Friday, June 27, 2008
Two disappointing weeks in a row, let's see what the next challenge brings. "Yes" by Lato. I've only tried one Lato puzzle before, "4", in which I got a few grid entries but didn't come close to the theme. What's in this one...
Eleven entries associated with members of a group. Extra words in eleven clues - hmmm, I like extra words, but finding just eleven of them will be tricky. Seven-letter word that completes assocation. I hope it's an obvious word.
I got my hopes up quickly here - I started this one on the plane on the way back from my New Jersey/New York trip, and without any aids at all, I had a good third of the grid filled in, and a couple of obvious extra words. The clues appear to be around my level, and rather fun. 10ac being s(ANRDA) Bullock with OR in to make ANDORRA is a very amusing construction, as is 15ac.
13ac gives me my first extra word - COCKATOO, 26ac my second - FILM. Films about cockatoos? The clues retain their surface after removing the extra words, so pretty good stuff here.
Even before I got stuck in to the dictionaries, I spotted a likely contender. I have COCKATOO, and there's -I-CHELL. Good Aussie lad that I am (or was), I know a MAJOR MITCHELL when I see one! -AY is ingering tantalisingly in the NE corner. There's eleven entries. I now have DEPRESSING PLACE IN SOMERSET from the entries lacking definition (not 100% on DEPRESSING, but it seems to be the only thing that fits. Googling the phrase brings up Peter Roebuck's tour diaries, which means -AY has to be Peter May and we're looking for cricketers. OK, where's the Bothams, Larwoods, Olds, Snows... ummm... they're nowhere.
And for a week I had a grid that was complete except for 34ac and 37ac, and MAY and MITCHELL written in before I knew any better.
Deeper searching on the phrase brings up DOWNING STREET as a possibility. AHA - it's not the MITCHELL that is the parrot, it's the MAJOR. The current prime minister is BROWN, and BROWN BETTY is a PUDDING. We're off again! It's still MAY, but we're it's MAGGIE (Thatcher) MAY, the Song by that old Scots git. Final confirmation here came from looking up "Grouse" on wikipedia and finding that a HEATH HEN is a type of grouse. Working backwards through Prime Minsters, I have a full grid and a relieved expression. The slide is stopped at 2!
Oh, I almost forgot, the extra word is PROJECT for the TONY BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. It might have been a better film that way. Nice puzzle, Lato, you held me up for a long time there, however a last-minute gasp victory for George.
Current tally: George 13, Listener 10. Current streak: George 1.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Let me take back what I said earlier about finding numerical puzzles easier. I have a great fondness for the number puzzles, my first completed Listener was "Telling Fibs" by Arcturus (a peek at the standings for 2005 show that it was solved by twice as many people as any other puzzle that year, so maybe I shouldn't be boasting).
This time we've got three grids, Fibonacci numbers, primes and cubes. And there must be some logical starting point. Eventually I found it... and it turned out to be my stopping point as well.
I numbered the grids with the bars 1 and 2, and the empty grid 3...
2C cannot be E+E'+e
2C cannot be Prime x F - so 2C is prime
1D cannot be ExG
2F cannot be A+e'
2B cannot be AB
1c cannot be d'-B (since B is larger than d')
1d cannot be 5G
2d cannot be 5G - so 3d is 5G
1d cannot be A/b
Since 2d is A/b, 2A cannot be prime.
This leaves 2A to be a 4-digit Fibonacci number divisible by either a 2-digit Fibonacci number (none work) or divisible by a 2-digit even number (none work)
Or 2A is a cube divisible by a 2-digit Fibonacci number (no), or by an even 2-digit number that starts with the same number. That gives me the trivial case of 8000 (can't be 8000 since that would make 2c start with 0), or 5832 which is divisible by 54 to get 108. Woohoo, I'm on a roll and I can fill in 2A, 2b, 2d, and 2E
And that got me to a complete and utter grinding halt.
Oyler beats me again - I got really close on last year's "Dedication".
The gap is closing... current tally: Listener 10, George 12. Current streak: Listener 2
Friday, June 13, 2008
I've noticed over the last few weeks that I don't have a lot of time to work on the Listener during the week, so I need to put more weekend time aside to making a start. This is not an excuse, read on to find out about possibly my worst performance of the year...
