Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 70 – ‘Armless Fun by Loda

Posted by duncanshiell on May 9th, 2008


This was a very enjoyable exercise in ‘thinking outside the box’.

Solvers were told that by disregarding convention they would discover three words, and were told further that given the position of any of these words, a puzzler’s maxim would be suggested. This maxim was to be exemplified by a non-word that had to be entered at one of the two unclued entries, which were 1 across and 39 across. The other unclued entry, which was stated to be a real word, was described as an arrangement of the non-word, and had to have a connection to the title of the puzzle.

The numbers in brackets at the end of each clue related to the length of grid entries, not necessarily equal to the length of answer to the clue.

There was a minor misprint in numbering the across clues, but it was fairly obvious that 2 across should have been 6 across. All clues were normal in that wordplay and definition led to the same word.

However, it fairly soon became apparent that there were a number of clues, twenty-one in all, that generated solutions that were one letter long than the space available. Crossing answers led to the deduction that these twenty-one answers had to be entered without either their first or last letters. It wasn’t immediately obvious, to me at least, what the logic was behind the dropping the first or last letters.

I have to admit that I had completed the grid before the penny finally dropped. I had been looking at the letters omitted in clue order and had looked at first letters and last letters separately. I noticed that REFLECT was nearly spelt out by the last letters and the word POND appeared within the first letters. It was the realisation that the all the answers with dropped letters abutted the edge of the grid that caused the penny dropping moment.

By ignoring convention and writing the missing letters in their ‘correct position’ outside the grid, the three words – PONDER, REFLECT and COGITATE – became apparent by reading clockwise round the outside of the grid, or box.  The maxim therefore was ‘think outside the box’.

An analysis of the checking letters available for 1 and 39 across showed that seven of the eight letters had to be EIMNORS.  This led to 39 across being INERMOUS which means unarmed and fits well with the title of ‘ARMLESS FUN.

This left only 1 across to be entered.  The word MUSE (meditate, ponder, be absorbed in thought) stood out from the eight available letters, leaving INRO (a small Japanese container [box] for pills or medicine) in the middle , leading to MUINROSE which could be interpreted as ‘think, outside the box’.

The surface reading of many clues was very well designed to mislead the solver.  A clear focus on the constituent parts of the clues was required to solve them.  Indeed one often had to think outside the box to solve the clues.

