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Posts Tagged ‘Twin’

Listener No 4532: How? by Twin

Posted by Dave Hennings on 28 December 2018

I’d forgotten that Twin had a puzzle last year. That was based on the Agatha Christie classic, Murder on the Orient Express and coincided with the cinematic release of the latest version of the film, this time starring Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot.

This week, every down clue had a thematic word which had one letter changed and needed removing before solving. The correct letters would spell out a place and a person and some misspelling of the unclued entry. I’ve never been asked to misspell a word in a Listener before!

The preamble told us a lot of things, one of which was that the grid had to “accommodate the answers” in some way. That sounded horribly like they would have to be jumbled. Luckily a short way into solving, it could be seen that the numbers in brackets were larger than the entry space available and so referred to the answer length.

Solving went pretty smoothly, and it soon became obvious that some cells in an entry would have to hold more than one letter, and two seemed to be the amount of cell-cramming required. Meanwhile, although the extra words could be extracted fairly easily, the letter change and jumbling was trickier.

Now I’ve noticed before when solving a puzzle that I tend to focus on the clue in hand without any overall perception of what is happening elsewhere in the grid. This time, although I was aware that the double-lettered cells all fell at the start or end of entries, it was only much, much later that I saw that they all lay in the centre of rows and columns.

In fact everything came together swiftly at the end. Bigger on the inside described the cell-cramming and also the thematic place — the TARDIS®. Two hearts also described the place’s occupant and how the unclued entry needed misspelling.

This last bit nearly tripped me up, since it seemed obvious (!) that the unclued entry would be missplelt as GALLIFFREY since that conformed roughly with how it would be pronounced. Unfortunately, that would not conform to the “two hearts” instruction and thus needed to be entered as GALL–II–FREY — two hearts in two ways.

Tidying up the extra words in the clues, each could become, with one letter changed, a synonym for doctor, most of which could be confirmed by Mrs Bradford. For example: freeze→breeze (a new one to me), pull→pill, drum→drug, etc, with my favourite being the simple GOC→Doc. This last was part of my favourite clue 27dn [GOC] reorganised MASH hospitals, with 46 missing eye disorder — an anagram of MASH hospitals after all the esses (46ac) have been lost — OPHTHALMIA.

I should also mention my difficulty in parsing 26ac Two supporters — pair following the lead of Nottingham Forest supporter? (8). I initially had the pair following the lead of Nottingham as (N)OP(qrs…) but then couldn’t work out the supporters which looked like PROP and ROOT. Of course, the pair following was (N)OT(tingham) with PRO and PRO being the two supporters.

Finally, TIME AND RELATIVE DIMENSION IN SPACE needed highlighting as well as the A in row 1 representing the flashing light of the old police box.

I’ve come across Doctor Who puzzles before and was surprised that none apparently used this trick for entering answers in the grid. Thanks, Twin — great fun.


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Listener 4532: ‘How?’ by Twin

Posted by Encota on 28 December 2018

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I finish the highlighting in this enjoyable Doctor- and TARDIS- based puzzle only to see I’ve coloured in ‘ACE TIM’ in Row 2.  Why Twin, that’s very kind of you to compliment me so.  No, really, you shouldn’t have …

Great to see Nina’s brother NINO making an unannounced appearance in Column 4, too.

I enjoyed the grid-filling PDM when, in the middle of trying to make sense of how to fit GRAND OPERA with SAVAGEDOMS and TIRADE, I spot they have digrams in common – DO & RA – and the two-letters-per-cell everywhere within the TARDIS outer wall, that is ‘bigger on the inside’, suddenly makes sense.  [Aside: talking of digrams, that reminds me, I must write that frequency analyser for Playfair breaking that I have always meant to have a go at!]

