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Posts Tagged ‘Xanthippe’

L4559: ‘G’ by Xanthippe

Posted by Encota on 5 Jul 2019

How might one clue the letter G in Wordplay?  A bit of grit, perhaps?  Aha!  A touch of glass – that sounds more like it!

We have seen Trigger’s Broom in thematic crossword-land in recent times, and Only Fools and Horses – written by John Sullivan – appears to be a good source of material, as is shown in this puzzle by Xanthippe from the episode A Touch of Glass.  As successful solvers will already know, it’s the one where Grandad unbolts one Louis XIV chandelier from the floor above, whilst Del Boy and Rodney await below on stepladders, with a blanket outstretched between them, ready to catch this chandelier.  Of course, it’s the other one at the far end of the room that falls.  Available on YouTube, of course (what isn’t?).

As usual I managed to get delayed by some of those short words or abbreviations: pu=pulled up (horse racing), Et.=Ethyl (chemistry), en=nut (printing).  I must find a way to remember some more of those.  All tips welcomed!

Cheers all,

Tim / Encota

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Listener No 4559: G by Xanthippe

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 Jul 2019

As I saw that we had Xanthippe this week, I knew that a thoroughy enjoyable puzzle was in the offing. Last year, we had the Bond/Fleming Bourne/Ludlum ambiguity, and before that Adam Smith’s connections.

This week, a preamble that went on and on and on, the important aspect being that thematic items were spelt out by letters dropped from the down clues, with letters needing to be added to the across clues to give us two more items from the scene — whichever scene that would be.

Another week may have found me struggling with what these items were, but luckily not here. The across clues revealed one step ladder, followed by another (step ladder that is) — really?! The down clues gave Bottom, nit, ass, dun, Red Rum and nag.

In fact it was the step ladders that revealed the theme for me. It was just one of those weeks when the brain came good. We were dealing with the chandelier episode from Only Fools and Horses, which is what the down clues gave us, three fools and three horses. A bit of research was needed to find that it was a LOUIS XVI CHANDELIER, weaving its way through the grid from one asterisked square to the other.

The clashes could be resolved at first to give RODNEY (columns 1/2) and DEL (columns 11/12) holding a BLANKET (row 9). Choosing the alternative clashes and having GRANDAD remove the bolt in row 1 sent the chandelier crashing to the ground. John SULLIVAN, the writer, had to go under the grid, with the remaining ten letters of the chandelier going into the bottom row, including two 2-letter words, LI and NE.

Great fun, as expected. Thanks, Xanthippe.

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I-spy Choices by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 23 Feb 2018

A carte blanche with that unusual opening of the preamble, ‘All clues are thematically similar’ and the additional comment that we are going to find nine clashes. The other Numpty has worked out what the thematic similarity is and is happily running off answers while I laboriously colour code my grid identifying the lengths of words and cells.

That device of listing clues by the opening letters of their solutions is a great help and when we spot PERSON-TO-PERSON ‘P Involving contact assigned to drunkard taken in by Prince Edward say (14)’ (P + ON TOPER in ER’S  SON) our grid fill can begin. And in goes the ‘drunkard’, the ‘toper, and a few clues lower, I find ‘Y Maybe Guinness but not C Clinton studied here (4)’ (Y + ALE) I don’t need to look further for confirmation that Xanthippe retains right of admission to the Listener Setters’ Toping Club.  Cheers Xanthippe – à Paris!

Once we have that initial P in place, the grid fills steadily, when the only two three-letter solutions giving us NAS and EGM and by a stroke of luck initially going in the right places. We have a couple of hiccups when we put URAL and DAHL in the wrong places  and struggle to fit ALBIGENSIAN (suggested by TEA), where we needed AMBIGUITIES but filling the grid is enjoyable because of those generous initial letters and soon we have a full grid. Now what?

