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Posts Tagged ‘Where falls the axe?’

‘Where falls the axe?’ by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Encota on 17 Mar 2017

What a clever puzzle!

As the theme began to surface, combined with a Title like that, there had to be a chance of Dr. Beeching making an appearance – but if he did, I couldn’t find him.

The Down clues each contained an extra word, the first letters of which appeared to spell out:


and the fourth letters in order seemed to spell:


But of course they didn’t mean these at all – but really were some 26-letter hidden anagram-based slogans.  From the ‘For The Trees’ camp:

  • Turn yew and poplar trees into worse

And from the Pro-Training camp:

  • Different view: must book ‘The Tree Express’

Well, perhaps 😉

Slightly more seriously for a moment, one of the clever parts about this puzzle was that, to add HIGH SPEED TWO onto the leading diagonal required six letter changes to the initially-filled grid.  And each of these six changes created a tree in its row: HOLLY, GARDENIA, SYCAMORE, YEW, ELDER and SALLOW.  (Of course that Cometary* anagram entered at 19a as TYCAMORE was a pretty big hint!)

That left the final instruction: REMOVE SIX TREES BUT KEEP HS-TWO.

I’ve read that to mean delete all the characters of the letters in the six Trees apart from those on the leading diagonal, so that the -OLLY of HOLLY is deleted, for example.  Seems to meet the Preamble’s requirements, anyway!

And the phrase in the circles reads CAN’T SEE THE WOOD, so Hedge-sparrow is clearly FOR THE TREES (I’d expect nothing else from someone with such a pseudonym, of course).

And I see there is initially that elusive HARE in Column 8 too – at least you think at first it’s HERE, but then it is (and so isn’t).  Simple, eh?

Great fun – thanks Hedge-sparrow!

cheers all

Tim / Encota


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Listener No 4439: Where Falls the Axe? by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 Mar 2017

Well… only five months since Hedge-sparrow’s last Listener, which was the enjoyable puzzle based on John Masefield’s Cargoes (No. 4417, HMS Arcady). My money was on this puzzle celebrating an anniversary, or something based around the end of February.

This week we had six answers needing to be jumbled before entry and extra words in the down clues where first and fourth letters spelt out two instructions.

A quick run through the clues took just twenty minutes and resulted in a dozen entries. One of these was 5ac Hug aged lout, not entirely with indifference (6) for APATHY which looked as though it would need jumbling. Of course, rereading the preamble would have alerted me to the wordplay in such clues leading to the jumbled form. Once the enjoyable 6dn [Re-evaluate] how road crew is selected for race, remarkably (5) was solved for ODDLY, 5ac COOLLY was entered as COLLYO (COLL + YO[b]).

I found parts of the grid quite tricky, especially the bottom right. 19ac Part of vehicle circling cam ring as an orbital body (8) gradually became more and more like SYCAMORE until 19dn Letter [deferring] support (3) made me realise that it was an anagram of COMETARY (TYRE about CAM O). Sometimes I just can’t see the wood… oops, I’m getting ahead of myself!

This was one of those puzzles where I felt I had taken much longer than the clock told me. In fact, it was just 2¼ hours from beginning to end. The clues were all solid, my favourite being 42ac Converting one bit of lead to the next, ancient alchemists making changes (6) for ADAPTS (ADEPTS with (l)E(ad) changed to (le)A(d)), as well as the novelty of 6dn mentioned above.

As promised, the extra down words revealed two instructions:

Enter proposed railway NW to SE and

Remove six trees but keep HS Two

I suppose a knowledge of UK controversial rail schemes was useful, but overseas solvers could use the internet to track down HIGH SPEED TWO which had its even letters already in the NW–SE diagonal. The trees thus revealed were HOLLY, GARDENIA, SYCAMORE, YEW, ELDER and SALLOW. These then had to be erased with the exception of the letters that intersected the diagonal. The two termini of the line at Birmingham CURZON STREET and LONDON EUSTON completed the NW and SE corners of this oddly shaped grid.

Finally, the cells inscribed with a circle spelt out CAN’T SEE THE WOOD and I slotted FOR THE TREES into the space under the grid.

I suspect that ‘contentious’ may be a suitable adjective for the theme of this puzzle, but it was an enjoyable solve. Thanks, Hedge-sparrow, and I hope that you aren’t one who is too closely affected by the project.
Even though Encota laid out the solution to Rhombus’s puzzle Can You Do Division?, here is the published version from 1967.

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