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Posts Tagged ‘Xanthippe’

Listener No 4671: Ours by Xanthippe

Posted by Dave Hennings on 27 Aug 2021

I don’t think I realised that Xanthippe had such a prolific output with over fifty puzzles, here, there and everywhere. This was his fourteenth Listener, his previous one being no. 4613, Escape, with rooms and riddles, and before that the chandelier episode from Only Fools and Horses (no. 4559, G).

This week, a long preamble with ten lines. Downs were to be entered jumbled and acrosses as definition and letter mixture for one or more clues run together, to be entered thematically. I should have tried the acrosses first, or at least the single word ones like 13 Pursued race kart drifts (5;7). That was relatively straightforward, giving TRACKED — ((ra)CE KART D(rifts))*. (I may even have guessed the entry requirement for that one! [Reading ahead, I don’t think so. Ed.]) As it was, I started on the downs. Although they were to be jumbled, we were given the positions in the answer of the first and last letters in the entry.

I was relieved to get 2, 3, 4 and 7 quickly — KAISER, MAGNESIUM, HOSTEL and TAUREAN. In fact, the first pass through got me well over half the answers and a second pass a couple more.

Time to tackle the downs, and that’s where the fun started! If I’d persevered with 1 Woman was jester’s sidekick, teaching abhorrent person (boy), unusual one behind table at rear (12;4,4,3,5), I might have sussed it all, but the four DLM clues put me off. Even getting 13 TRACKED didn’t set me straight. [Told you. Ed.]

Soon after, however, 14 came to the rescue with Malingerer Erik sulking inside a spiral recess (9;5,4) giving SKULK + APSE and leading to SKULLCAPS. From there it was relatively straightforward putting the sounds of all the words together to form the entry. Going back to 1, we had JESS + TICK + YOU + LATER for GESTICULATOR, and finished up with 32 CISSY + PARRY + TEE for SCISSIPARITY.

All that was left was to find the two writers extracted from one of the letters where the definition and letter mixture part of each across clue meet. That gave {NW} {GA} {LO} {DT} (from 1) {EC} {GR} (from 12) {DR} (13) {RE} {LR} (14), etc. It didn’t take too long to identify WALTER followed closely by DE LA MARE and then JAMES GUNN. From the former, The Listeners was easy to deduce and find in the grid. That was lucky since I found two James Gunns by internetting, and one of them didn’t write the science fiction novel The Listeners.

So finished an entertaining puzzle. Thanks, Xanthippe.


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Ours by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 27 Aug 2021

It was a double groan that greeted Xanthippe’s pre-ramble (well – it was ten lines long wasn’t it! We still haven’t met the Listener puzzle where the preamble is longer than the clues but it is sure to come one of these days isn’t it.)

‘Jumbles’- oh no! Then, with total disbelief, in a sentence we didn’t really understand at this stage, we discovered that ‘Each across clue is really one or more clues, each of which consists of (in either order) a definition and one or more words containing a consecutive jumble of the answer’. At least we had the wit to colour-code the ‘definitions’ in those clues so that we would ultimately be able to work out the names of the ‘two writers with a common link’.

Indeed all of that merited a strong drink – Oh, of course we could count on Xanthippe to retain his place at the elitist Listener Oenophile bar. ‘Dissolute aide consumed fizz, tranquilllising ruffled state (8; 3,4)’ The other Numpty was slotting down answers in at a great rate and I was the aide in the ruffled state but we went for ATE + TIZZ (giving us the homophone EIGHTIES) and ‘Ruin ales, water drinks, reapportion measures of old spirits (12; two words, 5,6)’ WASTE ANKERS producing WAIST ANCHORS.

Xanthippe already had the fizzy stuff, ales and old spirits; now we found ‘Twist top off alcoholic drink, followed by generic one (7; 2,5)’ We opted for (t)ENT and WINE producing ENTWINE. Talk about a boozy crossword! He finished with ‘stout’; ‘Stout boss getting first of recruits inside yard (6; 3,6)’. STURDY put R into STUD + Y. Cheers, Xanthippe – see you at the bar if you can still stand after mixing that lot!

It was fortunate for us that those entered first and final letters of down clues suggested to us GESTICULATOR and SCISSIPARITY and three words that were appearing in the grid TRACT, PEACE and STRAIGHT prompted that TRACKED, PIECE and STRAIT might be the homophones that were clued, but we still marvelled as those jumbled central letters of down clues slowly resolved themselves, with double letters removing any ambiguity when there were double unches and real words filling the across slots.

We had no difficulty extracting WALTER DE LA MARE from the pairs of letters and JAMES E GUNN seemed to be the other name. Wiki told us that he, too, wrote THE LISTENERS, so in a rather fine in-joke we highlighted that in the grid (and I smiled that the title was not a homophonic comment on the hours we had spent sussing the jumbles).

What an astonishing compilation. Many thanks to Xanthippe.

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Escape by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Jul 2020

Our first reaction was “What an original grid!” The preamble was original too, promising us riddles that we would need to solve to escape four rooms. We (U) began solving unsure whether those walls could be crossed by our symmetrical solution to the clues but it soon became clear, when BEER crossed one of them, that we could ignore them in our solve and pay attention to them when we were ultimately manoeuvering our way out of the rooms.

