missing something (more than likely)!  Best puzzle of the year so far for me – and haven’t we have had some good ones already!


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Doing a Sort by Elgin

Posted by shirleycurran on 16 Feb 2018

Which naive Numpty said ‘It’s still the start of the year, we are sure to get some easy puzzles.’ we’ve had Schadenfreude, Lavatch, Miss Terry and now Elgin. I eat my words. We downloaded with some misgivings as, yet again, we were travelling with minimal solving resources (that always seems to happen when there is a difficult puzzle. We tend to set off now saying ‘There is likely to be an a carte blanche alphabetical jumbled jigsaw with the theme identified by Playfair this Friday’). Of course, we began by attempting to anagram the title and got a surprising ‘Goods train’ and forgot about it at once, as ‘Elgin isn’t going to be writing a crossword about a goods train is he?’

No need to check for the eligibility to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit for Elgin was there? Dave Hennings’ Crossword Data Base tells me that he has been setting Listener Crosswords since 1998. But I did check and initially found a very modest ‘Drink in lounge occasionally (3)’ prompting me to read alternate letters to produce ONE. I imagine that Elgin must be Scottish and that must have been a very effective ONE because we later found ‘A Scot found drunk in the outskirts of Coolgardie?’ (7, two words) Chambers defines COT CASE  ‘a person who is drunk and incapable (esp ); a person who is too ill to get out of bed (chiefly NZ)’ so we have a lovely &lit. clue here with C(oolgardi)E surrounding the drunken or anagrammed A SCOT and giving the Aussie indicator too. Well cheers, Elgin. Hope to see you at the bar in Paris.

We were puzzled at first by the indication in the preamble that ‘each’ down entry had characters to drop since it seemed to us that some had lights that were long enough for the letter count. “Read the preamble, Numpty!” Initially 1ac and 48 are unfilled! of course, that said it all and our solve speeded up enormously when we realized that those down words, without the top and bottom rows were too long for the spaces. But what a struggle we had, using TEA to decipher the strings of letters to produce words we barely knew like ALIDADE and ARSENIATE and eventually enough of the + letters  (TIOLETSTRDD n/t/o w/e H) to unjumble to DO SORT THE TITLE! Oh dear, we did that before we began our solve and I dismissed that GOODS TRAIN, which we were now told had to partially fill 48. Strange, because, down there we had words that seemed to say LAWSON ROBINSON. COURTNEY and HARVEY were potential fillers of 1ac. Mystified! So where do I go? Google, of course and Auntie Google gives me an Ealing Comedy, The Ladykillers. We backsolve those asterisked letters and, of course, find AN EALING COMEDY.

Professor MARCUS has obligingly appeared in the centre of our grid and if we drop him to his death in a GOODS TRAIN we can fill our bottom row by doubling up the first and last letters to give SARGO and CAROTIN as down clues.  This is spectacular compiling, and, as in the plot, we are eliminating LAWSON and ROBINSON.  When we do the same to COURTNEY and HARVEY by putting the title, THE LADYKILLERS in their place, all seems to be well (almost) but Elgin has a wonderful final touch. ‘A final thematic adjustment must be made, leaving some cells empty (no two in the same row or column)’ I must leave it to Dave’s fabulous graphics as he is sure to have a diagonal signal coming down and knocking MARCUS down into the train and leaving only real words except for those two rows.

This is superb setting. I am reminded of one of the earliest Listeners I ever solved where Samuel had pennies dropping in his ‘Playtime’.

Amazing! Many thanks to Elgin.


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