Never knowingly undersolved.

Beelzebub 989 (01/02/09)

Posted by Simon Harris on February 6th, 2009

Simon Harris.

Hello again, everyone. I’d like to re-introduce Beelzebub to Fifteensquared, as I think it’s a splendid – yet often overlooked – crossword.

For the uninitiated, Beelzebub is published in the Independent on Sunday’s “The New Review” supplement each week. It’s a barred crossword, not unlike Azed or Mephisto. Like those puzzles, Beelzebub is hard, and its hardness stems from the depth of general knowledge or research involved in solving it, rather than complex rules and chicanery. Clueing, while tough, seems to be entirely Ximenean, and the barred grid makes the puzzle just about manageable.

Given the challenging nature of the puzzle, I’m not entirely certain of every answer here – the SE corner was particular shaky for me – so do please feel free to help out in the comments.

*=anag, []=dropped, <=reversed, hom=homophone, cd=cryptic definition, dd=double definition.

1 TATI – [-levi]TATI[-on]. Jacques Tati, noted French comic actor and filmmaker, 1907-1982.
4 SPHYGMUS – SUPS< “without” (GYM + H)*.
10 URANOMETRY – the measurement of the positions of heavenly bodies. The wordplay here eludes me for the time being.
11 ATIVAN – V (vide) + A in (A TIN). Another brand name of Lorazepam, a hefty sedative.
13 VESPA – [-mo]VES PA[-cily].
14 KORNGOLD – wonderful clue. K + OR + N + GOLD. Erich Wolfgang Korngold, composer, 1897-1957.
15 FLOR – L in FOR, &lit. Flor is a film of yeast which is, quite literally, “left in” Sherry during production to “enhance” its “taste”.
17 FARAD – FAR + AD, and the SI unit of capacitance.
20 TSARITSA – (A STIR + AS + T)<.
22 NEEDY – (E + ED) in NY.
23 OBIT – OB (Off-Broadway – “by the way”) + IT.
25 TARSIERS – (AR[-e] + S[-it]) in TIERS. The Tarsier is a tiny South-East Asian primate, often said to be the “world’s smallest monkey”, whilst not actually being a monkey at all.
27 IRENE – [-ca]IRENE.
28 MISSEE – I’m not confident of this one at all. PASSEE seemed more likely until 21 dropped in.
29 FOISONLESS – wonderful. (FOSSILS ONE)*. “Foison” is Scots for strength or power, so this is “Sandy’s feeble”, on the assumption that people named Sandy tend to speak Scots.
30 GRABBERS – GABBERS “about” R (recipe).
31 YEST – YES + [-compos]T, and an archaic (“old”) spelling of “yeast” (“fungus”).
1 TUAN – A “tucking into” TUN. “Tuan” seems to be a Malay word meaning “lord” or “master”, as in Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad, where Jim becomes “Tuan Jim”.
2 TAINO – hom. of “Thai? No!” and plausibly &lit, the Taino being an extinct Caribbean tribe, and therefore “not at all” from South-East Asia.
5 HEUREKAS – (HERE UKS)* “without” A.
7 MYSORE – MY + SORE. Mysore being all of a city, district and division of India.
8 UNPLAUSIVE – PUN* + VISUAL< + [-scen]E.
9 SRADDHA – this appears to be an alternate spelling of Shraddha, a Hindu rite whereby offerings of worship and food are made to the departed.
12 TALEBEARER – (E + BEAR) in TALER. “Taler” were various silver coins issued in Germany from the 15th to the 19th century.
16 DISPENSE – DIE “carrying” (S + PENS).
18 BANTING – BANG “suppressing” TIN, &lit. The Banting Diet was an early, low-carbohydrate, fad diet, and hence a precursor to the F-Plan.
19 TEREFA – REF in TEA. An alternate spelling of “terefah”, being any food or food-preparation equipment not conforming to the dietary laws of Kashrut.
21 ROSINS – I’m not certain of this one, but it seems to be OR< + SINS. “Rosin” being “applied” by violin “players” to their bows.
24 BESEE – again, I’m a bit shaky here. I think this is ES in BEE, as in “spelling bee”. “Besee” seems to be an archaic word relating to one’s appearance, and perhaps therefore to one’s apparel.
26 ZEST – [-gra]ZES T[-he], and a nice easy one to finish with!

4 Responses to “Beelzebub 989 (01/02/09)”

  1. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    I hardly ever get a Sunday Indie, but Beelzebub deserves blogging, so well done. If the setters are still Paul Henderson (Phi) and Colin Gumbrell (Columba), you can expect Ximenean clues all the way. I think Phi does 75% and Columba 25%, but I could be wrong about that.

  2. eimi says:

    That’s still correct, Peter.

  3. Phi says:

    Nice to see Beelzebub back (but I would say that, wouldn’t I?). This was one of mine, and you had me perplexed for a minute, so it may be worthwhile restating that Chambers is the standard reference here as well as for other barred puzzles. Fossicking around in dusty corners of Chambers is still part of the game, therefore.

    That being so, you’d find OB is ‘by the way’ as an abbreviation in its own right (short for ‘obiter’), though your idea is nice. URANOMETRY + POS(T) anagrams to PURE ASTRONOMY, and MISSEE is miss ee & lit (‘ee’ for ‘errors excepted’ is another obscure Chambers abbreviation, but I have at least seen it used).

  4. Simon Harris says:

    Thanks gentlemen – I couldn’t have hoped for three more eminent commenters on my inaugural Beelzebub outing!

    Onwards and upwards, and Chambers it is from now on – thanks Phi.