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Posts Tagged ‘Twin’

Singles Only by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 1 Jul 2022

I’ve glanced back at Twin’s puzzles on Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database and see that in his previous ones for the Listener and Magpie, the difficulty has steadily increased, until he became the Listener Ascot Gold Cup winner in 2020, so it was no surprise to see an alphabetic jigsaw, then read that several cells were to contain two letters. There was the encouraging information that wordplay in every clue was going to give us an extra letter, then gloom descended when we read that these had to be read ‘in order of grid entries’. That meant that we would have to cold-solve almost every clue before we would get an inkling of what was going on – which was going to involve the replacement of the contents of ‘most of the remaining cells’ at that stage, and then doing something else. Ouch!

Of course I had to hunt for proof that Twin retains his entry ticket for the Listener Setters’ Onophile Elite and his title, ‘Singles Only’ was pretty reassuring, though his clues had just the disappointing ‘wine gums’ in them. A rather lame “Cheers, Twin!” But I was delighted to see that the little Poat HARE is truly back with us: ‘Pass hare from Inverness Firth, say (5)’ We put COL for the pass, and RIN for the Scottish version of HARE (a speedy one) and when we had removed a letter R, we were left with COLIN and decided he had to be ‘Firth’ (not a nod to the setter’s forename?)

Speedy hare

I colour-coded the lengths of lights in the grid and the word-lengths and found the troubling lack of correspondence. We had seven 9-letter solutions and only one 9-letter space and the colours didn’t tell me where the other six were going to fit either.

Colour-coded grid

Solving was tough, too, though an early SKA and SKEGG and a potential NEIGH suggested what might start the bottom left-hand corner. After an initial twenty or so clues, we despairingly added two or three an hour and simply couldn’t solve all the 9-letter ones, with no prompts in the grid to help us. This was a real Listener E Grade and I was almost abandoning when HERONSEWS, SERRICORN and SALTANDO finally opened the way in (over twenty-four hours after I had down-loaded the puzzle). Suddenly the grief was converted to pleasure when the grid filled at lightning speed and the message “CLEAR AND SHADE THESE COLUMNS AND ROWS” appeared.

Clear and shade these columns and rows.

Of course, we still had a long way to go! We could now use those extra wordplay letters and had to work out what they told us, as well as extrapolating the few that we hadn’t managed to suss (the wordplay of ARABIN – that wine-gum ingredient, which now seemed to give O, and how we got an I from the TOED clue). But we did read LETTER’S FIRST POSITION IN ITS CLUE’S LETTERS/ ERASE TEN PLUS. That was fairly cryptic. Surely we weren’t solving another numerical: four a year in addition to twelve annually in the Magpie are sixteen too many for me!

We decided that we had to take the extra letter (D for example) and go to the clue for that letter and observe the position of the first occurrence of D in the clue. That number would become the grid entry (and remarkably the numbers were the same for the across and down clues!) We would leave the letter if it didn’t appear in the clue at all. We were instructed to ERASE numbers that were 10 or PLUS.

So I carefully counted the position of 81 letters in their clues and groaned in dismay at what emerged. Far too much of my life is devoted to crosswords and I have a personal rule to give a wide berth to sudokus and those Wordle things all my friends are boasting about. Surely we were not being instructed to COMPLETE SUDOKU. There was nothing for it! After all those hours spent reaching this point – sudoku rule broken.

And it had to have those rows and columns shaded.

What a remarkable compilation! Many thanks to Twin.


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Listener No 4630: Tip-top Condition by Twin

Posted by Dave Hennings on 13 Nov 2020

This was Twin’s second Listener of 2020, the first transporting us to the world of Superheroes and their alter egos. A few months before that, we had the Captain’s Mistress / Connect-4 puzzle. This week we had a load of down clues where the wordplay gave us a wrong letter that had to be entered into the grid — initially.

The first thing to notice was that the two unclued across entries were both 13 letters. What’s more, every letter was checked. Now if I’d counted the number of down clues I’d have found there were 25 and, lo and behold, 13 is just over half of 25 so perhaps the wrong letters coincided with one of the unclued entries. Unfortunately, that’s not what crossed the mind of this solver

Instead, I made a swift start with the acrosses, and TROMINO, NORN, CEE, ECHE (or would it be EECH), ETNA and SUES were slotted into the top of the grid. Tackling the downs, soon gave (with a wrong letter) CLEP-CLOP, RHENE, SHCRTS, SHLNE and SMETE.

