Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 80 – Topical Request by Loda

Posted by duncanshiell on July 18th, 2008


Anyone for tennis?  This puzzle was published on Ladies Finals Day at Wimbledon.

We were told that 14 of the 44 clues contained a misprint with the correct letters spelling out the topical request of the title.  We were also told that six thematic clues (unaffected by misprints) had to be ‘smashed’ – a good tennis term – before entry.  These smashed entries were all to be real words.  That information helped me.  Further, another thematic phrase (9,9) would be found hidden symmetrically in the grid – except for one letter in each word.  Finally we had to locate the eight letters of each word and draw a line in the shape of each missing letter, to connect each set (tennis again).

There was a lot to take in and I didn’t get the tennis link for a while.  I got it from the misprinted letters which I realised about half way through were going to spell out>


The six words that were smashed, all had meanings which could be interpreted as ball, so we were smashing balls.

The six words before smashing were:

GLOBE – ball

GRUB – a ball that travels along the ground, e.g. a grub kick in rugby

LEATHER – the ball in certain games, e.g. cricket

CALTROP – an iron ball with four spikes

PROM - a school or college dance, or ball.  Chambers says it is an American usage but it seems to be coming more prominent in this country.  Terry Wogan’s listeners recently claimed that they had heard of Nursery School children who would be having a leaving prom this summer before moving on to their next school.

DANCE – again, ball in the sense of gathering for dancing.

These were all smashed into real words as shown in the table below.

When the grid was full, the concept of Wimbledon was firmly entrenched in my mind so I went searching for Ws.  There was only one towards the north west corner and I was able to trace out WIMBLEDN in an anticlockwise direction in adjacent two letter horizontal and vertical chunks.  This was balanced by FRTNIGHT in a clockwise direction in the symmetric south east corner. Both words were shaped as balls.  The missing letter was clearly O - more references to balls.

At this point, I was slightly confused as to whether I should draw one or two circles (or balls) to join WIMBLEDN and FRTNIGHT.  In the end I went for a single ball as the preamble said draw a line, not draw lines.  Also this circle was centred exactly in the middle of the grid.

I solved this in a couple of sessions of a couple of hours each.  I took some time to get going.  Although some of the misprints stood out clearly, others did not.  The misprinted clues were by no means evenly spread through the fourty four possibilities.  Also some ‘obvious’ misprints weren’t misprints at all.

Overall this was an enjoyable puzzle with a very topical theme and a number of clues that gave satisfaction when I cracked them.

No. Misprinted and corrected word OK Solution / (Entry) Components of Solution
1     SOLEMN SOLE (only) + M (first letter of man) + N (name) = SOLEMN (grave)
6     GLOBE (BOGLE) GE (in Greek mythology, the goddess or personification of Earth) containing (around) LOB (dollop and lob both mean ‘lump’) = GLOBE (body)
10 silk — sink N ABANDON A (American) + BAN (bar) + DON (wear) = ABANDON (sink)
11     GRAN G (German) + RA (artist [Royal Academician]) + N (note) = GRAN (Italian [in Rome] for ‘great’)
12     IMPEND Anagram of (rocks) MENDIP = IMPEND (loom)
14     UNRIG Anagram of (about) RUNIG  (middle letters of [midway through] FLIGHT) = UNRIG (strip off)
15     GRUB (BURG) G (last letter [rump] of DOG) + RUB (difficulty) = GRUB (slang for ‘eat’)’
16 bongs — bones E ILIA Reversed hidden (from the east)  within (with cargo) SAILING = ILIA (bones)
17     TATIES TATI (reference to actor/director Jacques Tati) + ES (drugs [ecstasy = E, plural Es]) = TATIES (potatoes = source of French fries)
20     GHEE First, second, third and fourth letters respectively (progressively) of GARY RHODES DRESSED SOLE = GHEE (clarified butter, an ingredient in cooking)
21     LEATHER (TARHEEL) THE (definite article) contained in LEAR  (a glass-annealing oven) = LEATHER (skin or hide)
22     CALTROP (PROCTAL) CARL without (away) R (right) + PORT (left) reversed (back) =  CALTROP (an old weapon used to obstruct an enemy)
25     ATOP A (Australian) + TOP (spinner [spinning top]) =  ATOP  (on or at the top = head and shoulders above the rest?)
29 homebred — homebrew W LIQUOR (LION [cat, without (tailless) N] + R [runs]) all containing (round) QU LIQUOR (homebrew, maybe)
30     PROM (ROMP) PR (public relations = publicity) in front of (before) OM (order [of merit]) = PROM (concert)
31     SCAN AN (one) after SC (he sculpted this work) = SCAN (scrutinize)
33     SAUTE SAUC (pesto is a sauce, with C [first letter of (piece) cheese] replaced by T ([time, sounds like thyme]) = SAUTÉ (a way to cook)
34     STRATA A TART’S (a whore’s) reversed (switched) = STRATA (beds of sedimentary rock, presumably very hard compared to beds used by whores)
35 mad — bad B EVIL LIVE (be) reversed (looking back) = EVIL (bad)
36     DEHORNS Anagram of (blossoms) of (ROSE + H [final letter of bush] + ND [AND without (headed) the A]) = DEHORNS (prunes)
37     DANCE (CANED) Anagram of AND (supply, as the adverbial form of supple) + CE (cerium) = DANCE (spring)
38     REGIME EG contained within (suppressed by) EMIR (ruler) reversed (reactionary) = REGIME (administration)
No. Misprinted and corrected word OK Solution / (Entry) Components of Solution
1     SAINTS IN and SA reversed in position (flipping) + TS (first and last letters [extremists] of TownshipS) = SAINTS (potential marchers – there are two Saints Days in March – St David ‘s Day and St Patrick’s Day, but I am clutching at straws to link ‘saints ‘to ‘marchers’)
2     LAPITH WITH replacing W (wife) with PAL reversed (up)  = LAPITH (a member of the people of Thessaly who fought the Centaurs [creatures in Greek mythology])
3 set — sea A ENEW ENE (a variant of E’EN a poetic contraction of even) + W (with) = ENEW (plunge into water)
4 celts — cells L NODUS Anagram (off) of SOUND = NODUS (a knotlike mass of cells)
5 smash — slash L ANURIA A (an) + (AI [excellent] + RUN) all reversed (up) = ANURIA (inhibition of urine formation; slash – vulgar slang for urination)
6     BANG First letters of (starts to) BROWN APPEARING NEARLY GREY = BANG (to cut hair square across)
7 natty — nasty S OGRISH SIR (gent) reversed (on the up) contained in (wearing) an anagram of (wild) HOG = OGRISH (nasty))
8     GRILL GR (gross) + ILL (ailment) = GRILL (grating)
9     ENTAIL I (one) contained in an anagram of (drunken) (LATE and N [last letter (ultimately) of celebratioN]) = ENTAIL (involve)
13 door — poor P MEAGRE MERE (boundary) containing (frames) AG (Aktiengesellschaft or German joint stock company) = MEAGRE (poor in quality)
15     BEETS BEES (insects) containing (engulf) T (shortened form of ‘the’) = BEETS (plants providing sugar)
18 beech — leech L DRAIN Odd letters (oddly) of DARK ALIEN = DRAIN (leech)
19 tall — tell E REPORT REP (corded cloth) + ORT (a fragment leftover from a meal) = REPORT (tell)
22     PARSEC Anagram of (ground) SCRAPE = PARSEC (a distance significant in astronomy
23     CUPULE Hidden within (part of) BUTTERCUP  ULEX = CUPULE (cut-shaped structure on the fruit of some trees, i.e. part of a fruit).  Note that ‘part of’ serves two purposes, hence the use of ‘also’ in the clue.
24     ACCEDE AC (account) + CEDE (yield) = ACCEDE (agree to)
26     OURARI OUR (for you and me) + AR (Arkansas, US State) +   (both i and is are interchangeable for isle or island, so I guess the logic goes is=isle=i) = OURARI (the plant yielding curare, a paralysing poison)
27 betting — batting A CREASE CASE (action, in court for instance) containing (accepts) RE (note in sol-fa)  = CREASE (place for batting)
28     AMAIN Anagram of (carved) ANIMAL without L (left, out) = AMAIN (an archaic meaning of exceedingly)
29 dirk — disk S LASER Middle letters (hearts) of CLAN and USERS  = LASER (type of disk – laser disk)
31 sag — seg E STUD First 4 letters of the 5 letters of (80%) STUDY (read) = STUD (seg = stud or small plate in the sole of a shoe)  
32     FROG FRO (obsolete form of from) + G (middle letter [centre] of BANGKOK) = FROG  (jumper, an amphibian that jumps)

