They hauled a little bee juice and ample ready cash, wrapped in a fiver

Greetings, and thanks again, regular readers. Friday again, and puzzle time awaits us.  Chalicea this week with a preamble referring several numbers.  I started this puzzle at the “Fiddler” debut.  There is a first clue – DINE A MITE translating as DYNAMITE and a pass in the first clue test!

By the play’s end I had LEAR (and with Chalicea that is likely Edward), PUSSYCAT and NIGHTBIRD in place.  It must have been first night nerves, but I didn’t see the theme immediately.  Next time I picked it up, all became clear – it is the pea green vessel.  There was a further false start as I imagined a glyph replaced the letter that didn’t fit in the perimeter, but eventually it became clear it wasn’t entered at all!

A grid.

Scratch grid - Listener 4458, Difficulty by Chalicea

It wasn’t until the full grid I saw why NIGHTBIRD and why clues weren’t given in the usual way.  A certain letter is absent in preamble, clues and grid.  That is pretty neat!  I have attempted the same in this review.

Win me!  Game finished, 100% achieved!

Feel free in telling me it wasn’t executed perfectly, and see readers next week when Serpent zaps us all.


What if it was a playfair tree? Would it be OK to have a billboard then?

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, still reeling after last week’s debacle (which seems to have gotten a mixed reaction in the other forums).  Let’s see if Chalicea can wipe some of that nasty taste from the mouth, eh?  If you’re a regular here you know Chalicea as the one on the other blogs whose grids are much prettier than mine.

What have we here – normal clues, some clashes, and some modification to the grid at the end.  Hmmm… could be easy, could be sneakily sinister.

There is no 1 across, and I couldn’t figure out 3 across on a first read, so a big fail on the 3 across test (boo).  On the other hand 11 across looks like an anagram for URANITIC – I like telling people about the ways oxoanions and oxocations are assigned names, which could lead to a compound plausibly being called URANYL URANATE.  And we’re off!

Most of the grid fell in the first session of a little over an hours solving, including something suspicious about the theme – SCRAPYARD and BILLBOARD are hiding in plain sight, and if BILLBOARD was removed, BALDER could become ALDER.  Looks like I’ve seen a tree without finding a forest. I was also a little weirded out by having a mostly full grid and only three clashes.  M/N in IMP/NAAM (looks like it should be M for both being real words) and E/A in LIVERY COMPANY/SNACK (looks like an E for both being real words), then lower in the grid ORPHAN/SEDAN (looks like an R for both to be real words).

I had a bit of a blank area in the bottom right of the grid, and 27 looked like it should be LEACHINGS from the definition, but CHING’S doesn’t appear to be a potter – not even a racist one!

The only thing to do is follow red herrings… surely I’m looking for a famous razing of a BILLBOARD… maybe in London?  Is it the 50th anniversary of anything but that fucking soccerball world grand final matchgame?

Opening of a new park?

The National Billboard Association?

Think, George, think… there can’t be more than four or five clashes given the number of empty cells… NA?S? NAS??… NASH?

A quick google of NASH and BILLBOARDS and there it is… by the way, while I was hitting myself on the forehead for missing it, I went to the online ODQ and confirmed – if I’d put BILLBOARD in the search line it was the only entry that came up.

My guess is that OCH gives me the H for NASH turns out correct, as SUDAMEN becomes the last entry, and LEACHINGS goes in by default.  Removing BILLBOARD gives six new trees, some of them only two letters long.

My working grid for Listener 4407, Ad Nauseum by Chalicea

Should have been done with that in one session instead of needing to sleep on it, but it was a fun representation of a poem I should have found using the usual methods.

Clues of note (yes, I said I’d do this all the time and I’m doing it sporadically):

There was a lot of wordplay misdirection (and I still don’t know what is up with LEACHINGS, but since Chalicea sent me a note this week saying my entry wasn’t on the naughty list, it must be correct), but one that gave me particular trouble was this one

2 Down:  Native bass embraced by tenor evoking laughter.  TRIBAL:  B in TRIAL

Trial with a capital T is in Chambers for a comedic tenor, but that’s a pretty sneaky usage.  What I was really hoping for was T, then RIBALD with the D missing, but it was not to be.

Anyhoo, Victory to George, we’re back in the game!

2016 tally:  24-2-3

Feel free to tell me that I should really know my ribaldery from my leachings, and see you next week when Serpent has some play with a child in it – that silly Harry Potter one perhaps?

