Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 155 Well, well! by Charybdis

Posted by Hihoba on December 25th, 2009


As this is blog is due for publication on Christmas day, may we wish our readers a Happy Christmas and a successful Inquisitorial New Year!

Some entertaining clues (we particularly liked “Neat expression” to clue MOO!) and a good basic idea, but deeply flawed rubric as indicated below. 

We were asked to find a quotation and the initials of its author, formed from extra wordplay letters . The quotation was two words short and turned out to be:

“(To) jaw-jaw is always better than (to) war-war” by Winston Spencer Churchill. [First quibble here - his full name is Winston LEONARD Spencer Chuurchill - what happened to the L?]

 This should lead by “augmentation” to three book titles, two of which are to be blacked out and one highlighted.

Two of these titles appeared relatively simply, being ANIMAL FARM (diagonally from the final A in 25D to the M of 14D) and VILE BODIES (on the diagonal from top left to bottom right). The related augmentations were JAW_JAW + WELL gives George Orwell(!) The augmentation is clued “elsewhere” according to the rubric - referring to the title, “Well, well!”. Presumably WAR leads phonetically to Evelyn Waugh in the same way as Jaw-jaw led to George Or. . .

This leaves five letters for the third title, which took some finding, though it’s obvious when you know where to look! It is KIPPS (at the bottom of the left hand column) by H.G Wells - also clued by the title.

 Are we to black out the Waugh and Orwell titles and highlight Kipps (Well, well! = Wells)?

Or should we black out both the WELL titles (Orwell and Wells) and highlight the Waugh?

Or should we read the sentence phonetically after two WELL augmentations as: George Orwell is always better than Wells or Waugh” and black out the Waugh and the Wells titles leaving the Orwell highlighted?

Don’t know. You pays your money and you takes you choice! Four very experienced Inquisitor solvers (all previous winners) had different interpretations, so I feel justified in complaining that the rubric was very far from clear and unambiguous!

Anyway why black out anything? Are we missing some hidden significance of the term? I look forward to any comments.

 There is a definite error in the clue to 13A.

In the table below the extra letters are indicated in red.

 1  J RETSINA: a drink - [(J)ANITRESS]* 
 6  A  KARMA: just deserts – K(A) =serve(obs) + A(cademy) + R(ight) + MA
 10  W  EVONNE: girl – [EVEN NO(W)]*
 11  J  ICHOR: wound discharge – (J)ERICHO minus E.R. + R(uns)
 12  A  BRIEF: passing – B(A)RF (barf and cat both mean to vomit) round IE
 13  W  LEGROOM: space for passengers – error! I think there is a mistake in this clue. It should be an anagram of [ONE GRO(W)L] but has an N in place of an M
 16    EXHEDRA: a recess – (H)EX(A)HEDRA are cubes. Clever!
 17    RAELENE: a shortened form of Rachel – LEAR reversed + ENE(my). My! = well!
 18    YTTERBIA: compounds of Ytterbium found in Sweden – [BATTERY + I]* 
 20  I  FUSE: unite – (I)F + USE
 21  S  SEND: transmit – D(eserted) + NES(S) reversed
 22  A  ISOLABLE: potentially free of contamination – (A)ISLE round O(ld) LAB
 28  L  HADRIAN: wall builder – HAD + R(usty) + NAI(L) reversed
 30  W  ISOGAMY: cell-related union – I + SO(W) + GA + MY
 31  A  PEREION: thorax in Crustacea – PÈRE (Jean’s father – neat!) + ION(A)
 32  Y  SNEER: contemptuous expression – S(ecundum) N(aturam) + EER(Y) 
 33  S  PATNA: rice – PA(S)T +NA
 34  B  HEARSE: a majesty is the canopy of a hearse! [(B)ASE HER]*
 35  E  SLATS: of wood – S(E)ATS round L(eft)
 36  T  KISSERS: and traps are both slang for mouths – K(night) + [RESIS(T)S]*
 1  T  REBURY: engrave (Neat! engrave = put in grave!) once more. I struggled with this for a while! – REBU(T) + RY
 2  E  TOISE: a French measure of nearly 2 metres – TO(E) + IS + E(arth)
 3  R  SNELLED: attachment for a hook etc. – SNELL + (R)ED 
 4  T  IN FIERI: pending – (T)IN +[I FIRE]*
 5  H  ALEXEI: Russian boy – [EX(H)ILE(rat)E]*
 6  A  KIGHT: Spenserian hawk – KIT round H(A)G reversed
 7  N  ACRES: large amount – (N)ACRE + S(old)
 8  W  RHODA: a girl – [HO(W)ARD]*
 9  A  MOORE’S LAW: a dictum about computing – MOO + RE + SAW round (A)L. I liked the definition of moo as “neat expression”! 
 14  R  MAZE: the home of the Minotaur – M(inotaur) + (R)AZE
 15  W  WATER SEAL: a seal made by water in a trap/bend – not the trap itself. Slight mis-definition. – [WET RA(W)]* + SEAL
 19  A  ALDOSES: sugars – À L(A) + DOSES
 20  R  FARINAS: pollens – FAR + [(R)AINS]*
 21    SKIP: double meaning
 23    SHMOCK: another word for klutz! – M(oney) in SHOCK (shock appears in the dictionary definition of crash, but not vice-versa)
 24    ENURES: gets used to – ENURES(is)
 25    AORTA: &litish definition of hidden word
 26  W  AGENT: representative – A + G(W)ENT
 27  S  NAIAS: a water plant: IAN (Fleming) reversed + AS(S)
 29  C  ISÈRE: an Alpine departement – I(C)E round RES reversed 

