Out of line, out of sight, out of luck

Welcome back to George vs the Listener – your source with the least!

Sabre time – let’s get to it.  I have a rough record with Sabre, so when this appeared on the day I was leaving town (yep, next week there isn’t even a printout involved), so I was concerned as to what was going to happen here.  I only printed one copy of the grid.  All answers entered thematically (oh dear… it’s going to be jumbles, isn’t it?), then something to do with the diagonal and a theme word that is to be discovered.

At least there is a 1 across, right?  And Sabre stuns me with (C/w)ORK,ED to give a big pass on the 1 across test!  Woohoo!  It is the same number of letters as the grid entry (please don’t be jumbles).

Well, since it crosses IBADAT, it could well be.  Bugger.

At that point I went on a cold-solve junket, and had a pretty sparse set of solutions.  Down at the bottom I had REIKI, DOG, SACQUE and T-SHIRT crossing CLOCHE, IRUKANDJIS and JIGGER, so jumbles were looking more likely.  Hmmm… if we add PINAS to that set, and I and R are accounted for near the bottom, then SHIR could be intact.  Is only one letter moving?  CLOCHE could go in as ECLOCH, the KANDJI at the end could stick together.  Aaaah – one letter is moving to the first position?

Let’s apply that to the top of the grid, then – CORKED would go in as DCORKE and IBADAT would go in as DIBAAT… which makes SOKAS ASOKS… yes!

At this point there was some major abuse of quinapalus to get SPADASSIN, MANYATA, PIDGIN and BUTE (though I came up with SLAPSHOT on my own… “what happened?  We happened!”).  There appears to be three clashes in the grid – K/I, J/E and whatever is going on at 24 where the J clashes with either the Q or U.  Eventually I’m two cells away from a full grid.

My working grid for Listener 4418, Out Of Line by Sabre

Hey Sabre, there was something about discovering a theme word.  The diagonal right now reads DIR(I/K)O(J/E)ETPO(J/Q/U)R… DIRKO JET POUR?  The moved letters don’t seem to make a word. There’s nothing in a row or a column or the other diagonal.  Is it hidden in knight’s moves?

I stared at this for ages…

Still staring.

What was waiting to be discovered?

I know what was waiting to be discovered, a victory to Sabre and the Listener crossword… grrrr!  Nearly full grid and no clue whatsoever happens next.  As soon as I submit this I’ll look at the solution, you will probably be able to hear the sound of my hand slapping my head from wherever you are reading.

So as a companion piece to last week where I didn’t solve everything but got the solution, here we have me solving everything but the solution!

2016 tally:  32-2-6

Feel free to tell me that if I was a dog, I would have bitten it, and see you next week when Stan has a commoner acid test than “turn on, tune in, drop out”.

OK – I’ve read it now and I made even more of a bish of this than I thought – I had SOKAS/TRAITORS instead of SOCAS/TRACTORS – just read 4 down backwards, and couldn’t get past KA=soul for 14 across.  Still not sure I would have gotten that last step even after reading about it in the solutions notes.

We’re going to need a bigger quinquereme

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword.  Big Grid Day!  Lots of unclued, but it’s Hedge-sparrow and I have generally enjoyed Hedge-sparrow puzzles.

OK – thematic has two non-overlapping wordplay only clues.  The first one looks like SA,LADS but we had food last week so that’s probably wrong.

Across have extra letters, some downs have jumblies to be removed… OK.  No 1 across yet again (of all setters, it’s Sabre who will break the long run of fails on the 1 across test, but more about that next week), in fact we have to go all the way to 6 across, at least it’s JUD(e),AS and our poet starts with a J.  Don’t know many poetic last names that start with a J so maybe we are heading to JOHANNES or JOHN.  Well if you take an O out of COOL AIR and anagram you get LORICA which fits the definition and the first name theory is looking like a good bet.  Can we go three for three?  I,RID – there’s the H.  George you are a solving machine… that comes to a grinding halt on the next clue.  Oh well…

By the way, speed solvers of US crossword do them that way, don’t bother looking for checking letters until the end, just solve using all acrosses or all downs.

