numbers; The anaesthetist

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Today is the 14th of September

When at night I go to sleep,

Fourteen angels watch do keep.

(old German evening song)

Fourteen, as the number of days of half the lunar cycle - and hence the number leading from newness to perfection - has strong, and generally benevolent links with religion and superstition. There is a monastery and church of the 14 saints (Vierzehnheiligen) in Franconia, and there are 14 cards in each suit of the standard Tarot pack. For real superstition, however, we must visit the French kings.

Louis XIV ascended the throne in 1643 (1+6+4+3=14), reigned for 77 years (7+7=14), died in 1715 (1+7+1+5=14) and, if we add his birth year (1638) to his death year, we get 3353, with the same digit sum yet again.

Meanwhile, Henri IV was not an XIV himself, but:

His name Henri-de-Bourbon had 14 letters. he was the 14th king of France; he was born on 14 December 1553; he was assassinated on 14 May 1610 at the age of 56 (=4x14).

14 is also the number of days an ant can survive underwater, the length in inches of an okapi's tongue and the wattage of the human brain in deep thought.

Competition: Back to our "26 L of the A" (Letters of the Alphabet) format with five more alphanumeric puzzles to solve:

5 M A P to S

6 P in the G T S

12 G M and T

19 P for a S C S

40 W L B G H M

The first three correct answers opened on 26 September will each win a Chambers Thesaurus. Entries to: Pastimes, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

31 August answers: Parsnip (rap nips); artichoke (choir take); courgette (urge octet) Winner to be announced next week.