Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1127, Thelma by MynoT

Posted by Hihoba on June 2nd, 2010


My fastest Inquisitor ever. About an hour to solve all the clues. Quick shufti in Google to find the quotation attribution. Short pause to mow the lawn, then search for “directions”. Find them, remember my Shakespeare and search in a NNW direction. Done!

A beautifully constructed puzzle. There were no comments on MynoT’s two previous offerings about his clues, but I found these easy by normal Inquisitor standards.

The quotation is “By indirections find directions out” from Hamlet, referring to the play within a play. So we were to search for directions. Only after I found them did I realise that they started “in” and finished “out” according to the quotation. So the four inner blank squares were NESW (clockwise) and reading outwards from them diagonally you can find NORTH EAST SOUTH and WEST, North being the diagonal from the centre to the top right square. The other quote from Hamlet is the well known hawk/handsaw quote: I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.” So if you look just to the west of north on the grid you will find MAD proceeding by knights moves and pointing NNW. [The M is between W and N, the A above the G of ERG and the D is the D in square 7D.] This is the three letter word to be highlighted. To cap it all Thelma, the title of the crossword = mad Hamlet . Excellent.

Ba noted that the four outer squares are occupied by the letter T. This is probably just a coincidence, but there may be some deeper meaning (other than the fact that the four directions happen to have T as their fourth letter).

Two bars and one clue number were misplaced – 11A should have a bar to end its 3 letter length and 35A should start (preceded by a symmetrical bar) one square to the right.

 8  ECHE – Shakespearian form of eke
 11  EMS (note misplaced bar) – hidden
 12  TROAD = Spenserian path: TROD round A
 13  REST(ore)
 14  KEN+O – Australian house
 15  ERG – hidden
 16  OWCHE – W in OCHE
 17  STOLE – double meaning
 18  ESTER – hidden
 22  ARTEL = Russian guild: ART +EL
 24  STOPE = Shakespearian for stoup – a holy water vessel – [POETS]*
 26  NACHO contains chilli - NACH is an alternative for nautch (which is strictly a performance rather than the dancer!) + O
 27  ARC – A + R.C.
 30  IN IT
 32  DIE+(yo)U
 34  STEAM – S + [MEAT]*
 35  SEI = whale – replace X in SEX by I: move the number one square right and insert a bar
 36  RHO(de)S
 37  BOTRYOSE = like a bunch of grapes – BOT + Y in ROSE
 1  RE+E+K
 2  EM+MET = tourist in Cornwall
 4  CYTE = cell – sounds like site
 5  TIRE – double meaning
 6  E+NORM = atrocious
 7  DI+DOES = capers
 8  ERR – hidden
 9  HASH+ED = hacked
 10  EUTERPE = muse – [PU(pp)ETEER]*
 17  (i)SLANDER
 19  SATISFY - SATI’S is widow’s (same as suttee) + F(amil)Y
 20  WRAITH – I in WRATH
 21  ULOSIS = scar formation – [SOIL]* in US
 23  CREDO – CRED(it) + O
 25  PIERS – sounds like
 28  CANT – double meaning – brisk (Scot.) and sale by auction
 29  AMIR = prince – RIMA (gap between vocal chords) reversed
 31  TIDE – double meaning  – happen (archaic) and trend
 33  URS ur = er or um to fill a gap in speech – URSON is a porcupine – remove ON (leg side).

13 Responses to “Inquisitor 1127, Thelma by MynoT”

  1. HolyGhost says:

    Very fast to solve all the clues, sort out the quotation, understand Thelma, and find MAD … but then hit a brick wall – the barred-off cells just wouldn’t yield. (I was trying to justify entering NE, SE, SW & NW, despite knowing that MAD should be NNW and not NNE as it appeared to be in the grid.)

    The omitted bars and misplaced clue number put me off for far too long (especially as the letter after EMS was S, and the letter before SEI was S, so I had the S in each DIRECTIONS left blank and wondered if this was something to do with “directions out”). And all this on the day that the Occasional Notes were about proof-reading!

    So after staring at the damn thing for well over half the total time to completion, I felt really stupid and sheepish when the completion came to me at last. Oh dear.

  2. Mike Laws says:

    Ironic, yes. A single missed click while constructing the grid caused it. Apologies have already been made to those who accepted the invitation to e-mail, and will appear when the solution is published in the magazine. An intercalatory one to all readers here!

