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Avec apologies de Raich

Salut, et bienvenue a Georges v… bugger it – I did French in high scool 20 years ago and I’m not about to try to write a cryptic crossword piece in French.  Raich is my old Times for the Times colleage, Niall McSweeney, who we last ran up against in OOOOPPPP where I thought I had it complete but messed up the ending.   Revenge time!

So 44 of the clues lead to defective wordplay, but the good news is it looks like the grid contains all real words!  Got an email from Phi last week where I think I realised that I’m a much better solver once I have a letter or a choice of letters available in the grid (now I do use a lot of word wizards and chambers online searches for the fiddly bits but I mean the getting started grid filling).  So yay for real words!

There is a 1 across but it makes very little sense in its original form.  Actually I made a really slow start of this one, getting nothing until ADORN and WINTER with the missing letter N.  So for a while my grid looked pretty funny with a bit on one side and a bit on the other side, and precious little in the middle.

First “huh” moment was from working on that left side and finding that 20 down looked like TAM??DE?TN.  I suspect we’re not working with real words after all.  Or French ones.  How can we have made-up words with two unchecked letters and no Playfair grid in sight.

I found the bottom (particularly the bottom left) an easier fill, and managed to extract two parts of the instruction from there – PRESIDENTS and REPUBLIQUE.

Are these some form of names from some former French colonial republic?

I’ll admit, I followed this red herring for a ridiculously long time, looking up presidents of Cameroon, French Guinea, Cote D’Ivoire and all sorts of republics hoping to find that there was a T.A. MERDIOTN or TMAERDIOT, N that was a president somewhere.

If all else fails, stop following possible trails and solve the rest of the clues, idiot.  My big gaps now where in the top right.  Some poking in Chambers and Bradfords yielded KEYS, OKAY and YARD.  CI-QU… CIRQUE? CINQUIEME!!!!  So I was looking way too far afield, the CINQUIEME REPUBLIQUE is the current French structure, and I didn’t know that there had only been 6 presidents.  I remember MITTERAND on… and looky there – we can anagram the names to fit in those slots.

After several sessions of bashing and poking – grid full!  Still don’t know what the first word of the message is – MELANGEZ? LES PRESIDENTS DE LA CINQUIEME REPLUBLIQUE.

Six-letter place.  Huh?  It appears that the Cinquieme Republique has a lot to do with crises in Algeria.  But that’s 7 letters, as is Algiers.  Were there any battles in six-letter places?  Nothing doing through the middle of the grid.

I nearly went spare looking for this six-letter place, hunting for place names.  But then our favorite wordplay element popped out at me. ELY… hey and next to it is SEE.  ELYSEE (no S?).  Looks right… lets highlight.

My grid for Listener 4123 - Les Six by Raich

sacre bleu! Ou sacre rose, blanc et bleu

Wow I made a meal of that but I think I’ve got it all – though based on what happened last time maybe I should pur some caution out there.  My favorite clue in there was 53 across – yay Chemistry clues – with MISNOMER becoming MOSNOMER which is MONOMER with an extra S.

Victory to George! Maybe things are starting to get back on the right track.

2011 tally:  George 4, Listener 2.  Current streak:  George 1.

Feel free to leave comments below, and see you next week, when we’ll let Aedites be our travel guide.

5 Responses

  1. On this one I tried a little experiment I’ve been thinking about for a while, which is to ignore the preamble and see if I can figure out what’s going on anyway. After all if there are things like misprinted definitions going on (for instance) it shouldn’t be totally impossible to figure that out — and you know going in that there’s almost bound to be one of the standard tricks.

    Well as it turned out it was almost a total success — I largely did get most of the puzzle and the theme figured out. But my experiment backfired because once I did allow myself a peek at the preamble I completely missed the part about highlighting, and saw it only once the solution was sealed up and in the mail. Moron.

  2. Ooops – interesting approach, I don’t think I’d want to start without looking at a preamble. Did you send a replacement? Maybe write an appeal that someone is impersonating you and sending in inaccurate grids in order to smear your name? I’d write in as a character witness, or, if this got taken to the Jerry Springer show, weigh in as your chair-swinging freak of a friend.

    Hmmm… now that’s an idea, settling crossword issues on Springer.

  3. No, I know from experience (and official diktat) that substitute entries are Never Accepted. I discovered my error soon enough after mailing that it crossed my mind to rush an entry by overnight mail in the hopes of heading off the first one. But I decided that the obscene expense was not worth it, given that it still might arrive later, and that there’s a good chance I’ll make some more dumb errors through the year.

    I’m still intrigued by the question of whether some puzzles could up the ante by simply saying “all is not as it seems in this puzzle”. How much information the preamble gives away is surely a matter at the discretion of the setter and editors.

  4. […] puzzle I tried – OOOOPPPP, got everything but the thematic bitties.  Last year there was Les Six which I did manage to squeeze by in so we’re even.  What’s going on here?  Extra […]

  5. […] The day this came out, I was in an email exchange with a different setter and said I was hoping it was an easy one this week, since by the time it appeared, I still hadn’t finished the back nine of that golf course from last week.  I got back in email “it’s Raich, should be a breeze… for me”.  Now I believe we’ve already seen Raich this year, and we have – in April with Claim, echoing 20 years of “It’s the Sun What Won It”.  Two Listeners this close together means it must be something else timely. I snuck one up with Raich last time – having failed on OOOOPPPP, but got Les Six. […]

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