Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1115 – Vanishing Scream by Dysart

Posted by petebiddlecombe on March 12th, 2010


I started quite slowly with this puzzle, but that turned out to be a good thing…

The theme turned out to be one of the stock ones for barred-grid puzzles – Sherlock Holmes, Wagner operas, Shakespeare plays, … and the works of Lewis Carroll. This time it’s the Snark rather than Alice, gradually identified from Butcher and Barrister as probable unclued entries representing characters, and A?A?O?Y at the beginning of the title and author from misprint corrections turning out not to be ANATOMY or ANALOGY. There were a couple of extra twists – a letter that needed changing in the grid, to make two partial character names complete (causing another to vanish), and an answer too short for its grid entry, requiring an extra letter to be “filled to reveal the cause of the disappearance, which must be highlighted”. Here’s the grid I finished up with:

Inquisitor 1115 - solution

The changed letter is the M in square 22, giving us BONNET MAKER and BILLIARD MARKER as the completed characters, but causing the unclued BAKER to disappear. This is highly thematic as the end of the poem records the end of the Baker where he had “met with the Snark” – just as he does in the grid – “In the midst of the word he was trying to say, / In the midst of his laughter and glee, / He had softly and suddenly vanished away – / For the Snark was a Boojum, you see”. The extra letter is the J in midst of the nonsense (see comment 1) word PRAJNA at 27, allowing the BOOJUM to appear in the shaded diagonal. The theme words before any completion/alteration: BUTCHER, BROKER, BOOTS, BILLIARD, BONNET, BANKER, BELLMAN, BARRISTER, BEAVER – the full list of crew members in Fit the First.

If you want any extra background on the poem, I recommend the Penguin Classics version with commentary by Martin Gardner, who also produced the “Annotated Alice”.

Conclusion: a nicely-judged puzzle – the theme took a while to emerge, the fact that the theme-words all began with B slowed down the process of choosing which ones went where, and the final twist was well-worked.

10 URETER = duct – hidden word
11 H = Hospital, (PB=lead in (I=elec. current,ONE=a))
12 TORSO = roots*
15 ARE(n)A
16 OP,TOUT=”very French”
19 N,E(B)EL – a nebel is a harp-like Hebrew instrument
23 (RE,FEER=mate), reversed.
25 AUF = “in Bonn on”,AIT = oat = pastoral song – not quite sure where “Islay’s” comes from – as far as I can tell, ait/oat is not a Scots word. Explanation in comment 3.
26 AWDLS = Welsh odes – (W=Welsh, lads)*
27 P(RAN)A – breath of life in Hindu religion
29 I(VIE)S
31 KIKUMONS = imperial badges – (K,K,sum(m)on,I)*
34 BROO(d)
37 TRIBE – move R=king in TIBER
38 WRIT(h)E
40 Z,E,(ma)NANA
41 RUE,D=day,AS=like
1 A / yaws BUB,A
2 N / plant URARI = (yo)UR,(h)AIR*
3 A / head TE,TE
4 G / drug HERO,IN=with (obsolete meaning of ‘in’)
5 O / Plato’s RH(in)O
6 N / stand BIPOD – P.I. reversed in BOD=bloke
7 Y / years OBOTE – O in (to be)* – you could see this as O,(to be)*, but “about” seems to work better as container indicator than extra anagram indication
8 I / pink’s KO,OK – kook = cook3 = peep = pink
9 N / men LOSER rev., UTES=trucks
13 E / seers REAP rev. in SS
14 I / dibblers THE,RIA=valley – a dibbler is a small marsupial and therefore a member of the group of animals called theria
17 G / grip UN=one,A,U(p)
18 H / sharing L,OE=grandchild,WI=Wisconsin
20 T / time (Mr.) BEAN,O=Ordinary
21 F / fever TAP = Scots for “top”, and a malarial fever
22 I / firearm BA(R)KER – an old word for a pistol or cannon
24 T / Pet rev. of A(i)SLE – younger readers might need to look up the film and book Born Free
28 S / she’s AURIEL – see the “First Names” section of C. E=energy, in URIAL=wild sheep, with A=acting lifted up to the top
30 C / decayed (w)EB,BED
31 A / sweater KNITS = “nits”
32 R / tree NOR=and not,NA=rev. of “an”. The Norns hung around at the bottom of Yggdrasil, the “world ash tree” of Norse myth
33 R / rise KITE – 2 defs
35 O / bore R(E)AM
36 L / Mull’s O BAN = “without any embargo” – Oban to Mull is a pretty short trip.
38 L / loom WEB – (b,w,e)* from first letters of words in clue

9 Responses to “Inquisitor 1115 – Vanishing Scream by Dysart”

  1. Mike Laws says:

    PRAJNA isn’t a nonsense word – see Chambers:

    (in Buddhism) understanding of the truth achieved directly rather than through reasoning. [Sans]

    Nicely-judged? Superbly-judged, I’d say. And I was able to solve it all in the pub using the Chambers (1998) that lives there, apart from final confirmations via a fellow-regular’s mobile gadget. He also found pictures of all the B-characters.