    The puzzle went through several revisions, including a completely new grid, before I accepted it. Knight’s moves weren’t mentioned originally, but I felt it wasn’t fair to expect the solver to find three non-contiguous squares, especially when NNW was roughly accurate only when the grid had been notionally rotated a few degrees anticlockwise so that NSEW pointed in the right direction.

    I deliberately left in a couple of clues (to SEI and URS in particular) with naff surface readings, but otherwise technically sound, to see if it bothered anyone.

    Did it?

  3. Hi of Hihoba says:

    I thought that the two clues you mention were the pick of a relatively unispired set – at least they raised a smile!

  4. Rosie says:

    I could have believed one mistake in the grid, but two looked like carelessness, so I tried desperately to find some other explanation. The two words containing the misplaced bars could each have been entered so as to leave an empty square in the quotation and I spend a long time thinking that those two spare squares were intended to contain a comma and a full stop (I once suffered from an English teacher so pedantic that we had to learn punctuation by heart).
    But a very enjoyable puzzle nonetheless.

  5. Simon Harris says:

    This was one of those, thankfully fairly rare, cases where I had no idea what was going on, and having read the blog am barely the wiser, leaving me feeling a bit daft.

    I follow that it’s Hamlet, and it has North, South East and West sort-of-hidden in it. But how does one make the leap to “The other quote”? And what’s the deal with the middle three white squares?

  6. Mike Laws says:

    The middle three squares contain OUT, the last word of the first quotation. The four main points of the compass, as they appear in the diagram, are “out” – i.e. not quite right. The notes accompanying the solution next week will read:

    “By indirections find directions out” (Hamlet, Act II) suggested North, South, East and West. “I am but mad north-north-west” (ibid.) suggested the direction of MAD (once the compass points were correctly oriented) and explained the title.

  7. Gordon Fisher says:

    As someone who looks at the Inquisitor each week but rarely gets passed solving 10 clues can you all stop saying how easy you find them-I may well have to hang myself if this continues. I find them extremely difficult and have only ever completed one-do I need counselling?

  8. kenmac says:


    No you don’t need counselling. Wait till you’ve solved your first one then you’ll truly be “over the edge.” For my part, when I saw my first barred crossword about 10 years ago, my first response was, “WTF?” With lots of guidance from a friend, I was soon hooked. Keep looking in at these comments and you’ll soon find yourself on the bandwagon. And make sure you have a copy of Chambers Dictionary.

    Have you discovered Enigmatic Variations and The Listener? In Sunday Telegraph and Saturday’s Times, respectively; also available on-line by subscription.

  9. nmsindy says:

    I agree with kenmac’s comment. For years, as a daily cryptic solver, I thought the ‘advanced’ thematic puzzles would be a step too far for me. Then I put my foot in the water. If you can solve the daily cryptic, these are definitely solvable too, once, as kenmac says, you have Chambers Dictionary for the wider vocabulary used. The puzzles also open a wider world of puzzles with themes which can be very satisfying.

  10. Mike Laws says:

    Welcome aboard, Gordon. You’re obviously over kenmac’s WTF moment, so you’ve the mettle to become one of the solvers complaining that a puzzle was too easy!

  11. Hi of Hihoba says:

    Gordon, don’t worry. Easy is a relative term – these were easy by comparison with some Inquisitors – which I occasionally find utterly impenetrable and give up on. The clues become easier when you know the tricks in barred crosswords which are sometimes different from those in “normal” ones. They also REQUIRE you to have Chambers and to use it quite a lot. You simply can’t (or I can’t) solve these without looking up some words. I feel cheated with a daily crossword if there are more than one or two words that require a dictionary search, and normally these are flagged by straightforward wordplay. Inquisitors, and other similar crosswords are quite different. Meanings of common words are often obscure ones, known only to dictionary compilers, and some words are simply obscure! My pet hate is Spenserian words – apart from an occasional English graduate, has anybody ever read any Spenser? Look out for Edmund (Spenser), William (Shakespeare) and John (Milton) as key words in clues indicating strange words by these authors.

  12. Hi of Hihoba says:

    P.S. Ed and Bill are often used as abbreviations for Spenser and Shakespeare! If you have some letters, but don’t want to wade through the whole dictionary, Chambers Word Wizard is a very useful tool (Google it). Only a few of us confess to using such aids, but sometimes I have to!

  13. Simon Harris says:

    Gordon – plus, this one just was not easy. I’ve been tackling these for some time now, and tend to do ok, yet despite the help of the editor I don’t really follow how this one works. You’re not alone old chap.

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