Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 128 — An Important Distinction by Obtrox

Posted by Colin Blackburn on June 19th, 2009

Colin Blackburn.

This one was mixed bag for me. I found some of it relatively tough for an Inquisitor. The tough parts were the down clues. With the wordplay providing two extra letters I found myself getting half of the answers from definition and checking letters only. In some cases this left big gaps in my understanding of the wordplay and some of the extra letters missing. Luckily the across clues were relatively easy and so there were plenty of checking letters to help with the downs. Once I cracked the quotation I was able to go back and re-examine the wordplay, even then there were still some tough ones. I found it interesting how much harder two extra letters was over just a single extra letter.

The extra letters spelled out: “Worth seeing, yes. But not worth going to see. Samuel Johnson.” Johnson is claimed to have said this of The Giant’s Causeway, a spectacular geological feature of the County Antrim coast. I disagree with Johnson on this one. The causeway is a series of over 40,000 basalt columns stretching out into the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal in cross-section, but not all, they range from 4 to 8 sides.

The final part of the puzzle was to highlight 18 squares in the grid. It seemed crucial that the empty central square would be and that the shape would be a hexagon. There were 17 letters in THE GIANT’S CAUSEWAY so with the empty square that makes 18. It turns out that from the first square of 4d the phrase can be traced as a clockwise hexagon, each side of four cells. My only gripe with this part is that the empty square coincided with the apostrophe. This left me feeling a little uneasy as to whether the punctuation character should be inserted (against convention) even though this wasn’t suggested by the preamble. I would have been happier had the empty cell sat between the final Y and the initial T.

(XY Z)* anagram
X[Y]Z insertion
X[y]Z deletion
ZYX< reversal
uvwXY Zabc hidden answer
X.Y.Z. alternate letters or initialisation

1 ARMY fARMYard nice simply hidden clue to kick off with, except I failed to read ‘carts’ as the inclusion indicator until way in to the puzzle.
8 MANIA MAN [I] A ref. Isle of Man.
13 COATEE CO[A TE[e]]E ref. Seb(astian) Coe, politician or great middle-distance runner depending on your era. ‘Athletic support’ for (golf) tee is a bit cheeky.
15 SNARE SNAR[k] E E = base, in fact any number can be a base of logarithms, e just happens to be a really useful one. The fabled creature is from Lewis Carroll’s, The Hunting of the Snark.
17 EN RAPPORT (RAPPER NOT)* a French phrase from Chambers meaning, “in close touch or harmony”.
18 ASIDES AS IDES the Ides fall on the 15th day of March, May, July, October, and the 13th of the other months. Asides are words spoken by an actor that other characters on stage do not hear, something like a thought bubble I guess.
22 GLUING GLU[IN]G in is an old word for inn, it seems odd inn being in the clue rather some other word like tavern or pub.
25 ETCHERS [k]ETCHE[R]S a ketch is a small sailing vessel.
29 ACCRETE AC CRETE AC = alternating current. Crete is the second island of the puzzle.
31 MENACE MEN A.C.E. initials of ‘and chemical effluent’.
32 HALYARD HAL DRAY< a purchase in the sense of a grip.
33 DRESSY D[[p]RESS]Y DY is the IVR for Benin from its previous name of Dahomey. A press is a bookcase.
36 MIDWINTER (TIMID WREN)* lovely anagram and indicator.
37 NIGER GIN< [m]ER[e] looking two clues up the River Niger forms part of the border between Benin and Niger.
41 LAYMAN [Lc]AYMAN excellent clue. A cayman is a small crocodile.
42 ENEMY YEMEN* very true surface.
43 FANG FAN G a fan can be anything spreading in a fan shape, a bird’s wing or tail, say.
1 WO ACREAGE A CREW AGO E ago = gone.
2 RT ROW RR TOW RR = Rolls Royce = roller.
5 IN HEAPS HE A PIN ‘S pin = leg.
6 GY EUROPE E GUYROPE it took me ages to see this one even when I had the extra letters.
7 ES AGERATUM EAGERS A TUM eager = tidal bore (same as eagre).
9 BU AIDA BA[I]D AU I didn’t know that aida is a fine-meshed cotton fabric.
10 TN NEITHER NET IT HERN hern is a heron, though the online Chambers doesn’t give it as poetic.
11 OT ISOMERIC I[SOT O]M ERIC I’m not 100% certain here. SOT is an old word for fool but Chambers gives the impression that it means foolish person, stupid with drink, rather than a fruit fool. See comments below, wordplay is: I[SOOT]M ERIC.
12 WO ATTAR A TWO T A R excellent use of Otto as a name in the surface. Otto is attar, an oil made from the damask rose.
21 HG THANE TH[HANG]E hang = stick as in something like wallpaper. I initially had ‘cane’ but CE didn’t really help with the quotation.
23 OI LOCATION OIL [av]OCATION this had me for a while as I was trying to see how to take V off of vocation, a calling. I was convinced there was something missing from the clue to indicate the second of Avril. It turns out that avocation is a legal word for the calling of a case to a higher court and Av. is an abbreviation for Avril.
24 NG G-STRING GST RING N GS GST = goods and services tax (in Australia), GS = General Secretary.
26 TO CLERICAL (TOC I RECALL)* I’m not sure what Toc’ is in the surface here.
27 SE ECLOGUE COLE* SEGUE segue is a musical direction, an eclogue is a short pastoral poem.
28 ES KEY RING K(EYE SR)ING Sr = Sir (not much of an abbreviation).
33 LJ DWELL LD W JELL LD = Lady Day which is the 25 March, the day of the annunciation of the Virgin. I think it’s also a traditional day to pay rent, but that might just be The Archers.
34 OH STOMA S.O.H.T.O.M.A. initial letters of the last 7 words of the clue.

