Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 72 — Neighbours by Lato

Posted by Colin Blackburn on May 23rd, 2008

Colin Blackburn.

I nearly didn’t finish this puzzle. I was a page turn from giving up despite having completed the grid. I had no idea what the theme was and with a couple of ambiguous answers from the misprinted definitions I was uncertain that I had a correct grid. I reasoned that if I understood the theme then I would be able to resolve the ambiguities.

The preamble was a little confusing. Three local 32s and then several ways to get to them or with what they are associated. Why the multiple routes? If the 10 misprinted definitions are enough then why the 6 extra words. To start with I decided to ignore the theme and just hammer away at the clues. I managed to get all the answers due to the fair, if occasionally tough, cluing. My only error was writing in NERD at 15, seeing REN as a variation of RUN. This held me up on AINUS at 1 for longer than the clue warranted.

When I decided that 32 was WRITERS I wondered what ‘local writers’ could possibly mean. Local to where. So, the next step was to plug away at the misprinted definitions. There were a lot of ambiguities in these, deliberately I assume. For instance, I had Nard = Lard = GREASE (wrong misprint, wrong answer) and Old dish = Old dosh = BRASS (right misprint, wrong answer). When I finally got the first misprint as a J I had enough to guess at a phrase: JUST LOOK UP.

I spent the next few minutes looking up the vertical columns hoping to see something. I didn’t. Now, I often do the Inquisitor with a photocopy or scan of just the puzzle. Had this been the case here I would never have got this one. This time, however, I had the original but I had it folded in half on my crossword clipboard (yes, very sad). The penny dropped: JUST LOOK UP THE PAGE! I unfolded the sheet and, Yes!, three writers at the top of the page, the three games columnists—neighbours of the crossword setter.

So I got it, but only just. This would clearly not have worked as an online puzzle despite my desire to see the Inquisitor available online. I also take it that Lato would have needed Mike Laws to arrange for it to be published when the three standard columnists are up there. Over all an enjoyable if frustrating puzzle. I still don’t fully understand how all of the 6 extra words help, see below for tentative explanations, but hopefully someone out there will or the solution will make it clear.

Here’s the solution explained part by part, misprinted definitions first:

J Goes on Jet EMPLANES for a while I tried to fit EMULATES or EMBLAZES
U Punch briefly MAG short for magazine, as Punch was.
S Place near Neston RABY at least I assume RABY is near Neston.
T Stout material MOREEN
L Fold mark CREASE I considered ‘foot mark’ for a while, ref. cricket.
O Lyon’s handle NOM French name.
O Old dosh RHINO old slang for money.
K Nark GRASS slang for informer.
U Dunny JOHN dunny = toilet.
P Puller TOWER


Six of these led to each of the three writers via a homophone, one very dodgy!—but the preamble warned about this, of their first name and an anagram of their surname:

MOREEN RHINO Maureen Hiron


The other four led to the games they wrote about via different word plays:

NOM MAG Backgammon (reversal)
GRASS Chess (a type of grass)
TOWER Bridge (Tower Bridge)


The six extra words are, I think: VICAR’S, PLACE, CLIMB, HILL, HELLO, HARRY. I think that as pairs they lead to the surnames, again, but I have two different interpretations, neither of which I am 100% certain about. In clue order these could be:

VICAR’S PLACE Bray ref Vicar of Bray
CLIMB HILL Speelman CLIMB = speel, how does HILL = man
HELLO HARRY Hiron HELLO = hi, how does HARRY = ron


I just can’t quite tie these together so an alternative explanation is:

VICAR’S PLACE Bray ref Vicar of Bray
CLIMB HARRY Speelman CLIMB = speel, HARRY is a man, but is this enough?
HELLO HILL Hiron HELLO = hi, Ron HILL was a famous runner but is he famous enough?


This is the one unsatisfying aspect to the puzzle for me, though it might be my stupidity or I might have messed up one of the extra words by misinterpreting one of the clues.

Finally, just to make things a little tougher, the clues to 3 and 4 were printed against the wrong numbers and 41 was 8 letters long rather than 7 as enumerated.

