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Inquisitor 133 – ODDS AND ENDS by Tipster

Posted by HolyGhost on July 24th, 2009


Another new blogger … and a new setter to boot – double whammy? (I’ll be walking in the Pyrenees when this should come out, so no response from me anytime soon.)
The entry in the bottom row is unclued, and answers to seven down clues are entered thematically; the wordplay in each of fourteen across clues has an extra letter, spelling out a relevant question. We have to work out what the unclued entry in the bottom row is, complete it, and finally highlight in the completed grid three alternative titles for the puzzle (10; 14, two words; 5).

The top half was fairly orthodox, but the bottom half was more of a problem; however, given that exactly seven down entries intersected the bottom row, all the action seemed to be downstairs. A reconsideration of RANINE (35d) and WELTERWEIGHT (18d) was confirmed by AIR FREIGHT (26d), and it becoming apparent that NINE –> 9, EIGHT –> 8, etc. I toyed with a cricket (Ashes?) theme, but DASH –> (from 28d) and ONE –> 1 (from 37d) seemed likely to lead to ODDS with the ENDS of those seven down answers being entered thematically … and calculating the odds against winning the 49-ball UK national lottery as 1 in 49!/(43!6!) yielded the unclued entry.

What to highlight, given that titles are usually be elliptical? I settled on FORTY-NINER at 2a (49 balls in the UK lottery), CALCULATED RISK at 14a and part of 24d (obvious, when I eventually noticed it), and LOTTO part of 9d (clued explicitly as a different game of chance in the wordplay) … but with some residual uncertainty. (Marginal confirmatory evidence from the order given in the rubric: 10; 14, two words; 5.)

PS The question turned out to be What would you do?, which didn’t really help me. But the word separation was echoed by the ordinary across clues, so a bonus point for Tipster.

No. Answer Extra
2 FORTY-NINER [TRY-ON]* in FINER (=magistrate, perhaps?)
10 SURGEON W SURGE (=rush) + WON (=reached)
11 EXUL H HEX (=jinx) + U(niversity) + L(ecturer)
12 OGEN A O(rdinary) + GEAN (=fruit)
13 ROTOLO T TROT (=jog) + O(scar) + LO (=see)
14 CALCULATED CU (=copper) in CALLA (=lily) + TED (=unruly lad)
19 THIRST W R(ight) + ST(reet) (=way) after [WITH]*
20 DIET O DIE (=end) before TO
21 ERSE U SURE (=certain) rev. + E(uropean)
22 LOBO L L(eft) before OBOL (=old Greek bread {i.e. money})
24 FARO D FAD (=brief craze) + OR rev.
25 LEAR LEAR(n) (=teach illiterate {i.e. non-standard})
27 AS IF Y AY (=always) + SIF(t) (=riddle)
30 RABATO O BAR (=lawyers) rev. + A(merican) + TOO (=as well)
32 PIETRA DURA U PIU (=more) + EXTRA (=more) – X (=unknown) + DU(tch) + RA (=Royal Academician =artist)
34 SCURRY S(econds) + CURRY (=takeaway?)
36 ONST D ON (=operating) + STD (=telephone system)
38 KYRA O OK (=all right) + Y(ounge)R + A(dult)
{ARTEGAL: ref. Spenser’s “Faerie Queen”}
40 13983816–1 {see preamble}
No. Answer Themed
1 PSOCID S(on) in PO (=stolid) + CID (=detectives)
2 FUG GUF(f) (=nonsense) rev.
3 OR ELSE MORE (=extra) – M (=thousand) + LSE (=college)
4 TEGU Hidden: (h)UGE T(ree) rev.
5 YODLER (d)YER (=one colouring) around [OLD]*
7 NET TEN (=X) rev.
8 RULES Double definition (=Australian rules football)
9 BLOTTO B(ook) + LOTTO (=bingo)
15 APIA A + PIA (=tropical plant)
{APIA: ref. capital of Samoa}
16 EILAT TALE (=story) rev. around I (=one)
17 STOAI SAI (=monkey) around TO (=before)
18 WELTERWEIGHT 8 [WE’RE LET]* in WIGHT (=fellow, archaic)
23 BIRR Double definition
24 FRISKY FRI(day) + SKY (=TV channel)
26 AIR FREIGHT 8 A1 (=first-class) + [REF]* in RIGHT (=appropriate)
28 SWUNG DASH S(econd) + WASH (=marsh) around GNU (=antelope) rev. + D(rought)
29 FLATLY FLY (=rush) around LAT (=column)
31 ALCYONE 1 C(ount)Y in ALONE (=solitary)
{ALCYONE: ref. Greek mythology}
33 ASTONE 1 AS TO (=regarding) + NE (=north-east =Newcastle area)
35 RANINE 9 R(ight) + (c)ANINE (=tooth)
37 SAONE 1 SAE ({abbr.}=enclosure prepared) around ON (=subject to)

