A vu quang pox on your ancestors!

Hi there, welcome back to George vs the Listener, a weekly exercise in missing deadlines, failing to parse wordplay, and getting really close but being defeated at the last hurdle.  Though this year things have been going a lot better, maybe I’m finally getting the hang of these.

So welcome back Sabre – Sabre has produced a whopping 60 of these beasties! After my first tackling of Sabre – “Lip Service” back in the early days of the blog, I was given a few hints on how to deal with his style of clues.  It worked – I managed to get all the clues in “Au Contraire” (though my final answer would have been rejected for swapping the last two letters) and then with “Whirly-Birly” I cracked it for the legitimate completion.  So let’s see what “Pangrams” brings.

One set of coding for across answers, another for down that match two pangrams.  OK – well before any coding, I think I can make a start on this – rather than checking the same letter, each will check another letter, so once I’ve got intersections I can start to make a set.  I split each square into two and put the across in one half and the down in another half.

I should point out that I started this on a trip to Houston, so the first solve was a two hours up in a plane session with Bradfords, and another bemused copassenger who was staring at my grid for most of the trip from Charlotte to Houston, but polite enough to not ask me anything about it.  I had Bradfords with me on the plane, so I was all set to be antisocial.

No luck on the 1 across test, but 8 across was promising – R,I in CAB making CARIB. Of course I then went to find what a C translates to in down answers, saw that 6 down was CLEEVES (LEE for A in CAVES) and so C translates to… well… C.  Great.

A bit better luck with 7 down – WEATHER VANE, so R across translates to W down.  And we’re away!

By the end of the plane session I’m feeling pretty good about this, I had almost all of the bottom half of the grid full, I was missing a patch in the middle up the top, though there was also a bit of a mess around the middle – the long answers seemed to be a bit easier than the short ones, but I couldn’t see anything for 15 across, and I had what I eventually decided was a wrong answer of STARMONGERS at 19 across.

During my weekend in Texas, I had a computer and Bradfords but no Chambers (side note – I have no implements that begin with “i”, so thanks for the helpful suggestions, but “i” don’t think so).  Word wizards suggested LAMB OF GOD as a possibility for 15, but that wouldn’t fit the wordplay at all.  I didn’t know what F translated to, so although I know that last character translated to an F in the down, I had nothing to go on.

Back home and with Chambers, some mistakes start to fix themselves, and some of the extra words appear… I had SKRY for 10 aross but wasn’t sure if SPY or DRUSE was the extra word.  EXOMIS makes me realise that 1 across isn’t some form of MINOESE but is MANXMAN – aaah, that F is an X, and the beast is a type of OX.  An OX that has a number of letters that I don’t know at the start of.  Another advantage of EXOMIS is telling me what that last character was in ATOMY – so GERMAN is the extra word.

Eventually I found that bloody ox by going fingerwise through Chambers looking at the first letter being one of the three that I didn’t know the code for yet – J,Q,V (not as dire a task as it sounds, I knew the second character was a U), and there it is right at the end of the V’s – the VU QUANG OX.  By the way, it doesn’t show up in Chambers Word Wizards, so it’s probably a recent addition, possibly by Sabre for the express purpose of using it in this crossword, hmmmm?

So there it is, with the beast in place, a complete grid!  Six of the extra words for sure, not sure about whether RISK or CHARACTER is the extra word in 36.

My initial grid for Listener Crossword 4082: Pangrams by Sabre

Now to find that pangram cipher… OK, seven words and only five vowels and a Y.  So one word is going to have to have all consonants but no Y.  Bradfords time!  The only word that sticks out for BUREAU is DESK – good word, three tricky consonants there.  OUNCE is most likely LYNX (though CAT is an outsider), and since one of the four-letter words has three letters the same in both pangrams, DESK could become YESK (though that puts a Y and an E in the one word), and LYNX could become JYNX which looks like a wonderful word for a pangram.  TRY sounds good for STAB, but that wouldn’t word with LYNX, and Bradfords comes through admirably with CWM as a word for Valley.

No Zs anywhere… or F’s… but if GERMAN was FRITZ that’s an F and a Z.  It’s a real name, is it a headword in Chambers?  Yes it is!!!! Woohoo!!! So if we have CWM, DESK, FRITZ, and LYNX, then I’m left with ABGHJOPQUV.  Feeding those letters into Word Matcher and looking for four letter words shows QOPH – that’s my character, and allows for JAB to be STAB.  Only GUV left – to Chambers… VUG is a recess in a rock which is a DRUSE.

Woohooo!!!! First pangram done.  That was easier than I thought (maybe 20 minutes from finding CWM)

Notes on the pangram

That leaves one more pangram to find… well I know where the letters from FRITZ go… so one of the words in the second pangram is ZI–. ZINC?  No, can’t be, the C would end up the last letter of a three-letter word, and we know the C is the first letter.  ZIMB fits, and lets me fit in CWM and JAB.  Looks like the JYNX/LYNX pairing was the right idea, and with GOWF, VELDT, QURSH and PACK, the across encoding is complete!

the second pangram

Wow, looks like the work is done, just put the cipher back into the grid to make a full set of nonsense letters.  I hope the checker has a stencil… I finished way after the deadline, so no chance of sending this one in.  For posterity (and to complete a long list of inserted images for this post), here’s my final grid.

My final grid for Listener Crossword 4082: Pangrams by Sabre

Hoo-boy.  That was a lot of work!  Pretty nifty grid construction, and a really fun twist with the two pangrams.  It’s worth noting that if you go to the Wordsmith anagram solver and type in ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ with this number of words, nothing comes up.

So I’m going to call this a Victory to George!  Thanks for a really interesting puzzle Sabre, congrats on number 60, let’s see how many more you can crank out.

2010 tally:  George 14, Listener 2.  Current streak:  George 4.

Only one video comes up when you type “pangrams” into youtube search, it’s like a GoogleSmack!  This guy has only had 234 views, so give him some love.

Feel free to leave comments below, and come back next week to find out if Bandmaster really isn’t as mad as he may claim to be.


5 Responses

  1. Ha, that’s funny, I made exactly the same mistake on “Au contraire” and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. For some reason I’ve always had a blind spot when it comes to that French word.
    I made quite heavy weather of the pangrams in this one — despite guessing LYNX early on, and knowing the word CWM but never thinking of it. And it took me quite a while to come up with your obvious realization about vowels. It all came together in the end, but it will be a miracle if I managed to fill in the final grid without any transcription errors.


  2. […] dealing with Sabre, with whom I have had an upsy-downy run of luck – early this year we had Pangrams which was a success, before that the wine-soaked (rather like me) Whirly-Birly, a very close call […]

  3. […] this little blog (Hi Sabre) and a setter with whom I struggle mightily.  Let’s recap – Pangrams – yes, Whirly-Birly – yes, Au contraire – kind of, Lip Service – not even […]

  4. […] I seem to alternate between dismal failures (Lip Service, Au Contraire) and struggling successes (Pangrams, […]

  5. […] set of knight’s moves in Jumping to Conclusions, though I did manage to scrape to the end of Pangrams, and Whirly-Birly. A near miss on Au Contraire and an utter fail on Lip Service and it appears the […]

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