Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 48 – But how is it done? by Phi

Posted by petebiddlecombe on December 7th, 2007


Solving time: about 90 mins, mostly without books.

A fairly easy puzzle this, without anything too fiendish as a last step. My biggest problem was leaving my copy on a train after writing up about half of this report. A couple of other Inquisitor bloggers came up trumps, so my panic was fairly brief.

The unclued entries in this puzzle gave all but one letter of the name of a song. These entries were the entire 1st, 5th, 8th and 12th rows of the 12 row, 11 column grid. As the other answers went in, it became clear the these rows (e.g. TAF?UENDH?T) didn’t mean anything, even in the non-English languages which I briefly wondered about. I also wondered whether they had been encoded by some fiendish process. But then, the extra letters in the wordplay of the first few down clues looked as if they might spell out ‘column’. Taking letters from the columns of the unclued rows, the song line was then quite obviously “The task of filling up the blanks, I’d rather leave to you” – so the final letter is U, which must be written at the end of the first row, just to the right of the square numbered 9. The full set of extra letters in wordplay turns out to be “columns not rows”. The quote is from Koko’s patter song “I’ve got a little list” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado – a second recent appearance for this comic opera after a fairly controversial reference in the Times puzzle, which adapted the Mikado’s “twisted cue” in “My object all sublime” into a homophone for curlicue. The task of filling up the blanks is left to the solver here, so the quote is apposite. And when I received a copy to help me out, I realised that the final U = “you” is also “filling up a blank” – not sure whether this is part of the theme or not.

Note after seeing the official solution:  the U  should actually be ‘below the final column, as indicated by the phrase “columns not rows” given by the surplus letters’.  If all the winners listed got this bit right, I congratulate them on their better understanding, though the position I chose still feels right to me.

10 SYRINGA – (in grays)*
11 IOTA – (a toi(l)) rev.
15 ALI(t)
19 O(JIM)E – oe = grandchild – a barred grid cliché, and ojime are decorative beads in Japan, used as part of the mechanism for keeping your inros shut.
21 AMENT – meant with A=one foremost – variant of amentum = catkin
23 O.(PER.),A.  
24 OP.(T)ED. – Op Ed = ‘opposite editorial’ – an opinion piece in a newspaper
28 EDH = eth = ð
32 OMNI = (in,mo) rev. – I have very vague memories of seeing this magazine in my youth.
34 RA,IN=behind clouds, of the sun – a super &lit
Down – wordplay includes extra letters where they appear
1 C TS=St. rev., A,R.C.
5 M ME,GAL – egal = archaic ‘equal’
6 N N.A.,SINK – Nasik is a district of Mumbai – and some kind of magic square devised there
7 S DISCREPANT+S = (dance strips)*
8 H,ONE as in “a large one”
9 TABLOIDY = (daily b(ugle) to)*
13 ALIMENTING – I in alignment*
16 F.,ATE = worried
25 O TOE,ACH(e)
26 T VOT(e),ICE
29 O D(OUR)A
30 W F.,WAIL

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