BEER? Yes indeed ‘Hoppy drink preferable – Tom’s not teetotal (4)’ gave us BETTER losing TT and producing an extra word ‘Tom’s’, so I need not worry about xanthippe’s retention of his admission ticket to the Listener Setter’s Oenophile Outfit, even if he feels BEER is preferable. Cheers, Xanthippe!

Xanthippe’s clues were all of that fair and generous kind and, as we had the good fortune to solve the four 12-letter ones early on, our grid fill was speedy. ‘Honour promise, don’t fire English weapon (12, three words)’ gave us the amusing KEEP ON (don’t fire) E SWORD.

Equally amusing and so clever was ‘Muddled how to make even 11? (5)’ The answer to that last clue that we solved had ro be ADDLE and we smiled when we realized that if we ADD LE, we convert EVEN to ELEVEN.

We are not very good at finding redundant words in clues. I think we solve too quickly without justifying every word, so that we had some rather incomplete riddles to solve and needed a supper break before we scanned our clues more carefully to get:





I could see that the answer to the last one was CROSSWORD – a self-referential comment on our barred cell grids that aren’t the kind that prisoners are kept in (well, yes, admitted, we do spend some frustrating, head-scratching hours trapped in the things but …) and that led us out of the grid at the bottom cell, so the U could go there (or does he become I or ME?) and that established his starting point in the room above and there he was, pointing us at TOMORROW.

From the start, the other Numpty had been saying “Tom Riddle, he’s in a work with Harry Potter” but I hadn’t taken it on board and CHAMBER OF SECRETS was the last solution to be entered after CANDLE had shown us where it ended. I am told these are familiar children’s riddles that appear on the Internet and of course, there they are. I should have asked a five-year old.

I drew U’s ‘complete’ path, crossing all the cell borders from his original position to his final external cell but was then left with. a nagging doubt. He has escaped, so I imagine we have to remove him from his original position – or have we?

Many thanks to Xanthippe for a different and entertaining puzzle.

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L4613: ‘Escape’ by Xanthippe

Posted by Encota on 17 Jul 2020

Lots of clues contained an extra word, which then needed to be suitably grouped together. This resulted in the following four phrases/riddles:

  • Always coming not arriving
  • Where Tom’s in work with Potter but clay never gets baked
  • Tall when young short when old
  • Barred cells here prisoners don’t enter

And the answers to these, TOMORROW, CHAMBER OF SECRETS, CANDLE and CROSSWORD spelt out the path that allowed the solver (U) to escape from the top NE quadrant and end up exiting the Southern door of the Escape Room complex.

A few of the extra words were quite tough to find but eventually they all dropped out. Thanks Xanthippe!


Tim /Encota

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Listener No 4613: Escape by Xanthippe

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 Jul 2020

Xanthippe has had a fair few puzzles over the years, dating back to 1997 over at the Independent-that-was. Here we had Listener number 13 from him, last year’s being the one based on the Louis XIV chandelier episode from Only Fools and Horses, and good fun that was.

This week, an escape-the-room mystery faced us with riddles provided by extra words in some of the clues. At first glance, it appeared that each riddle would lead to the sticky-out cell added to each quadrant of the grid, but a second reading of the preamble indicated that there would be a single path starting somewhere and ending in one of the cells. None of that, however, would make any sense until the grid was done.

Solving started at a quick pace with OSSA, BEER, ICES, MARE and ANNA probably going in the top half of the grid. What would end up being 16ac Money for tribesmen with, we hear, set of beliefs (5) was a sneaky clue that I didn’t solve first time through, being CREDO sounding like CREE DOUGH, with being the extra word!

I also failed with the first 12-letter entry 17ac-to-be Potter cut pot plant in station, using middle of sickle for last plant (12, two words) (although it probably ended in (si)CK(le)), but a bit of time on 28ac Women who repay [young] fools holding very odd green earth (12) gave AVENGERESSES — ASSES around (V + GREEN* + E). Phew!

A few more acrosses got pencilled in, and with ODIC, BETCHA, GROWER, PROM and ADRY solved from the downs, the top half could start to be pieced together. Identifying the extra words in clues was sometimes a bit tricky with words like in, with, here and not lurking.

Eventually, everything was slotted together. My favourite clues were probably 5dn I’ll wager doctor [gets] the cab (6) with its straightforward anagram giving BETCHA, and 27dn Leaders from Kirkcaldy estate [don’t] expect lean Glaswegian tough (6) with its unlikely surface reading leading to KEELIE.

And so on to the riddles:

  • Where Tom’s in work with Potter but clay baked never gets
  • Always coming, not arriving
  • Tall when young, short when old
  • Barred cells here prisoners don’t enter

The last one was obviously CROSSWORD to be found in the SE quadrant, and working into the SW corner, we got CANDLE. On first reading, I guessed that the first riddle had a Harry Potter reference, but it took a few minutes to uncover CHAMBER OF SECRETS and then TOMORROW for riddle number 2. And wasn’t it Tom Riddle in one of the Harry Potter books?

Another read of the preamble, and we were told that the solver (U) had to follow the path, and above the T of TOMORROW was the U which then had to move to the extra cell at the bottom of the SE corner, leaving the other three extra cells empty. It would have been nice if one of the definitions of You in Chambers was “the twenty-first letter of the alphabet” as the preamble could then have said “solver (you)”!

Great fun. Thanks, Xanthippe.
PS A riddle I was reminded of this week: How does a deaf woman indicate to a hardware store worker that she wishes to buy a hammer?

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