Now it has to be said, that when I resolved the definitions in each case, I only saw one answer: evidence of horse?, &lit. for a river, clothing, cast light, smite, unite closely, work. This was partly because, for example, cast light, which could be present or past tense, I saw as SMITE rather than SMOTE. I don’t remember which clue finally enabled me to see the light, but luckily it was fairly early on. Consequently I was very happy to find that CLOP-CLOP was an alternative to CLIP-CLOP — I’d only ever heard of the latter.

Knowing all this, helped me with one of the affected clues, 7dn Ran rings round cops, finally outwitted (6) FOSLED which I finally analysed as FLED around (O + (cop)S) with outwitted as the definition. This gave FOILED and FOOLED as the two possibilities.

Three other clues caught my eye. 37ac Songs about religion, excluding Sabbath and holy ceremonies (7) was SPIRITUALS – S – PI to give RITUALS. 2dn Stays base jumping, accepting affliction it may result in (6) was the sneaky ABVDES (with its wrong letter) derived from BASE* in VD (it being, well, you know, it!). As for 39ac Two thirds of a mile, approximately — hard, like those in the country (8) with YOKE LIS (a couple of lis) + H! I think I’d get short shrift if I went into my butcher and asked for “a yoke of sirloin steaks”!

I had deduced the upper unclued entry before the grid was complete: EVEN CLUES’ ENDS with the lower entry as UNAMBIGUOUSLY. The ends of the even clue numbers gave odd clues’ opening letters. Lawks! This was beginning to remind me of Loda’s In Clue Order, On and On way back in 2009 where there were about half a dozen messages to uncover before drawing a large ∞ symbol in the grid.

So the first letters of the odd clues gave us The Listener no. in binary. Having worked it out by hand, I double-checked with my favourite mathematical website WolframAlpha. For a bit of fun, I also asked my computerised assistant (yes, I’ve got one) and all was confirmed. Once that was slotted into row three, all ambiguities were resolved.

Great fun. Thanks, Twin.

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Tip-top Condition by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 13 Nov 2020

“What a fine, short preamble” was our first comment, then we had a bit of doubt about how we were going to enter the ‘wrong’ letters that were going to be produced by the wordplay in just over half the down clues. We haven’t met that device before. But we have met Twin in four previous Listener crosswords, even in one erlier this year, so I didn’t really need to confirm his membership of the Listener Setters’ Elite Oenophile Outfit – but I did anyway and he was right in there with ‘Drink shots, knocked back without the introduction of amaretto (4)’ In fact that was one of the last across clues we solved as we had SAKI as a potential drink but couldn’t see the wordplay or be sure of the tough down clues. Of course, it was SEKT, reversing TAKES with A(maretto) removed.

Twin followed that with ‘Is old criminal smuggling alcohol in crude containers (8 two words)’ We put RUM into an anagram of IS OLD and got OIL DRUMS of the stuff, so, “Cheers, Twin!”

It was somewhat disconcerting to solve over half the crossword clues (the bottom half, of course) with no evidence at all of the thirteen (just over half of the twenty-five down clues) where we had to enter the ‘wrong’ letter but then light slowly dawned. UNAMBIGUOUSLY had appeared as the unclued entry near the bottom of the grid and we saw that even if we entered the letters the wordplay spelled out in the other ‘unlued’ entry, we couldn’t short-circuit the game because, for example, where the wordplay had given us SHCRTS, in 4d, the ultimate answer could be SHIRTS or SHORTS (Clothing heads to Swiss Hotel – customers ready to ski – first letters! – Yes, we are indeed ready to ski here in the pre-Alps and have just bought our season tickets with snow already falling. Over a metre in Tignes! but do we take shirts or shorts?)

That ambiguity appeared in every one of the upper thirteen down clues and how clever of Twin to have clued each of them so that an I or an O would fit: CLIP-CLOP, ABODES, RHONE (indeed both the RHINE and the RHONE rise near the heart of Switzerland – our Rhone had an imposing glacier at the foot of the Grimsel and Furka Passes when I was a little girl, but sady now that has receded out of sight) SHONE, RIOTED, ONCOMING, DROP, FOILED, SMOTE, INTO, KNIT and TOOL.