The other Numpty almost immediately spots JAMES BOND and feels that his work is done. ‘I spy’ – “Well he does, doesn’t he?” He leaves me to look for Ian Fleming but, consternation. Who do I find? R. LUDLUM. Something very fishy is going on here. Then I find I.L.FLEMING and the plot thickens. Of course JASON BOURNE is hiding in those clashes too – so that is why the preamble said ‘their creator’ rather than ‘his creator’. Was that a subtle hint?

Both of these sets of ‘Spy + creator’ add up to 18 letters so which set do we opt for and highlight? We are told that a three-word phrase from a quotation appears in the completed grid, as does its source lacking a conjunction. ROMEO and JULIET must be the source. And so the grid stare begins (and takes just about as long as the grid fill! I took the problem to bed with me.)

Nothing for it but to re-read Romeo and Juliet (which I thought I almost knew by heart having taught the play more times than I can count, and what a lot of early Shakespearean long-windedness there is in it – of course, later Shakespeare would have avoided the retelling of the entire plot by the Friar in Act V). I was looking for some reference to exile in Mantua that puts Romeo beyond the BOURNE, or some comment by Friar Lawrence about the BOND binding the young lovers and as I reached the last Act and Scene, I had almost given up hope when the word AMBIGUITIES leapt out at me (particularly because we had initially entered ALBIGENSIAN in that light!)

Montague Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while,/ Till we can clear these ambiguities,/ And know their spring, their head, their true descent,… Act V Sc.III Lines 216 to 218.

Of course that obliges us to opt for the U of the E/U clash in AMBIGE/UITIES and, in effect, clears the ambiguities and spells out LUDLUM. What an inspired finish to the crossword. A superb compilation, many thanks to Xanthippe.

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Listener No 4488: I-spy Choices by Xanthippe

Posted by Dave Hennings on 23 Feb 2018

Xanthippe’s last Listener was 18 months ago with its theme of the Adam Smith quotation “connections that unite the various appearances of nature”. That had a strangely constructed grid with basically four quadrants all linked together by the quotation.

A more straightforward carte blanche this week with clues almost in alphabetical order of their answers and some clashing cells. For the endgame, we would need to identify a phrase from a quotation. This would be the first chance for my newly-acquired ODQ, courtesy of some Christmas gift cards, to be put to good use.

The clues weren’t numbered, but given a letter. The first bunch were labelled LISTENER I-SPY XANTHIPPE followed by letters in order. The preamble started with “All clues are thematically similar…”. What all of them?! [Yes. Ed.]

Actually, it didn’t take long to discover that the wordplay in each clue omitted the first letter of the entry. The first S 11-letter entry was an easy one, leading to SNOWBOARDER. Unfortunately, the A one wasn’t, partly because it was a bit of a tricky blighter: Meg is accepting liability, no latitude in English loopholes? (11) where Meg was short for megabyte and led to A + MB IS containing GUILT (liability) – L (latitude) + I (in) + E (English).

In my first pass through the clues, well over half were solved, and I managed to slot a few into the grid. Unfortunately, the central 14-letter entry wasn’t one of them, and that was scarcely odd because… it was devious. Beginning with P, we had Involving contact assigned to drunkard taken in by Prince Edward say? (14). Wordplay: ON (assigned to) TOPER (drunkard) in ER SON — son of HMQ! This is the Listener, isn’t it?!

Clue of the day was H Number put in Solway Firth principally are active when all ebbs (8), a perfect &lit. with TEN in S(olway) F(irth) + A (are) + A (active) all in reverse (ebbing).

And so to the endgame. The clashes could be seen to spell out either JAMES BOND or JASON BOURNE, both heroes of spy novels, and either IL FLEMING or R LUDLUM, their authors. But which? We were told that the source of the quotation containing the three-word phrase appeared in the completed grid, although it lacked a conjunction. Well, ROMEO and JULIET were in the south-east quadrant, so that was what I scanned in my new ODQ.

Five minutes later, and I was none the wiser. The only quotation that looked relevant was “How oft when men are at the point of death Have they been merry! which their keepers call A lightning before death.” I couldn’t find the last three words anywhere in the grid, so assumed that wasn’t the quotation. I looked up a few words in the ODQ index, including ambiguityambiguities wasn’t mentioned.

