Posted by petebiddlecombe on April 6th, 2007
Solving time: 10 hours plus, with assistance
After bragging somewhere about finishing the first 12 Inquisitor puzzles, I guess it was inevitable that I’d come unstuck on no. 13. This time, it’s my turn to thank loonapick – after I’d looked at the puzzle every day for a week with very little progress, he came up with most of the missing answers and the crucial first themeword.
The puzzle’s title turns out to be a hint about the theme, so I should probably have paid it more attention. All of the themewords are towns, so I should have thought of the A to Z cartographers. Unless I’m missing something very subtle, the two descriptions referred to in the preamble are the fairly obvious BRITISH TOWNS and the more specific ENGLISH TOWNS. When I sent a “stuck” version of the puzzle to loonapick, I had about nine clues solved, and most of them fitted into the grid in what seemed the only possible way (the PRICIEST/DEFERRER pair and UMPTEEN could only fit one way). As soon as I’d taken the pressure off myself, I had a rush of inspiration and got about ten more answers. But even though I had ?ASRI?STEA? for the central two-word theme entry, it was loonapick who came up with EAST GRINSTEAD – embarrassing for me as my father lives in Eastbourne, so I pass through every time we go to see him. With this in place, a couple of others – DEVIZES and UTTOXETER, I think – confirmed the theme and the rest was relatively plain sailing.
Fawley is of course Mike Laws, Inquisitor xwd editor (Fawley is the surname for Jude, another ML pseudonym, in Hardy’s Jude the Obscure). I don’t know how Mike judges the difficulty of his own puzzles, but if there was a test solver, I suspect he or she was much quicker than me at finding the theme. The towns are nicely distributed around the country, so at least some should be familiar – for me, only Penryn was totally unfamiliar as a name, though Wareham’s location was a mystery. I guess Jarrow should have been an obvious possibility – BARROW and HARROW are alternatives that could have come in handy from the setter’s point of view.
Lower case letters in the notes are the ones added to wordplay or omitted from town names. I’ve numbered the towns in alpha order and used these numbers plus a/b to identify the other clues.
|4||EASt gRINSTEAD (West Sussex)|
|1a||bESS – see “chain of esses” under ess in Chambers|
|2a||GRA(MAR)vY – “turns up” is a hint that this is actualy a down clue. Similar hints appear in two or three other clues, though I missed them when they might have helped.|
|3b||TIcE – a yorker in cricket, in older versions of C but not the 2003/6 editions. The remaining croquet meaning doesn’t help, as you can’t be “dismissed” in croquet.|
|5a||GR(jAPES)EED – slight quibble over whether “selfishly wanting” can mean “greed” rather than “greedy”.|
|8b||ELATEn – reverse the back end of elanet – another word for kite (the bird kind). Watch out for gled too.|