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Posts Tagged ‘Tour de Force’

Tour de Force by Kea

Posted by shirleycurran on 15 May 2020

Well, if it is by Kea, it is sure to be a tour de force. Isn’t he competing with Shackleton and Elgin as the holder of the most Ascot Gold Cup wins? (I think Kea has the lead in his Kea role and alter ego.) It is a clear preamble (not a pre-ramble this time!) I know that Kea, in his editorial role, is currently in a mode of trimming and polishing setters’ clues (to put it bluntly, removing the verbosity) in a search for greater succinctness  so he obviously mustn’t offend himself, and we find a mere 40 clues with 3, 4 and 5 words in some of them.

(Some years ago, I commented to an editor that I thought that 12 words should be the maximum tolerated in a clue and he responded with horror that we should be aiming at an average of 6 – and Kea has allowed himself a 13-word clue for UBUNTU but maybe that should be used in one of those ‘clue-writing’ competitions to see whether a shorter clue is conceivable – probably not.) Most of these were models of brevity.

‘Occupier sustained colonist (6)’ gave us TEN(uto) + ANT = TENANT

‘Diana glimpsed in hallucinations (6)’ gave us (Hal)LUCINA(tions)

‘Bouncer gets bar back (4)’ Returned RAIL to get LIAR.

Oh yes, of course I checked Kea’s grid and clues carefully to see whether he retains his admission ticket to the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit and have to announce the very sad news that that last clue was a paltry attempt and it looks as though the editor has to go. The ‘bouncer’ may have been removing drunkards from the bar but Kea’s RAIL reversed is a poor apology and LIAR has no claim at all. Sorry, Kea!

But what a stunning compilation. We laboured long and hard to solve these tough clues and, with a number still missing (RAMEAU, VOXELS, SQUIRR, RAVENS, PUTELI, ZENANA) could make a putative grid fill but were unsure of the order of the letters in the outer circles. TURN LOOSE had to fill that first circle, but we had completed our solve before I realized that those eight letters are part of the ETAOIN SHRDLU (most commonly used letters that figured in a Listener crossword a few years ago and, of course all get you a single SCRABBLE point).

Happily, CENTRIFUGE appeared and RABBLE (possibly) a little further round that circle five. I went to bed still musing, well after midnight – but doesn’t the mind do surprising things (or is it the obsessive setting and solving of crosswords that fills a lot of these lockdown days?) “SCRABBLE”, I annonced at 6 a.m. and the other Numpty turned over in bed and went back to sleep. The rest was easy as TEA helped me to produce USING SCRABBLE VALUES FOR MASS – and all that was left to do was to complete my last few words making sure that, for example, the Z of ZENANA was flung by centrifugal force, to the outside of the circle. Yes, I’ve been reproached for making abusive comments about ‘Aren’t I clever?’ setters insisting on using pangrams in their creations, but clearly must concede this time – and we were warned (helpfully) in the preamble.

Don’t get me onto centrifugal force! I spent three tough years training as a ski instructor a long time ago and the oral exam required quite a lot of understanding of the physics of ski turns, which, to my astonishment, was somehow explained as deploying centripetal force – I didn’t understand it but just learned it off by heart. But it was good here to remember that Z gets you a 10, X an 8, F a 4 (?) Yes, of course the values are different if you are playing with a French or a German set as we do here, and you even get different quantities of each letter as Z is easy to use in French, for example.

Be careful with Kea! He condemned a lot of us to ignominious depths with his TABU/TAPU some years ago – so I initially coloured one example of each letter of the alphabet pink (Was that because we might have put NOELLE as our girl rather than JOELLE?) Then I checked that I had three radials with no letters moved (green) 7 with two letters moved (yellow in my grid) and 26 with just one letter going outwards.

Where was the potential ambiguity? Ah, could we have been tempted to put ONAGAR for ONARAG, or ONAFLL for ONALLF? However did Kea do it? Brilliant!


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Listener No 4604: Tour de Force by Kea

Posted by Dave Hennings on 15 May 2020

The annual outing for Kea, following a mathematical last year (Have Fun It’s Wordy) and before that the celebration of Listener no. 4500. This week we had a circular grid with none, one or two letters of each 6-letter entry moving outwards while the others retained their order.

Not really much to say about this except how enjoyable it was and wonder how tricky it was to construct. [See blog on Sunday. Ed.] The message revealed by ring 5 would tell us what was going on and for quite a long time I thought it was going to be celebrating the Century of something. In the end, it was something far more entertaining with the grid representing a Centrifuge using Scrabble[®] values for mass. Thus the letters moving outwards were the “heavier” letters from the game.

A Tour de Force in every way. Thanks, Kea.

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L4604: Tour de Force by Kea

Posted by Encota on 15 May 2020

It is a very close thing comparing with the ‘Brock’ a few puzzles ago – both must surely be serious contenders for Puzzle of the Year.

As an aside, there are rumours that one resident LWO oenophile* considered this puzzle as not meeting the requirements for alcoholic content: however, with WKD clearly placed at the top of the grid – in fact on top of the BAR (in place close to the bottom of the grid in ring 5) I will beg to differ.

Back to the puzzle: 0, 1 or 2 letters had to be moved from its starting place in each word, toward the end of that word, with the remaining letter order unchanged. How exactly was not initially clear!

I found I was solving the clues on the right-hand half of the grid much faster than the rest, such that it looked very likely that the message hidden in Ring 5 seemed to begin CENTRIFUGE USING … The grid is round, so that seemed to fit nicely. Ring 1 seemed to be saying TURN ….. , which (kind of) backed it up. But now what?

The following morning I have solved a few more clues such that the message might have been reading something like CENTRIFUGE USING SCRAMBLE … Was this a hint at anagrams? Then suddenly the PDM – and CENTRIFUGE USING SCRABBLE … appeared!

Might the higher-scoring letters get moved further to the outside, as if their mass was greater? This allowed several of the entries to be sorted, plus greatly reduced the options for what might fit in the last 6-10 clues/entries that I hadn’t got. At long last I had them and, sure enough, the final message: CENTRIFUGE USING SCRABBLE VALUES FOR MASS (!) And, for completeness, ring 1 spelt out TURN LOOSE.

As an example where two letters were moved, BHOONA becomes OONABH, i.e. the B (3 in Scrabble) moves to position 5 and the H (4 in Scrabble) to the end. All the other letters, OONA, in this case each with a Scrabble value of 1, remain in unchanged order.

Another neat feature was shown in the answer to 7, which was FU YUNG and its entry as UUNGFY, where the G (Scrabble value 2) was still correctly placed even though it wasn’t moved in the order and only the F and Y had moved ‘outwards’. Equal-valued letters stayed in original order too, even if moved – see the pictured entries of FU YUNG (again) and LOCUMS.

What a brilliant puzzle, with a beautiful Title, too. Creating that must have been such fun!

Bravo Kea!


Tim / Encota

*Other lovers of alcohol are available

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