So it was back to piecing together grid fills – the anagram of IVORY stuck out in 15 down, so I don’t think SALAD is going to be right, ivory would be pretty painful in a salad.

I was going OK but not great – big gaps in the grid, more of the acrosses than downs solved, 19 looks like it should be PREPARED but why and how?  Time to try to make something of the letters I had in the across clues…


Wasn’t JOHN MASEFIELD a poet?  A trip to Googleland shows that not only was he, but there’s a short poem called “Cargoes” which might be the inspiration for Bjork’s “Hyperballad” which lists off a bunch of stuff.  This is one laden ship!

OK – hands up who else?  With the poem at hand I managed to fill in all of the unclued entries (though the one I was looking at had AMYTHYSTS instead of AMETHYSTS, but 1 down has to be ERNE, right?) and was then essentially done with the puzzle then and there.

There doesn’t really seem to be any need to solve the thematic entries now… I still have a few blanks and some quibbles with the down clues, so I went hunting for the items listed in the poem that hadn’t made it into the grid (most of which appear to be in the first stanza).

There was some devilish fun here – I’m glad I went back and looked at them, because clues like 4 down, requiring the removal of SWEET WHITE WINE, more than half the clue made me giggle – ditto taking PEACOCKS out of 2 down reducing the clue to replacing YR,I in EYRIE with RN to give what I thought it had to be, ERNE.

The ship (in the poem I was reading as QUINQUIREME, but in Chambers as QUINQUEREME) has to be the thematic word required, since all this stuff was aboard.

Sheepishly – here’s a grid, with a grand total of zero of the thematic clues actually solved.

My working grid for Listener 4417, HMS Arcady by Hedge-Sparrow

The poem was fun, the puzzle was fun, but I feel a little cheap in not doing a slab of actual solving, but what is George vs the Listener if it’s not about cutting corners and taking the path of least resistance.  Particularly when there’s a Sabre looming large!  Cheap-ass Victory to George!

2016 tally:  32-2-5

Feel free to tell me that should really be a push, and see you next week when Sabre has a puzzle that describes most of my solving skills.


Did Wan really sneak in a Spinal Tap theme without us knowing it?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your weekly space for where clue analysis meets the need to make puerile jokes.

Big news!  It’s been a long time since the first edition of the Lessener Crossword.  Well it appears in the next few weeks you should be seeing the Lessener Crossword #2 and #3 (from different setters) coming up really soon.  Excited?  You should be!  If you are a setter interested in contributing to the Lessener series please contact me.  There’s no pay, very few readers, and I’m only taking puzzles that would not be accepted elsewhere because of language, smut, and political incorrectness.  I’m also a shitty editor.

OKeydokey – what have we here?  Wan!  I messed up on the last Wan crossword, so hopefully better luck this time.  Food, food and more food – misprints, replacements, and something to highlight.  Let’s solve, shall we?

Wan has denied us not only a 1 across, but a 2 across as well, and I could not see 3 across for the life of me, so a big fail there!  In fact there was no luck at all on the clues until 22 across where cricketball comes into play with the OPENER.

This was a challenging solve – it took a while to get around that the substitutions to make the dishes were often checked by a crossing answer (the TUNE/PANOCHA crossing was where I finally figured that out), and then after realizing it was the original misprints and not the corrections we were meant to be paying attention to, things started to fall into place.  With NAPAKOS as misprints, SPANAKOPITA came immediately to mind.  When you grow up in Melbourne (the city with more Greeks than Athens) you get to know your Greek food well, and I am a big fan of the spinach and feta pastries.  Rather nice than in my now meat-free lifestyle I can still enjoy dolmas and spanikopita.