A herring of little brain

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, hopefully the first in a new era of prompt posting which was promised last week.  Oh well…

Chalicea time!  Browsers of other blogs will know that Chalicea comments on puzzles elsewhere and peeks in on here occasionally, so hi Chalicea.  What have we here – extra letters in wordplay, indicating something hidden in the grid and unclued entries at the top.  So it looks like we have all real words in the grid and direct definitions in the clues, all good signs for me.

With the top row being unclued, the first clue is all the way at 11 across, so let’s put it to the 11 across test, shall we – CAR,TAP with an extra T and a big pass on the 11 across test!  It was a pretty steady solve from here – in previous Chalicea puzzles I’ve found the approach to clueing accessible, with a lot of containers and charades, and it wasn’t long before I had most of the top half finished, and the first part of the message in the extra letters as THE CORNER.

Aha!  Well that fits in just fine with the title – we’re in A.A. Milne territory, and there is POOH hiding diagonally in the New England corner of the grid.  This is going to be plain sailing!  Not sure why the unclued entry that would be 2 across looks like it should be FOREGN, maybe it’s referring to a particularly racist House at Pooh Corner, or another type of bear.

So what else is in this list of things to be highlighted… WHAT IS CONCEALED… Hunny?  The remains of Christopher Robinson?  Eeyore’s tail?  IN THIRTY SIX?  There’s only 30 cells to be shaded.  Huh?

Is there a possibility I’m barking up the wrong faraway tree?

So of course I go google FOREIGN FIELD which is clearly the top row and there it is… The Soldier by Rupert (wrong bear!) BROOKE who is hiding starting at 12.  That’s the corner that is forever England one… and there’s FOREVER ENGLAND, and what is hidden in RICH EARTH is A RICHER DUST running down the diagonal.

My working grid for Listener 4343: Bear, Bear, Bearing by Chalicea

Well that was a fun piece of delusion, but it didn’t hold me up for too too long…

Clues of note:

I admire Chalicea’s ability to keep reasonable surfaces given the constraints of the clues, though that did mean slipping into some more obscure wordplay elements.

21 across:  Humming Great Balls of Fire endlessly

BOLIDES without the exterior B and S, leaving OLID with an extra E.  Goodness, gracious!

28 across:  Scandanavian twin

OK – if you’re a regular Listener solver, then you see Scandinavian and think SAAME (and all its other spellings), so this isn’t the most difficult clue – but you have to like a two word clue that includes the answer plus an extra letter and makes sense.

I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!

2015 tally:  13-0-3

Feel free to tell me there really were Hundred Acre Wood denizens littered through the grid, and I’ll see you next week when Ifor somehow combines Lent and Lust.


V for La France

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your one-stop site for half-finished commentary.

It’s been pretty busy here lately and pet projects have taken a back seat, so I’m sorry about this not appearing until Wednesday, when it’s probably only Chalicea checking in to see if there’s an update.  OKeydoke – what did we have here?  No symmetry and roughly a third of the cells are not utilised.

OK – I got that far and thought “hey, that sounds suspiciously like the Samuel puzzle with the map of England”.  I know that Chalicea and Samuel are familiar with each other… are they splitting puzzle ideas now?

I should probably solve it and see… anyhoo we have extra letters in wordplay and some clues lacking a definition. OKey, away we go.

There is a 1 across and it looks like CASA with one letter unnecessary – yep it’s the S with CAA being to telephone.  So a pass on the 1 across test, just no obvious place to put 1 across.  Moving on – 6 and 7 are pretty short clues… 7 looks like an anagram of TITAN in a harsh sound.  BRITTANY?  Could this be a map of France?  That would make sense with the title.  Is 6 maybe another part of France… NORM(h)ANDY.  Aaaaah – I believe we have a winner.

About 45 minutes of solving later I was able to start putting together a grid.  I tried at first using the grid from the printer, as it seemed there were some obvious places to start around CAA being on one line, NOMANDY below it and BRITTANY below that.

My working grid for Listener 4311, Carte Blanche by Chalicea

This was becoming a big schemozzle… so time to do what one should always do when faced with a carte blanche – turn to Crossword Compiler!  I guess I should point out that as I was putting this together, I had not been able to solve 1 down.  So I kept hoping that something would appear that would fit around the far left corner.  Is there a bit of France over there?

