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Posts Tagged ‘The Tall’n’

‘Influence’ by The Tall’n

Posted by Encota on 12 May 2017

Firstly thanks to The Tall’n for an interesting and not too taxing puzzle.

I struck lucky with this one, as the first three I solved meant that one thematic entry had to be _ _ _ _ I O P _ .  This looked suspiciously like CALLIOPE, so that seemed to make nine of the thematic clues guessable  – i.e. the Nine Muses – but didn’t explain the other four.  And though I’d like to say I know all nine, it does seem to be one of those things I can never completely recall.  There’s a Renault in there of course (CLIO), and perhaps a word from one of those Latin squares (ERATO) but I did have to investiGoogle the last three.

With a few more solved it was clear that the themed items spelt out GRACE, MUSE & FATE.  Clearly the three Fates would be there: CLOTHO, LACHESIS & ATROPOS (birth, death and taxes) and the three Furies – AGLAEA (or in this case AGLAIA), EUPHROSYNE & THALIA (for Splendour, Mirth & Good Cheer).  But 9+3+3 = 15 and there’s only 13 Thematic clues, so the two missing ones must be THALIA (twice).

There were still, when I started writing this, two I hadn’t fully parsed.  One was the thematic:

  Prince receives unusual heroic genre (9, two words), with the sixth letter is E

My train of thought went like this…
The answer has to be something synonymous with Epic Poetry, if I haven’t got my Greek sisters muddled up, though I cannot see what it is!  Is it {P RECEIVES}* but I’ve missed it?  D’oh, it’s EPIC VERSE, isn’t it!

And 32d, which was the last I solved:

Jock’s sigh lacks sibilance as an expression of distaste (3)

The answer was already UGH – but I couldn’t get the wordplay!  Eventually I found SOUGH as a Scottish word meaning to sigh. So ‘sibilance’ was the word to be deleted before solving, and then ‘as’ (SO) had to be removed from it, i.e. (so)UGH.  Simple, eh?

And finally a new meaning, for me at least, came from the first thematic clue:  DAY also means ‘the ground surface at a mine’.  I wonder if I’ll remember that when it appears in a few years’ time?

cheers all,

Tim / Encota


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Influence by The Tall’n

Posted by shirleycurran on 12 May 2017

What a lot of clues! Three sets with a thematic third set added to the thirty-three across and down ones and we see, at once, that those thematic ones can fit anywhere in the grid, so we begin to highlight lights without numbers and find that the thirteen thematic clues more or less have the grid covered with just that one suspect white area at the bottom left. We store that bit of useful information for later when we are going to change one word to the ‘missing thematic name, which is doubly significant’ (so he, or she, is going to influence two different thematic areas).

Yes, of course The Tall’n qualifies for his entry to the Listener Setters Oenophile Elite. I find, from Dave Hennings’ Database that he has been setting Listener crosswords since 1997, so this is a twentieth anniversary, and, no doubt they all had a fair sprinkling of alcoholic clues. I didn’t have to read far, ‘Effervescent drink book announced (4)’. We had already guessed that the first word of the hint was going to be THE, THEY or THESE so ‘effervescent’ was superfluous, leaving us with MARK which we hear as MARC. Clearly The Tall’n is into the strong stuff, and he confirms it with ‘Mounting criticism for fortified Madeira wines (5)’ By the time we got to that clue, we had established that THEY WERE GREEK MYTHOLOGICAL SISTERS, so an M had to come out of the clue and it was either ‘Mounting’ or ‘Madeira’. STROP< becomes PORTS, so we chose to use the Mounting. So I raise a glass of port to the Tall’n. Cheers!

Clearly, to give solvers a chance with so many thematic lights, the numbered ones had to be straightforward and they were! With enormous pleasure we speedily filled our grid, almost in clue order, until there were just our highlighted lights and the penny dropped with a musical clang when only CALLIOPE would fill the light at the bottom left. ‘Muses’ we said with delight and Auntie Google gave us a list of nine.

