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Posts Tagged ‘Wan’

A Tale of Two Cities by Wan

Posted by shirleycurran on 26 October 2018

Before even beginning to solve, we checked Wan’s list of Listener puzzles on Dave Henning’s Crossword Database and found an interesting range of topics from the table of elements, via cookery to birds. This one, from the preamble, sounded literary but was clearly not going to be about Dickens’ novel – that would be too obvious.

I didn’t need to read far to confirm his continued adherence to the Listener Setters’ Toping Outfit. ‘With gallons shifted, taste cider, it only passed (7)’ That was a tough clue to solve, as were most of the others but we worked out that it was GOUT with the G(allons) moving to give OUTG then ‘only’ giving ONE so OUTGONE was ‘passed’. There were two extra words there ‘cider, it’ and TEA told me that those anagrammed to ICTERID. Were we in for birds again? Wan was shifting cider (gallons of it) and shortly afterwards we found ‘Tempers lost indeed after alcohol (6)’ (not surprising after all that alcohol, Wan, Cheers!) It was ALE this time and YES for ‘indeed’, giving us a ‘lost’ word for ‘tempers’, ALEYES.

There was a delightful clue that really warmed my heart as, a couple of weeks ago I was rather distressed to see that Poat had managed to shoot the poor little HARE and finally do away with him but clearly Poat is a rotten shot as there he was, in four letters in a straight line. ‘Puts clothes on male in females’ quarters (6)’ HAREMS had to be the answer and we worked out that PUTS is HAS (the BRB says so!) and that word was clothing RE M(ale). The surface reading is lovely too – what is that fellow doing in the harem?

Another superb clue was ‘Who prepares Wan’s horse? (5)’ We extracted a SWAN (another bird!) from that clue and found that ‘horse’ anagrammed to SHOER. A magic &Lit. clue.

I wonder whether anybody managed to complete the top half of this crossword before the bottom half. I doubt it! We were lucky in that ANI, RHEA, ICTERID, SWAN, TARCEL, OWL, PYET, HAGDEN, AVOCET, NHANDU, EYAS and SORA gave us Aristophanes (yes, we guessed that after half of those birds appeared and we hunted in the clues for the ones to complete what had to be the name – then used Wikipedia to give us THE BIRDS). Of course, that told us about CLOUD CUCKOO LAND which was already almost complete in the centre of our grid and the FAT HENS and S of CEROUS provided the other city from the play. AT(HEN)S. We had, after a couple of hours of solving, the grid half full and just a few words in the other half. But then the struggle began and we almost gave up in despair as many of the clues led to words that just didn’t fit the cells available or seem to match the definitions at all.

Take BOSN. We guessed that that had to be the answer as it intersected with ACHARS but the clue seemed to be spelling out BOWMEN. ‘300 ladies moving west, some on boats (6)’ (B = 300 + WOMEN with W(est) moving – another spectacular clue!), so we had an extra WME in the clue, where we should have had an S. Light dawned – that gave us SMEW! and we had to enter the first letter of the bird, so S.  This was a real challenge and we spent a couple of tantalising hours hunting for potential clashes to provide the letters of THE BIRD, leaving, of course, real words when we extracted the clash letters.

PINERIES gave us PITIES when the TERN was allowed to fly out.

HONORARY gave us HORARY when the HERON waded out.

LUMME left LEME when the EMU was extracted

TAIVERS left TADS (quite appropriately) when the DIVER went down

ARABAS needed the BARB removing to produce ABAS

DIALING became a mere DRING when the rail flew.

And there we were. What a compiling feat. Thank you, Wan.