The added misprints in each down clue that became words that meant DOCTOR – pill, drug, change, leech etc – were an early spot, what with ‘burgeon’ and ‘cuter’ being two of the pre-correction words that became Surgeon and Curer.  There were three or four such words where initially there were options – Letch changing into either Leech or Leach, for instance – but these were easily resolved once the rest of the hidden message appeared.  That message constructed from all misprint corrections in order of course read BIGGER ON THE INSIDE: TWO HEARTS.

There were a few clues here I found tough to parse.  In particular these four:

  • Pier shop’s lead weight is 20-50 pounds (9, two words) took me a while!  I hadn’t previously been aware of a SWISS ROLL being a type of pier that can be unrolled.  But even once I had that part I still struggled with the wordplay.  It was only when I recalled the answer to 20d was SRO that it became clear: S+W+IS+SRO+L+L, a heavy-duty six-part charade.
  • In 26ac’s Two supporters – pair following the lead of Nottingham Forest supporter? (8), I could see the answer must be PROP-ROOT defined by ‘Forest supporter?’  but how did the rest work?  In error I had presumed that ‘pair’ would become PR and got very stuck.  At last I had it: PRO+PRO+(n)OT(tingham).
  • Thirdly was 40ac’s Someone choosing to rein in temper while one beams (12, two words).  Other letters meant it was going to be OPTICAL MASER and ‘one beams’ seemed a fair enough definition for that.  But the rest?  There’s OPTER (someone choosing) and CALM (…temper..) in there??  Eventually the ‘ah, got it!’ moment: I’ (for ‘in’) + CALM (temper) + AS (while) in OPTER.  So ‘rein’ alone was the Container&Contents_indicator – I guess that’s fair enough.
  • And the fourth and last I still can’t parse, at 13d:

Rat out of (vat) … lose it outside of vintage bar (6, two words)

Checked letters strongly suggest this is ?LOWON, and so only BLOW ON appears to work. I guess this can be defined by either ‘Rat’ or ‘Rat out’.  I’ve assumed that ‘vat’ is removed to become another ‘doctor’ word (i.e. vet).  But how does the rest work?  BLOW=lose it, perhaps?  ‘vintage bar’ = old meaning for bar, such as ‘pound’ which in turn could become L??  Ah, hold on – maybe it’s (estop) deleted from BLOW ON(es top)?  Using ‘outside of’ to mean ‘apart from’?  If yes, then that’s very sneaky!

And finally, the Title?  I wondered if first letters were going to be cycled round to the back, but that didn’t happen in the Grid.  Hmmm …

Maybe it’s simply the instruction to Doctor (vt) Who, resulting in How, as one example, i.e. How?  It’s the best I can come up with …

Wishing you all a peaceful Xmas break.  With the final Listener of 2018 just about to appear, I know what I’ll be doing for a little while this weekend!  For those particularly who’ve submitted all 52, best of luck with your 2018 performances 🙂

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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How? by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 December 2018

This didn’t look too daunting on first sight: a rather generous grid with an unusually large number of totally open lights that may well solve themselves if we manage the intersecting solutions, a short preamble and the promise of a couple of messages to decipher once we have changed a letter in each of the thematic extra words in the down clues. That sounds like an original and intriguing new device.

“Well”, we say, “obviously we will have to solve the across clues first”, and we start … and there is instant consternation. ‘Is it lost at sea side twice a year (12)’ gives us {IS IT LOST}* = SOLSTITI + side = ALLY so we begin to enter SOLSTITIALLY … and run out of space two thirds of the way through the word. Something is going on! A quick check establishes that it is the words that end or begin in the centre of the grid that have these extra letters that we must, somehow, double up. DISC CAMERA is our next over-long word and by a stroke of luck, we recognise that the SC can also be used for TRANSCENDS, so we are underway.

Of course, I spotted that little HARE who obligingly appeared in the very first clue, ‘What’s flatter when taken from head of rabbit over hare? (8, two words)’ This hare was in a RUSH, and the rabbit was just CHAT but we had to use Chambers to find that a CRUSH HAT is a collapsible opera hat.