Eight of those Muses fitted into our spaces but not THALIA, the muse of comedy and epic poetry. We still had five cells to fill and one of them was clearly going to accept AGLAIA so we checked on the Graces and found, to our surprise, that THALIA was there too, so she was going to be the ‘doubly significant’ name. We inserted EUPHROSYNE and were left with three names to find. “Look up the Fates in Google” said the other Numpty, and, sure enough, there were CLOTHO, LACHESIS and ATROPOS. Great fun and time to cook supper after our solve.

Ah yes, we had rather ‘jumped the gun’. It was fairly clear what was to go below the grid but we had solved only half of the thematic clues. TRAGEDY, with a G as its fourth letter, fixed the word GRACE and we ‘back solved’ finding BIRTH, ASTRONOMY, MUSIC and DEATH. HYMNS with an M as its third letter, placed MUSE for us and that was confirmed by SPLENDOUR, HISTORY and EPIC VERSE. Finally LIFE (‘defile’ endlessly returning) gave us the F of FATE which continued with DANCING, MIRTH and LOVE POETRY.

And THALIA? How I like grid changes that result in real words. That GOALIE had caused us a minute’s head scratching. Are goalies always number one? Anyway, we could get rid of him now and THALIA produced LOTO and DHOL as crossing words. Nice! Many thanks to The Tall’n.

Hares? Obviously there was no lack in Ancient Greece. They are jumbly hares but there’s no shortage in The Tall’n’s grid. We’ve had hares in almost every grid since Poat’s ‘great golden hare event’, though only Hedge Sparrow managed to include on as four letters in a straight line and then immediately had the HS2 run over the poor little devil. Clearly it must be the Listener Setters’ favourite little beast (if not the solvers’).

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Coded Message by The Tall’n

Posted by shirleycurran on 4 Sep 2015

‘Cipher’, we read in the preamble and had visions of some code-breaking that was going to cause us immense frustration. There was that adjective ‘simple’, and, indeed we were lucky as the first four clues we solved gave us the letters BLET, encoded to EOHW and not only had we worked out the cipher (move three letters on in the alphabet – simple indeed), but we also had the theme. I tentatively wrote BLETCHLEY PARK down the centre column, while the otheg 001r numpty triumphantly announced, “Yes, that’s it because clue 32ac is a real gift, 11 across, eg, advanced local network (4)’ That’s ALAN, so that unclued light is going to be TURING and ENIGMA is going to be somewhere in the grid, probably that bottom right unclued light, as it’s the right length”.

Of course, I had scanned the clues to confirm that The Tall’n retains his place in the Listener Topers’ Club, and I had found rather a lot of strange dietary choices; sucking fish, pie sprinkled with oil, sesame, honey, yoghurt and some rather queer protein. However, the diet was redeemed by ‘Spirit held over in perikaryon (4)’ (I wonder how The Tall’n slipped that fearful surface-reading past the editors! Bit of a gift, though with RAKI<) and ‘After a brief month judge returns to drink in large draughts (4)’ (GLUG encoded to JUL(y) + J<)

Having the cipher at our fingertips made the solving relatively easy, as the Tall’n’s clues were very generous and we could work backwards from either the definition to the wordplay or the inverse. It was usually the definition that gave us the solution, as that produced real words that seemed to be spelling out the ten-word message for us, whereas the wordplay produced some very strange entries; MOVSAG we got when we sorted out the wordplay of a clue that had given us MOSSAD as its solution (Intelligence service takes action ignoring English area government (6)) and the Irish Island (INCH) changed to INCK when it ‘excited Nick’.

Tall 'nWe teased the message out of the grid that had appeared as a result of the definition parts of clues; UNGIRT (which was clearly one of the three scrambled words giving us TURING) IN HUT EIGHT, BLETCHLEY PARK, USING ‘MOBBE’ (yes, we know that the machine built to decipher Enigma was named BOMBE because of its ticking, so clearly this was another of the scrambles) DECODED ‘GAMINE’ (no problem with that either!) Thus our solution was complete with the cipher actually helping, rather than hindering the solve, though I now had to back-solve to understand how I had produced XRINAL/URINAL, for example (During loose uprising, run for Highlanders, where men go for relief (6) = LAX< round RIN) and several other strange examples of wordplay. “Why”, I asked, “did we need the ciphers at all?” But the answer was obvious – they were good fun and they were clearly thematic – that was what it was all about!