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Up To 10 Items? by Wan: the Spinal Tap remix

Posted by Encota on 7 October 2016

With a Title including ‘up to 10’ and an actual Total ‘up to 11’, how can this not refer to the legend that is guitarist Nigel Tufnel of the (wholly fictitious) band Spinal Tap?  For those not aware, or needing reminding, then currently this YouTube link gives Nigel’s train of thought:

So was there an Easter egg or similar involved here?  Later, later…

The solving process here was great fun.  Some tough clues (anyone knowing me will immediately realise that from me that’s a real compliment – I love tougher clues, thank you Wan)!  Once I’d surmised that it probably involved two 11-letter dishes then things began to progress.  I soon stumbled on the spinach pie (having earlier had bANAna sPlIt in mind), then with a few of the letter changes beginning to appear I had PIHAD as five of the letters in the first dish.  Suddenly I had a brainwave: ‘Dauphinoise’.  The next letter lined up too and I only had UNIOS to find.  Unfortunately, I then solved 28d and ‘triOs’ became ‘triPs’ – and that gave me two Ps – drat!  Then various PIEs were briefly tasted and binned, including banoffee and perigord, until I found the disgustingly entitled CRAPPIT-HEID.  Now, let’s be honest, that’s not going to win anyone’s Marketing prize for Best Named Product, is it? [‘Most Accurately Named Product’ I hear you thinking – now you’re talking!]

I especially loved some of the features one got ‘for free’ in this puzzle.  I particularly liked the Preamble’s ‘vital ingredient of…[SPANAKOPITA] not found in the grid’ throwaway comment.  So if SPINACH isn’t found in the grid then it infers that other ingredients are.  There two of them are, symmetrically down the middle – FETA and FILO.  There might be more, perhaps I should have looked further.

lighter-spanakopita
[(c) bbcgoodfood, the site for amazing recipes]

First admission: I’m never very good at gridstares.  So I approached the last stage of Wan’s puzzle with trepidation.  Ten squares?  Total?  Surely there can’t be a dish whose ingredients are…

peaS
sPam
tunA
flaN
mAngo
caKes
Onion
Pear
rIce
nuTs &
slAw,

…can there?

Forgive me, but yes, I admit I did Google it.  And no, no appetising recipe did appear…

As an aside, perhaps it’s just me (probably), but am I the only one tempted to set up such a spoof recipe site, just for fun?  i.e. such that come Saturday a Google search directs hopeful solvers to a wholly fictitious site declaring the apparent name of the dish with all those ingredients as a suitable ten-letter word, ideally one apparently in the Grid, such as AUSDEONTRA in Column 9.  Perhaps I’ll try and remember to do this one day – next 1st April perhaps?

Anyway, back vaguely to the gridstare:  a Google of ‘spinach substitutes’ gave a few possibilities: arugula (sp?), kale, chard, curly endives etc, though none of these seemed to appear anywhere in the grid.  Four-fifths of CHARD at 37d didn’t seem to count.  With one letter change there appeared to be AS FAR AS on Row 1 – as an alternative for UP TO – but with no instruction for letter-changing that had to be a Red Herring at best.

So, get a grip, apply some logic…  I had noticed how Wan had beautifully constructed the puzzle such that all eleven words that had become Foods were 180-degree symmetrically placed – impressive, especially given there was no mention of it anywhere!  So, if you were planning to have ten hidden cells, surely you wouldn’t spoil such delightful symmetry?  That cut down the number of possible locations to ‘very few’ (answers on an e-postcard if you can tell me exactly How Many) and the sensible subset of these to even fewer.  ABOUT came quickly into view as an alternative for UP TO and, with a double-check that I hadn’t just dreamt ORACH to be a word, it was sorted.
[And by chance, adding to the symmetry, 2d was my FOI and 39d my LOI.]

So back to the list of 11 ingredients and Spinal Tap.  As a job lot of 47 letters they look ideal anagram fodder.  Perhaps there’s something in there…

Some minutes later I was envisaging the headline describing the psychological and physical pain that could have been inflicted on the ‘Tap guitarist when he later found out that his amplifier hadn’t actually been made louder, that someone had only changed the faceplate behind the volume knobs and that he’d been conned:

“A famous amp ‘Ten’ rework can con: Spinal Tap’s Nigel’s nausea”

I’m sure someone out there can do better…

Thanks Wan for a challenging and very clever puzzle!

