Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 909 – Three Graces by Rustic

Posted by mc_rapper67 on April 17th, 2010


Although I got to the ‘bottom’ of the theme quite quickly, the second variation had me chasing my own tail, and even barking up the wrong tree, for a while. But(t), it was the more feline clue at 20A which had me stumped the longest.

Anyway, allow me to introduce myself to the group: my name is ‘mc_rapper67′, and I am a crossword-aholic. Like many of you, (I’m guessing), I suffer from a time-wasting form of OCD (Obsessive Crosswording Disorder). I have solved and submitted the EV for many years now, and have been the proud recipient of the ‘distinctive’ Telegraph fountain pen on at least three occasions. This is my first blog, so please be gentle with me!…

Most of the non-thematic clues rolled off the pen in good order, and the grid soon filled up nicely to suggest ‘TELEPHONE’, ‘NAME’ and ‘CITE’ for Variation A – which all seemed to have ‘CALL’ in common. Variation C had three four-letter words with what looked like a common set of letters: ‘A’, ‘G’, ‘E’ and ‘N’. Linking this with the use of ‘curvaceously’ in the preamble, and the notion of the Three Graces as ‘beauty personified’ led me to CALLIPYGEAN – CALL + IPY + GEAN. (From the Greek ‘kallos’ beauty, and ‘pyge’ buttock = ‘having beautiful buttocks’.) This also explained why WELL was being added to the bottom of three down lights – INK, BRIDE and FARE – with the ‘w’ in a nicely rounded lower-case font, as per the preamble.

(I guess Rustic is an admirer of the more well-rounded female form from behind – and/or in possession of such a form, if Rustic is a she?!)

But, what of that middle section – IPY – and its associated variations: 8D ‘ELPY’, 9D ‘AP_’ and 39A ‘A_KB’? A quick trawl of paper- and laptop-based reference material, and some popular online search engines, only yielded ‘International Polar Year’ for IPY; while ELPY sounded like a phonetic rendition of LP - so no joy or logic to either of these lines of thought. It was a head-scratching while before I recalled an old childhood game we used to play with our grandfather – taking the first letter (or two) from a word and putting it at the end to make a secret code – to finally get Y-IP and its variations Y-ELP, Y-AP and B-ARK.

Ank-th ou-y ery-v uch-m, Ustic-r!