No. Solution Letter outside grid Entry Components of Solution
1 MUINROSE   MUINROSE See comments above – ‘think outside the box”
6 IDLER               R (6) IDLE I (in) + (DR (road reversed [turning] containing [around] LE [lane cleared of its central letters]) = IDLER (one who freewheels)
9 UNLOAD UNLOAD UN (one local [in local dialect]) + (LAD [youth] containing [possessing] O [nothing]) = UNLOAD (dump)
11 RAJA RAJA AJAR (out of tune, reversed [flipping over]) = RAJA (Indian leader)
13 ZOOLATER               R (7) ZOOLATE Anagram (chopping) of ROOT and ZEAL = ZOOLATER (someone who worships animals [stock])
14 ETNAS E (21) TNAS Even letters (that’s not odd) of HEAT EN MASSE = ETNAS (vessels for heating liquids)
15 OSTLER OSTLER Anagram (at sea) of ER (middle letters [contents] of TERN) and LOST = OSTLER (a person who attends horses [bays])
16 SUGARY SUGARY GARY (chap) stalks (follows) SUE (girl without [short of] E) = SUGARY (over-sentimental)
17 CROME               E (8) CROM COME (draw near) containing (receiving) R (right) = CROME (hook)
18 TASER T (20) ASER Anagram (remodelled) of SEAT + R (final letter of Esther) = TASER (stun gun)
19 VERTS VERTS Anagram (for reform) of VOTERS without (except) O (oscar) = VERTS (short for convert, especially to Roman Catholicism)
23 STOMP STOMP STOP (discontinue) containing (accommodating) M (mass) = STOMP (dance)
26 DWARF               F (9) DWAR WAR (conflict) between D (Germany [Deutschland]) and F (France) = DWARF (very small)
28 ATONE A (19) TONE ONE (number) after A and T (time) = ATONE (old word for harmonise)
30 APPAREL               L (10) APPARE AL (man) containing (holding) anagram (disreputable) of PAPER = APPAREL (attire, colloquially clobber)
32 ASTRAL ASTRAL Anagram (twinkling) of STAR + AL (reversed [rotating] central letters of GALAXY) = ASTRAL (like a star)
33 UNTIE               E (11) UNTI AUNTIE (dad’s sister) without (front removed) the leading A = UNTIE (loosen)
35 TRENTALS T (18) RENTALS Anagram (stoned) of SLATTERN  = TRENTALS (one trental is a series of thirty requiem masses, plural must be at least sixty)
36 ROUX   ROUX Anagram (jogging) of OUR precedes (fronts) X (without) = ROUX (thickening)
37 DELPHIC               C (12) DELPHI Anagram (out) of LED + PHI (greek letter) + C (first letter of criticise) = DELPHIC (like the oracle, Delphi)
38 NARD   NARD NA (North America) alongside RD (road) = NARD (matweed)
39 INERMOUS   INERMOUS See introductory comments above – unarmed
No. Solution Letter outside grid Entry Components of Solution
1 MUST   MUST MUST (unfermented juice) and MUST (mould) = MUST – double meaning
2 PILLAGES P (1) ILLAGES PILES (stacks of arms) containing (amidst) LAG (convict) = PILLAGES (sacks)
3 ORATORIO O (2) RATORIO O (of) + RAT (renegade) + ORION (star constellation without (not) the N) = ORATORIO (story set to music)
4 SOOTHE   SOOTHE SOON (willingly without (almost) the N) + THE (definite article) = SOOTHE (compose)
5 NEROLI N (3) EROLI Anagram (exotic) of RNE (alternate letters of ORANGE) and OIL = NEROLI  (an oil distilled from orange flowers) – &lit clue
6 DIALECT D (4) IALECT Anagram (strangely) of THECHILD without (dropping) HH (aitches) and A = DIALECT (peculiar way of speaking)
7 ELATION E  (5) LATION Anagram (trills) of AT NOEL and I = ELATION (joy)
8 EVERMORE   EVERMORE RM (Royal Marine = jolly) preceded by (in the van) EVE (temptress) + ORE (Scandinavian money) = EVERMORE (eternally)
10 OSSA   OSSA OSSA hidden in (is equipped) HOSS AMERICAN…… = OSSA (bones, stirrups for example)
12 GNUS   GNUS Reverse (going north) of SUNG (celebrated) = GNUS (beasts)
16 SANTORINI               I (17) SANTORINI Anagram (runaway) of TRAIN IS ON = SANTORINI (a Greek island)  
20 REPLIER   REPLIER REP (salesman) + LIE (sham) + R (initial letter of response) = REPLIER (one who answers)
21 SWANKPOT               T (13) SWANKPO SWAN (bird)  + K (last letter of beak) + POT (grass [cannabis]) = SWANKPOT (show off)
22 NOSERAG               G (16) NOSERA Reverse (revolting) of (GARE [miserly {Scots}] + SON [lad]) = NOSERAG (handkerchief)
24 TESTUDO               O (15) TESTUD TEST (try) + UDO (Japanese plant) = TESTUDO (system of defence for Roman soldiers against incoming arrows or other missiles )
25 MARLIN   MARLIN MERLIN (wizard) with E (middle letter of HEN) changed to A = MARLIN (fish)
27 ARTY   ARTY MARTY (Marty Wilde) without (decapitated) the leading M = ARTY (in a creative way)
29 ATAXIC               C (14) ATAXI Reverse of (rising) CIA (Italian company) containing (borne by) TAX  (levy) = ATAXIC (spasmodic involuntary movements)
31 PULL   PULL LL (shortened form of will) preceded by (first) PU (up turned) = PULL (yank)
34 IBIS   IBIS IS (lives) preceded by (at the top) IB (shortened form of ibidem [in the same place]) = IBIS (bird)

One Response to “Inquisitor 70 – ‘Armless Fun by Loda”

  1. HolyGhost says:

    Have posted a comment on this puzzle, but it doesn’t appear.

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