Some of you are probably thinking that I should stay off the ‘sauce’ before tackling a Listener. Shame on you!

After a couple of 30-minute sessions trying to work out what was required, I resigned myself to reading the whole of the play. How many three-word phrases were there likely to be? Before that — and don’t ask why, because I can’t remember — I decided to compare my old ODQ with the new. The old one had 41 quotations, the new 33. Well that was a big difference, so I scanned my old copy. I was on the verge of giving up when the very last one gave “Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while, Till we can clear these ambiguities.” Kerching! In the old but not the new.

This confirmed that yank Jason Bourne, rather than good old James Bond, as the required spy, since R(obert) LUDLUM confirmed the U in AMBIGUITIES.

Thanks for the challenge, Xanthippe. You nearly tripped me up, but it’s always nice to get there — in the end. I have refrained from sending a strongly-worded email to OUP!

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Hidden Philosophy by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 Aug 2016

Xanthippe 002What a fascinating grid! The Numpties admired and muttered then got down to solving.

Yes, I promised to stick to an alcohol search after the shock, horror, scandal of Serpent’s randy clues last week so no comment on the NAD that appeared in 21 across, ‘Some vitamin E dense coenzyme (3)’. That had to be an E to A misprint since NED was hidden in the clue and NAD is the Chambers definition. I got down to the third mini crossword before finding ‘Meandering wife drinking, no good leaving (11)’ What a lovely clue, using the US MISS for a southern wife, then IS SIPPING with the NG leaving. Of course, by the time we got to this crossword (as we did solve in A,B,C,D order on the whole), we had realized that MEANDERING had to be the key word so that MISSISSIPPI, obligingly clued as (11), OTTER and MISSOURI were the rivers that were thematic and wandered around their little grid.

That clue was a fine hint to the other Numpty that the sun was well over the yard arm and an even stronger hint followed: ‘Me drinking one southern whisky and lime? (8)’ giving MI round I S SOUR. So that’s what a ‘whisky sour’ is! These were superb clues: I couldn’t find anything to moan about!

The little A crossword filled fairly quickly with some doubt about those three thematic clues that we suspected were ‘swimming’ or anagrammed. Of course, we soon realized that they were fish with ‘The French (swimming) well in front (4)’ giving SO LE which swam to LOSE; ‘Son goes to peak in mountain range run (6)’ ANDES R with the S(on) going to the top, giving SANDER, entered as SNARED and ‘Is charm less universal? (6)’ giving ‘S AM[u]LET, which swam to METALS.

Xanthippe 003[M]ANGROVE, [O]IL PALM and [N]UT PALM prompted us that the B grid contained three ‘pollarded’ trees and the key phrase that was linking these superb mini crosswords now appeared. We had already spotted  OF NATURE at the end of it and CONNECTIONS THAT UNITE prompted us that this was Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy – ‘Philosophy only pretends to lay bare the concealed connections that unite the various appearances of nature’. Fitting that round the four grids made the remainder of the solve a gentle romp. How I like crosswords that give a visual image when they are completed.

Did I really say ‘romp’? We stared at the little D grid for a while. We had spotted that the A grid gave the instruction ‘AMEND A LETTER MISPRINT’ in the B grid. That one gave us ‘ADD A LETTER’ and the C grid instruction told us to ‘REMOVE A WORD’ from each of the D grid clues. We had already completed the Adam Smith phrase, thus it was clear that we were being told to ‘complete the missing using letters from …’ (ultimately we realised that the missing letters were being spelled out for us in anagrams of SPRINT, ROVER and CATCH) but what was the ‘extra word’ that suggested how to enter the three thematic, wordplay only solutions? And were they mammals, plants or … AAH (39d ‘I’m happy driving company 200 (3)’ AA + H) birds! PARROT, REDPOLL and SPARROW obligingly rose across the SANDBAR and we had four full grids.

This was a pleasure to solve from start to finish: a fabulous compilation, so beautifully tied together in all its component parts. Many thanks to Xanthippe.

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