If this Listener was an army knife, it would come with a screwdriver, can opener, night light, arc welding kit and tattoo needle

Welcome back to George versus the Listener (and various other things).  So far so good for the year, but now we’re up against MynoT.  First time I ran up against MynoT we had an almost empty grid for Past Times, and then last year I had a really tough time with Quartet, but got there in the end. Just.

So I knew we’re in for a toughie.

Preamble is short – one letter removed, and a theme to be deduced.  So clues are normal and there’s a message from the removed letters.

There is a 1 across and a pass on the 1 across test with OF,FEN,CE getting me started.  What it doesn’t give me is the first letter of the message, because the only crossing down entry I could see straight off is FOETOR and that could be put in with the removal of any letter in OFFENCE.  Bugger.

C(ONCE)AL got me going, and with it crossing NATO (WOTAN reversed without the W), ICI,C,LE, ALI,CANT and LILLIPUTIAN I’ve got a good corner going.  This was an exercise in corners – if you can read well from the scan, I started in black ink and finished in blue, so it was the New England corner followed by Texas.

I wondered if there was going to be something in the first letters of clues, since I saw THIS OLD as the first letters of the first 7 clues, but nothing after that.

When trying to decipher hidden messages, look for LETTERS, CELLS, GRID and SHADE.  The telltale CELLS was there at the end of the across options, LETTERS there near the end, CONTAINING just before that and COLOUR APPROPRIATELY CELLS CONTAINING LETTERS OF THEME gave me the last of the omitted letters.

I needed those omitted letters to get the rest of the clues, some of the last holdouts being DEVASTATE, L(IE)VER, L(I,ONCE)L, FAIN,T,ER (though I knew element 68 was Erbium) and RACNH,I.

I still didn’t have a good answer for 40… but for some reason SICE stuck in my head.  It may not be right.  Here’s what the grid looked like (actually I scanned this after figuring out the theme and writing it in).

My initial grid for Listener 4120, Cross-country by MynoT

Here’s the original grid

Now what?  Nothing in the traditional places where you’d find 21 letters, diagonals, crosses (like MynoT did in Quartet).  There SUM and SSY looking like the top half of a cross.  Could it be one of those countries that uses a cross as a symbol?  We’ve had Malta recently.  Finland?  Switzerland? A little googlyooglying and Wikithingia says CONFOEDERATIO HELVETICA – and all those letters outside the cross are the same as the letters outside of my little cross of SUMs, SSYs and YUPSMSs.

But that’s 22 letters.

Chambers to the rescue – under the entry for CH it has it spelled as CONFEDERATIO HELVETICA.  I’ve already scanned the one where I excitedly wrote in the 22 letter version, so just imagine that second O is gone.  Hey, I can save myself more scanning by just using the rather cheesy highlight tool in MS Paint!

My final grid for Listener Crossword 4120, Cross-country by MynoT

MS Paint Highlighter to the Rescue! For CONFOEDERATIO read CONFEDERATIO

Apart from not being 100% sure on SICE, it’s looking like a Victory to George!

Tough one – I had a bunch of little stabs at this trying to get the grid together before getting the breakthrough with the message.  You’re a handful, MynoT – are you determined to make me learn a little more European history each time?

2011 tally:  George 3, Listener 0.  Current streak:  George 3

Not so fast there, knucklehead…

Of course it can’t be SICE because there’s no S in CONFEDERATIO HELVETICA and it has to be part of the red area.  Undone by 40 down!  Bye bye all-correct in the third week.

2011 tally:  Listener 1, George 2.  Current streak:  Listener 1

Oh – if you follow Times for the Times I was a little naughty on Thursday, since COLON appeared as an answer and was part of the wordplay for 1 down.

And if you happen to be in Asheville on March the 1st, come see this…

Promo Posters for the Crackers of Comedy

This will be a very funny show. Oh, and me.

Feel free to leave comments below and see you next week when we unravel the to ellipse with Navajo.

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2 Responses

  1. Bad luck – I sat and stared at the completed grid for a very long time, thought of flags, and still didn’t see it! Frustrating when you crack a tough one and slip up on a stray clue: happens to me too often.

  2. Ooops – thought I approved your comment way earlier, sorry Mike!

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