Armed with knowing some of the things I’m looking for – SPANAKOPITA in the grid and most likely SPINACH as some of the replacement letters, things really started to fall into place – it looked like 26 was going to be MANGO, which means likely the A is the substitution – yep, it’s MUNGO – ditto ONION coming from INION. and RACE becoming RICE making 34 MERIL, as well as the unchecked change of CAPES for CAKES.  This also helped with the last few misprints, the last of all being SCOTCH becoming SCORCH for CHAR.

My discards did have SPINACH in them, and the last two are UP TO… well that’s in the title, innit?

So I need something that replaces SPINACH – in Bradfords there’s ORACH(E) – and without the E there it is in the grid.

UP TO gives ABOUT – highlight the two in the grid… and it appears this grid, like Nigel Tufnel’s amp, goes UP TO 11!  Whether this was the intended end point of the puzzle or not, I’m going to claim that’s what it was.

my working grid for Listener 4416, Up to 10 Items? by Wan

I just saw that the solution is out and there’s no mention of Spinal Tap, but I’m going to stick to my guns here!  Tricky tricky puzzle, but once the main dish was sorted out, it came together nicely, rather unlike my cooking.

2016 tally:  31-2-5

Feel free to tell me that Wan should have been executed for carrying more than 10 items in the express lane, and see you next week when Hedge-sparrow invites us on to a ship.

Is Ploy Dipper in disguise?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword. On familiar ground today!  I got back to Asheville last week, so I have printed grids for Listeners 4415-4417 and will be able to print today’s for my solving pleasure (OK, as I’m writing this it has just appeared and it is Sabre – maybe I should print five grids!).

Ploy time!  And a grid with a big grey section, maybe we have to make a doodle there?  Not only that, but the double clues thing meant that it all fit on one piece of paper for me.  That’s a bonus!

Side by side clues, looks like the answers in across entries are entered forwards and backwards, guess it’s time for some cold solving!  There is nothing even remotely close to a 1 across, and of the two 4-acrosses, EDICTS jumped out at me.  I decided to wait until putting it in the grid.

Some days you just get lucky – with GO-KART, ENTREAT and ESTATES in place, they looked like good candidates to go together and I put them in the right hand side of the grid.  Since I had ONE-SHOT as well I put it in the other side reversed.

I’ll admit, I had a tough time with these double clues, and found a lot of answers by using Word Wizards with the known letters!  I was also having a tricky time keeping the extra words/moved words in check – I thought the preamble meant a word had to move from one half of the clue to the other half of the clue, but it seems that moving within halves of the clue was acceptable.

First breakthrough moment was looking up WISEACRE in Chambers and finding out it could also mean OWL – which meant that the top row was WINDOWLEDGE from BURP, WISEACRE, BORDER.  Wasn’t there a Flanders and Swann song about ivies and window ledges?  One of my oldest CDs is a massive collection of Flanders and Swann songs.  I already had A DOOR from the across clues and FNDS from the down.  I guess it is meant to be F AND S, but I could never find which word with A in it – maybe AND in clue 5?

Anyhoo, I knew the song!  honeysuckle spirals one way and bindweed the other – and there they are in little snake shapes going through the starred entries.  That’s neat!  We have a grid!

My working grid for Listener 4415, Left and Right by Ploy

I’m going to claim this one as a Victory to George, I know the lines are meant to stop at the starred cells and start up again once they are past them, but I wasn’t submitting and I was too excited to find the finish.  This was a very fun puzzle!

2016 tally:  30-2-5

Feel free to tell me that I did have the wrong clue for moving the A (I just checked the solution) and see you next week when Wan avoids the “less/fewer” argument in where you can take 10 items.

Dimensionally challenged

Welcome back to the lateish post for Quads II by Shark.  Still in the land without printing, so all of the grid manipulation sounds like it might be easier if I get to start in Crossword Solver, especially since symmetry can be set.