  2. Jake says:

    Thanks for the blog on this Pete, I’m glad to say I managed a good handful of across clues, and one down clue! Thanks to Mike’s tips (thanks once again)!
    I found this a lot more my thing, on difficulty level – rather than Loda’s 1114 puzzle.

    Starting off with the 3 anagrams, the hidden one and the Italian river gave me some confidence for this puzzle.

    With 1dn – BUBA I guessed (still not fully understanding the entire cluing) however, I seem to remember BUBA being used in an Azed as an American boy clue not too long back, so I fell lucky on that clue.

    I’m (even though struggling still – being new), rather enjoyed what I managed.

    As far as working out the Lewis Carroll theme with characters of the poem I think I would’ve missed that one, from not knowing the poem.

    Is this a case of me purchasing ‘the Oxford dictionary of Quotations’?
    If so, I take it that the latest version is best?, or do they all differ. Meaning that with each up date that some quotes are dropped and replaced, or are they all there and just new ones added!

  3. Hi of Hihoba says:

    Minor point about 25A – ait is a Scots form of oat, hence Islay’s. I’m not over-keen on definitions that are this far removed from the original!

    I didn’t spot the theme for a long time, and still had a lot of difficulty with this one. Ba on the other hand solved it in double quick time!

  4. petebiddlecombe says:

    Sorry Mike – forgot to look up PRAJNA, which is sloppy on my part, and “nicely-judged” was rather faint praise.

  5. petebiddlecombe says:

    Jake: The ODQ is worth having, but the index doesn’t cover all the possibilities (it couldn’t unless the book was about a foot thick), so look-ups of Butcher, Baker and Beaver in my 2004 6th edition all failed to find the Snark. If you spotted the Boojum and looked him up you’d find some quotes from it, but only the Snark, Bellman and Boojum are mentioned (and by then you’d probably have finished the puzzle anyway!). On the other hand, if you Google for Butcher Baker Beaver, the poem is in the first page of hits, and then the Wiki article has a link to the whole thing on-line.

    Other times, the ODQ will doubtless be a bigger help. The latest (7th) edition is best, but if you need to save some pennies and can pick up an earlier edition cheaply, many of the quotes used in puzzles will have been in the last few editions – I have no plans to replace the 6th with the 7th.

  6. Jake says:


    Thanks for the info on ODQ, I’ve seen earlier editions on amazon uk for a penny! excl p&p that is.

    Its been a real help.

  7. Mike Laws says:


    For 1p + p&p ODQ2 is the one to go for. It was the last with a proper index, and a perfect standby for traditional quotations. Recent editions contain wonderful new quotations, so are worth acquiring for them, but the indexes have become woefully inadequate, so beware!

  8. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle and was particularly pleased to solve it as my prior knowledge of the work was precisely nil, though I had heard of the title. I also found that it was not particularly difficult. Carroll gave the theme to me and Wikipedia helped with the rest. For once, I found the last step very quickly.

    Re ODQs, they publish new editions at fairly widely-spaced intervals so I think it’s always worth getting when a new one appears. From a setter’s point of view, it is I think better to avoid quotes that are not in the latest edition even if they were in earlier ones. As a frequenter of bookshops (new and secondhand) and book fairs, I’ve picked up every edition back to the 2nd over the years.

  9. HolyGhost says:

    Very well judged grid construction from Dysart. I liked the way the two completions were contiguous with BONNET- and BILLIARD-, and in particular that a single letter-change not only performed these completions but simultaneously zapped the very character that disappeared in the poem. That this also allowed BOOJUM to be discovered was the icing on the cake. (I felt that filling the empty square with J was an unnecessary flourish, but would obviously have been a help to less experienced solvers – given the problems many had with Dysart’s Inquisitor 148, maybe it was playing safe.)

    I’ll keep my view of using “Mr.Bean” at 20d to myself.

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