7 Responses to “Inquisitor 80 – Topical Request by Loda”

  1. Colin Blackburn says:

    Duncan, thanks as ever for the very detailed blog. There is though a formatting problem in that the final column doesn’t wrap but extends beyond the border. On my laptop I can’t widen the window enough to see the whole explanation for some clues.

  2. duncanshiell says:

    Oops – Sorry!

    Press your refresh button now and all should be well.

    I tested it on a 21″ screen and assumed naively that it wrapped round on everything else. I must admit I had to adjust column widths to get it to fit onto the big screen and didn’t think it through to the potential problems on smaller screens.

    I have reformatted it and tested it on a 12″ screen, so I hope it should be readable now on all but PDAs and mobile phones.

    I will test future blogs on the 12″ screen before publishing,

    Interesting though that the text at the top wraps round on all screens witholut any problems – it must be the fact the bottom section is formally declared as a table. Isn’t HTML fun!.

  3. Colin Blackburn says:

    Thanks for fixing it quickly Duncan. There is still a problem with wrapping but I can now stretch the window far enough. The problem is the defined column widths. It might’ve been better to leave the final column with no fixed width and just lt it use the rest of the page.

  4. duncanshiell says:


    Thanks for the feedback.

    I’ve just tried it in a third form with an undefined column width in the final column but found that the 12″ screen didn’t like it at all. I’ve reverted to the second settings that you say you can almost read with some residual wrapping problems. I’ll go and do some research on self-adjusting tables in HTML. Perhaps the fault is that I am defining a total table width equal to the sum of the 5 column widths.

    I’m not getting a wrapping problem on my 12″ screen with the second settings. It’s a ragged edge which looks odd if there is a long word at the beginning of the next line, but it manages to avoid splitting any words when it wraps Can you give me an example of the problem you have please? What size screen are you using? I’ve looked at it on my daughter’s 15″ screen and that looks OK.

  5. HolyGhost says:

    For the second week in a row, one could spot the theme from one read of the preamble: Topical Request (14 letters) just had to be “new balls please” and then a thematic phase (9,9) … on the last weekend of Wimbledon Fortnight … not very stretching.

    And (from memory) the clue for OURARI didn’t seem quite right, slightly confusing the drug curare with the plant it comes from.

  6. Duncan Shiell says:

    I think the clue for OURARI was right:

    ‘For you and me, state is supplier of poison (6)’

    It seems to me the definition is ‘source of poison’ rather than just ‘poison’, with the wordplay as described in the blog.

    As you say, OURARI is the plant that curare comes from

  7. HolyGhost says:

    OURARI: Wasn’t very happy with is=isle=i, and thought that maybe “is source” led to the “i”.

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