We start off with a carte blance, and a 1 across – not only that but it was F(w)ASTED and we are away!

I got off to a pretty good start with the first part, though the bottom half of the grid came together faster than the top, despite thinking that 30 down was ENTER with the E and N being unindicated.  I guessed FOURTH DIMENSION pretty early on and that helped guide the top left entries in particular.  After two solving sessions I had a starter grid

my first grid for Listener 4414, Quads II by Shark

The next set of instructions proved to be my undoing. I know that the 90-degree symmetry means that certain cells need to be kept, so I shaded those in green.  I started looking for good places to bar off and remove cells, and the creation of EMO/OBI/RET/ITA gave me a starting point, but after an hour of playing, I just could not figure how to remove 40 cells to get to a reasonable blocked grid.  I’ve read the solution and looked at the other blogs, and still don’t see how the blocking out seemed to be so easy.  Oh well… here’s as far as I got.

My attempt at finishing Listener 4414

And so we have a Victory to Shark and the Listener Crossword – there was a lot to do here, but I couldn’t get through that middle step.

2016 tally:  29-2-5.

Feel free to tell me that for someone who blacks out as often as I do I should have been able to finish this one, and see you next week when Ploy gives us a choice of political parties.

See you tomorrow (hopefully)

Greetings gentle readers.

Time, printers, scanners, and a chance to take a few days vacation are conpsiring against me sitting in a hotel room and typing up Shark.  I’ll be back at home nursing a hangover tomorrow, that sounds like a far better time to blog.

A deficiency of vitamin beer leads to losing weight and gaining clarity… dreadful

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, and woohoo – next week I will be back in Asheville and boy will my printer be working overtime!

But for now since we are back in the world of words, and it’s Jago! As long as the puzzles don’t involve multiple steps of origami I usually find Jago pretty straightforward.

What have we here – for quadrants, answers too long for the entries, looks like some letter squishing and deleting is going on, well it says deficiency, so I guess that must be it.

Let’s get solving – since I can’t put anything in the grid yet I started a word document and started a two column spread for the answers.  I figured might as well go cold solve… there was a 1 across and it was BRID(g)E so we are away with a big pass on the 1 across test, woohoo!

I got a few of the first few acrosses and downs and it was obvious all the B’s had to be removed in the top left quadrant.  Everything I had solved in the bottom left had a D in it, so that looked like a good candidate for the bottom right.  Soon I had half a grid and the unclued answer looked like it could be RICKETS!

Funny how things work out – a long time ago a friend and I started writing a mock trailer for a serial killer who uses vitamin deficiency as a method of torture.  We blocked out a few of the scenes, and my favorite was a single shot where a woman screams RICKETS!!! I thought it would be a joke that almost nobody would get – I have the feeling Jago would like it.  So it’s vitamin deficiences – BERI BERI for no Vitamin B and RICKETS for no Vitamin D.  What’s the bet that SCURVY and Vitamin C are lacking somewhere… yep – bottom right.  Wait a moment, it’s not vitamins – it looks like I’s are missing in the top right.  Well without iodine you can get GOITRE and there it is.  I think it was all done in a bit over an hour.

Wow my notes are exceptionally neat when I’m not working with paper… here’s my grid.


And the notes from the Word document.




11.  WILCO








23.  LIVID


27.  DULSE



























NW quadrant – lose B? BERI BERI
SW quadrant – lose D? RICKETS
NE quadranr – lose I? GOITRE
SE quadrant – lose C?  SCURVY

Another fun, straightforward puzzle from Jago (probably what everyone needed if they actually seriously tackled last week’s Math Monster), and I think I have successfully completed a paperless Listener.  Victory to George!

2016 tally:  29-2-4

Feel free to tell me that I really should have finished filming that script (because we should have), and see you next week when… ummm… isn’t it Shark week? Anyway, more Word files and crossword compiler shenanigans.