Listener 4665 Nostimous By Sabre

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HawkCrossword | 23:01 Fri 25th Jun 2021 | Crosswords
15 Answers
A most impressive puzzle, thanks Sabre!

Spotting the theme was enjoyable, but then the proper challenge began! It's not my specialist subject, but after a little research they fell one by one, leaving just a few tricky down clues to pick off.

And now I can go off to continue that research in a more practical way.


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Most of the bottom half went in quite quickly, and the two PDMs came early on too (the theme for the unclueds thanks to a lucky guess). Feeling smug, I moved on to the top half - which was quite another matter. Jumbles intersecting with coded entries meant a slow, letter-by-letter approach to the grid fill. It was stubborn sticky label syndrome in abundance (if you've ever tried to peel one off, you'll know what I mean).

A fine puzzle with some excellent clues, and not as intractable as some Sabre puzzles, but what started out as an enjoyable solve became a chore - for me - by the end.
That really was very tough - but also scrupulously fair - I wouldn't expect anything different from Sabre.

There were enough 'gimme' clues to get me started, then a period of gentle consolidation, then a PDM when a way into the thematic clues became obvious.

But then, as the puzzle eventually seemed to be yielding quite quickly, even with a virtually complete grid and full knowledge of the theme and substitution code, the entries for 2D and 3D still defied me for quite a while - that's the mark of a great setter.

Thanks Sabre - an excellent work-out.
I finished in the hour before breakfast on Sunday morning, having spent a fair part of Saturday struggling with it. Not the hardest Sabre, but I got very little pleasure from it. The one bit of pleasure was the initial PDM in connection with the missing letters. I agree with Hagen that the rest was a very boring slog, especially making headway in the top half. Getting the theme involved searching long lists generated by pattern-matching programs for commonalities, and even then some guesswork was involved. Normally one would expect answers crossing unclued encrypted entries to help in decoding the theme, but as several long answers were jumbled I ended up getting the theme first to help sort out the jumbles. It would have been far fairer in my opinion had the clues to the jumbles given the entry, thus consistent with the other down entries.
The clues were largely very fair, but I disapprove of uncommon abbreviations being clued indirectly, as was the case in two clues. Because it's so commonly used in cryptic crosswords, I think 'gong' for 'OBE', for example, is fine; once a setter strays off that track I think it's bordering on unfair. Where does it stop? Is it OK to indicate C (college) by 'educational esatblishment'? I often smile when a setter finds an unusual abbreviation that they use and indicate precisely and naturally in a clue. Such discoveries provide a satisfying PDM. I did not get any satisfaction when I discovered his indirect indications.
I really enjoyed it, but I was very lucky; I spotted a likely word in minutes of using an online pattern matcher, and I am very familiar with the theme so knew all the others. That said, I still had work to do to complete the top half of the grid, which I appreciated – I don’t like when puzzles fold once the theme becomes clear.

I am not sure how far I would have got without the pattern matcher though as I only really had the nine-letter word to go on. I’m told that the editors don’t use solving aids, so if that’s true it must have been possible.

I tend to agree with Scorpius regarding the indirect indication of non-familiar abbreviations.
A very tough puzzle, fun at every stage with some very obscure entries although slightly unsatisfying.
I was pleased to get past the Hilary Step. I'm no cryptologist but I did have enough crossing letters, and enough repeated letters, to take a few stabs at one of the unclued entries which turned up trumps. So, for me, rather more accessible than some of the Sabre PDM leaps in the past
Could only answer 4 or 5 clues cold so obviously could not progress given the jumbled and unclued entries. Never mind, I am still on track (just) to hit my target this year of 12 completed, despite a bad run of late.
This was hard, but not because of over-obscurity, or wild leaps of connection. The regular across clues were fair, with only one unfamiliar answer (for me); as ever with Sabre, looking for the later meanings in the BRB helped. Combined with some straightforward down clues, you could get enough material to make a good guess at the first "theme". To make the step to the second "theme" was not that difficult - I would be surprised if most people had not come across at least one or two of the items. So, for me, a very good work-out.
A great construction, but I don't really like puzzles that end up with non-words all over the place. Looking back at the clues, I'm not sure why I found some of them quite difficult. Perhaps that's an indication of a good clue, initially obscure, but obvious when you do see it.
My particular bugbear with Sabre, and I have expressed it on AB before, is that there is always one or two of what I would describe as over tenuous definitions, and I suppose that is akin to earlier posts in the thread about abbreviations used in the puzzle.
What is BRB?
BRB = Big Red Book, an affectionate name for the Chambers dictionary. These days it's more likely to be a LRI (little red icon) on your screen, though!
Completed in bite-size chunks, I found this quite a tough proposition. Most of the clues were fine although 2dn and 17dn were, for me, the toughest by far.

Still haven't sussed the title, alas.

Thanks, Sabre. A good workout.
Google translate is your friend, emcee
Phew, that was tough! I learned quite a few new words, though I doubt I'll need most of them in everyday conversation.
Excellent, sunny-dave. Thanks!

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Listener 4665 Nostimous By Sabre

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