20 Responses to “Inquisitor 133 – ODDS AND ENDS by Tipster”

  1. Simon Harris says:

    Welcome, and great work on blogging what was probably the toughest Inquisitor for some time. I settled on the same alternative titles as you.

    I suspect we’ll find that “Tipster” is not a new setter, rather a thematic pseudonym for someone we know quite well.

  2. IanN14 says:

    I really liked this.
    Took a while to finish it, but was inspired by meeting the setter a few days after it was published (although, in his defence, he gave me no clues).
    “What would you do?” is the current advertising slogan for the Lottery.
    I thought “swung dash” was genius.

  3. Hihoba says:

    Got almost all the way there but failed at the last hurdle, never spotting the lottery theme! Well done HolyGhost! Nice blog, and welcome to our little club!

  4. kenmac says:

    Oops! I believe that HolyGhost has 40a) wrong. :(

    There is a subtle difference between chance and odds. The chance of winning the major prize in the lottery is 1 in 13,983,816 but the odds against you winning are 13,983,815 to 1.

    I think that 40a) should be 13983815–1

  5. pat says:

    I enjoyed this enormously, and like IanN14, thought SWUNG DASH was brilliant. I also agree with kenmac that 40 ac must be 13983815-1, and I think Tipster hinted that there might be an elephant trap lurking when saying that solvers must complete it “accurately” in the preamble.

    A terrific puzzle.

  6. Colin Blackburn says:

    I didn’t see the original puzzle for this one. Was the 5 (or 6) unchecked? It would seem to me that the distinction between probability and odds is a subtle one, as kenmac say. Could a solver without some mathematical knowledge be expected to distinguish between the two even given the “accurately” in the preamble. Or, am I missing a key part of the puzzle given that all I know is what’s in this blog?

    Excellent debut, HolyGhost.

  7. pat says:

    Colin, the 5 (or 6) was unchecked, and you aren’t missing anything. I’m not sure if it’s a question of mathematical knowledge, exactly, but all sorts of crosswords require expertise of many different types to complete them , so even if it were I don’t see that it should matter.

    The point, as kenmac says, is that probability and odds are expressed in different ways. A 1 in 4 probability (chances of happening in total number of possibilities) has odds of 3-1 (chances of not happening – chances of happening), and the dash, and the title of “Odds and Ends”, makes it very clear which is being asked for.

    It’s certainly a subtle point for a daily newspaper crossword, but it’s undeniably there, and answers which have a 6 are technically wrong. Whether they are accepted is another matter, which doesn’t bother me at all

  8. Mike Laws says:

    Simon’s suspicion was right. Tipster was a pseudonym I used ages ago for quick crosswords in the short-lived Channel 4 Racing magazine, and it seemed appropriate to revive it for this occasion.

    I’m sorry about the 6/5 confusion. I’m afraid I’m being credited with too much deviousness – I simply calculated the odds on a bit of pwper (then checked on a calculator), arrived at 13,983,816, and put it in. In defence, I can only say that the puzzle was test-solved by one of the Listener editors, and although his report was incredibly detailed, he put in the 6 without the slightest quibble, as, I suspect, the vast majority of solvers will have done – especially those who just googled it!

    Thanks for the kind comments. I almost regretted putting SWUNG DASH in – it was a pig to clue, but obviously worth persevering with.

