Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 863 – To Its Great Credit by Shark

Posted by Gaufrid on May 29th, 2009


This one took me far longer than it should have done! Having fairly confidently put in ‘garnet’ for 36a (though not too happy about cage=net), I had the grid complete, including nine clashes, with the exception of 11d which looked as if it had to be ‘girl’, but I could not see how this could be obtained from the clue. Much head-scratching, followed by a decision to have a break from the puzzle.

After a night’s sleep I returned to the puzzle and fairly quickly parsed 11d which meant that 36a had to be wrong. Once this was corrected, examining the clashes revealed the theme. ‘Wimbledon’ appeared clockwise in the clashes, starting at the one in 25a/4d. The clashes could now be resolved and an oval (closed curve) drawn through the appropriate squares, which I assumed at the time represented an outline of the Centre Court. For symmetry, this had to pass through the ‘P’ in 22d which the preamble indicated was the person’s initial.

Given the title and the initial ‘P’, my immediate thought was Pete Sampras. However, common sense told me that a seven letter word could not be entered symmetrically in a 12×12 grid but I had a (rather lengthy) look anyway. There was nothing obvious so time to think again.

Why should a Wimbledon themed crossword appear in May rather than at the end of June? I could think of a couple of possibilities, firstly the puzzle was published on the same day as the inauguration of the new roof on Centre Court and secondly the following day (18th May) was the centenary of the birth of Fred Perry.

The latter seemed more likely as a theme but surely his initial was ‘F’ not ‘P’ and how could ‘Perry’ be entered symmetrically? It soon became clear that the last British men’s singles champion’s name did indeed appear in the grid. ‘Fred’ diagonally NE from 38 and ‘Perry’ diagonally SW from the end of 22. The ‘initial of the person’ in the preamble meant the initial letter of his surname, not his actual initial. A little unfair perhaps?

The ‘symmetrical name’ in the preamble was also somewhat misleading in that symmetry was only obtained in conjunction with the ‘closed curve’. When the highlighted name was added to the curve the outline of a tennis racket (the thematic shape) was obtained. So the initial oval had nothing to do with Centre Court and the inauguration of its new roof on the day the puzzle was published was presumably a coincidence, unless the date for the inauguration had been specifically chosen to commemorate Fred Perry’s centenary.

A cleverly constructed puzzle and (eventually) an enjoyable solve despite the ambiguities in the preamble. Now if only I hadn’t been misled into looking for Sampras …..

*(XXX) – anagram
[x] – letter(s) removed/unused
{XXX} – answer before clashes resolved

1 EQUIPROPABFE {EQUIPROBABLE}  EQUIP (fit out) AB (sailor) L (left) in ROBE (dressing gown)
9 SUBGUU {SUBGUM}  SUB (substitute) GUM (sticky substance)
10 BANDOG  BAN (curse) DOG (inferior)
12 CAFARD  A F[ootball] in CAR (Charles) D (day)
13 MEISHI  *(I[r]ISHME[n])
16 DVAZO {DIAZO}  hidden in ‘meDIA ZOnes’
17 AIDE  AID (helper) [telephon]E
19 IDLY  IDYL (American poem) with L moved – depending on how one reads the clue the answer could also be IDYL – IDLY (uselessly) with L moved. There is no way of determining which is correct because the last letter is one of the clashes and so unchecked.
20 REVUE  [p]REVUE (American trailer)
22 SEMSEMS  M (minute) in *(MESSES)
25 BRINJAL  NJ (New Jersey) in B (British) RIAL (royal no longer)
26 AMAZE  [l]AMAZE (childbirth technique)
28 REDD  hidden in ‘collaRED Dove’
31 USRIP {UNRIP}  R[um] in U (university) NIP (tot)
34 EMOVE  E (earth) MOVE (travel)
35 FRORNE  FR (French) ORNE (river that flows through Caen)
36 PARPEN  PAR (fish) PEN (cage)
37 FARDEL  FARD (paint) EL (railway)
38 AIRWAY  YAW (deviate) RIA (drowned valley) reversed
39 XYLOBALSAMUM  XY (variables) LO (behold) BALSA (raft) MUM (mother)

2 QUAKIER  QUA (in the capacity of) KIER (bleaching vat)
3 IGAD  I GAD (wander about)
4 PURVIEJ {PURVIEW}  PUR (jack) VIEW (field of sight)
5 RUDAS  *(RAD[i]US)
6 PAEON  PA (Pascal) E (energy) ON
7 ANIMISM  *(SIMIAN M[onkey])
8 FOHN  N (north) HOF (German manor) reversed
11 GILY {EILD}  [v]EIL (cover topless) D (daughter) – or GILL, see 19a
14 SIDEARM  DEAR (cherished) in MIS (notes) reversed
15 CD VIDEO  VIDE (consult) in *(DOC)
18 MEL  ME[a]L (absent from breakfast perhaps)
22 SAP  hidden in ‘diSAPpeared’
23 MAUVAIS  MA (mother) UVA (berry) IS (island)
24 MZINEAU {MOINEAU}  O (old) in MINE (excavate) AU (gold)
27 EPONYM  PONY (animal) in EM (space)
28 RUFF  dd
29 DENEB  BENED[ict] (newly-wed not in court) reversed
30 COPAL  C (cloudy) OPAL (type of glass)
32 SERRA  S[aint] E[lias] R[ange] R[ise] A[loft]
33 PRAY  R (take) in PAY (wages)

5 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 863 – To Its Great Credit by Shark”

  1. Simon Harris says:

    I thought that this was rather wonderful. To my shame I hadn’t tackled an EV before, and really enjoyed this one, depite it taking up most of the week!

  2. Dave Hennings says:

    I found this quite a tricky puzzle, especially the top right corner. Fred Perry took me a while to find as well, with the ‘symmetrical’ aspect successfully confusing me. And I found drawing the head of the racket through the nine squares awkward … in the end mine looked as though it had been broken in several places!

  3. Shark says:

    Thank you for your comments, you may have noticed that this was my début in the EV series. The puzzle was indeed meant to celebrate the birth centenary of Fred J Perry. His name is in fact symmetrical as it includes his middle initial.

    The ambiguities have arisen as the published preamble was not the one I wrote. All the clashes are different (jw/vi/um/pb/fl/ge/yd/zo/sn) meaning IDYL could not have been the entry as it would double up with the L in Wimbledon. I had also stated “surname” in my preamble.

    The completed grid also contained every letter of the alphabet apart from the letter T, which is the first and last letter of tennis racket. I wanted this written beneath the grid, but they did not allow it.

    EILD may have had too many unches but it included 2 letters from Wimbledon, so I thought that was fair.

    Lastly, the grid would have been completely 180 degree symmetrical if they allowed the pluralised form of aidos = aidoi. Unfortunately it is not directly specified in any dictionary except the search facility of Chambers CD ROM.

    I enjoyed compiling this and I am glad many enjoyed solving it. Hopefully I will be back with my next effort soon


  4. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks for the explanations. I thought this might have been your first EV but wasn’t sure enough to mention it. I should have realised the unique answer for 19a but by the time I eventually solved 11d I was wanting to make progress with the theme.

    I should also have paid more attention to the ‘symmetrical name’ in the preamble but as I didn’t know that Fred Perry’s middle name was John the J would probably still have eluded me.

    Thanks for an enjoyable puzzle. I look forward to solving your next challenge.

  5. Dave Hennings says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Shark. I guess that means that highlighting just FRED PERRY, which I shaded distinct from the closed line, would be marked wrong! If you were talking about him, you might call him just Fred, but I think you’d say Frederick J; referring to him as Fred J would sound a bit naff!

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