Listener 4633 - Cool Places Only By Ares

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Philoctetes | 11:51 Sat 14th Nov 2020 | Crosswords
14 Answers
(Am I first? I can't find another thread)
A very straightforward grid fill, with the "gimmick" obvious after the first couple of clues. And then a fairly obvious "theme" to look for. But then...a brick wall. Verging on a GWIT puzzle, were it not for the thematic material. Once one thought clicked, the rest fell swiftly into place. Very much a Marmite puzzle - though I adore Marmite.
Thanks, Ares, if only for highlighting the issue


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I think this was my quickest grid fill this year. I also saw the gimmick after two clues, making the rest a breeze. And I also hit a brick wall as I could not think of the cryptically indicated phrase. However, I did see a likely change of letter to reveal a thematic group, though it could have been a red herring. In the end I found the relevant phrase. to justify my solution.
Indeed, Scorpius. The gimmick was obvious from the off, and the grid fill took little longer than a hard Times puzzle. Then several hours of grid staring before realising what to do - and I admit I was helped by a gentle nudge from the Crossword Help Forum.

Very much a GWIT puzzle as far as I'm concerned. The letter change was an unnecessary complication considering that we're looking for a short word which doesn't exactly leap out, and given the (to me, anyway) obscurity of the phrase, the title wasn't much help either. I'm not calling foul, but a grid fill to endgame ratio of 1:8 is not a good balance. If it were just me being dim, that would be one thing, but I'm fairly sure I'm not alone on this one.
Meant to agree with Philoctetes, as well.
As soon as you see what the gimmick is, it is perfectly obvious what you should be looking for, for the three word phrase. So why did it take me about 16 hours after filling the grid for the penny to drop.
I fear I'm a candidate for the 'curmudgeon of the week' award.

A trivial gridfill (the 'effect' being so easy to spot as to render it irrelevant), followed by a boring search for a boring set of four letters, without even an extra PDM as a reward - why it was felt necessary to include a random letter change is beyond me.

Puzzle titles should be an amusing 'cherry on the cake' not an integral part of the solution - but if you must use them, then at least let solving them be properly useful. Here you needed to solve the title to confirm the (already fairly obvious) theme, but then got not a scintilla of help with the ghastly grid-stare.

Sorry Ares - given the interesting theme it could have been a lovely puzzle, but didn't quite make it for me.

Question Author
Sunny-Dave, if that doesn't win the Z-Cup (remember that), I'm a monkey's uncle
I had the same experience as others - a very short time to fill the grid and a very long time to figure out the phrase. The letter change threw me as I felt sure I knew what letter we would be using as the replacement, but of course I was wrong.

A worthy theme though which I found interesting reading.
The thematic phrase itself is fun.
Perhaps the letter change has unappreciated subtleties.
But sorry to say the execution of the idea fell short of expectations.
The subject had such great possibilities but it seems that this was a missed opportunity.

Thanks all the same, Ares.
I am going to risk Alekhine's fury and contempt by admitting that I haven't got there yet. An easy grid fill, as everyone has agreed, but now I'm stuck. Hoping that the mere fact of posting will unstick me. It often does.
Let’s hope so PP - it’s called post enlightenment! (That joke isn’t originally mine, so I can’t take credit or blame.)
My quibble with this is that the preamble would suggest that the title cryptically suggests the theme - whereas the reverse is true. Luckily I am familiar with the thematic group so there was minimal grid-staring after that.
Interesting, Cruncher, it seems right to me. It says 'cryptically represents' which I read as meaning it is a cryptic representation of the title, in the sense of an exemplifier.
NickorWan perhaps a question-mark after the title might have been more of a hint?
Yes, I agree, Cruncher.

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Listener 4633 - Cool Places Only By Ares

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