Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 135 – Firsts for Chris and Lou by Schadenfreude

Posted by duncanshiell on August 7th, 2009


The preamble stated that the the puzzle commemorated significant anniversaries of two related events which occurred exactly 50 years apart.

Single letters or words had to be removed from all of the 40 clues before solving and these removals revealed what solvers had to highlight in the completed grid – 43 cells had to be highlighted.

We were told that the first three of the highlighted items had roughly the correct orientation.

Treated clues consisted only of real words but seldom made literal sense.

Finally, the preamble stated that half each of the across and down answers had to be entered in reverse.

A fairly complex preamble then.  I am glad that we were told exactly how many cells had to be highlighted, otherwise I might still be looking for something else to match the last bit of the hidden message.

There was a lot of material in the instruction for highlighting, hence the need to remove whole words in some cases rather than just letters.  It took me some time to get the message and I was thinking down the wrong lines for a while.  There was a time when I had ‘SPORT‘, something that looked like it might be ‘WATER‘ and ‘PxLx’, and was wondering what had happened in the world of Water Polo that was highly memorable, twice.  I finally got the theme when ‘SPORT‘ became ‘TRANSPORT‘ and ‘BODY‘ appeared near ‘WATER‘.  The Christian names Lou and Chris then rang a bell and the whole thing fell into place.

The puzzle therefore commemorates Louis BLERIOT‘s crossing of the English Channel on 25 July 1909 and the subsequent first crossing of the Channel by Hovercraft, 50 years later to the day, on 25 July 1959.  Sir Christopher COCKERELL, inventor of the Hovercraft was on board for that crossing.  Both crossings went from Calais to Dover.  I have seen quite a lot of recent press coverage on BLERIOT‘s achievement but I can’t remember seeing anything about COCKERELL. The puzzle was published exactly 50 and 100 years after each crossing.  Schadenfreude seems to specialise in anniversaries.  I must find a definitive source of anniversaries before his next puzzle.

The message spelled out by the removals was





The words to be highlighted in the grid were

AEROPLANE – diagonally up and left from  row 12, column 10 to row 4, column 2

HOVERCRAFT  – diagonally up and left from row 12, column 12 to row 3, column 3

LA MANCHE (English Channel) – diagonally up and right from row 10, column 3 to row 3 column 10

BLERIOT – vertically down in column 1 from row 4 to row 10

COCKERELL – horizontally right in row 2 from column 2 to column 10

Note that both AEROPLANE and HOVERCRAFT cross LA MANCHE in the direction of Calais to Dover, thereby fulfilling the preamble comment that the first three items have roughly the right orientation.

These words generated 43 letters, but I was still left with ‘BOTH DISEMBARKED‘ from the message.  It doesn’t seem to fit with PILOT and INVENTOR.  I am left wondering whether Schadenfreude was trying to get  a ‘WHERE‘ into the clues to generate  ‘WHERE BOTH DISEMBARKED‘ and also get DOVER into the grid.  In the row under the ERE of COCKERELL we find VER.  Indeed we could go further and speculate on the reversal of ALA[I] in RADIAL ARTERY and wonder if CALAIS was considered for the grid as well.    That would have put COCKERELL neatly between CALAIS and DOVER if it could have been achieved.  I suspect that in the end everything wouldn’t fit, or there was some late editing and the treated clues had to remain.  I realise that this is all idle speculation on my part and I may well have missed something blindingly obvious about ‘BOTH DISEMBARKED

I enjoy Schadenfreude’s cluing.  There are never any spare words and the wordplay is always rigorous.  The grid construction is impressive with so much thematic material fitted into a symmetric grid.  I think it was also impressive to get exactly half of each across and down as reversals.  I din’t find reversals as much as a challenge as jumbles would have been.

I solved this in about two and a half hours.

In the tables below, entries shown in MAGENTA indicate answers entered in reverse.

No. Letter/Word Entry Wordplay
1 TWO RADIAL ARTERY RA (Royal Artillery; gunners) + DIAL (face) + ARTILLERY excluding (having lost) ILL (unfortunate) = RADIAL ARTERY (vital [blood] supply vessel)
9 FOR ACOCK A + COCK (strutting leader) = ACOCK (defiantly)
11 M – Elm ELLEN Anagram of (jogging) EL LANE excluding (missing) A (associate) = ELLEN (a female)
13 Sson REVERSES RE (on) + anagram of (bad) SERVES = REVERSES (defeats)
14 OF BEEF BEE (the letter B) + F (female) = BEEF (complaint)
15 T – path AGAHPUB (BUG [enthusiast] containing [around] anagram of [winding] PAH ) + (following) A (are; metric measure) = BUPHAGA (a small genus of African birds)
16 R – Spacer ENSATE EN (space; printing measurement) + anagram of (carved) SEAT = ENSATE (sword shaped)
20 AN EHPAHR (HAP [accident] contained in [in] RH [International Vehicle Registration for the Republic of Haiti]) + (meeting) E (earth) = RHAPHE (ridge on the side of an anatropous ovule)
22 SPORT NIHSRA Anagram of (rearranged) IN RASH = ARSHIN (an old measure of length)
23 BODY ROTULA ROTA (round of duty) containing (having) (U [uniform] + L [length]) = ROTULA (kneecap; bone)
25 OF CSINAP S (sun) contained in (grabbed by) PANIC (contagious fear) = PANISC (an inferior god)
29 W – sow PERSON PER (for each; a) + SO + N (new) = PERSON (body)
31 AT OTNARTO OT (Old testament; books) + RAN (managed) + TO (tax office) = OTRANTO (Italian port)
33 E – mean EOIN EO (mid 18th century gambling game) + IN (much in use) = EOIN (man’s name)
35 Rrule ELBAUGRA A + anagram of (dodgy) BRAG ULE = ARGUABLE (can be disputed)
36 PPearl ELEON NOEL (christmas carol) + E (earl) = NOELE (girl’s name)
37 I – ruin REROS SORE (a hawk in its first year, obsolete use [once]) + R (run) = SORER (more vexed; comparatively vexed)
38 L – flight DETFIGNEVAEH Anagram of (out) A FIGHT EVENED = HEAVEN-GIFTED (sent from above)


