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Posts Tagged ‘tnap’

Listener No 4642, Music Box: A Setter’s Blog by tnap

Posted by Listen With Others on 7 Feb 2021

I guess the normal setter’s blog would go about explaining how the theme emerged and how the setter cunningly compiled the elements of the theme into the grid and clues. Unfortunately, this blog is more of an apology.

I produced Music Box nearly 3 years ago in a burst of creative energy that included my previous Listener submission as well (Triumvirate; No 4599). But such is the pipeline of Listeners these days that it has taken this long firstly to get submitted and then to get published. As a result, I have virtually no memory of ever producing it (hopefully the result of a busy life rather than dementia), and my notes (no pun intended) from the time have long gone. Of course I should have thought about the Listen With Others setter’s blog back then, but I prevaricated and never got round to writing anything.

It was actually quite a shock to receive Roger’s e-mail last Saturday (yes, I got one week’s notice of publication), and it took me nearly 2 hours to re-solve my own crossword to check the proof! And that was with knowing the theme and hence the discarded letters. So I’m guessing that Music Box is going to be on the hard side even by Listener standards. So good luck to all those who embark on that journey.

The vetters enquired about the provenance of the tune that I used. There are a great many musical versions and variations of the ‘Ring-a-ring o’ Roses’ tune. Again, my memory is cloudy, but I do recall using Wikipedia. Looking at it now, I can see that there is a version called ‘Marlborough’ which looks like the basis for my version. However, for the purposes of the crossword, it clearly needed to be transposed to C (no sharps or flats); have syncopation removed; and have additional notes added so that it scanned with the usual lyrics (eg as in Brewer’s). I must also have modified the final cadence slightly to make it more familiar (to me at least). Whilst there is therefore no authoritative source for my version of the tune, I hope that wouldn’t have been too much of an issue: the nursery rhyme is so well-known, and the letters C, B, A and G are exclusively used for the ‘pegs’.


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Music Box by tnap

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 Feb 2021

Our first reaction, after seeing a circular grid (which is already a prompt that the theme must have something to do with a ring or a circle, as that is an editorial requirement for a circular crossword) was relief that there was no mention of misprints or extra wordplay letters, but then we read that the radial entries were to be jumbled (well – ‘entered in an order to be determined’ – that looked like a jumble to me) and were going to produce a fifth letter that was going to help spell out some of the tune’s lyrics. That was not all – there was an entire ring of unclued thematic entries. Quite a challenge even if the other Numpty was already filling in HORTENSIO, SKI BUMS and SCIROCCO as I hunted through the clues to check that tnap retained his seat amongst the elitist Listener setter oenophiles.

Oh dear, oh dear! I got through the entire set of clues despairing of his membership and it was only after completing our solve that we saw that ‘Irritation initially suppressed loathing in some parts (6)’ We took the B off BUGGING and found an unusual word UGGING – we can stretch it, I think and raise our GIN (with a bit of an “Ugg” of protest). Cheers, tnap.

I don’t know how solvers with just pencil and paper manage crosswords like this. When we had rather a lot of potential letters from THICK, BOWIE, CRUST, HOHUM, GOONS, FROGS and CONWY, I was able to enter them into TEA which suggested HAWTHORN as the unclued word and prompted us that ATISHOO would appear in the letters we were not entering. Penny-drop moment. With ATISHOO ATISHOO WE ALL FALL DOWN now established, we were able to find TOYON, LOQUAT, REMONTANT, MOSS and LOQUAT but imagine my surprise to learn that those are all types of rose!

I should think tnap began setting this one by putting the ‘letter pegs’ in his grid, then just stretching his tune just a little to fit in the letters of those lyrics. He must have had quite a struggle to find the remaining three letters of each radial that would spell out real words (OK – we’ll accept that the odious jumbles were the only way.)

We needed to confirm that we had the right notes and Wiki led us on a fine goose chase with a number of versions but the other Numpty finally located a Marlborough version that approximately fitted, and the notes we had played a tune that sounded fine. I suppose, with the black death, there were a lot of people doing the ‘Atishoo, we all fall down’ thing all over the regions (Ed. Surely it’s topical?) and singing in a range of off-key versions. Thank you tnap.


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Listener No 4642, Music Box by tnap

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 Feb 2021

Last year’s tnap offering was all about US Army division nicknames with a bit of maths thrown in for good measure. Before that, we had Einstein’s “Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht”. This week, a circular grid with a musical theme.

Click on image to go to Adam’s Music Box

Before I go any further, I should mention this week’s guest animation from Adam Vellender which you can link to and listen to by clicking the image on the right. Many thanks to him for clarifying this puzzle’s theme (no pun intended).

On with the puzzle, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away if I say that I found this quite a challenge. All the radial clues were five letters, but one got ditched and the others got jumbled. Where to start? Well the ring clues were normal, so that’s where.

3 Aloofness shown by sleepy creatures neglecting bedroom (3) looked like it should be ICE with BR for bedroom missing from something. I was about to move on to the next clue when DORMICE – DORM came to mind and three letters got slotted into the grid. 29 came next with KIB(e) in SUMS for SKI BUMS — I don’t think I’ve ever come across them in a crossword before.

31 He’s after Kate’s sister or he’s into Dotty (9) with its obvious reference to The Taming of the Shrew and HORTENSIO was soon discovered. A sudden rush to the end of the ring clues gave RUGGY and GIP, and a grand total of 27 cells filled… exactly a quarter of the grid!

