Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor #1 – Message from Loda

Posted by petebiddlecombe on January 12th, 2007


Just as we start a new year and begin to write about this puzzle every week, the Indie Weekend mag puzzle changes its name! It turns out that this is the second name change. Back in about 1989, we started off with the Independent Magazine Crossword – or at least, that’s what my old paperback collection calls it. Then, after 349 puzzles, the title changed to Weekend Crossword, restarting at puzzle number 1. So as those who completed Weekend Crossword #600 will already know, it was really number 949. The new name is a link to the Torquemada / Ximenes / Azed pseudonym tradition, with a nice echo of “Independent”. Apart from the change of name and losing the “always pink” grid shading, the series continues in the same fahion as before.

Just in case you thought I had all the facts above off pat, I must acknowledge some assistance from Mike Laws, the editor of the puzzle, who reminds me that the “real #1000″ will be on 15th December this year. If its theme is something “thousandy”, you read it here first.

This puzzle reminded me of a New Year Listener one by Kea in which some fiendish use of lines as an encoding system to represent letters resulted in a nicely drawn “2005” appearing in the completed grid. This puzzle uses a simpler method to get a similar effect for 2007, with the minor twist that you had to work out what was being done from about 3/4 of the full set of shaded squares. You should have finished up with something like this:

Inquisitor 1 with shading 

Although the numbers are a bit squashed together (why not a 15×15 grid with gaps?), each number uses a 6×3 block, so there’s no doubt about where the shading needs to be.

The “disregarded letters in wordplay” idea is fairly common in advanced cryptic puzzles. In the notes below, the clue answer is shown, with lower case for letters not indicated in the wordplay. The way of reaching the grid entry is then indicated in the usual way.

Solving time: I forgot to keep track of this – probably about two hours, slowed down a bit by stupidly thinking the message came from the first letters of the answers rather than the clues. Read the rubric more carefully, Peter!

10 F,A.V.A. – a quick look at a fulltext search for “bean” in the CD-Rom version od Chambers shows that there are plenty more beans I didn’t know about.
11 NApPeD – P in rev. of DAN = “Desperate man”
12 RISEN – now I can see “knight’s flipping” = SIR rev., but I can’t work out the apparent “nut = EN” for the rest. Any offers?
26 rEES – initial letters – a ree is a “walled yard” in Scotland
28 TYLOtE – (to Ely)* – some part of a sponge – a cylindrical spicule, if that helps …
35 PAVER – P(al)AVER – with flag as in flagstone
36 GhArRI – GA., R.I.
39 BIG BANG – 2 meanings – beginning of time, and the change to electrinic trading on the London Stock Exchange
4 MEDaLS – MED.,L(ode)S
6 STROlLERS – STR.,loser*
21 nOTEPAD – O,T,E,PA,D – I think this is a set of abbreviations but I may be wrong
30 v-SIGN – IS<=,G,N
37 rAs – A = Australian

9 Responses to “Inquisitor #1 – Message from Loda”

  1. says:

    A printer’s en is a nut (qv in Chambers) and an em is a mutton.

  2. says:

    So they are. Moral: check both ends of an “A => B” that you don’t understand in Chambers before displaying your ignorance to the world.

  3. says:

    I’m open to correction, but the grids for this puzzle are v much the same each week, 12X12 or 13×13 I think. I can’t think of any other puzzle that renumbered once, not to mind twice. I think it’s a pity. I think it started in Sept 88, because that was first time I ever tackled an advanced, themed, crossword, eventually graduating to the Listener.

  4. says:

    I’m sure you’re right about the sizes – the Indie puzzle doesn’t go in for the weird and wonderful grids sometimes seen in the Listener – hexagons for beehives and the like. Sadly these seem to be uncommon in the Listener puzzle too these days. September 88 sounds correct now you mention it – I’m pretty sure I was sitting in the Proms queue while trying to solve that first Indie mag puzzle – about 18 months after my first goes at the Listener.

  5. says:

    Slight corrections, etc. There were 350 puzzles in the original slightly glossy Independent Saturday Magazine, before it had a makeover into its current format, at which point it was simply “Crossword” and the numbering restarted at #1. For some reason, the crossword was omitted from the issue which would have contained #119, and that number never appeared. Presumably the crossword was used later, but with a new number. Then for a brief period, the crossword shifted to the Weekend section of the broadsheet, and was renamed “Weekend Crossword”, which it remained when it moved back into the magazine. I renamed it Inquisitor to give it a proper identity, intending to carry on with the correct numbering. Inquisitor #1 was to have been #950, but disappointingly,I was overruled on that.

    The grids are limited to 12×12, 13×13, or very occasionally 13 (columns) x 12 (rows) for production and available space reasons – a pity. When it was briefly in he broadsheet, the grid was huge.

  6. says:

    My first Independent Magazine puzzle was 8 October 1988 – No. 3 or No. 5 I think, and called Leading Lights – it’s somewhere in a large pile of boxfiles behind me, so I can’t easily get at it to confirm details. I think No. 1 was Corylus, but I’m prepared to stand corrected.

  7. says:

    From memory, I think the first was by Mass.

  8. says:

    Just for the record: The first ever weekend mag crossword was just called “Crossword”, on a page headed “Independent Pursuits”, on 10 Spetember 1988. It was by Mass. (Copy found while looking through some old crossword files.)

  9. says:

    Yes, that agrees with what I recall. Why I remember it so well is that it was the first advanced crossword I ever did (which opened a new world which led me – eventually – to the Listener).

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