Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 140 – Alevin by Viking

Posted by duncanshiell on September 11th, 2009


Viking is a new Inquisitor setter for me, but a bit of research indicates that there is a Viking who plays a major part in crosswords in another place, so the pedigree looked strong. I wasn’t disappointed

The preamble stated that all but four clues contained misprints in their definition part.  The correct letters would spell out a quotation.  The first part of the quotation would imply the nature of the four unclued (and symmetrically placed) entries.  The second part would explain how the four normally clued answers were to be treated before entry.  The numbers in brackets referred to grid length, not answer length, for these four normally clued words.

I knew I had to solve this fairly quickly because of other commitments, so I was in a bit of a panic when the first run through only generated two answers.  Fortunately, things got better after that and I completed the puzzle in about 2.5 hours.

The quotation was taken from ‘Inebriety, a poem by George Crabbe and is


Accordingly, the unclued entries comprised four words meaning ALE, each containing a word meaning BLISS.  This yielded






I am not sure if I have got the first one right, as I suspect the purists would debate vigorously whether whether LAGER is an ALE, but I can’t think of a viable alternative.  You can have PALE Ale but there is an extra R, and I have not heard reference to PALER Ale.  WATER is Adam’s Ale but I think that would be an indirect reference.  I also felt that the contained words, particularly CHEER and GLEE,  were more akin to JOY than to my understanding of BLISS, but I accept that BLISS and JOY are synonyms.

The normal entries had WINE removed, as follows:





TENT was a new WINE to me.  It is a deep-red Spanish wine.  My relationship with Spanish Reds has generally been with Rioja.

I deduced the quotation halfway through solving and that helped with locating the misprints in the remaining clues.  The four normally clued entries were placed symmetrically and that also was an aid to solving.

While I struggled on a few clues initially, the clueing was precise with excellent surface reading often camouflaging highly complex wordplay [e.g. ATTENTATS).   I think I have parsed everything successfully.

Once the quotation fell out, the meaning of the title Alevin became obvious as ALE and VIN

When you read this, I shall be in South West France preparing for the Marathon du Medoc, one of the more interesting marathons of the world.  Most of the very many (21) drinks stations are sited in the Chateaux and Vineyards with appropriate liquid being available in addition to water.  Oysters and steak appear at the later feed stations as well.  It is the 25th running of the Marathon with all competitors expected to be in fancy dress.  I have done it once before and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The race attracts a wordwide entry of all abilities.  I shall be near the back.

No. Misprints Letter/Word Wordplay Entry
1 dwindle – swindle S S (special) + KIN (relationship) SKIN (swindle)
4 plant – plane E CESS (tax) + NA (not applicable) CESSNA (small plane)
11 frets – frees E C (about) + LEARS (lessons) CLEARS (frees)
12 coil’s – soils S OR (a logic circuit) + DURE (last) ORDURE (soil)
13     Unclued LAGCHEERER
14 limo – limb B HE (His Excellency, ambassador) + NOBLE (generous) reversed (returning) + E (drug) HEELBONE (bone, found at the bottom of a limb)
15             PORT S (society) + PORTING (turning to the left) = SPORTING (willing to take a chance) SING
16 mink – milk L DEYS (sounds like [reportedly] DAZE [stun]) DEYS (dairymaids, milkmaids)
17 soul – soil I Anagram of (liberally) TREAT SIN NITRATES (soil improvers)
20 bend – send S RD (road, street) containing (into) NAME (celebrity) reversed (backing) REMAND (send away)
22 babe – base S VIE (struggle) containing (over) L (latin) VILE (base)
25 star – stir I REF (reference) + RESH (twentieth letter of the Hebrew [Tel Aviv] alphabet) REFRESH (stir)
26 skulk – skunk N A (one) + COT (bed) reversed (getting back) ATOC (skunk)
28 fumed – famed A SINNED (offended) reversed (on return) DENNIS (reference Dennis the Menace, Beano comic character)
29 jet – let L (S [second] + TRY [attempt]) contained in (in) MIST (fog) MISTRYST (disappoint, let down)
30 last – east E AJAR (open) reversed (on way back) RAJA (Indian prince or king, Malayan or Javanese chief)
32              ASTI (CA [cases] + ON [in progress]) containing (to involve) STIR (prison)= CAST-IRON (irrefutable) CRON
34 depth – death A TESTA (hard shell) + TOR (hill, height) TESTATOR (a person who leaves a valid will at death)
36 sub – sun N LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) contained in (blocking) AIR (appearance) ALTAIR (first-magnitude star, sun)
37 feel – feed D PIA (dutiful) containing RAY (an obsolete [old] word for dress) PIRAYA (ferocious [fiercely feeding], South American fish)
38     Unclued BEEHEAVENR
39 rate – race C PE (exercise) contained in (cutting) SURGE (increase excluding [short] the final E) SUPER G ski slalom race)
40 wires – wares A ADA (computer programming language) containing (input) S (first letter [initially] of Symbols) ASDA (Supermarket containing many wares)