Twin had a few clever clues like that in store for us: ‘Two supporters – pair following the lead of Nottingham Forest supporter? (8)’ gave us a smile and PRO + PRO + the 2nd and 3rd letters of NOTTS to give us a supporter, or PROPROOT (yes, we needed Chambers again!)

I didn’t need Chambers, though to establish Twin’s continued membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Elite. ‘Droids pull barrels into background (6)’ was the second clue we solved, putting B into ROOTS to give ROBOTS. ‘Rat out of vat, lose it outside of vintage bar (6, two words)’ moved from barrels to a vat, and shortly we were in ‘Orwell’s bar’, ‘Seats all filled up, Orwell’s bar bodes well (3)’ There’s standing room only now  and soon ‘One’s worried about splashes over cork (6)’ (the splashes are WETS< so our worried one is a STEWER). No real cause for worry, “Cheers, Twin! No doubt see you at the bar in York.”

It was GALLIFREY, Doctor Who’s planet of origin, that came next and we understood that we were creating a Tardis in our grid – BIGGER ON THE INSIDE than it looks and that phrase TIME AND RELATIVE DIMENSION IN SPACE helped us to complete our grid fill but we had to do a bit of Numpty head-scratching to see how to adapt those extra words in the down clues. QUACK had been an early find (from QUICK) but I had thought we were going to find a flight of birds (COB from CUB, GULL from PULL – how wrong one can be!) Of course, INTERS gave us INTERN, JAWBONES gave SAWBONES, DEALER gave HEALER and that delightful PAD gave PhD, and the message confirmed that our object to highlight was the Tardis with its article (A), the light on top. TWO HEARTS, we were told (I am not a Doctor Who addict but do know that the Doctor has a second heart and that solves the problem of that single I in the heart of our grid), so we obligingly doubled the I in GALLIIFREY. Yes, I muttered about MATINESSES (I suspect the editors did too – MATINESS is not a countable noun, even if Chambers allows one to pluralise it, but Twin has performed an astonishing work of art in managing to make double letters in words like OPTICAL MASER and OPHTHALMIA intersect, so a bit of setter’s licence is in order – and, as the other Numpty said, at least we were not instructed to submit an audio recording of those elephant sounds the Tardis makes as it takes off.

Delightful, thank you, Twin.

A post script: when I had finished my blog, I went onto our site to read the ones on Oyler’s Scumbag College that went up last night and was struck with horror on opening Dave’s blog. “Oh no”, I thought, “he has done that unforgivable thing we are always afraid of doing – accidentally publishing his blog before the puzzle is closed”. Looking a little more closely, I realised that it was simply that Dave had done a bit of time-travelling, seen Twin’s solution at the end of December, and decided to feature it when he wrote his blog before Twin’s puzzle was even set. Nice, Dave!

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Listener No 4481: Jury by Twin

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 January 2018

A new setter this week, and I will readily confess to being very slow on the uptake. You’ll see why a bit further down. [Can’t wait. Ed.]

No extra letters in the wordplay here, but extra words in a thematic number of clues. From the title, that was obviously going to be twelve clues. Each of these extra words lost a letter, the resulting letters forming an anagram with the lost letters forming a hint.

It struck me that there were an awful lot of 4-letter words, not to mention some generous unching with some of the longer words. After forty minutes, I had the two unclued entries as AG•T•A at 25ac, with C-something in the bottom row. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that we had AGATHA CHRISTIE popping up. The title was obviously a reference to Murder on the Orient Express. I had seen the new Kenneth Branagh film only two weeks previously. [I see. Yes, very slow. Ed.]

Another half hour later, with the grid about half full, HERCULE POIROT was trying to make himself known in the leading NW–SE diagonal, and not long after that the whole puzzle fell into place.

