Posted by Colin Blackburn on December 5th, 2008
Schadenfreude usually fills me with a mild dread. He can produce some very tough puzzles in the Listener series and so I was expecting a tougher than usual Inquisitor. The title, at the moment, doesn’t suggest anything but the puzzle number, 100, might lead to a theme. The recent Listener 4000 was cause for a celebratory theme so why not Inquisitor 100?
The Carte Blanche grid and the short preamble suggests a fairly straightforward puzzle but a quick check of the enumerations hints at a little more complexity. My usual approach to a blank grid is to identify the division between the across and down clues. So, if, as here, the first four across answers are 6, 5, 7 and 9 letters in length respectively then the last four across answers will be 9, 7, 5 and 6. Unfortunately that pattern doesn’t occur! Also, the last few down answers will normally be short and so the last four being 5, 4, 7 and 4 just isn’t right. That 7 is too long! The conclusion is that some answers must be modified before being entered if the 180 degree symmetry is to hold.
Given this, my approach is to cold solve as many clues as possible and then return to looking at how the grid can be filled later. Luckily the cluing is fair and many of the clues are relatively easy. Before too long I have about half of the answers and importantly the two 11 letter answers that must be long down answers more-or-less at either side of the grid. What I also notice is that I have ZERO-RATED and SUBZERO and that both of these are answers with enumerations that don’t quite work. And, 100 is one-zero-zero. Et voila, change the ZERO to a single character, 0, and the enumerations start to look right.
I now take a punt at the grid. Almost every answer I have fits and filling in the bars lets me attack some of the as yet unsolved clues. It turns out the the two zeros don’t check with each other but that two words ending in ONE do to give me 100 on the bottom row as central as it can be in a 12×12 grid. I am also able now to see the unclued across answer and as I fill in a few checking letters the name TORQUEMADA suggests itself. Torquemada was the top bod in the Spanish Inquisition, and as such an inquisitor. Torquemada is also the pseudonym of the first setter of the Observer’s barred crossword series, preceding Ximenes and Azed (Ximenes and Deza were also inquisitors). Replacing TORQUEMADA with INQUISITOR results in all the checking words being transformed into different words. The grid now shows INQUISITOR 100 and I ASK YOU! makes sense, finally.
Absolutely superb puzzle: great theme simply done, fair and clever clues, and a lovely denouement that not only celebrates a milestone in this series but also gives a nod back to the grandfather of the thematic cryptic crossword puzzle.
My one gripe is not with Schadenfreude but with the Independent’s “designers”. Why was the grid striped? I could see no thematic reason and yet I spent some time thinking about its relevance considering that colouring has been used before as a thematic device.
I have added in the standard numbering for convenience though this was not required for the solution. The final grid entries are in blue, below the clue answers.
X-Z extreme letters
|1||ACCOST||A C COST||see = C, a = afternoon. ACCOST = hail.|
|6||DORPS||D OR P-S||a Dutch or S African village.|
|10||SHAHADA||HAS* HAD A||the Islamic declaration of faith. Vagrant here is used as the anagrind.|
|12||MISHANDLE||M IS HANDLE||excellent clue. Fluff, reasonably up-cased for the surface reading, means to make a mistake, in sport, musical or dramatic performance, etc. Here the sporting use can mean mishandle as a rugby player might with a ball.|
|13||ERRANDS||ER RAN D’S||simple but effective.|
|15||KEEN||K EEN||een is the plural of ee, a Scots word meaning eye. I was surprised to find that KEEN means wonderful, chiefly US slang apparently.|
|20||TENURE||T ENURE||ebure is a legal term meaning to come into operation or effect.|
|21||EIDER||E[ID]ER||EIDER is a sea duck, its down used for quilts and the like.|
|23||ARTIE||AR TIE||Artie Shaw, aka Arthur Jacob Arshawsky, was an American jazz clarinetist who died in 2004.|
|25||ANNONA||A (ANON N)<||I think I have this right. A = are, then ANON = after, N = November (phonetic alphabet) both coming back.|
|26||BOND STREET||BOND’S TREE T||tree = corner as a verb, though I can’t quite imagine a usage. T = the.|
|29||NAOS||SO[A]N<||a NAOS is a temple, son = disciple.|
|31||SENARII||(A RISE IN)*||a senarius is a verse of six iambs.|
|33||ENRHEUMED||(M NUDE HERE)*||Mike = M, a phonetic alphabet again. Having just had a cold I guess I was at some point ENRHEUMED!|
|34||BRANSLE||BARN* ELS<||the only crossword golfer! A BRANSLE is an old French dance.|
|CH E LONE||ch = check in chess.|
|ZERO TRADE*||ZERO-RATED goods have a VAT rate of 0% applied, technically different to goods that are not rated for VAT and are thus VAT-free.|
|1||ASCERTAINED||(N RACE DATE IS)*|
|C[H]ARTER||President (Jimmy) Carter is now one of The Elders trying to sort out the problems in Zimbabwe.|
|C[AIR]O||CAIRO is quite big!|
|4||SAIN||SA[I]N||san = sanatorium. SAIN is to make the sign of the cross over, a new one on me.|
|5||DAHS||SHAD<||a da or dah is a Burmese knife.|
|6|| DEAR ME
|(MOREBREAD – ROB)*||the first of two composite anagrams: this is the clue can be substituted with the answer to balance out the anagram. The definition is crumbs!|
|7||OINK||O[I N]K||Anthony is the smallest pig in a litter.|
|RODE D||rode, as a verb, is a flight a woodcock takes in the evening.|
|PALE A[t]||PALEA is a scale in botany.|
|11||CENTRALISED||CREDENTIALS*||excellent clean anagram.|
|DUE T S||t and s are abbreviations for tenor and soprano respectively. It makes for an excellent clue.|
|E L ATE||ate = worried|
|22||ENTITLE||E N TITLE||excellent clue using nicely distanced meanings of title and ENTITLE.|
|EDGE BON E||the aitchbone, the cut of beef over this bone in the rump of a cow.|
|26||BANDH||B AND H||a Hindi word for a general strike, excellent word play.|
|27||OORIE||O[O]R IE||OR = other ranks, OORIE is a lovely Scots word for dreary, shabby, dingy, etc.|
|28||ERNST||ER[N]ST||Max Ernst was a Dadaist and early Surrealist artist.|
|30||SHUL||SH U-L||a synagogue|
|(MYBOOZECRUISES – SOMEICY)||again, substitute this with the answer to resolve the anagram.|