9 Responses to “Inquisitor 128 — An Important Distinction by Obtrox”

  1. Hihoba says:

    I agree with your comment about the two missing letters. It really made the down clues MUCH more difficult. I put the apostrophe in the middle square without giving it too much thought, but, like you, EUROPE was my last solved clue.
    I found it very entertaining, but took some time to find the quotation, despite finding the author pretty quickly. I was slowed down somewhat by looking for Doctor or Dr rather than SAMUEL!
    Finally, HALYARD is a sailing term for a rope (aka purchase), not to do with grip, I think.

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    Re HALYARD. Chambers does not, as far as I can see, give purchase = rope. It does say that halyard = ‘rope or purchase’. I thus understood purchase here in the sense of a grip on something like a rope rather than the most obvious meaning of purchase.

  3. HolyGhost says:

    In 11d, I think that the wordplay is I’M around SOOT (=sweet, obs.) + ERIC (=man), with the OT to go.

    I too initially had CANE at 21d. And I felt there were rather too many three letter words with 2 letters to be removed, e.g. 5d PIN for “leg” produced just P in the entry.

  4. Colin Blackburn says:

    Re 11d, thanks for the correction. I’ve just looked at my original notes and I had SOOT rather than SOT O. When I checked Chambers as I typed up the blog I failed to find sweet under soot but I didn’t check soot(2) for some reason.

  5. nmsindy says:

    Enjoyable puzzle, where I thought the clues were fairly easy overall. Took me quite a while to find what to highlight and it was a nice PDM when I did.

  6. Gareth Rees says:

    I disagree with Johnson on this one.

    It’s probably a bit easier to get there now than it was in the 1770s!

  7. Hihoba says:

    A purchase in sailing (Naval) terminology is a rope or rope + block and tackle for raising a yard (hence ha(u)l-yard) carrying a sail. Nowadays sails rarely have yards, but the term halyard has persisted for a rope used to raise anything, particularly sails and flags. I’m really unclear that purchase has much to do with the word grip – naval terms often get totally divorced from their original meanings!
    Interested in the last comment. I’ve never been, and want to, so ease of access would be a definite plus!

  8. HolyGhost says:

    Colin’s gives the wordplay for 13a as CO[A TE[e]]E and comments on ‘Athletic support’ for (golf) tee being cheeky. I think a better reading is CO[e] A TEE, with the “a third off” leading to CO[e] and the A being an abbreviation of “athletic”.

  9. Colin Blackburn says:

    Hihoba: I’m sure you are right but as I said there is no mention of purchase = rope in Chambers.

    HolyGhost: Yours is probably a better reading. ‘gets’ isn’t a strong inclusion indicator.

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