Finally that last piece of the map puzzle fell – it’s GANYMEDE.  Here’s what might get me to upgrade to Crossword Compiler 9 or 10… the ability to add an extra row to the top or the bottom of an existing grid.  It’s a tad frustrating getting so close and having to start the grid all over again…


finally we have it!  Map o’France, the strangely unclued 2 letter entry RF (mentioned in the extra letters), and we have to shade EURO which was hiding in AERONEUROSIS.  I confirmed with Chalicea over email after the deadline that the RF was to avoid overunching.

This was fun, but it was a strange experience to have the theme so early and have it in that fashion (“hey, this is just like that other puzzle”).  But in the end I can claim it a Victory to George and now this blog is only behind by 6 days and 23 minutes.

2014 tally:  31-0-5

Feel free to tell me that there’s no point being this late in posting and see you next week (well, hour) when Rood asks us to figure something out something from earth, air, fire water and possibly aether.

She really suffraged for her cause…

Welcome back to George vs the Listener Crossword, your one-stop site for poorly articulated crossword criticism.

This week we have a new setter or a newdonym in Chalicea – hi Chalicea if you’re looking in!  I think there was a post on the Crossword Centre about this, but I was surprised when I logged on about 8pm Eastern US time on Thursday night and saw a link to the Listener crossword!  That was weird… so I clicked it and there was Listener 4244, about 15 hours early.

The tantalising challenge was on – could I possibly break the laws of physics and complete a Listener before it was published?  Over on my other blog, this would be a feat:

Solving time:  -3:44 – would have been faster if I had known that A.A. Milne also wrote smutty novels under the name D.V.D.A.A. Milne.  Puzzle of moderate difficultly however three unsigned definitions by example ruined the fun somewhat, fortunately I was listening to a Brandenburg Concerto so that made it all right.

I had to try it – welcome to Listener solving on a Thursday night.

It also appeared to be experimental font week at the Times (Times New Roman 8 point?) with extra spacing between lines.  This meant 2 down was cut off from my printout, but was easily reinserted.

What have we got – 15 misprints in definitions, two lines in phrases, an unclued entry and letters excluded in wordplay.  OK… let’s see

There is no 1 across, and I couldn’t figure out 2 across so a big Fail on the 1 across test.   No luck on 9 across either, but finally at 13 across there is <s>(b)</s>IONIC and we are away.  IONIC crosses VI(LE)ST<s>(a)</s>, ANTS and what looks like the wordplay should be IRE and the definition should be “Fagin might have caught”… WIRE is a pickpocket so there’s an unindicated W..  Hah, got you – double clue whammy, a misprint and a unindicated letter.  Sneaky.

I made pretty steady progress through these clues – Chalicea appears to be a fan of the charades and containers, and there weren’t many of the supercompound anagrams and obscure reference clues that usually slip me up.  After about a half an hour I was sure that the central row was BLUESTOCKINGS and it really looked like the reverse diagonal was going to read DEEDS NOT WORDS… if the other diagonal read VOTES FOR WOMEN then that would confirm KIWI at 29 down and that none of the W’s in the grid were indicated in wordplay.

So let’s start looking for places to stick in some W’s where there’s gaps in the grid – that really helped me sort out JAWAN, JOWL, WIRE and WELD.

So we have women’s sufrage – CHERCHEZ LA FEMME in the misprints and EMILY DAVIS or EMILY DAVISON sitting at the bottom of the grid.  To Google!

Looks like Emily met her doom trying to meddle with the horse ANMER (aaaah, up in the top), and got trampled to death.  ANMER appears to be a long way above EMILY DAVISON in the grid.  AHA!  I believe we are done – highlight Emily and make a cross with the two suffragette sayings slogans.

My working grid for Listener Crossword 4244.At Spes Non Fracta by Chalicea

Mission accomplished!  This was in the mail before it officially “appeared” being mailed at about 9:30am on Friday morning.  That appeared to be a one-off and the two Listeners since have not shown up on Thursday night.  Fun puzzle, Chalicea, and I learned something (which helped since Emily has appeared in at least one crossword since, with the 100th anniversary of her fate looming).

I believe I can call this one a Victory to George!  Oh – funny thing – I have something in common with Emily – neither of us can vote!  Since it’s been nearly 20 years since I left Australia I’ve been taken off the electoral roll, and I have not taken out citizenship in any of the other countries I have lived in.  Well this will be changing soon, I hope, as I am in the process of filing for US Citizenship. Yeee-ha!

2013 tally:  16-3-3

Feel free to tell me whether you had Anmer in the trifecta, and see you next week when Plinth wants to tell you a scary story.