Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor #9 – Search by Loda

Posted by petebiddlecombe on March 9th, 2007


Solving time: 3-4 hours

An nice example of a fairly standard advanced cryptic puzzle type – “entries mangled according to a theme to be identified”. In this case, there are some thematic entries clued normally, some unclued, and non-theme clues providing letters that make a useful phrase. The extra letters in this case are single extra letters inserted into the clues concerned. So how does one solve such a puzzle?

Classification is all: whenever you find an answer to a clue, you must make sure you know whether the clue is a normal one, or has one of the extra letters. This requires more careful analysis of clues than solving a standard cryptic puzzle, where you can often take a bit of a flyer on a few answers. If you solve a clue with an extra letter, you can write in the answer in the grid (and the letter next to the clue number). But if you solve a normal clue, you can’t. You must jot down the answer by the clue, and probably make some mark in the grid to indicate that you’ve solved the clue. My preference is to draw a straight line through the unclued grid entries, and a wiggly line through the processed grid entries which are solved but can’t yet be written in. Also remember to make some mark next to the clue number of processed ones, to show that there’s no letter to help towards the phrase. You should also keep an eye on the comparative lengths of clue answers and grid entries – often the process used will involve adding or subtracting things, though this one didn’t.

The hope is that as you go on, intersections of solved processed entries, checked letters from unprocessed answers, and the gradually emerging phrase will help you guess what the mangling process is. When a number of clues is given in a statement like “twelve answers require …”, it’s worth counting the total number of clues so that you know how many other clues there are – and in this case, how many letters in the “helpful advice”. Another hint for extra letters, misprints and so on – look for “unnatural” words in clues where the setter may have sneaked in the necessary change to the real clue – the names Von Guerard, Maude and Des, and “pst” rather than “psst” are examples of this.

In this puzzle it soon became clear that any ST in a processed answer became TS. So that’s one of the “two ways” mentioned in the preamble. I only spotted the second way when I had enough of the letters from other clues to see that the phrase ended “no stone unturned”. The second way is just to reverse the name of a “stone” – so the name Gemma might become MEGMA. And this turns out to be the trick with the four unclued answers – reversals of ROSETTA, DIAMOND, SARSDEN, EMERALD. And the full phrase is “Be sure to leave no stone unturned”.

I nearly forgot the last step. The preamble refers to “five diagonally contiguous answers which must be highlighted in the grid”. This must be the diagonal line of five A’s (as in Q & A) in the NE corner – from the A in 6D ACCURATE to the one in 17 GUETS-CHREBMA. This seemed a slightly disappointing ending – the previous stages of the hunt were much more interesting. But with everything else going on, perhaps a hunt for some other stone or treasure in the grid would have been too much to ask.  But it reminds me of my last tip – valid for most puzzles in this series and the Listener too – when you think you’ve finished, re-read the preamble and check that you’ve completed the whole puzzle and understand all of the preamble.

10 CO(p) CA(r) / supplier(s)
12 C,OT,EAU / o(u)t
13 C,O,P,A,L => CLAPO
16 TRAM – rev. of M,ART / M(r)
21 STARED => TSARED – (at Der(by)s)*
25 SPUD (ds up)* / D(e)s – fluke = type of potato
29 REIN – (iner)* / Win(t)ers
37 S,LEW / man(l)y
38 P,ART / quit(e)
1 A,GIN,G / (V)on – gin = a scheme (Spenser)
2 TAO = oat (pipe) rev. / T(a)o
4 SMEE – take the O’s = rounds out of … / Someo(n)e
5 ROUGHS – (G in (hour)*),s / g(o)
6 A/C,CURATE / account(s) – yes, “curate” is an Irish term for an assistant barman.
7 P(ALTER)S / Ps(t)
8 NIPA – (pian)* / pian(o)
18 SOLEMNLY – melon* in SLY / Ma(u)de – to get “made cunningly” = sly
22 E,P,O,S / (T)o
27 SIST => SITS – SaId SeTh
28 SLATS – (lass,t)* / strike(r)s

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