Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 141 – Formula by Kea

Posted by petebiddlecombe on September 19th, 2009


As indicated by the need to post a placeholder, I found this puzzle tough.

We were told that:

  • seven down answers needed processing in accordance with instructions from a Letters Latent quotation providing the “formula”, and their definitions had a word similarly processed
  • the formula described the grid as a whole, after completion of the unclued entries

If only I’d read that second part more carefully. The toughness arose because I misunderstood it. The quote was “A beginning, a muddle and an end” – Philip Larkin’s description of novel structure. I saw this fairly early on and processed the seven downs appropriately, anagramming them apart from the first and last letters, but somehow thought that the unclued answers had their middles anagrammed too, so I got catastrophically stuck at the point shown below.

Where I got to ...

Where I got to ...

My conclusion that this made the unclued answers nearly unsolvable should have told me that something else was going on, but I barked up the wrong tree all the way to the end. Thanks to Holy Ghost for helping me out with the stuff I didn’t get. I felt very stupid indeed for not seeing the unclued “Once upon a time … and they lived happily ever after” which is the beginning and end of the grid, with the pink “muddle” between.

Complete answer (with mistake noted in comments)

Complete answer

Now that the frustrations are behind me, I can see lots of good things about this puzzle.  It’s a shame I treated it like the parents in his best-known line.

13 S(E)NNITS = braids of rope – (ST.,INNS) reversed
15 SELE(G)ILINE = a drug., SELE=parochial (i.e. dialect) season,I=independent,LINE=policy
16 TR(I)AD(I)STS = Celtic composers – DS=document signed, in rev. of START
19 PARAPE(N)TE = glider’s canopy – not quite in Chambers, but guessable from parapenting. PARE=trim, around A PET
22 OSC(I)TAT(I)ON = sleepiness – A TON next to OSCT=cots*
24 (N)A(N)DI(N)E = Afreican palm civet – A=about,DIE=perish
1* OWLET – hidden word – defined by “one flies at night” rather than ” … files …” (starred downs are the thematic ones.  Where there are unchecked letters in the jumble part, these are duplicated except in the case of 3D which explains the role for LARKIN in the grid)
2 (U)NNAT(U)RAL – (ART.,AN) = two forms of article, in NL = non-licet = 7
3* CRACKLINGS – RACK in CLINGS, “partly suet …”, not “paltry suet”
5* POL(IT)E – “lower animal” is in the Chambers def for “it”. “deference” rather than “deer-fence”
8 ANN(E)LIDAN – LID=cover in Lord ANNAN
10* MAG(SM)E,N – swindles on streets, not on setters
14* IN,FINI,T(A)NT – fini = finished = ruined. “negative denotation” not detonation
17 DA(Y)NETTLE – D(AY,NETT)LE – nett=tare DA(YET=besides,T=tare)LE – as pointed out below
19* PAHLAVI – reverse hidden – eastern dynasties not desyatins
21* IMP=graft,LODE=old vein – “increase density” not density
23 CR(A)BBER – reversal of (R=rule,EBB,R.C.=NZ “tyke”)
26 OUTPEER = “better (vb.) for Shakespeare” – TP=township, in OUR=”my country’s” – as in “Out footballers are better than Croatia’s”
28 LY(N)DA – anag. of ladt, & see Linda/Lynda in C’s first names section
30 EEL(D) – the eel is the sinuous swimmer, but I can’t see EELD (or a word with the D anywhere else) = “Perhaps Ireland’s darling” –

10 Responses to “Inquisitor 141 – Formula by Kea”

  1. IanN14 says:

    Can anyone remind me what this one was about?
    I’m sure I must have finished it – I’ve thrown the magazine away.
    It’s last week’s (142) I’m having trouble with…

  2. Mike Laws says:

    It involved Philip Larkin’s formula for a novel – “A beginning, a muddle and an end.”

  3. IanN14 says:

    Thanks Mike,
    I do remember it now.

  4. HolyGhost says:

    30d: Chambers contains “Edel, f (Ir) perh darling.”

  5. petebiddlecombe says:

    Curses! Another lurking in the First Names section.

  6. HolyGhost says:

    17d: I believe that Peter’s wordplay is wrong. The answer is indeed DAY-NETTLE, but it’s the N that’s absent from the wordplay, which is YET (=besides) + T(are) in DALE (=valley).
    And the wordplay for the clue to the unchecked letters: Y (=unknown) + H(ard) + Y(ear) in FATE (=fortune) rev.

  7. petebiddlecombe says:

    Much too polite – tare = nett was pretty desperate – it’s actually (gross – net), a distinction which an Economics graduate really ought to notice. And my report was net of the unchecked letters detail.

  8. Kea says:

    Sorry to rub salt in the wounds, but you have an inexplicable S instead of Z in 20 Down.

  9. petebiddlecombe says:

    That just about makes my speed-merchant’s careless handling of this puzzle complete – Pozidriv it is – I’d never noticed the Z (ask Mrs B about my DIY skills sometime!) and rushed into writing the answer without considering the wordplay and seeing Australia = Oz, in POZIRIV = (Oz + and Ir=Iran) in VIP rev.

  10. HolyGhost says:

    For Kea’s benefit, and also for that of Mike Laws: A very hard puzzle indeed, but very enjoyable (in my opinion).

    And maybe ML would consider mentioning alongside future puzzles?

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