Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 919 Go-getters by Ifor

Posted by twencelas on June 26th, 2010


Well – a seriously convoluted pre-amble this week. Pausing only for a sharp intake of breath, here goes – Removal of abbreviations from one clue in each even numbered down column and rearrangement of the result into a new word; 6 clues contain superfluous letter pairs, which must be identified and removed prior to solving the clue and Extra letters in the wordplay of all bar the answers, that have had abbreviations removed. And that’s not all – another sharp intake of breath – then you need to determine a word (not in Chambers) , which is to be entered as the title of the puzzle, which itself is derived, in some manner, from the additional letters in the wordplay and to finish it off the final grid is to be adjusted to achieve an “objective”. Enough to make the casual crossword -solver wait for next week’s offering, or reach for the Sudoku.  But – all in all the ingredients for a very interesting few hours cogitation. Definitely, in my view, the toughest one I’ve blogged yet. And for my second blog in a row the recommended use of a pencil first!

Also a somewhat reduced-sized grid this week – only 11 x 11- Well after that preamble, I suspect it was all that would fit in the available print space.

Anyway down to business. After all the instructions above, I did make a fairly rapid start completing most of the top left corner (the wordplay in 1ac took quite a while to reach a semi-satisfactory conclusion: Comments welcome). This yielded my first insight into this week’s subject matter 4dn was “roariest” and this was required to fit into 6 squares. This meant that r and o must be removed. R.O. for there to be a word left in 4dn (STRIAE) – Run out was my first thought, but I needed a bit more to confirm a cricketing theme. The next one of the adjusted down clues had to be 21dn – the initial answer being “Sutorial”, could it be remove St. for Stumped. Solving the cross checking clues yielded 21dn (OURALI). So my cricketing hunch appeared a good one. B for Bowled, C for Caught and LBW for leg-before-wicket completed the set of removals. So in the week when the football world cup began, the theme is cricket-related to match the sunshine.

So on to modification 2 – 3dn gave me my first superfluous pair of letters BA then 7dn RL and 8dn OW so the cricketer was “BARLOW” – Graham Barlow? The 3 in the across clues were certainly better hidden (from me anyway), 22ac and 23ac gave me RNBY – but could I find the last pair? Well eventually it was in 18ac rehoused to become reused. A nice touch, in that the clue worked with and without the extra pair. So who was or were HORNBY BARLOW?

Lacking the required ODQ at hand, when I was completing the puzzle, Google came to my rescue. Hornby and Barlow were, it turns out, made famous by a cricketing poem on a game of 1878. I even found the scorecard. An honourable draw achieved by Lancashire against Gloucestershire (WG Grace and family – there were 3 Grace’s on the scorecard, no nepotism there, I’m sure). A few lines are extracted below:

             “For the field is full of shades as I near a shadowy coast,

And a ghostly batsman plays to the bowling of a ghost,
And I look through my tears on a soundless-clapping host
As the run-stealers flicker to and fro,
To and fro:
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago !
It’s Glo’ster coming North, the irresistible,
The Shire of the Graces, long ago!
It’s Gloucestershire up North, the irresistible,
And new-risen Lancashire the foe!” – by Francis Thompson “At Lords”

 Hornby and Barlow put on 108 for the first wicket in the second innings for Lancashire and the match was drawn.

But there was still more to this puzzle. The extra letters in the clues spelled out “Change the batting order in middle column” – so sounds like its going to be an anagram of the letters in the central column linked to Hornby and Barlow “SRELUANTSER”? Having found the poem by this time, “run-stealers” literally leapt off the page. And this had to be written under the grid.

So for the final action – an adjustment to the original grid. Where and what could this be. BARLOW and HORNBY were both visible in the final grid and to complete the preamble they need to run a single swapping the letters in their names leaving real words in the final grid and completing the long – but precise preamble.

Whilst, there may have been fewer clues than normal, there were some tricky ones (or certainly ones that took longer to crack than usual), but not many obscure words, which is generally how I like my crosswords. A fascinating puzzle and a welcome relief, no doubt for those who don’t appreciate the eleven a side game that only lasts for 90 minutes of play. I did really enjoy this and offer my gratitude to Ifor.

GRID outlined below:

D  R E S S S N A P P Y
T  O R T U R E S O R T
R  A I C U P S I D O R
E  L S E L E I S U R E
D  I E T E R C H E S S


Detailed derivations below:   

DD double definition, * Anagram, Rev. Reversed
Underline = Definition, XX = Superfluous letters, Removed letter answers


