Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 915 For The Books by Charybdis

Posted by twencelas on May 29th, 2010


Well a complex preamble this week – certainly one that won’t make sense till 11 down is derived. On first reading it sounds like a puzzle based upon a literary character. Then there’s an adjustment to the “completed” grid with a recommendation to use a pencil first.  Personally I like the satisfaction of watching the grid filling up with black ink! – So it was ink for me on a copy first.

so 11 down is 8 letters with 4 cross checked by normal clues. That’s the first target – find out who it is. Some of the trickier clues, in my opinion, in what was a relatively straight forwardly clued crossword. It did n’t take long to get “^IC^W^^R” and Mr. MICAWBER of Dickensian repute (David Copperfield) was the result. His famous adage, commonly referred to as the Micawber Principle came to mind, “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.” A quick look back at the preamble and that was 1dn, 13ac, 23dn and 32ac defined = ANNUAL INCOME TWENTY POUNDS. Bizarrely I had just over a quarter of the grid filled when I filled these in.

Nothing too taxing in the remaining clues, well nothing that the red tome could n’t confirm and 23Ac THE BOTTOM LINE became the crux defined in the first sentence.

So a full grid and a shaded square indicating the starting point of his 6 letter condition. MISERY spelt in a south east diagonal line. Then back to the preamble again and off to Chambers to look up Micawber – Chambers here was not so much recommended but essential?

The Chambers entry gave “waiting for something to turn up” – SOMETHING was indeed present in the grid vertically downwards in the centre ugSOME+T+HINGes. A quick inversion of something, lead to some non-words, and HAPPINESS appeared in the fifth row down and the last thing to find (to make all the difference, to quote the preamble and fulfill the quotation above) was the proverbial SHILLING going vertically from the second S of HAPPINESS. 

The only thing left to puzzle over was what was the purpose of the shaded square – which I must admit I’m still at a loss to explain.

My personal favourite clue this week would be “One has to pop off? ‘You said ‘____'”.  A relatively easy EV too with nothing ambiguous other than the shaded square, I thought.  But the penny did drop a little easily for my liking.

Rev – Reversed; * = Anagram; dd = double definition; Underline = Definition


1 Boozy set entertained by ex-alkies in the main (5, two words)
(set)* within AA (alcoholics anonymous) = AT SEA
5 Missing tubes Duke’s wife, losing heart, swallows thallium (8)
Duchess – heart around Tl = DUCTLESS
12 Autograph might be created by OAP with this monogram (6)
(autograph-oap)* = TUGHRA (monogram of Turkish sultan)
14 Norwegian rock lacking in ceremony? (6)
No + rite = NORITE
15 I’ll repeatedly infiltrate African republic (this could be porky) (7)
sudan around i i = SUIDIAN (of pigs)
16 City near Carthage seen from the East in Tacitus (5)
Hidden Rev. = UTICA
17 Steely and sort of stoic about broken rib (8)
(stoic + rib)* = SORBITIC
18 Head testifier’s not with it (4)
witness minus w. it = NESS
20 On left, for instance (3)
L+ eg = LEG (Cricketing term for the On-side)
21 Spinning firework’s not quite finished — how exciting! (4)
Wheel unfinished = WHEE
22 Coarse joint? (3)
26 You and I, with daughter, should get married (3)
We + d = WED
29 Welcome or unwelcome weather? (4)
30 Going round China circuit (3)
Rev pal (china is slang for mate) = LAP
33 Stadium doing without new designated space (4)
arena (stadium) – n = AREA
36 Prisoner in retreat takes new direction, providing parts of catholic service (8)
Rev(con) + turns = NOCTURNS
38 One has to pop off? You said ‘____’ (5)
a + die + u (homonym) = ADIEU
39 Return of stolen goods and Bishop’s silver in workman’s container (7)
Rev loot + b + Ag = TOOLBAG
40 Put pressure on small boy to keep a small number (6, two words)
Len around a + no = LEAN ON
41 Sequence of episodes on the radio — corny stuff (6)
serial (homonym) = CEREAL
42 Wow! Like fashion is hot (8)
as + ton + is + h = ASTONISH
43 Poles? Indeed, they’re part of Edmonton’s catchment area (5)
s + n (poles) + yes (indeed) = SNYES (Canadian catchment area)

2 Play feebly when playing lotto at end of binge (6)
(lotto + e)* = TOOTLE
3 One rook captured by his upward-moving pawn (5)
His (Rev) around I r = SIRIH
4 To gently strike palm (5)
at (to) + tap = ATTAP
6 Disgusting old gum so foul on bottom of table (6)
(gumso+e)* = UGSOME
7 Violently agitates church receptacles (6)
ch + urns = CHURNS
8 The northern currant family or groups of families (6)
t + ribes (currant genus) = TRIBES
9 Without any surrounding anxiety this might make one leave (4)
(anxiety – any)* = EXIT
10 Small island protected by Mongols in dust storm (7)
shan (Mongols) around ait (island) = SHAITAN
17 Macmillan’s to violently throw out half of Soviet intelligence unit (4)
half of Spetznaz (soviet undercover intelligence unit) = SPET (spit – dialect)
19 Excellent! Everything is topsy-turvy and irregular on horse … (8)
Rev(rad + all + is) = SILLADAR (irregular cavalryman)
24 … Irregular on horse may be seen in these monuments? (7)
(onhorse)* = HEROONS (temples for heroes)
25 One of the classics on account of King James’s period (4)
oa (on account) + k + s (end of James) = OAKS (horserace)
27 ‘Behold a son’ – this lad and another one might be endurable (6)
(endurable – lad)* = REUBEN (behold a son)
28 Maoris catching these might make them a rarity to some extent (6)
hidden = MARARI (NZ butterfish)
29 Cardinal points to devil’s dung — the origins of every sin (6)
hing (asafoetida – devil’s dung) + e + s = HINGES
31 Hare sitting on hole,is out of hot and hairy spot (6)
hare – h + hole – h = AEROLE
34 Least exchanged form of money? (5)
(least)* = TAELS
35 Unshakably affectionate, not cold like Heather (5)
clingy – c = LINGY
37 Small cottage gets a layer of paint (4)
cot  (cottage) around a = COAT

2 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 915 For The Books by Charybdis”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Only guessing, but I think the purpose of the shaded square was to aid the solver to find the start of MISERY as you have explained, and that that is it.

  2. Jake says:

    I didn’t get the M 28dn either. Not that it mattered in my case, so nmsindy thanks for that bit of info.

    I rather liked this puzzle, I didn’t start it ’til late, so looking at when it needed to be sent in – I was too late, never mind!

    pretty much all the cluing – apart from a few – seemed on the same level of difficulty, the few I needed help with I found a programme for apple mac called “crossworders’ dictionary and gazetter”
    a great programme with a lot of proper nouns added too. If anyone is interested.

    Thanks for the blog, on to this weeks.

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