We hadn’t quite finished. ‘Finally solvers must highlight a six-letter word that was sent in deceptive messages towards the end of the war.’ Of course CALAIS was staring at us and we know about decoy messages that convinced Hitler that the Normandy landings were going to be in the Pas de Calais though we were not convinced that they were sent by Enigma. Still, that seemed to be the most appropriate word to highlight. Most enjoyable, thank you, The Tall’n.

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Only Connect Two by The Tall’n

Posted by shirleycurran on 14 Nov 2014

Only Connect 001An intriguing preamble with three different things that we were going to look for: an unclued word in eight rows ‘that either links, or is the central element of a sequence suggested by the two clued entries in the same row; six down answers that have to be relocated; six pairs of answers that must have certain letters removed to form the word for entry. We have to ‘Only Connect‘ – those significant words from E.M.Forster’s Howards End and the name of the TV show so engagingly hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell that we watch every Monday evening. It sounds as though the Tall’n is giving us a bit of a tall order.

I console myself by checking that he still qualifies for the Listener Setters’ Imbibers’ Club and have to read almost to the end of clues (that are giving me solutions as I read – a relatively easy set this!) before I find the two reassuring boozy clues: ‘Stand consuming ever more drunk (7)’ [BIER round EER giving BEERIER] and ‘Some repatriates knocked back drink (4)’ [hidden rev.].

A question immediately arises. How are we going to fit that BEERIER and the second answer to 39dn ‘Waste sure to involve local water network (6)’ [SURE* round EA = RESEAU] into five cells. “Well”, one of us jokingly comments, “we could do it if we omitted all the vowels!” “If we what? Eureka!” We know that Chambers includes that incredibly silly interjection BRRR and I suppose we could stretch a point and make an interjection plural ‘BRRRS’. Round four of Only Connect does the missing vowel thing in reverse.  One issue resolved.The Tall’n has cleared up some of the mess that had accumulated in the lower half of our grid as we attempted to fit together all the words that had appeared as solutions.

That lucky find is confirmed when we see CREW and TEE-HEE giving us the astonishing word CRWTH at 40ac, AESOP and AIRY producing SPRY at 44dn, HIYA and OMINOUS giving us HYMNS at 51ac, AITU and YUGAS providing TYGS at 23dn and (this was the last cell we filled) COOEE and AWMOUS giving us CWMS at 40dn.

Solving the clues was not too difficult and we have a full set, with the exception of that AWMOUS, but we have a few worrying holes in our grid and complete nonsense in some areas until we spot what must obviously reflect a further round of Only Connect. We see HANOVER and we have LAN and CASTER somewhere else in the grid. Now we understand why TUARTS was chosen as that rather odd word in 6dn, ‘Wild rats do climb trees (6) [RATS* and  UT rev.] and we put the royal dynasties in order symmetrically down the three centre columns of our grid, relocating six down answers as we do so, to achieve LANCASTER, YORK, TUDORS, STUARTS, ORANGE and HANOVER.

Not really sure what is going on now, I take a clean grid and fill in all the words that have not been affected by these ‘Only Connect’ games and find an almost full grid withjust a couple of gaps between CONSULTO and EROS in row one, and between DINOSAUR and PECK in row two. Can this be what the preamble was telling me? Have I simply to fill those gaps to give a third potential word that is part of the two that are already there?

I have one obvious sequence in ETA/ THETA/ IOTA in row eight but I can’t see real sequences in the other rows where possible words would go. Dilemma. I remember that Listen With Others rule ‘If you are not sure it is right, then it isn’t!’ but see no alternative to entering TOR (giving TOREROS), SAURY (giving RYPECK and opting for LAND, ICON, SET, TRUNK and PAR as the other words that have appeared. This is a disappointing conclusion to our solve as it lacks the polish of the other two moves – and we are probably ‘up the creek without a paddle’, but heigh ho. thank you The Tall’n.

Post script – four days later, long after we had all mailed our entries, a friend sent me this interesting break down of the solution. It corresponds with my final grid and explains things I couldn’t understand:



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