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Posts Tagged ‘Twin’

How? by Twin

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 Dec 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 Jan 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 Jan 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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“Our helicopter crashes: senior experts involved”

Posted by Encota on 5 Jan 2018

So it’s all about HERCULE POIROT and the ORIENT EXPRESS.

Leading to a random / spurious Anagram-based headline:

 “Our helicopter crashes: senior experts involved”

OURHELICOPTER* and SENIOREXPERTS*.  I suspect you can do better!

Thanks first of all to Twin for an excellently-constructed puzzle.  It included the 12 suspects from AGATHA CHRISTIE’s Murder On The Orient Express (first names) hidden within extra words in 12 clues, plus a neat diagonal with both HERCULE POIROT and ORIENT EXPRESS as possible fitting letters, all creating real words or abbreviations.  The encircled letters spell out LITTLE GREY CELLS, those of Poirot.

2017-12-16 13.12.08 copy

An enjoyable solve – thanks Twin!

Tim / Encota



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