Clue No Length Entry Derivation/logic
1A (8 hyphenated) TWO-FACED Double defn of TWO-FACED – false, and Roman god Janus
7A (4) GENA Variation C – anag of GEAN
10A (4) NAME Variation A – synonym of CALL
11A (6) PHILIP PP (abbrev for parish priest), with HILI (scars) ‘carried’ inside
12A (6) LOURY Homonym – artist LOWRY and LOURY (scowling)
13A (6) CRISPY CR (abbrev for councillor) + I + SPY (observe)
16A (3) YOB Reversal of BOY (lad)
18A (4) PLOW P (from plane) + LOW (near the ground) gives US spelling of Plough (constellation)
19A (4) OMSK OK (correct) ‘retaining’ MS (manuscript)
20A (4) PURR Well – this stumped me for ages – how can it be cryptic? ‘The sound of a cat (4)’. Looks like a straight-forward definition of PURR, which fits! Schoolboy error – look closely…’a’ can mean ‘per’, as in ‘£3.50 a pint? You must be kidding!’, and PER is a homonym for PURR – brilliant!
22A (6) HIKERS Anag of SHRIKE
23A (4) WERY WRY (cross) about E (from election) gives WERY – Sam Weller (in Pickwick Papers) tended to mix his Vs and Ws, giving WERY for VERY (extremely)
24A (4) COLT Doube defn COLT means to beat, and is also a type of pistol
26A (6) PEACOD Another one that took a while – I was trying to fit PECOD (maybe an alternative spelling of ‘Pequod’ from Moby Dick?) around A, but couldn’t find a definition of a ‘fish pod’. Turned out to be over-analysing it – P and E are the ‘surroundings’ of PiroguE + A + COD (fish) gives PEACOD (a pod).
27A (4) NELL Homonym – girl’s name NELL sounds like KNELL (sound of a bell)
28A (4) AMYL AMY (may ‘converted’) + L (Liberal)
29A (4) CITE Variation A – synonym of CALL
30A (3) ENG Double defn – ENG is an abbreviation for engineering, and also the phonetic symbol for ‘ng’
36A (6) LAGERS LAAGERS (defensive formations) less A (American)
37A (5) SCRAE S and E are the ‘outside’ of ‘some’, with anag of CAR inserted
38A (6) ORNERY Anag of NERO + RY (railway) gives ORNERY, American variant of ORDINARY
39A (4) ARK-B Variation B – BARK – synonym of YIP – top to tail
40A (4) EVEN EVEN is most of (run up to) EVENT (festival)
41A (8) FORESAIL FAIL (as in ‘bottle it’) around anag of ROSE
Clue No Length Entry Derivation/logic
1D (8) TELEPHONE Variation A – synonym of CALL
2D (8) WOODLICE WO (variant of WOE, or misfortune) + anag of COILED
3D (4) ONUS BONUS (extra payment) less B (a billion)
4D (4 + 4) FARE+WELL Double defn of FARE, augmented with WELL
5D (4) CECA Contained word from ‘FranCE CAbbies’ gives CECA, American variant of CAECA (pouches)
6D (6) EPRISE Half of stEP + RISE (mount)
7D (4) GIST IS in GT (abbreviation of ‘gutta’, medical term for a ‘drop’)
8D (4) ELP-Y Variation B – YELP – synonym of YIP – top to tail
9D (3 – not 4!) AP-Y Variation B – YAP – synonym of YIP – top to tail
14D (3 + 4) INK+WELL IN + K (from kettle), augmented with WELL
15D (7) PORTAGE PORT (drink) + AGE (mature)
17D (5 + 4) BRIDE+WELL B (from Beau) + RIDE (journey), augmented with WELL
20D (8) PEACOCKS PEA (seed) + COCKS (piles of hay)
21D (8) RYOTWARI Anag of IT and YARROW gives RYOTWARI (Indian system of land tenure)
25D (6) EMBRYO Anag of BIOMETRY less IT
31D (4) GANE Variation C – anag of GEAN
32D (4) AGEN Variation C – anag of GEAN
33D (4) TSAR T (from thirst) + SAR (Scottish form or savour, or taste)
34D (4) ARBA B-ARBA-RIAN (foreign) less BRIAN gives ARBA (screened wagon)
35D (3) ZOE ZO (form of ZHO or DZO – hybrid/cross Himalayan cattle) + E (European)

5 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 909 – Three Graces by Rustic”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Great début blog, mc_rapper67.

    Rustic is a male, who would have had no trouble getting the puzzle past the EV crossword editor…

  2. Jake says:

    Cheers for the blog.

    This puzzle seemed ‘to nice and easy’ 30ac ENG I didn’t put in because it looked too simple – §the first three letters of the cluing? I managed 90-92% of this puzzle but 1dn as TELEPHONE and 20ac as PURR ? I’m kicking myself now looking back at the answers I didn’t bother to put in because I was looking too hard for more obscure solutions.

    So I’ve learned that ‘looking too hard for something usually means you find nothing’!

    Nice to meet you mc rapper67, thanks for debut.

  3. Jake says:

    I looked up -callipygian |?kal??p?d???n| (also callipygean)
    having well-shaped buttocks.

    but variations of telephone call etc…. I instantly thought ‘thats not going to be it’ even though the 3 Graces being women an all.

    I feel an idiot.

  4. mc_rapper67 says:

    nmsindy/jake – thanks for making me feel welcome – it was a bit nerve wracking – didn’t want to make an @ss of myself, especially given the theme of the puzzle!

  5. Jake says:


    Although I’ve only been using this site for a year or so, I’ve found everybody here to be very welcoming and kind, and very helpful with clues I’ve managed to not solve. As with your own
    blog, very informative.

    Nice one.

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