From the preamble, I knew this was going to be a tough one for me. Thematic entry has not been my strong point, though I did get the Prousty one earlier, and the "one down, fifty-one to go" from the first puzzle of the year. Seven clues have wordplay that leads to an answer to be entered elsewhere. Immediately I'm confused - does this mean there's entries with no wordplay? Or are these seven just mutually mixed?
OK... all but seven (or maybe fourteen) clues are normal. Let's solve some clues and see where we get.
5ac makes me want to put WAPPLE as the wordplay, but Chambers is WAPPLEless. Not a good start. 13a gives me LABOR UNION and is a nice clue, and fits the length given. So nice that I immediately pen LABORUNI in at 10a and realise I've put it in the word at the wrong place and it's got to be thematically altered. Oops. I can come back and thematically alter it later.
14 looks like it gives wordplay to CURE. But I don't see any definitions in the 4-letter clues that would give me CURE.
16... ummm... ---LE being pushed together? STAPLE? But PATS isn't "thus" when cycling. So it's HUSTLE. Nice clue
18 is HEWN. 19 looks like EVACUANT. I still haven't found any spurious wordplay except maybe CLUE. But the across entries have the same number of letters as the grid. So a jumble or a letter substitution most likely.
31 looks like maybe wordplay giving MEAD. But I don't see any definition for MEAD. Maybe I'll have more luck with the downs.
AHA! The downs have more letters in the answer than there are spaces in the grid. Letters must be lost. I'm having real problems getting answers to these clues (did Poat ask Sabre for advice on how to stump me?). I can only see 8 (EMBRASE), 17 (PEN HOLDER), 20 (VACATUR).
24 looks like the wordplay could be IDLE, but I can't see a definition.
Finally! With the lucky last clue, BEDPAN matches the definition at 29a (One warming the sheets) and I get to confidently write in one word!!!!
Now what... I know there's a B in the author's seven-letter name and there is a book that is "The ------ ------". Ummm... "The Secret Garden" by Burnett? That's not going to help.
All the answers to down clues I found had one letter repeated in the answer. So I tried entering those with the second occurrence of the letter just so the grid looks a little fuller, but this is a pretty dismal effort on my part.
Poat has had the advantage on me a couple of times. "Multi-part puzzle" was the first dartboard grid I tried (and failed) and "Grid References" was total lack of grid completion. But congratulations to you, Poat, "Reappearance" was almost an empty grid. Victory to the Listener Crossword!
Current tally: Listener 9, George 12. Current streak: Listener 1.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
As promised, I'm a day late with this one, got back into town this morning, having racked up an hour or two of sleep over the last five days, but all (well, mostly) in good fun.
I started this one in a bar (Dirty Jacks, in Asheville, North Carolina) and didn't get very far on a first sitting. Grid entries forming four pairs, one half normally clued, one half unclued. 29 clues where the wordplay gives an extra letter, that looks like about two-thirds of the clues will do this.
Actually I got off to a terrible start, half the guesses I made in the pub turned out to be wrong, there's a fair bit more scribble on this than in others. I had ASIDES instead of BSIDES, DEANA instead of DEENA, and I can't even see what I had originally put in for DAPHNIA. The clues weren't too hard, not knowing if there was going to be an extra letter or not caused some struggles. This extra-letter wordplay led to some fun answers, I liked 35 - TOUR(X)IE, and 28 - MAHDI(M), and a major hats off to 25 - S(S)USS. Sibilance away!
The penny dropped when I got 19 - BUSINESS and with 37 being -ON-EY, and having MARX in the extra letters, I figured it had to be MONKEY, and it's a Marx Brothers theme. Strangely helpful that, it confirmed the rest of the SE corner knowing that the last 6 extra letters in the downs were GROUCHO, and I didn't have DUCK or SOUP, but seeing an empty four-letter space, that was where it had to be, and there was MARX BROTHERS up the SW-NE diagonal. I'll admit I never got the full quote until I read the solution on Friday.
This would be another good puzzle for people getting started on and into the Listener. I think a kinship to the theme helped me out more than anything.
Let's file this one where it belongs, between my Marx Brothers DVDs
After two Listener wins in a row, we have a victory for George! Current standings - George 12, Listener 8. Current streak, George 1.