Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 837: Hobson’s Choice by Syd Lexis

Posted by Dave Hennings on November 21st, 2008

Dave Hennings.

Being a natural pessimist, I had visions that my first blog would end up being for a puzzle by Dimitry, Kea or Oxymoron (Schadenfreude’s EV pseudonym), so seeing it was by Syd Lexis was a bit of a relief. The carte blanche grid did sow some seeds of doubt, but at least there were no missing/extra letters/words or misprints to worry about; if nothing else that would make the blog straightforward and there would be no fancy colouring, well not much as it turned out.

Syd normally provides a bit of fun, and has done a number of puzzles where a long word has to be changed or added, creating new words in the process. A fairly recent one was EV 710 back in 2006 and was called Boring, where the word ASYMMETRICAL needed to be added to make new words, and to change the grid from a symmetrical (boring) pattern into an asymmetrical one.

This puzzle seemed to be in a similar vein, and the central across word being only 6 letters in a 13×13 grid with 180° symmetry confirmed this suspicion. It soon became clear that the central column was empty, with words jumping across the gap. On completion of the grid, a version of HOBSON’S CHOICE needed to be filled here, giving new words in, or justified by, Chambers. So putting an N in QUADRAT, an A, I or O in STRING, an A in TINTING and an L at the end of CHANCE gave NO ALTERNATIVE a bit too quickly, but this week I’m not grumbling.

I found the clues fairly straightforward, and many don’t need much commentary from me below. For the clue number I have shown the sequential number of the clue as printed followed by the number it would have in a fully barred and numbered grid (only bars were required for an entry).

Solving time: just over 2 hours, which is very quick for me. An enjoyable, if easy, puzzle which I think novices would have had fun with.

ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden
blue letter from central column in grid

1 1 QUADRANT QUA+DR+AT a small area cordoned off for investigation of plant/animal life; qua = ‘in the capacity of’ (Latin adverbial ablative feminine … who am I to argue)
2 7 FAITH I in FAT+H trust
3 11 STORING STRIN(E)+G(UT) line; Strine = Australian, and needs to be spoken in an Aussie accent for full effect
4 12 ASSAY AS+SAY old word for tempt; say = old woollen fabric like serge
5 13 TAINTING TINT+ING colouring; tint is past active/participle of tine = lose (Scottish); ing = meadow
6 15 CHANCEL ENHANCE with C for EN opportunity; EN = Enrolled Nurse
7 16 ASTIS yeAST IS needed wines; I’m not sure if ‘needed’ is part of the container or a linking word; whatever, I happen not to like hidden clues where the answer’s start/end coincides with the start/end of a word in the clue
8 19 PESTO POE’S* an American currency; American is Central, South or Mexican, rather than Poe’s US
9 20 MIME MIM+E a buffoon; mim = demure in Scotland (eg in Holyrood), e is the logarithmic base
10 21 IDLE LIED* vain
11 23 STEALER S+TALER more impaired by age or time; a taler/thaler is an old German silver coin
12 25 NOB 2 meanings head and a person of wealth
13 27 SOURSES SOUS+E+S gets drunk; S = son(s)
14 28 EAT EA+T upset; T = surface tension
15 29 INTONED T(ENS)IONED* with toes (piggies) turned in; ens = being or existence
16 31 SERR S+ERR press close
17 33 BENE BENE(T) prayer; benet = exorcist
18 34 CAABA AB in CA shopping bag in the US (eg in Los Angeles)
19 36 ADDED ADD(L)ED summed up
20 38 TSAMBAS S+AMBA(N)S dances; ambans are Chinese resident officials in a dependency
21 40 PRECEPIT PR+E(X)CEPT commandment; PR = press release; X is the second ‘item’ in ‘extraordinary’
22 42 TUANS UT<+ANS title of respect in Malaya; ut = as
23 43 SCARVES CARE in SS becomes frightened; aboard = in SS (one day it’ll be something else)
24 44 SCION SONIC* offshoot or descendant
25 45 PERILLED RILL in PED formed pellets, eg by melting and solidifying into droplets; ped = mass of soil
26 1 QUACKING C in QUAKING charlatan’s action
27 2 UNSHADOWED (HOW A SUDDEN)* revealed
28 3 ASSAIL AS+SAIL attach; sail = project
29 4 DUAN DU+AN(D) part of a poem
30 5 ATTEST A+T(RAINEE)+TEST join up / enrol
32 7 FINAGLED I+NAG in FLED obtained by guile or swindling; I don’t think I knew it was spelt that way
33 8 ANTS ANTS(Y) insects; ecandate = tailless, but it’s the ‘excited’ that becomes tailless not the insects
34 9 TIN TI+N money; two notes
35 10 HUGS H+UGS skirts; ug = loathe
36 11 SYCE clasSY CEremony Indian groom or attendant
37 14 IDO IDO(L) an international language developed from Esperanto; tre agrabla
38 17 TIRE 2 meanings wear out, and furniture à la Shakespeare
39 18 IMPARLANCE (CRIMEA PLAN)* parleying or conference
40 20 MESS ME+SS haul of fish in the US (eg near Cape Cod); Me is Maine (one of 8 US states beginning with M)
41 21 ESNE SEEN* good old esne, a slave
42 23 SOTADEAN (ONE’S DATA)* relating to Sotades, a lascivious Greek poet
43 24 STRESSED (DESSERT+S)< experienced anxiety
44 26 BIND B+IND chafe
45 30 EASTER E+ASTER an easterner, especially in the US, eg from Boston; aster = old (former) word for star
46 32 EMBAIL EM+BAIL encircle to Spenser; quad = quadrat, a piece of type metal used in spacing words, such as an em or en
47 34 COP 2 meanings get and head
48 35 BATS 2 meanings foreign lingoes and crazy
49 36 APES (T)APE+S(PITE) imitators
50 37 ECCO (S)ECCO there; secco = plain or dry (like wine)
51 39 MULL 2 meanings ponder and crumble
52 41 ROC (C)ROC(K) fabulous bird; crock is a jar, so ‘nesting in a jar’ is an indirect hidden, but pretty easy

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