EVEN CLUES’ ENDS, we were told, and those spelled out ODD CLUES’ OPENING LETTERS. Finally we got there: THE LISTENER NO. IN BINARY. The Internet told us that 4630 is 1001000010110 in binary. I wonder how long Twin has been waiting for his number to come up! Such a clever idea, and, of course it resolved all that I/O ambiguity.

Many thanks, Twin for that fine compilation. Tip-top (or Top-tip) indeed.

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L1001000010110: ‘Tip-top Condition’ by Twin

Posted by Encota on 13 Nov 2020

What a neat puzzle!  Thank you Twin

[add grid here]

The clues were accurate and generous, with very precise definitions throughout.

The most beautiful part of the puzzle was of course the definitions in 1 through 14 down.  Coming up with ways to clue the words in the form AiB and AoB, e.g. 11d’s RIOTED and ROOTED, with the same definition must have been great fun!  Those verbs where the past participle is unchanged came in handy of course helped – e.g. defining both SMITE and SMOTE using ‘Traditionally beat’!  But there were several delights that went beyond that!  11d’s ‘…caused radical upheaval’ for RIOTED (the behaviour of human  radicals) and ROOTED (the uprooting of plants) probably being my favourite.

Of course the fun in the puzzle didn’t stop there.  The first hint EVEN CLUES ENDS led us to looks at the last letter of 8a, 12a, 18a etc, which spelt out ODD CLUES OPENING LETTERS.  Then reading 1a, 15a, … it spelt out THE LISTENER NO. IN BINARY.  4630 in base 10 becomes 1001000010110 in binary, which then gets entered into Row 3.  Excellent!

As I say, all great fun – it was only a shame that it was over too quickly!  Please pass my thanks on to Twin.

Cheers & stay safe,

Tim / Encota

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CRNT by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 Mar 2020

We often say that we learn a lot from Listener crosswords. The other Numpty woke me this morning saying that he had understood the CRNT of the title. “Of course, those are the letters missing from CLARK KENT when you write KAL EL”. I had never heard of Clark Kent or Kal El until last night. In asking Twin for a setter’s blog for his puzzle, I commented that he must be of a very different generation from me and he responded, amusingly, that this was his revenge for all the poetry he had had to look up after solving Listener crosswords. Touché!

Yes, I had heard of Spiderman, Batman, Robin, Flash and even Iron Man but hadn’t a clue about their real names and we came to those clues in a rather backward way, having decided, with an almost full grid, that those super heroes had to fill our empty cells, but not understanding the clues at all, or why they were the disguised versions of five ‘two word answers’.

It took my dear ally Wiki to tell me that Bruce Wayne is Batman, Barry Allen is Flash, Tony Stark is Iron Man, Dick Grayson is Robin and Peter Parker Spiderman (how can I have wasted my youth reading all of Shakespeare’s plays and learning poetry off by heart when those gems awaited me?) However, we didn’t really need to work out those clues as Twin’s clues were generous and, with a couple of missing letters, we had the message HIGHLIGHT KAL EL IN RED AND THIRTY-THREE LETTERS IN YELLOW. That was when Wiki told me that Kal El was the name of Superman when he came from the Planet Krypton and was adopted and given the name of Clark Kent.

I am sure I am not the only solver who scoured the grid for ages looking for one of his names before realising that, if we highlighted all the letters of Kal El in red and the spaces in yellow, we produced that thing Superman has on his chest (please will some aficionado tell me what it’s called.) A most satisfactory penny-drop moment – so thank you, Twin, for the education and the puzzle.

Oh yes, Twin, of course, confirmed his membership of the Listner setters’ topers’ outfit. The very first clue we solved was ‘Dry resort of Cowes (4)’ which gave us SECO* with an extra W. Then we found ‘Volume from Napa wine scholars (8)’ What a fine clue! We decided volume in the Napa Valley can be a LITER and that Twin has resorted to that crossword chestnut ASTI to produce his extra S and the LITERATI of ‘scholars’ (obviously comic book scholars!) Cheers, Twin – see you with your Asti at the bar in Stratford?

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