The radials of course were a different thing altogether. A lot of pencilling in of answers. RATOO, NIMBI, SEGNO and ASCUS started everything off nicely. After that, things slowed down, although Spike and Harry at 13 led to the GOONS. [The Goon Show is available in the UK on BBC Radio 4 Extra, with some of the episodes produced by Charles Chilton, he of Journey into Space fame — currently available in the UK on BBC Radio 4 Extra! But I digress….]

Once the grid had a light dusting of possible entries, it was a case of working my way round the grid, using the radial clues to slowly identify the missing ring entries. Getting FOSSILISES and UGGING certainly helped, as did GUIRO which I should have got earlier but didn’t because I failed to think of GIRO as a banking system.

It looked as though HAWTHORN might be lurking in the unclued ring together with MOSS before it, but they didn’t really help with much at this stage. Hats off to anyone who got 11-Ring early on in the solve: My Scottish cousin’s first dealing with chemistry, for example (10) leading to CONSCIENCE [C(ousin) + ON + SCIENCE, an expression of surprise north of the border].

And so, after a very long solve, the grid was complete with the unclued ring revealing MOSS, HAWTHORN, LOQUAT & REMONTANT, all roses, and the dropped letters from the Radials Atishoo, atishoo, we all fall down.

Favourite clue was 6-Ring One put up at Chrissie’s regularly does cocaine (6) which had nothing to do with, for example, Christine Keeler, but Australian Christmas DECCIE.

So the tune was Ring a Ring o’ Roses, supposedly about the Great Plague, but certainly a children’s nursery rhyme (here in the UK at least). All that was required was to find the “pegs” in the grid that would play the tune. Well… were the pegs the letter I? Unlikely as there weren’t enough of them. How about the letter O? That didn’t work either. Eventually, after about 20 minutes, all the Gs and Cs pointed me in the right direction.

I pottered over to one of the piano keyboard sites and played all the Gs, Cs, As and Bs. I can’t really say it sounded like what we sang as kids, but it was near enough for me to be happy that I got there. Wiki indicates that there are a number of variations of the tune.

Good fun, thanks, tnap. And thanks again to Adam for his animation.

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L4642 ‘Music Box’ by tnap

Posted by Encota on 5 Feb 2021

Beautiful construction! Not a tune I recognised but, hey, still unambiguous.

Here’s my attempt in MuseScore, a great piece of free software, it seems to me. I won’t embarrass myself by sharing the effort I created in GarageBand, though – it sounded like a stunted Stylophone solo. MuseScore lets you create MP3s from scores, of course – though it seems I can’t share MP3s on WordPress for ‘security reasons’. So count yourself lucky to be spared that 🙂

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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Triumvirate by tnap

Posted by shirleycurran on 10 Apr 2020

I often comment that we learn something new with every Listener crossword. This week, we had a full grid (except for three or maybe five unclued lights (since 10 down gave us either ENUMERATIONS or MOUNTAINEERS if we put AMERICA into 23 across). We had already worked out that 37ac anagrammed to BUCKEYE and that our thematic hint was US ARMY. We even had an anagram of MULTIPLICATION from missing definition letters, and the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations had told me: ‘Multiplication is vexation, Division is as bad; The Rule of Three doth puzzle me, And practice drives me mad. (Leon’s Collections vol 4 (1904) (possibly 16th century)’

Of course, I had hunted for the alcohol in tnap’s clues as we solved them at full tilt. We had had a late start as we are in total lock-down here in France, but so are our four and six-year-old grandchildren in California and their harrassed parents are working from home and grateful for a couple of hours of Internet child time which corresponds with the five o’ clock arrival of the Listener here – being read to in English and German, colouring numbers with the four-year-old, singing songs together and telling stories. I imagine a lot of grandparents are doing the same.

The alcohol? Tnap had ‘Ordinary twisted turkey bones (4)’ (ASS O<) and had ventured into INNS, ‘Puts up in the past by two points (4)’ and even a tatty café. ‘Tatty café’s poor prospect from penthouse? (9)’ giving us an anagram of CAFESPOOR = ROOFSCAPE. but I’m afraid it was a pretty poor prospect as far as the classy malts or gin and tonics are concerned. Have to try harder, tnap, to keep that entry ticket to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit.

When we had twigged that this was about US ARMY nicknames of divisions, I still hadn’t understood those words of the preamble that told me six unclued entries were located ‘appropriately’, so I laboriously looked up army divisions that were suggested by TEA, and spotted that INDIANHEAD would work at 2d, since an A could go into each of the remaining unches, and, of course, that gave me the N that allowed RED DIAMOND to appear. It was some time later that the ‘Doh’ moment also appeared – those clue numbers were their division numbers.

We have a number of copies of Brewer’s, the book among the thousands on our shelves that I loathe the most, partly because of its lack of any coherent index and partly because of the dippy items that fill its pages. Why do we have so many of the thing you ask. Sadly, it has all too often been a prize for being the lucky entrant picked from the crossword hat). I had found nothing about divisions in it and it was some time later that a friend told me ”

“I have a Millennium Edition of Brewers,

Under Regiments there are 2 lists:

Page 983 British Army

Page 987 United States Army

“In the following representative selection all are Infantry Divisions … “ [my italics]

1st: The Big Red One

2nd: Indianhead

5th: The Red Diamond

10th: The Mountaineers

23rd: The America Division

37th: Buckeye.”

“It was quite clever” said the other Numpty. “We knew of the Big Red One but the others were new to us.” Thank you for the education, tnap.

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