Although I read the book many, many years ago, I have seen the film with Albert Finney as Poirot on more than one occasion. Although the Branagh version was good fun (outrageous moustache included), I prefer the 1974 version. I must say, however, that I’m surprised that “Spoiler Alert” wasn’t signposted in the preamble, after all it’s a current movie and we know how we are excoriated for mentioning current things! Moreover, I know of a few people (one well-read) who don’t/didn’t know the ending.

The extra words led to the first names of all the… let’s call them suspects. I could just about recall all of them, with the exception of Count Rudolph Andrenyi and Mrs Hubbard (Lauren Bacall in the original and Michelle Pfeiffer in the current) whose first name turns out to be Caroline (cornelian* – n). One of the names was revealed by my favourite clue at 45ac Those spilling [Perrier] water after pay ends (4) leading to FEET, the character being Pierre Michel.

The remaining letters, Eastern State led to ORIENT EXPRESS which needed to replace Poirot in the diagonal with twenty new words appearing and an E slotting in the central barred-off square. With all this thematic material, the number of 4-letter entries was totally understandable.

This puzzle was even more entertaining than the film (well, almost). Hercule, the train, and all the characters were there, not forgetting Poirot’s LITTLE GREY CELLS. Thanks for the ride, Twin.

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Jury by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 5 January 2018

Just four lines of preamble! We suspect that Twin is a new setter and also that there is going to be a fair amount of thematic material in the grid since he has managed to get away with ‘two final entries are abbreviations’. The title. ‘Jury’ immediately suggested to us that there were going to be twelve jumbles of extra thematic names (plus a letter) in the clues and that maybe we were with Twelve Angry Men, or Alice in Wonderland but it was a long time before we found out who these twelve really were.

First, of course, I needed to scan the clues to see whether Twin qualifies for the Happy Listener Setters’ Toping crew and he had me worried for a while. I read right through the across clues finding only Perrier water. Perrier immediately leapt out as one of those names (PIERRE with an extra R) and we struggled to work out that we had to remove the ‘water’ or ‘hose’ from the those of the clue (Those spilling Perrier water after pay ends (4)) to get a T to put on the end of FEE, giving FEET or ‘ends’.

Very early in my setting career, an editor commented to me that the surface readings of my clues really didn’t pass muster. He said that a fairly good rule of thumb was ‘Could you pronounce that sentence at the dinner table or as you walked into the pub, and be understood?’  I’m not sure that clue passes the test. However, the next drinkie one certainly does. ‘Special thirst for bottle (5)’. S + PINE giving us a different sort of bottle. Twin confirmed his rights for club membership with ‘Frivolously try climbing mountain after Irish drink (6, two words)’ OK, it was TAY with ALP<, (just Irish tea) giving PLAY AT but “Cheers!” anyway, Twin. See you au bar at the Paris setters’ dinner?

Those names that were appearing as we solved didn’t say anything to us until we had spotted the name that appeared in the unclued lights and the one that was in the leading diagonal: his name was the first to fall, as those letters in circles spelled out LITTLE GREY CELLS and, at first, I was full of trepidation as GREY can be spelled GRAY. How were we going to remove that potential ambiguity?


Nice, wasn’t it. Those extra letters unambiguously gave us EASTERN STATE, ‘Eastern’ = ORIENT and ‘state’ = EXPRESS so that the ORIENT EXPRESS replaced HERCULE POIROT and, at last it was confirmed that the theme was Murder on the Orient Express. How very satisfactory, too, that only real words were left in the final grid (even if there were those two abbreviations). What a fine debut! Many thanks to Twin.

Oh, but wait a minute, the Poat hare! Last week he was sneaked into the clues but this week things have really gone too far. There he is in the clues again. ‘Snack of cold hare, chopped with duck (6)’ That is just not on! He’s been run over by the high speed train and transfixed by an arrow in  Listener crosswords since Poat ignominiously hid him in the preamble, but chopped and eaten? No way! Fortunately, however, the hares have been multiplying in the grids of late and there were still a couple of survivors, sitting together in the grid.

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