Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1130 – The Magnificent Seven by Raich

Posted by petebiddlecombe on June 23rd, 2010


For me, the theme of this puzzle was very easy to guess.

I knew already that Raich was mad enough about football to make regular journeys from Ireland to support Sunderland, and take his pseudonym from Raich Carter, captain of their last team to win a Football League title in 1936. The grid for this puzzle had a green background with a white perimeter, and the preamble mentioned two sets of 11 clues, an 8-letter theme, and a set of seven completing the white perimeter. All this on the morning of England’s first match on the second day of play in the football WORLD CUP (8), which anyone with the remotest interest in sport must know has been won by seven countries – Uruguay, Italy, Brazil, England, West Germany, Argentina and France – names with a total of 48 letters to match that perimeter when you remember to use W for ‘West’.

So just the clues to solve then, and an alternative version of ‘world cup’ almost certain to emerge from the 22 misprints or missing letters in wordplay. This proved surprisingly difficult, partly because of a bit of confusion with a couple of those letters. “Jules Rimet” and “Trophy” came out fairly soon but that’s only 16 of the 22. Between them, I should have remembered that the current trophy, replacing the Jules Rimet one given to Brazil to keep on their third win in 1970, is the “FIFA trophy”, but I forgot this until I cheated on wikipedia, and had a fake S in missing wordplay letters, from thinking of “Bill’s associate” as COO rather than COOS. The missing letter F was eventually traced to 4D and I stopped looking vainly for a ‘SIFA trophy’.

I’m not sure how to assess the quality of the puzzle – if the theme had emerged gradually during the solving process I think I’d have enjoyed the puzzle, but having seen most of the theme in a 5 minute walk home from the paper shop, it fell rather flat. I’m thoroughly in favour of commemorating big events, and of redressing the historic bias towards cricket in thematic crosswords, but I think a more difficult theme might have been appropriate given that something about the World Cup was extremely likely. It may seem like “second prize” at this point, but I liked the clues.

Just to confirm, the 22-letter phrase is JULES RIMET OR FIFA TROPHY, the 8-letter colloquial version on the NW-SE diagonal is WORLD CUP, and the perimeter, clockwise from the second square in the top row, is URUGUAY, FRANCE, ITALY, W GERMANY, ENGLAND, ARGENTINA, BRAZIL

Phrase clues
Letter/ No. Answer [Misprinted word / ] Wordplay
J / 14 ARLOTT John / (tor, lat(ely))* – “Föhn” is a bit cheeky as the misprinted word, using the ‘ignore accents’ convention usually applied to grid entries.
U / 16 CAT puss / CA(n=knight)T
L / 17 YEMEN land / Ye men = ‘old soldiers’
E / 19 BATTEL TAB rev., Lt. rev
S / 24 UDS (s)UD = ‘South of France’
R / 25 TEAR Rage / TEA,R
I / 29 CRU Vintage / (e)CRU
M / 31 CREEP Move / C(hico),PEER rev.
E / 35 ORPINE cOrRuPt,IN
T / 36 RENT R.(E)N.
O / 37 EXCEPT out / EX=at one time,CE=this French,PT=pupil teacher
I / 10 STASI SAT’S rev.
F / 13 RUNNER-UP First’s / (pure nun, r)*
T / 24 URETER duct / URE,(hun)TER
P / 28 UNARM help / UN,ARM
H / 29 CRETIN chump / CERT(a)IN*
Y / 32 PITHY tip rev.,H
Selected other clues
6 ID = idem = the same,A(HO),AN
9 MESE – Gk. word for ‘keynote’ – E for S in mess=a set of four (Shak.)
22 NERD = (tu)rned*
27 NUR = knur = ‘hard ball’ – rev. of run
30 CARLOW – an Irish county – CAR=vehicle,LOW=down – my favourite clue simply because County Down is freed from the shackles of cryptic crossword cliché (county => DOWN) for once
39 (t)ER(A,THE)M
5 AES=rev. of sea,CH=check (chess),NA = rev. of a, n
7 DURBAN – (D(exter),(v)A(ughn),(co)BURN)*
15 OSTRA=(star,O)*,CON=against – an ostracon is a tile (more Greek). Nice disguise here as ?ST? at the beginning allows us to ponder ASTAIRE = dancing star

