Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 883: Knocker by MynoT

Posted by Dave Hennings on October 17th, 2009

Dave Hennings.

I didn’t know whether to expect a tricky puzzle from MynoT, or an easy one. He seems to be a setter who can produce varying levels of difficulty but, this being EV, I’ll assume for the time being it’s on the easy side … so I can relax a bit.

There are five isolated squares in the main NW-SE diagonal; I think EV is the only series that uses this feature fairly frequently, and I quite like it. When complete, the main diagonal ‘exposes’ a knocker and leads to an explanation of the method of entry of the ten thematic answers, which are clued separately.

As it turned out, the clues were indeed easy for the most part, and I finished the main puzzle in about an hour. The NW-SE diagonal then read ?UOT?T?E?AVE? and all that came to mind was Quote the Gavel, and I had to check the Channel 4 listings to make sure it wasn’t the latest quiz show from Noel Edmonds! No joy there, but a couple of minutes later and QUOTH THE RAVEN seemed a far more likely entry, especially as the Raven is the KNOCKER on the window in Edgar Allen Poe’s poem. And all the raven ever says is ‘Nevermore’, so it is likely that the thematic entries are missing the word MORE or perhaps synonyms of it. Another ten minutes, and all the thematic answers were solved, each containing the word MORE which had to be omitted before entry.

ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden
RED = unnumbered thematic answers

1 REASSESS revise one’s estimate: RE (concerning) ASSES (donkeys) + S (a bit of Spirit)
6 AGIO discount: AG (silver) IO (triumphant cry)
CHECEPTORS nerve-endings: chemoreceptors
11 ALONSO Alicia who danced: ALONG (throughout) + SO (thus) – G (good); Alicia Alonso Martínez is a Cuban ballet dancer, presumably the name in Chambers Dictionary of Biography (which I do not own) mentioned in the preamble;
12 VETO right to reject: in loVE TOkens
13 DEF excellent: sounds like DEAF (hollow, dialect)
15 AMORAL lacking standards: A + MORA (delay) + L (pupil)
16 SMIR drizzle, Scottish: SMIR(NOFF) (vodka, not half); Russian vodka brand name
18 DEPOSED attested: DEED about POS (position)
20 CANASTAS groups of seven: AS (when) TA (volunteers, Territorial Army) in CANS (prisons)
SYCA tree: sycamore
22 ASSISI Italian town: ASSIST (help) + I (one) – T (tenor); the name not in Chambers but in Collins (no, I don’t own that either!)
24 SEA EGG prickly creature: SEA (water) + EG (for example) + G (gravity)
HUSK musical acprice: humoresk
27 CLERIHEW verse: HEW (cut) after CLERIC (clergyman) – C (start of Chapter)
29 OTTAVAS at least 16 notes: OTT (too much, ie over the top) + AV (average) + A’S; one ottava is 8 notes, so the plural must be at least 16
31 GREN smile, Spenser: GREN(ACHE) (half a grape)
33 ORBITA socket: OR (gold) + (A BIT)*
36 YGO past, once, old word for ago: GO with Y (end on utilitY) first; reference to Monopoly
37 APEX tip: APE (chemical used in cleaning products) + X (centre of miXer)
38 TURVES sods, sometimes (normally turfs): T (time) + (C)URVES (topless bodily contours)
OSGULATION animal process: osmoregulation
39 SIST stay, Scottish: SISTRUM (rattle) – RUM (odd)
40 REFORMAT change appearance of: REFORMATORY (old school for delinquents) – TORY (Conservative) + T (head of Teachers)
2 ECOFIN legislative council: (NICE FOR – R (right))*
3 SESE enough said (perhaps), Shakespeare: SE(TO)SE (stalky, heartless)
SCOS Africans: morescos; the plural not in Chambers (where it is spelt MORESCOES)
4 SPAM unwanted information: MAPS< (faces, slang)
5 STROPHE choral song: STROP (censure) + HE
7 GREASY oily: (GREY AS)*
8 ISTLE fibre: IS + (LEFT – F (fine))*
OBOEDA musical instrument: obo d’amore
9 WADS marries, Scottish (ie in Gretna Green): WS (Writer to the Signet, old Scottish lawyer) holding A D (duke)
10 ULEMAS scholars: ULE (rubber) + MAS (farmhouse)
ENAD charmed (US): enamored
14 TRAIK get lost, Scottish: K (kilometers) after TRAI(N) (public transport failing to finish)
17 UTICA ancient African city: UT (do, the note) + I (in) + CA (chartered accountant)
19 ESSEN 2 meanings (sort of): eat in German & a place in Germany
21 SAIGA Eurasian with swollen nose (antelope): S (finally goeS) + AI (first class) + GA (Georgia)
23 SAVIOUR one who delivers: VARIOUS*
25 GEE-GEE pony perhaps: GEE (navigation system) + GEE (suit)
HOLAPS snake: homorelaps
26 STRESS 2 meanings: accent & hair
28 HRYVNA bread from Crimea (money): HR (Croatia) + NAVY*
30 TOPOI stock themes: TOP (most important) + fOlIo (ie regularly)
SAGA chief: sagamore
32 NOSE snout: sounds like KNOWS (is aware of)
34 TILE bind to secrecy: ELIT(E)< (chosen people, endlessly)
ATTO lover: amoretto
35 MUIR heath, Scottish: MU (letter) + IR (Irish)

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