6 Responses to “Inquisitor 155 Well, well! by Charybdis”

  1. Simon Harris says:

    Hi – found this a reasonably straightforward gridfill, then stumbled a bit at the end for much the same reasons you’ve mentioned. In the end I plumped for highlighting the titles associated with JAW-ge Orwell, and Herbert JAW-ge Wells and blacking out the Evelyn WAR, albeit without any real conviction and a few question marks.

    I’ll echo the compliments paid to “neat expression” and “re-engrave”, they both raised a smile.

  2. Hihoba says:

    Thanks for that – that’s yet another interpretation!

  3. HolyGhost says:

    I agree with Hihoba that the rubric was just too wishy-washy.

    In the end I went with (a minor variant) of the blogger’s third option: taking a lead from the gaps after “jaw-jaw” and “war-war” I read it as “George Orwell is always better than Waugh or Wells” and so highlighted ANIMAL FARM & blacked out VILE BODIES and KIPPS.

    Not a very satisfying conclusion.

    PS Simon’s interpretation surely cannot be right – the rubric states that two book titles should be blacked out …

  4. Mike Laws says:

    The notes to accompany the published solution on Saturday read:

    Extra letters gave “(To) jaw-jaw is always better than (to) war-war” – W(inston) S(pencer) C(hurchill), suggesting, with augmentations from the title, that “George Orwell is always better than Waugh or Wells”. Thus Vile Bodies and Kipps were blacked out and Animal Farm was highlighted.

    The original preamble was very long and complex, and I got confused when trying to interpret in when solving, so I tried to simplify without giving the whole game away to start with.

    Sorry I didn’t go far enough!

  5. Michael Harold says:

    I agree with the holy ghost – I could do with his help on 157!

  6. Chris Poole (charybdis) says:

    Only just, very belatedly, seen this thread.

    My preamble, before edited version (which I never saw nor knew about until publication), appears below. My version of the extra letters was : JAWJAW….SALWAYSBETTERTHANWARWAR….SWC
    [Note the two sets of 4 normal clues (....) and SWC (for Sir Winston Churchill), both of which were changed.]
    With augmentation this becomes a homonym of George OrWELL’s always better than Waugh or WELLs (w.c.). The insertion of an I (JAWJAW…IS etc) (and an incorrect clue for it) and the reversal of SWC to WSC were not ones I would have favoured.

    My preamble read:

    The wordplay in all but eight clues leads to the answer plus a redundant letter. These letters in clue order provide a variation on a quotation and the initials of its author (including at this stage the initial of his title). Solvers are entitled to fully augment the quotation, thereby offering auditors a critical opinion. In accordance with this opinion, two book titles must be deleted from the grid and one must be highlighted (in total five words or 25 letters).

    I also would have preferred retention of the nudge-words ‘entitled’ and ‘auditors’ (referring to Title and a homonym respectively).
    I can understand solvers’ confusion, having suffered my own share when I worked through the printed version.


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