No. Letter/Word Entry Wordplay
1 O – Herod RABBLE R (King) + (in pursuit of) (ABBÉ [priest] containing L [lake]) = RABBLE (herd)
2 T – Kate ACKEE (Anagram of [working] KAE containing [outside] C [college]) + E (first letter of [beginning to] <font color=”blue”Empty) = ACKEE (tree)
3 AND DOTE DO (treat) + TE (TREE without the middle letters [hollow] RE) = DOTE (decay)
4 II AKEDAH NAKED (without the first and last letters [stripped])  + HAD reversed (elevated) = AKEDAH (the binding of Isaac in the Bible, Genesis 22)
5 N None LEVA LEVY (tax) without the final (reduced) Y + A (one) = LEVA (units of currency [the necessary] in Bulgaria)
6 V – every RERAC Anagram of (eery) RACE + R (run) = CARER (one who looks after)
7 E – orange ELEPAS [Ernie] ELS (golfer) reversed (turned up) containing (carrying) APE (a type of orang [-utang]) = SAPELE (wood resembling mahogany)
8 N – arena YNABLA (LB [pound] + A [area]) contained in (in) ANY (some) = ALBANY (part of the United Kingdom)
10 T – Crete REGENCE GEN (information) contained in (in) anagram of (destroyed) CREE = REGENCE (an obsolete term for government)
12 O – ploy ESUORA A + R (rector) + O (old) + USE (ply) = AROUSE (stimulate)
17 R – liner SAUL S (first letter of [beginning to] Stow) + AU (gold) + L (line) = SAUL (Old Testament King who committed suicide)
18 Bbut TRAPTUO O (circle) + UT + PART (separate) = OUTPART (obsolete [antique] word meaning a piece remote from the centre)
19 O – Chorist CHIS CH (Christ) + second and fourth (regularly) letters of tIpS = CHIS (a Romany [gypsy] feminine word for persons; girls)
21 T – lost HOSTEL Anagram of (amended) THE LOS = HOSTEL (pension, as in small continental hotel)
23 H– When RIOTED RIO (wen [an enormous congested city] in Brazil) + TED (reference Ted Hughes, British poet laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998) = RIOTED (could mean [perhaps] indulged in loose living
24 D – timed TENLET T (time) + EL (‘the’ in Spanish) + NET (a diffculty) = TELNET (a system of remote access system to computers)
26 IS SRORRE (ER [The Queen] + OR + S [sons]) containing (concealing) the final letter of (the last of) heR = ERRORS (gaffes)
27 E – heard PUNISH PUN (wordplay) + IS + H (hard) = PUNISH (correct)
28 Mman MRANI (IR [Irish] + M [maiden]) containing (taking) AN reversed (back) = INARM (embrace; cuddle)
30 BARK NISOE EOS (Greek for ‘dawn’) + (after) IN = EOSIN (dye; colouring)
32 E – Note OGON NO (traditional Japanese style of drama) containing (in) GO (success) reversed = NO GO (not possible)
34 DDover OVRA A (about) + (V [five] contained in (in) [R (reading; reference 3Rs, reading, riting and rithmetic) + O (over, cricketing abbreviation that seems to have finally appeared  in Chambers 2008 edition as I can’t find it in the earlier editions) = ARVO (Australian [e.g. Perth] term for the afternoon)

3 Responses to “Inquisitor 135 – Firsts for Chris and Lou by Schadenfreude”

  1. petebiddlecombe says:

    Incompetent calendar reading led to my own report on this which I’ll delete shortly. The bits possibly worth keepking compared to Duncan’s more thorough treatment:

    I was slightly surprised by the French term and wondered if it had started out as CHANNEL – the (L,LA MANC) that appears in the grid diagonal for LA MANCHE matches three letters of a reversal of CHANNEL. I was a bit puzzled by the “both disembarked” part of the message but I guess this is the equivalent of JFK’s “and return him safely to the earth”.

  2. RayFolwell says:

    I took “both disembarked” to mean that BLERIOT and COCKERELL in the grid were separated from their respective means of transport and not on-board as eg AEROBLERIOTPLANE.

  3. Mike Laws says:

    (Sir) Christopher Cockerell was on board the SR.N1, using his body, on the bow, as moveable ballast. I imagine he was relieved to disembark safely!

    And don’t forget the title – C=100 and L=50. I thought the puzzle a superb exploitation of a remarkable coincidence (or was it?) – and the date fell conveniently on a Saturday this year.

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