Tim / Encota

P.S. I was also just trying to arrange the 11 foodstuffs into two groups so that II could be interpreted by some other means (in Roman numerals maybe?) and hence be back under 10.  Pear Flan or Pear & Mango Flan sounded plausible, but the other eight in combination sound more suited for the dog’s dinner!  I also tried pairing off the symmetrical pairs, but couldn’t immediately see Mango & Onion being combined (having said that I’ve just found it as a salad – sounds very tasty)!
So perhaps it’s:
PEAS SLAW (as in snow peas slaw)
TUNA & NUTS
SPAM & RICE
PEAR FLAN
MANGO & ONION (e.g. mango & onion salad)
and then just CAKES (& perhaps more CAKES symmetrically laid upon it)
with
FETA & FILO being the ‘bonus’ symmetrical pairing of SPANAKOPITA ingredients
No, I think I’ll finish assuming that it’s social comment on people in front of you in the ‘Up to 10 items?’ queue in the supermarket who always seem to have 11 items.  Should we let this niggle us?  I think, on balance, probably not.  However, if you are desperate to stop it happening then you can always distract them, then surreptitiously then add several more items to their basket and let the person serving decide what constitutes too many.

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Up To 10 Items by Wan

Posted by shirleycurran on 7 October 2016

up-to-10-items-by-wan-001Wan! Winner of last year’s Magpie POTY with that wonderful Ludo puzzle. We can expect a challenge here. Better begin with a stiff drink. Well, I begin, of course, by looking for one in the clues and, even in the preamble have already found an unusual quantity of food. There’s a dish on the first line ‘Correct items can be arranged to form a dish’. We found CRAPPIT HEID  on the Internet but not in Chambers or the OED (and not surprising really – no wonder the Scots word for bad-tempered is CRABBIT – who wouldn’t be after that awful-sounding mess of fishy entrails – I could think of better things to do with the barley!)

We are told that ‘each incorrect letter must be used to replace a letter in the answer to a normal clue, to form an item of food for the grid entry, and, as we solve, a number (11 in all) of likely candidates appear. RACE is the first, ‘Fly characters missing regularly in truancies (4)’ (tRuAnCiEs) and as that seems to intersect with MERIL, ‘Wan hands over one counter (5)’ (ME + R and L around I) we have RICE potentially emerging from the clash.

Similar clashes produce SCAM  clashing with SPULYEING and suggesting SPAM, AMENS clashing with FLAP, giving FLAN, ‘MUN GO’ clashing with SPAE to give MANGO, TUNS clashing with PANOCHA suggesting TUNA – and so on, with ONION, PEAR, SLAW, and NUTS all appearing. It was fairly obvious that the CAPES in the centre of the grid gave a potential CAKES but we needed to find a potential K misprint to confirm that. Still there was a lot of food appearing and more in the clues: ‘sugar, cake and limitless coffees’ (PAN + mOCHAs), ‘double hot sandwiches’, and ‘tapenade’. Wan was certainly building up a thirst.

Ah, but did I spot TUNS/ CASKS in 2d, and not just one cask but eighty! ‘Transfers saving eighty casks (4)’ Chambers tells us that R is 80 so we remove the R from TURNS producing TUNS. With 80 barrels, Wan has certainly justified his renewed membership of the Listener Setters’ Oenophile Outfit (even if those barrels contained ‘Salt drink drunk by Australian lately (8)’ A + LATE round GIN = ALGINATE). Soon afterwards ‘Poet’s thirsty before climbing in nest (4)’ (A moving up in DRAY, giving ADRY). Just eight clues further down, we read ‘Drunk too much in a particular district locally, we hear (4)’ Well, we hear SOKE and SOAK = ‘Drink too much’ so that final evidence of Wan’s membership of the LSOO gives us a misprint too.

We have enough in the grid now to check that our misprints are the letters that are producing the food and when we read them in clue order we find SPANAKOPITA is spelled out, line by line. I spent some of the spring learning modern Greek and spanakopita, or little spinach and feta pies in triangles of filo pastry figure large in almost every recorded restaurant scene.  We examine the 11 left over letters and find TCSPUPIHANO. If we extract an anagram of SPINACH from that we are left with UP TO.

The pre-ramble that had seemed so impenetrable to us now begins to make sense. We have filled that CADDY from 21 across and now have to ‘check out’ by showing ‘the item total by highlighting a possible alternative for the ingredient and a definition of the phrase which may also explain the number (10 cells in all). Of course we immediately spot FETA and FILO down the central column but they don’t add up to 10 cells. Head scratching! It is the other Numpty who looks up SPINACH in Mrs Bradford’s gem and says SAAG? No, Ah, ORACH, and there it is!