10 HILAR HILAR(y) Hilary is one of the legal terms and a term in at least one old university.
13/14 AGAMID GAM in AID VICAR’S is the extra word here.
15 NURD (‘D RUN)< NERD is the spelling I know so I made it fit for a while.
16 DEMISTER (M1+DESERT)* “largely deserted” is a little on the vague side meaning 5, 6 or 7 letters.
19 ATHEISE IS in A+THEE THEE is used by the Quakers when addressing people at meetings, though to me it is how my grandad used to speak, thee, thy, and thou are not as common as they used to be in the Yorkshire dialect but they still crop up among older speakers.
21 SHOG GOSH* PLACE is the extra word here.
25 ROC “rock” rock is a danger.
27 WRICK R in WICK Wick is a town in northern Scotland.
29 SELSEY LESS* + YE< Selsey is a town in southern England.
31 ENOW E+WON< ENOW is a Scots word meaning “a moment ago”.
36 JEANETTE A+NET in JETE JETE is a ballet jump.
37 OVER (r)OVER CLIMB is the extra word here.
38 HAVANA HAVANA(t) Havant isn’t as far as I know a hill town so HILL must be the extra word here.
1 AINUS IN in AUS the Ainu are a Japanese people who are, apparently, hairier then normal.
5 MERMAN R+M(ean) in MEAN HELLO is the extra word here.
6 LEGSHOW LEG+(WHO’S)* what a strange concept. I guess it’s an older equivalent of pole dancing?
7 ALATE AL+ATE Al Capone.
20 SECO EC in SO EC = Eastern Central post code area comprises EC1, EC2, EC3 and EC4, and includes the City of London.
22 HOER HO(m)ER Homer Simpson.
23 EINE E(qu)INE
24 REENACT REE+(CAN’T)* REE is a female Ruff, a wading bird.
28 REMOVAL REM+OVAL REm is a US rock band, the OVAL is a London cricket ground.
30 OSTLER ST(a)LE in OR OR = Other Ranks = men.
33 TAMER (R+TAME)* very clever clue here HARRY is the extra word “Potter’s term” gives R and Weasely serves as a reasonable anagrind given what it adds to the surface.
35 RENEW WEN(g)ER< ref. Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager.

9 Responses to “Inquisitor 72 — Neighbours by Lato”

  1. duncanshiell says:

    Like you I nearly gave up on this one, but persevered until the penny dropped.

    I think the extra word in 33d is Weasley rather than Harry. I felt that Harry was the anagrind. This then led to ‘Hello Weasley’ and thus to Hi! Ron (Weasley).

    The first definition of man in Chambers has the following hidden deep in the middle of all its alternatives-

    a cairn or rock pillar; a hill with such a man;

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    Thanks Duncan. You are spot on. Why I didn’t consider Harry as the anagrind I don’t know—maybe I was distracted by HARRY HILL!. I felt that the extra words being in clue order was important and I guess only a running nut would associate Ron with Hill. Not being a Harry Potter fan I knew vaguely that Weasely was a character but I didn’t know he was a Ron.

  3. nmsindy says:

    I thought this puzzle had a great penny-dropping moment. Like others, I did find the last stage tough and came close to giving up but was really glad I stuck with it, when I did get that PDM. The word ‘local’ tantalised all along – even thought of the three Lake Poets. I think it was a very good way of putting it. The six words were needed just for confirmation, perhaps, so I did not spend too long at that. I came to the same conclusions as Duncan, except I thought the Man and Hill might refer to the Hillman cars of a while back.

    A very satisfying puzzle and a clever idea.

  4. nmsindy says:

    PS – the preamble did make it clear liberties were being taken with punctuation e.g. Chris = crease

  5. Hihoba says:

    I must admit that we fell into the category of non-penny-droppers! Did all the clues, but never found the theme! Not surprised, having read your explanation. I would expect a relatively sparse entry for this one, so good luck with the prizes!

  6. Colin Blackburn says:

    Unfortunately I didn’t post my entry! The only puzzles I ever submit are the Listener and Azed. I really should post off the odd other.

  7. nmsindy says:

    RABY This was crucial for me. I’d four of the ten words with an idea what two others might be (one of which turned out to be wrong). Was wondering what could give a misprint to NEWTON. Neston (which I’d never heard of) seemed a possibility, but Internet searching did not yield a place near it that would fit.
    I pulled out a motoring atlas and there RABY was – it then gave me RHINO and everything fell into place. I think I remember in the very early days of the Indy Weekend puzzle, something similar where the puzzle referred to a cartoon strip on the page.

  8. Lato says:

    Thanks for the blog and all the comments. I tried to give as many hints to the theme as
    Apologies fot the clue numering error

  9. Lato says:

    And apologies for the error in the apology.

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