  9. qadzbork says:

    1. 0/10 for the clue to 2D. I spent several hours with FAG as the answer, which, in these smokeless days, fits the clue perfectly.
    2. 13983816 is simply WRONG. The odds are 13983815 to 1. Does Laws think that even money is one chance in one?
    3. The wording of the clue at 27A could lead to either the “T” or “Y” being extraneous.
    4. A really ingenious concept, completely ruined by a mathematical ignoramus.

  10. IanN14 says:

    In what way was it ruined for you?
    I presume you put in the answer 13983815-1? In which case you got it right.
    If the setter hadn’t owned up to his oversight, you’d have been none the wiser.

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Welcome to 15². I’m sorry to say that your first comment at this site seems rather negative though I am not doubting the validity of your feelings.

    I cannot comment on your observations #1 & 3 because I have not seen the clues, and #2 has already been covered. However, I would say that your comment #4 is unacceptable. In my opinion it is in breach of the site’s discussion policy with respect to ‘insulting comments’.

    As this is the first comment you have posted, I have not simply removed the offending text but I would ask that you show a little more respect for setters, and other participants at this site, in the future.

  12. Gaufrid says:

    Sorry, my error, this was your third comment not the first (you have changed your email address which led to an incomplete search result). However, my observations still stand.

  13. kenmac says:

    OK. Having started this debate I feel obliged to butt in again. I didn’t just Google it, I went to the (occasionally questionable) fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia: where, if you do a find on “odds” you’ll find the “5” version. Since the puzzle was entitled “Odds and Ends” this implies that we were looking for the odds. Hopefully the published solution will contain a disclaimer explaining the ambiguity or, in the light of new evidence, will the editor disallow “6” versions?

  14. qadzbork says:

    …aye, and what will the prize solution be..?

  15. Rosemary says:

    Speaking only as a solver, not a setter, I would also take exception to qadzbork’s third criticism:
    “The wording of the clue at 27A could lead to either the “T” or “Y” being extraneous.”

    This is why it’s called a puzzle: the clues and the string you get from the extraneous letters are just two of the aspects that add up to a complete solution. If you want straightforward puzzles you will have to look elsewhere.

  16. nmsindy says:

    “Does Laws think that even money is one chance in one?” The difference between 13983816 to 1 and 13983815 to 1 is however somewhat smaller…

    Great first blog from HolyGhost, thanks to him for that.

  17. qadzbork says:

    Comment #10: Ian, having sweated sweat to solve the thing and submitted it to the paper, to find that all this had been pointless due to, let’s call it the idiosyncracy of the setter (so as not to upset gaufrid), took all the pleasure out of solving it.

  18. IanN14 says:

    Yeah, but qadzbork,
    Don’t you think your submission will count?
    I would hope it will.

  19. Mike Laws says:

    Sarcasm rules OK? Even about Gaufrid (with a capital)?

    qadzbork, you sound like Al Streatfield – do really want to share his “reputation”?

    Oh, and do learn to spell “idiosyncrasy”.

  20. erwinh says:

    I have quite a backlog of puzzles and have come to this a year late so probably will not get much of an audience but felt moved to comment. I used to consider the IQ the poor relation to The Listener and EV but I have come across some cracking puzzles recently.

    Here, I especially liked the way that the theme remained so elusive and the penny did not drop until the very end. I admit that I entered a final 6 into the odds without a second thought my take being that the generally quoted (inaccurate) figure is 14 million to 1. While it was good to see the correction, to go on about it is just the ugly side of pedantry.

    The two clues that qadzbork questioned were:

    2dn Endless nonsense over – its not allowed in pubs (3) fug – GUF(F) (rev) not fag GAF(F) (rev)

    27ac Always failing to finish riddle? Never! (4, two words) as if – A[Y] + SIF(T) not A(Y) + SIF[T]

    All letters in 2dn were checked and the message: WHAT WOULD TO U DO does not mean anything to me so as Rosemary says (#15) to complain about them is absurd.

    Finally, shortly after completing this puzzle I dreamt that I had won 11 million on the Lottery. I took this as an omen and bought a ticket only to be reminded of why I hate all gambling!

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