‘Explain the number’? The title told us we had ‘Up to ten items’ and we found eleven symmetrically spread around the grid. Could that ‘UP TO’ be an approximation – ABOUT ten? (If I turn up in the supermarket clue that says ‘Up to ten items’ with eleven, they will mutter but let me through!) We are not absolutely convinced but decide to highlight the ABOUT. What do we see? There in the middle of our grid is 11. How very clever Wan!

This wasn’t easy but it was a fine challenge with so much going on that solvers had to resolve. Many thanks, Wan.

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The Other Letter by Wan

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 August 2015

BEES 001Wan again! That was our cry, as we are still struggling with the August Wan Crossword, Star Turns, on Derek Harrison’s Crossword Centre (even tougher than this one! Take a look!) However, we worked our way through the preamble noting the different terms used: there were the extra letters, the displaced letters and the replaced letters. Two of these sets were to be paired off leaving a single letter that had to be represented in the grid. Our ‘extra’ letters, and ‘displaced’ letters were going to identify two different groups and six overlapping members of the first group were going to form a representation of that left-over letter.

It didn’t tell us much at this stage (well, preambles rarely do, do they?) so I consoled myself by a speedy scan through the clues to check that Wan still qualifies for that elite set of Listener topers, and, despite straying into crystal meth and opiate, ‘None managed to acquire brandy wanting money for opiate (7)’ (which became N[E]NE* round (M)ARC giving NARCEEN) he finally settled for a ‘stiff drink’., ‘From old galleon remove mead, a stiff drink (6)’ (we had to remove the [H]ead of the old carrack giving ARRACK).

I believe those two are fine examples of this set of clues which we found extremely difficult to solve. Until a very late stage in our pairing off of the ‘replacement letters’ and ‘extra letters from wordplay’ we were convinced that we were removing for the [L]ead of the word ‘carrack (not [H]ead), so that our two sets of letters simply didn’t correspond.

We had found that our down clues gave us a group of bees: MINING, DRUMBLEDOR (yes, he appeared in Collins Dictionary) and WORKER. A set of birds were produced by the letters we had extracted from the word-play of across clues: GNAT CATCHER, GOSLET and SEA COB. It was that set of birds that we had to pair off against the ‘replacement letters’: HATECCGNOLCRTTEASAOESG. Well, that was quite fun and produced the predictable letter B that appeared only in the set of birds, at the end of SEA COB.

The birds and the bees eh? What was Wan up to? His clues had told us about a ‘Boyfriend on hospital bed, upland in Alberta (6)’ (COT + [B]EAU = COTEAU) and ‘Rod’s image of one with an attractive young woman mostly (4)’ (I + DOL(l) – giving [G]od’s image) now we were in rumpy-pumpy country!

All we now had to do was ‘create a representation of the other letter (B) in the grid by highlighting six hidden members of the first group (BIRDS) arranged as overlapping pairs (43 cells in total) with mirror symmetry about the middle row. What could be easier! Hah!

Well, we got to that instruction after about three hours of tough solving, then gazed at our grid that had DOTTERELS, REDSHANKS, a CAPON and something CRESTED (no doubt a tit) as well as a range of jumbled potential fliers, and we came to a dead halt. It was Listener tipple time and bed – sleep on it! That often works and indeed it did. My first look at the grid in the early hours revealed that rather nicely spelled out BEE made up of ARCTIC TERN, NUTCRACKER, CARA-CARA, ARAPONGA, TERU-TERO, (yes he was the source of trouble in a recent Listener wasn’t he?), and LANNERET.

As I said, we found this cluing really challenging but one of the Listener star setters and solvers told me it was exactly what he likes: a very demanding set of clues, a fine, well-constructed endgame and an attractive final grid with plenty in it – so thank-you Wan.

Nearly three weeks later, someone has just emailed me the news that we were actually picked out of the hat, stocking, whatever … as winners of this one. That is something I never expected to happen. I was planning to run up the longest run of entries without a win of any solver and can’t have been far off – about five years of entering every week. That’s another record spoiled, but I’ve also learned that there is an alternative to Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable if you already have a copy (or two or three, as we do!) so this Wan crossword is even more memorable for us.

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