C              1 Debtor’s examination in additional type of suit (5)
                DR (debtor) + CESS (I think remove ex from excess with the word debtor serving two purposes) =   DRESS
H              6 Quiet and nervous, inclined to fly off the handle (6)
                SH + NAPPY (nervous) = SNAPPY
A             11 13 leaving hospital cross about painful treatment (7)
                THOR – H + TAU (cross) + RE (about) = TORTURE
N              12 Organise quick drink (4)
                DD SNORT and SORT
G             14 Rough briar work amounts to hedges (8)
                (BRIAR)* + ERGS = BARRIERS
E              16 Note coiled hose (3)
                (hose)* = SOH
T              18 Goddess’s heart reHOused (4)
                (heart)* = RHEA
H              19 Month’s right to graft fruit tree(7)
                June + r around hip (fruit) = JUNIPER
E              20 Fail to keep Balmoral’s eye on early reputation (4)
                Los (reputation) + ee (Scot’s eye) = LOSE
B              22 Mac’s toRN a bet up (3)
                (abet)* = TAE (Scottish to)
A             23 Obtain grubBY money, perhaps, in wrestling arena (4)
                (arena)* = EARN
T              24 Expelling cheat unreservedly beforehand (7)
                Out + sting = OUSTING
T              26 Member of small unit returning aboard torpedo boat (4)
                Rev(mil) in TB (torpedo boat) = LIMB
I               30 African music found in Algeria, inevitably (3)
                (riai) hidden = RAI (modern N. African music)
N              31 In cups, or dead drunk? Spit in here (8)
                (incupsord)* = CUPSIDOR
G             33 Besides base, legs adjust (4)
                E(base) + (legs)* = ELSE
O             34 Crude oil user accepting energy free from business (7)
                (oliusere)* = LEISURE
R              35 Retired hurt — might he lose pot? (6)
                (retired)* = DIETER
D              36 Titled lady overlooking upper-class game (5)
                Duchess – u (upper class) = CHESS

E              2 End of joint translation of Horace (5)
                (horace)* = ROACH (joint as in marijuana)
R              3 Queen clasping bishop’s BAsin (3)
                er around rr = ERR
                4 Scotland’s most rowdy sign in books after beginning to read (6)
                r + ot (books) around (aries- sign) = (ROARIEST – R.O.(run out))* = STRIAE
I               5 Action is universal to any young child (4)
                is + u + it = SUIT
N              7 Rose huRLed flower, caught by winner in net (6)
                Hidden = NERINE
M             8 Very high-ranking cOWard suggests gutless target (5)
                A (high card) + ss (1st and last of suggests) + aim (target) = ASSAI
I               9 Feed set in place beforehand (delivery charge already met) (8, hyphenated)
                I (in) + Post (place) + Paid (fee-d) = POST-PAID
D              10 Jab with a right (6)
               prod + per = PROPER
D              11 Troy prior to Homer, say? It transports one to the heights (4, hyphenated)
                t (troy) + bard = T-BAR (ski lift)
L              13 Thunder lord dropping below and second to Odin (4)
                Thunder – under + lord – d (second odin) = THOR (Norse god)
                15 Top-heavy straw hat falling off head? On the contrary (7)
                Dunstable (Straw hat) minus head = (UNSTABLE – B. (Bowled)* = ELUANTS
E              17 Horizontally banded, charges ultimately doubled. Shrewd! (8, hyphenated)
                (feess) last letter doubled + wise (shrewd) = FESSWISE 
                21 Concerning needlework, second lesson’s not started (6)
                S + tutorial (not starting) = (SUTORIAL – St. (Stumped))* = OURALI
                22 Handle at once earlier complicated clue (6)
C              tit (at once) + (clue)* = TITULE               
                23 Prigs trashed life school (6)
                (life + sch)* = (FILCHES – C. (Caught))* = ELFISH
O             24 Wooer travelling over to Skye (4)
                (wooer)* = OWRE (Scots over)
L              25 Movement of cattle is silent (5)
                (cattle)* = TACET
                27 Brooms were originally left out? They might be hung on line (5)
                (brroms + w + l)* = (LOBWORMS – Leg Before Wicket)* = MOORS
U              28 Variety of old bull tracks near cowshed (4)
                by(near) + ure (extinct wild ox) = BYRE
M             29 Past master enters ice dancing spectacular (4)
                (pm + ice)* = EPIC
N              32 Directly, almost under ground (3)
                (unde)* = DUE

2 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 919 Go-getters by Ifor”

  1. Mike Laws says:

    I didn’t start this one until late in the week, and my LTS moment was hastened by the arrival of a Nutmeg.

    I’d have turned it down for Inquisitor, and suspect the Listener would have had serious reservations. I prefer crosswords to be entertaining, rather than an ordeal.

    Thanks to twenceslas for surviving it!

  2. twencelas says:


    I too like entertaining and humorous crosswords, preferably with less convoluted preambles and more contemporaneous themes. This one was not the most accessible of puzzles (to say the least) but it was satisfying in the end – if only for my personal discovery that Gloucestershire had three crickters named Grace in their line up (and the fact that the scorecard for a game played around 150 years ago could be found on the internet). The subject matter was from my perspective obscure but the whole was satisfying – possibly quite in tune with many a stereotypical Telegraph reader. As to the puzzles ability to lure more people to this form of crossword, I suspect it was low to zero.

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