No. Misprints Letter/Word Wordplay Entry
1 tax – tan N SEARCH (look for) excluding the middle letters (heartlessly) AR SECH (hyperbolic mathematical function, counterpart to TAN)
2     Unclued KGLEEEG
3             HOCK E (English) contained in (influx of) ICH (Shakesperean [Will] word for augment) +OCKER (Australian, excluding the final [most of] R) + Y (year) = ICE HOCKEY (sport) ICEEY
4 car – war W BIN (obsolete (once) word for been) contained in (having) CAREER (rush) CARBINEER (cavalryman who rode in war)
5 distract – district I Anagram of (performing) SINCERE VERSE and C (contralto) SCENIC RESERVE (district for recreation,)
6 spring – string T (SHOT [projectile] + IE [that is]) containing (storing) E (energy) SHOE TIE (shoelace, string)
7 backer – hacker H NED (hooligan) containing (accepting) R (republican) NERD (computer geek, who may also be a hacker, hence ‘?’)
8 regarding – rewarding W

FR (French) + U (university) IT (sex appeal) + (NO+ I [one]) reversed (turning up)

FRUITION (rewarding result)
9 gust – gist I KEEL (capsize) containing RN (Royal Navy) KERNEL (gist)
10 dudes – dunes N Anagram of (fancy) GEAR AREG (Saharan area of shifting sand dunes)
16 must – muse E RE (Royal Engineers) contained in (blocking) DAM (embankment) DREAM (muse)
18 reclining – declining D RESENTING (grudging) with T (time) replacing (for) N (noon, midday) RESETTING (declining again)
19 sand – said I Reversed hidden word (holds back) in …grASS EStuary… SESSA (enough said)
21 dignifies – signifies S Anagram of (otherwise) TOO MESSY MYOSOTES (flowers of the forget-me-not genus, signifying loving remembrance)
24 caper – paper P F (female) + (PARTY [reception] + L [line] all reversed [shown up]) FLY-TRAP (sticky [tacky] paper)
25     Unclued MIJOYLD
27 real – reel E TIED (united) containing (has) RL (right and left, both directions) TIRLED (Scots word for whirled or reeled)
31              TENT TA (Territorial Army, volunteers) reversed (backing) + TENT (camp) + (AS [so far] containing T [first letter of Terrorist’s]) = ATTENTATS (attempts at political crimes of violence, assasinations) ATTATS
32 crates – cranes N CASH (money) excluding the final (mostly) H containing (to conceal) B (barrels) CABS (operator’s compartment in a crane)
33 cub – sub S LIE (depend) + U (uniform,  n internation radio communication) LIEU (substitute)
35 true – tree E RATAN (palm) excluding N (new) RATA (New Zealand [down under] tree)

6 Responses to “Inquisitor 140 – Alevin by Viking”

  1. HolyGhost says:

    I got the same unclued entries as Duncan (with similar misgivings). More often than not, I’d have expected some indication of the unchecked letters in the unclued entries – but here it seems quite hard to make a sensible phrase from LGEHERGGML.

    Didn’t find R for Republican in Chambers, but it is in the OED, so I guess that’s OK.

    (And there’s a small typo in the blog: the entry at 31d has one T too many.)

  2. nmsindy says:

    Not got it with me now, but think R = Republican is in Chambers (2008) though it’s not in 2006 edition, which does contain D = Democrat so it might have been a slip.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Yes, R = Republican (US) is in Chambers (2008). These slips can happen with various editions. If memory serves, o = old was missing from an edition of Chambers a while back.

  4. Mike Laws says:

    Viking is currently co-editor of the series on which Inquisitor (then simply “Crossword”) was modelled over twenty years ago. It was meant to be co-clued with that series’ crossword statistician – a beer connoisseur – but lack of time (not beer!) got in the way.

    I’m surprised that “tent” as a wine was unfamiliar to Duncan – it was already regular cryptic fodder when I started solving in the early seventies.

    But no one’s said whether they enjoyed solving “Alevin” – I certainly did! Over a pint or two, of course.

  5. nmsindy says:

    Looking at Azed’s book on setters, Viking is not included. Not 100% sure about this, but this may be as the guideline for inclusion (for space reasons, I think) was that those included had to be ‘professional’ setters. Viking’s regular slot in FT may have been later than that book appeared. Mike Laws is referring to the Listener series where Viking (when his puzzles appear) uses the same pseudonym.

    Surprised too about Duncan’s comment on ‘tent’ as a wine – I’ve come across it so many times in puzzles but never yet in ‘real life’

  6. Viking says:

    Thank you for your comments and, particularly, for the hard work of compiling the clue analysis. I have just two things to add.

    I was aware of potential controversy over “lager” and added a caveat in the original version of the preamble. But space is tight and it had to be excised.

    I was interested to see the research about Dem/Rep. I had detected this in the 2003 edn and alerted Chambers, which is presumably why 2008 is more consistent. Hence I had no qualms about indicating R in this way.

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