Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 898: Prime Suspect by Nutmeg

Posted by Dave Hennings on January 30th, 2010

Dave Hennings.

A puzzle entitled Eggheads in this month’s Magpie (January 2010) and French Polish in last week’s Inquisitor (#1108, 09/01/2010) are Nutmeg’s most recent offerings, and here we are with Prime Suspect.

In this puzzle, the perimeter contained an innovator, some method that he perfected, and a condition he suffered from. Plus the rest of the grid had to be completed thematically. The preamble stated that figures in brackets were the number of spaces in the grid at that position [apart from 26dn which should have been (6)]; I thought the normal way of phrasing this was “the numbers in brackets refer to the lengths of grid entries”. It’s a shame that crossword editors don’t agree on standard phrases to be used, whether relating to numbers in brackets, extra letters in wordplay, etc.

I found the clues relatively hard, and I was about two thirds of the way through before I tried to decipher the perimeter which at that point started .RN.LDS.H….E.GTW.L.EN..E. I got ARNOLD but not the second name, and TWELVE and possibly NOTE seemed likely. My first port of call was Chambers, which immediately led to SCHOENBERG’s TWELVE NOTE SYSTEM, and it wasn’t long before I worked out TRISKAIDEC/KAPHOBIA for his condition, verified by Wikipedia. (It turned out to be spelt with a C in the final grid.) The puzzle title thus referred to Schoenberg’s suspicions of the prime number 13.

It wasn’t immediately obvious how the remainder of the grid was to be resolved, and the top left corner could be completed in one of two ways. I tried arranging the spaces so that there was only one in each column, and seeing that this made a sort of pattern, I soon identified that every thirteenth square in the 11×11 block was to be omitted in a triskaidekaphobic way! Finally, one of Schoenberg’s earlier works had to be identified and highlighted; it helped that PIERROT was an entry (at 19ac), so LUNAIRE wasn’t difficult to spot, hidden in row 8.

It was only when I was writing this blog that I noticed that there was no clue number 13.

Solving time: about 3¼ hours, so not particularly quick, but equal to 13 periods of ¼ hour!

ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden

9 EERIE strange: E (energy) possessed by ERIE (one of the great lakes)
10 DAFTIE charlie (as in dope): FAD< (fleeting interest) + TIE (match, eg football)
11 BE•RGMEHLS powdery deposits: L (left) by HEM< (edge) in BERGS (blocks of ice)
14 OCRE•A sheath: in prOCREAtion
15 PUTTING 2 meanings: imposing & green activity (ie in golf)
17 •SEE FIT consider it appropriate: [IF in TEES (letters)]<; I’m not sure that the wordplay leads to IF being reversed [“… if intercepting returned letters”]
19 PIERROT entertainer: I (one) ERR (blunder) in POT (pool)
20 PHEW thank goodness: sounds like FEW (not many)
21 AERO in advance denoting aircraft (ie a prefix): [KOREA (country) – K (king)]<
22 EGGER collector: E’ER (always) grabbing GG (goods); I’m reasonably happy for the plural to indicate the abbreviation twice
23 U•AE Middle east alliance: EAU< (channel, sometimes)
25 CLUN Shropshire town: CLUB (clique) – B (British) + N (Nationalist); never heard of the place!
27 REDPOLL bird: RE (extremely RarE) + D (dead) + POLL (parrot)
29 E•PARCH governor: RAPE< (violate) + CH (church)
31 DOW•N TO responsibility of: NT (conservationists) in WOOD*
33 ONCOME sudden fall in Perth (Scotland): MO< (doctor) in ONCE (on one occasion)
34 SE•DUCTION allurement: S (Sabbath) EDUCATION (training) – A (adult)
35 ALDOSE sugar: in lethAL DOSEs
36 •EILD 2 meanings: not yielding milk (Scotland) & old age (archaic)
1 REECHIE smoky: REE (Scottish stockyard) + I (one) in CHE (insurgent)
2 NE•RO old tyrant: NO (drama) taking in ER (queen)
3 LIG•ER cross: LIEGE (subject) – both Es + ER (King Edward); I think I’m right that it’s not LIEGE – one E + R
4 DEMAGOGIC tub-thumping: MEDIC* nursing AGOG (eager to know more)
5 SWEP•T searched: PEW< (blind man) in ST (street)
6 HALTE•R what might guide Arab (ie horse): HAL (prince) + TER (small territory, ie abbreviation)
7 ETUI case: IE< (that’s is that is, ie id est!!) involving TU (workers’ group, ie trade union)
8 NIX-NIE nothing (in SA): NIXON (president) – O (nothing leader of Opposition [thanks to Ernie below]) + IE (that’s)
12 STEPUPS increases: PS (metric horsepower) after UPSET*
16 TRONA•S native combinations: (RATS ON)*
18 SLEEP OU•T slumber in tent: (PET LOUSE)*
22 EARNEST payment for contract: NEAREST (stingiest) with N (knight) dropping three spaces
24 ALAMODE fashionable: ALAE (wings) housing MOD (government department)
26 L•OLLS lies about: LOLLARDS (religious reformers) – A RD (rural dean)
27 RHODIE spectacular bloomer (ie rhodadendron): sounds like ROADIE (musician’s crewman)
28 DANCES measures: CANDLES* – L (luminance)
30 FOILS metal sheets: F (lowest member of stafF) + OILS (lubricates)
32 WADI valley: I bearing DAW< (bird)

2 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations 898: Prime Suspect by Nutmeg”

  1. Ernie says:

    Is the omission of the letter ‘O’ in 8D
    not due to the striking (out) of the first letter in ‘opposition’ rather than from ‘nothing’?

  2. Dave Hennings says:

    It certainly is, Ernie. Apologies, and well-spotted.

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