10 Responses to “Inquisitor 1130 – The Magnificent Seven by Raich”

  1. Bannsider says:

    Although as Peter says the theme came out quite readily, I enjoyed this, particularly as I was on holiday when I solved it, so appreciated the fact that is wasn’t TOO complicated! I forgot about the “W” to be added to Germany, and was considering the possibility of “Italia” before the pfennig dropped :-)

  2. Mike Laws says:

    “which anyone with the remotest interest in sport must know has been won by seven countries – Uruguay, Italy, Brazil, England, West Germany, Argentina and France”

    Even the most ardent footy fanatics in my local couldn’t remember that off the cuff, and struggled to name them accurately. The landlord was convinced there were eight!

    But that was last year, when I was solving Raich original submission, so perhaps they have an excuse.

    Wetherspoon’s don’t, though. Their promotion of wines from World-Cup-winning countries only featured six flags. There’s now perhaps a minor irony in the fact that it was France they’d omitted.

  3. Hypnos says:

    Only understood the topical theme when I saw WORLD appearing in the NW diagonal. Some great clues, particularly liked
    the disguise in the reference to John Arlott in 14ac. Also liked the subtle red herrings in some clues to the film
    with the title. Wonder whether there might be an “Awesome Eight” by the end of SA 2010…

  4. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Mike: Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say that anyone remotely … should have been able to name the seven if they were told that there were seven. All bar Uruguay seem very easy to remember, and Uruguay won the first one.

  5. Hi of Hihoba says:

    Pretty straightforward, though I didn’t realise until solving this how few world-cup winning teams there were!
    I just loved the definition of ARLOTT as “Test-describing John”!!

  6. HolyGhost says:

    Concur in general with Pete B, and in particular with his comment #4 and also accent in the clue for 14a.

  7. Raich says:

    There is a long tradition in the thematic crossword word of puzzles to mark special occasions eg centenaries etc etc. In such cases the solver will often have an inkling before starting of what the theme of the puzzle might be. The puzzle still has to be solved however and hopefully enjoyed.

    While one can but admire the blogger’s ability to work it all out in five minutes, other feedback, in this blog and otherwise, suggests this was not a general experience. It must be remembered that the blogger is a distinguished former holder of the Times Crossword (speed-solving) Championship.

    Raich has rarely seen a case in which one clue in a Raich puzzle has been selected by such a high proportion for favourable mention as the ARLOTT clue here (14A). Regarding the accent (umlaut), in fohn (forgive its absence here), I did not notice it when setting, but, if I had, would still have run with it, I think, on the basis surmised, ie the convention that accents are ignored in grid answers. The misprint gave the J of JULES RIMET. J is not an easy letter to find a misprint for!

  8. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Sorry Raich, I missed your comment until reviewing this when blogging another puzzle with the same theme.

    For me, “cheeky” as used in relation to 14A means that something is cheeky but on the right side of the imaginary line between fair and unfair.

    On the easiness of the theme, I think the puzzle would have worked better for me without the green/white background and “seven” in the title. Then the theme would have been very probable given the date and two sets of eleven treated answers (never mind my extra advantage from personal knowledge), but it would have needed confirmation.

  9. Dave Wichall says:

    As a newcomer to this excellent site, I enjoyed above analyses and comments, having just reached this puzzle in my backlog. But disagreed with Peter’s reading of 17A. Instead, old soldiers = YEOMEN, dumping old = YEMEN.

  10. Dave Wichall says:

    Correction to previous: soldiers once = YEOMEN, dumping old = YEMEN. Apologies.

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