Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 117 QUO VADIS? BY Charybdis

Posted by Hihoba on April 3rd, 2009


Most of the clues were reasonably straightforward, which was particularly necessary where there were clashes (sometimes multiple ones). Many were really inventive and entertaining.

The puzzle element was considerably less straightforward! We were looking for a choice of “journeys from top left to bottom right”, so it seemed reasonable to expect 1D to be followed by 48A and 1A by 18D. This turned out to be true in the end, but misleading at the start!

 1A 1D gave THE ONE LESS TRAVELED BY and 48A 18D gave MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE. These were quotes from the beautiful and thought-provoking Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken”, the first line and last stanza of which is below.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, . . .

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The clashing letters had to be “resolved in a numerical way” suggested by the final word of the poem – DIFFERENCE. I eventually worked out that this meant that they should be converted into their numeric equivalents (A=1, B=2 etc.) and then the lower subtracted from the higher and the result converted back into a letter. The results are shown below:

 U  N  21 -  14 =  7  G
 X  I  24 -  9 =  15  O
 T  D  20 -  4 =  16  P
 I  A  9 -  1 =  8  H
 L  G  12 -  7 =  5  E
 W  E  23 -  5 =  18  R
 S  A  19 -  1 =  18  R
 R  L  18 -  12 =  6  F
 S  A  19 -  1 =  18  R
 P  A  16 -  1 =  15  O
 T  A  20 -  1 =  19  S
 U  A  21 -  1 =  20  T

So R. FROST was the journeyer and GOPHER (if you look in Chambers) is “yellow-wood (Cladrastis lutea) (US)” – the reminder of the location. The solver is to replace the clashes by the relevant letters of GOPHER and RFROST respectively when entering them in the grid.

Now the journeys appear. Joining TRAVELED BY to  RFROST to MADE ALL THE gives one road from top left to bottom right, THE ONE LESS + GOPHER + DIFFERENCE is the other. The instructions say that we should highlight the journeyer’s “entire route”. We remain uncertain which of the two routes should be highlighted (or indeed should it be both?). Or should we highlight just “THE ONE LESS TRAVELED BY” – the one he actually took? You pays your money and takes your choice, but the rubric is a unclear and hence not entirely fair!

The other clues were normal. I have only commented on the less obvious ones, the ones with clashes and some particularly good ones.

 8  ECU  
 11  ENCASE  In the business for 20 years and never heard of nc as “network connection”. A criticism of Chambers, not Charybdis!
 12  RANKLE  N/U clash. Liked the definition as “Get your goat”!
 13  ASARUM  Root of wild ginger
 15  X-RAY  X/I clash
 16  MUTE  UTE is a pick-up truck in Australia
 17  HITCHED  T/D and E/W clash
 19  EROSIVE  I liked “plastic” as an anagram indicator. 
 20  AMALFI  A/I and L/G clash. IF LAMA reversed
 22  SAWED OFF  Brilliant clue! WE in SAD (joyless) OFF (seedy) meaning squat.
 23  ETESIAN  Isn’t this one of the words NOT to be used in “plain English” now? Means periodical.
 27  DHOTI  (Woul)D + HOT (tropical) + I(ndia) - Indian clothing. Good &lit-ish clue!
 30  SEASIDE  Sounds like CEASE + IDE
 31  BATSMAN  S/A clash. Excellent definition – “he’ll be in”!
 32  DYAD  
 34  YARDARMS  A/S, R/L and A/P clash. Another excellent clue.
 36  RUSE   
 38  TIRO  First letters of “Train in routines + observe”
 39  REDON  Never heard of him, but easy enough to get from [(m)ODERN]*
 40  FLEA  A/U clash. I expected this to be FLEE, and only found that it was FLEA when I did the calculations to get R. FROST! 
 41  IN VAIN  Entertaining wordplay - sounds like “in vEin”!
 42  FEN  
 2  ENAMOR  Roman Polanski
 3  NAUTILI  Lovely clue – sounds like “naughty lie”
 4  LETHEAN  The waters of Lethe caused forgetfulness
 5  ERBIA  A rare oxide – (S)ERBIA
 6  SANDMEN  D/T clash
 7  SUICIDES  U/N, I/X and I/A clash, [ISSUE]* round CID – liked “they do for themselves” as a definition!
 9  CLAW  W/E clash
 10  UEY  Is Charybdis Australian? UEY is a U turn in Sydney – another good clue.
 11  ESPRIT  
 14  RUST  (t)RUST
 21  GOBI  GI round O(ut of) B(ounds)
 22  SALARIED  ALAS reversed + [DIRE]*
 24  STADIUM  A/S and U/E clash. Good anagram.
 25  PERSONA  Speaker in poem – PER (in manner of) + S(peculativeness originally) + ON + (p)A(thways)
 26  ODDS-ON  Excellent clue again. O(ver)D(ose) + DSO (the ZHO – a regular in the Inquisitor for a “cross”) + N
 28  HASSLE  S/A clash. [(c)LASHES]* – liked “frantic” as an anagram indicator.
 29  IMPALA  P/A and A/T clash. IMPAL(e) + A
 32  DERV  Diesel fuel, hidden
 33  AUDIT  
 35  LIEN  L/A clash. Triple clue! Lien is the right to confiscate, and an old word for the spleen, and NEIL reversed!
 36  REAL  
 37  OFF  

9 Responses to “Inquisitor 117 QUO VADIS? BY Charybdis”

  1. HolyGhost says:

    I agree – the rubric was to vague on which cells to highlight. Having decided that only one route should be selected, and that it must connect TL with BR, I plumped for 1d + RFROST + 48a, since that was the journey that RFROST was actually on …

    27a: didn’t like “I” for India;
    40a: also expected FLEE not FLEA.

  2. Hihoba says:

    I think I is alright as it’s the phonetic alphabet I (Alpha Bravo etc). I toyed with “Travelled by R. Frost” as the route!

  3. HolyGhost says:

    Yes, you’re right about “I” – thanks Hihoba

  4. Mike Laws says:

    “6 cells represent the journeyer, whose entire route must be highlighted”. I can’t see how that could refer to anything other then the one he actually appears on, and was in no doubt when I test-solved the puzzle in the first place.

  5. Hihoba says:

    Thanks for your comment Mike. It does not say that the route must be one of the “top left to bottom right” journeys (notice “journey” not route), nor that it should be the one that the journeyer was on and his entire route was “the one less traveled by”. Anyway at least four (three Hihobas and HolyGhost) of your experienced solvers were unsure, so I think that there was a genuine problem!

  6. Ray Folwell says:

    I agree that it was unclear what should be highlighted. “Travelled by R Frost made all the” doesn’t make sense and we were looking for a hidden message somewhere.

  7. deejay says:

    Given the above, I assume most solvers were in a dilemma over what to highlight. For me it wasn’t “route” or “journey” that worried me, but “entire”. His entire route used either all four unclued entries, or as Hihoba says, “the one less travelled by” (two unclued entries that only went half way). In my view, this conflicted with travelling one path. I suppose that aspect of the poem was the dominant theme, so I should have plumped for just the path with R FROST in it … but I didn’t! (Either way, a beautiful poem.)

  8. Chris Poole (charybdis) says:

    Thankyou, Hihoba, for the very kind report – only just seen.
    Re 40A (FLEA/FLEA), FLEA is indicated by the clue yet FLEE (as a clash moreover) was required and this was an embarrassingly stupid error on my part. My apologies to all solvers.
    I hadn’t anticipated difficulties finding R.Frost’s journey though. Oh,well.
    The preamble states “The grid represents a choice of journeys from top left to bottom right of the grid via the four unclued grid entries. … six cells represent the journeyer – whose entire route must be highlighted. The other six cells … act as a reminder of the location.”
    The sense of the poem is that if you choose one road (as you always must) the other remains untrod. The journey is the one on which R.Frost can be found.
    Looking back on it, perhaps I should have come up with a grid where the destinations don’t meet up (rather than a kind of loop). This might avoid any ambiguity – or would it?! :-)

  9. Chris Poole (charybdis) says:

    … or, much better, if I’d stated “… via TWO OF THE four unclued grid entries.”

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