Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No.920 – Find The Lady by Nutmeg

Posted by Mister Sting on July 3rd, 2010

Mister Sting.

Bonjour! Un petit peu less ceremony with this one – just ten ‘thematically entered’ answers and four unclued entries. Still, there’s some grid highlighting to be done, which always gives one a pleasant feeling of completion – if done properly, at least! I found the clueing to be fair, with some nicely misleading touches. For some reason, the anagrind in 1ac eluded me for some time. There were some nice touches showing a caring hand – the surface reading in 15 was rather better concealed than I would have thought possible with a hidden answer, for instance. 6ac and 35 made me smile, also.

Assumed (correctly) that they were single words, 10 and 34 were long enough to give one a good chance of guessing them – aided, if necessary, by one or two useful online tools. Furthermore, they were specific enough to point one conclusively toward the French Revolution. The regularly-clued Ventôse was the 5th clue of the theme (It was nicely misleading – Ventôse was February/March, not November). I confess, however, that although Robespierre and the Tricoteuses (lit.’a women who knit': belligerent revolutionary females did this during meetings and executions) were active at the Convention, I have not been able to pinpoint a particular event to which all these clues refer. Aidez-moi!

The ten thematic answers were sufficiently fairly clued to lead one to see what was happening – they were to be entered with the first letter removed. Mmm… headless? What could this mean? Although I can’t see a firm thematic reason for entering half of the clues in reverse, the location of the missing letters did, in a sense, lead you to the guilty party.

Finally, cherchez la femme! I found ‘guillotine’ rather quickly, aide by the unclued and thematic answers. However, having shaded it, this left me with a far from convincing gallows shape. Ah! I had missed the lady herself! The full shape spelled out MADAME GUILLOTINE. J’accuse!

Donc, at le fin of the jour, une assez pleasant bagatelle.

I’m not entirely sure of 6dn, 18 and 29. Any corrections gratefully received. Thanks to nmsindy and Gaufrid.

XXX* = anagram
{xxx} = anagram/homophone/container indicator
< = reversal
xxx = unused letter(s)
ELEATIC = ‘Beheaded’ clue

1 TEA DISH Cook said the ladies used to drink from it (7, 2 words) ladies used to drink from it: SAIDTHE* {cook}
6 HEADS Beans that come up only 50% of the time (5) beans: ‘heads’ (on a coin) only ‘comes up’ 50% of the time
10 ROBESPIERRE Unclued (11)  
11 GUILTILY Ugly Italian drops two articles, shaking like a malefactor (8) like a malefactor: UGLYITaLIan* (drops two articles = no ‘a’ ‘an’) {shaking}
13 ELEATIC Philosopher’s fallow land in backward French city  (6) philospher’s (a reference to the Eleatic school): LEA (fallow land) in < CITÉ {backward} (French "city")
14 HOLY SEE Absence of dry land reported by Vatican (6, 2 words) Vatican: homophone of ‘wholly sea’ {reported}
15 TYMPANO City MP, a northerner carrying instrument (6) instrument: ciTYMPANOrtherner {carrying}
19 DEASOIL For this reason one enters wood as the sun moves round (6) as the sun moves round: ins. of SO (for this reason) + I (one) in DEAL (wood)
21 RATHOLE Beastly place where artist has to suffer north of the border (6) beastly place (as in ‘place of a beast’): RA (artist) + THOLE (Scots "suffer")
23 UNDERGO Short of work experience (6) experience: UNDER (short of) + GO (work)
25 PRIESTS Those providing religious instruction in easy steps (6) &lit: ins. of RI (religious instruction) in STEPS* {easy}
28 DENSEST Most stupid and backward gang member, second in group (6) most stupid: < NED (gang member) {backward} ins. of S (second) in SET (group)
30 GUMSHOE Detective work in garden chasing sticks (6) detective: GUMS (sticks) + HOE (work in garden)
31 ALETHIC Legislative assembly overturned moral treatise relating to truth (6) relating to truth: < LA (legislative assembly) {overturned} + ETHIC (moral treatise)
33 STAMINAL Staying power and length of male organ (8) of male organ: STAMINA (staying power) + L (length)
34 TRICOTEUSE Unclued (11)  
35 HODGE Countryman’s Homeric utterance recalled Goddess of Earth (5) countryman: < D’OH (Homeric utterance – the reference is to Homer of ‘The Simpsons’) + GE (Goddess of Earth)
36 VENTÔSE Spectacular events covering the second of November’s 30 days (7) 30 days (a month in the French Revolutionary calendar): ins. of  O (the second of nOvember) in EVENTS* {spectacular}
1 TRICOLOR Unclued (8)  
2 EOSIN English seaman, popular salt (5) salt: E (English) OS (seaman = ‘ordinary seaman’) + IN (popular)
3 ABUT Join a ship heading north (4) join: A + < TUB (ship) {heading north}
4 DELAPSED Criminal pals caught in act went down (8) went down: ins. of PALS* {criminal} in DEED (act)
5 SPULYE Whining in the Home Counties for plunder from Scotland (6) plunder from Scotland (Scots "plunder"): ins. of PULY (whining) in SE (Home Counties)
6 HELLO To back away from Shakespearean greeting (5) greeting: otHELLO (Shakespearean, no < ‘TO’)
7 ARISTOS Unclued (7)  
8 DELES Instructions to remove 500 fairies, 5 missing (5) instructions to remove: D (500) ELvES (fairies, no ‘V’ = 5)
9 SKYE Key players finally arranged holiday destination (4) holiday destination: [KEY + S (playerS finally)]* {arranged}
12 IOTA Letter to you turned up in Paris (4) letter: < A TOI (French "to you) {turned up}
16 MAD Obtained chopped nuts (3) nuts: MADe (obtained ‘chopped’)
17 CHESTNUT Type of horse in box with cob, perhaps (8) type of horse: CHEST (box) + NUT (cob)
18 TESTCASE Courts set up to worry about such an action (8, 2 words) &lit: ins. of <CTS (courts) in TEASE (worry)
20 ORCHARD Sourch of fruit or veg (7) source of fruit: OR + CHARD (veg)
22 TIN Vulgar Scot losing king’s money (3) money: TINk (Scots "vulgar (person)", losing king = no ‘k’)
24 NOUN Sister pinching Oscar’s part of speech (4) part of speech: ins. {pinching} of O (Oscar) in NUN (sister)
25 RELATE Shakespeare’s discourse concerning deceased (6) Shakespeare’s discourse (Shakespearean "discourse"): RE (concerning) + LATE (deceased)
26 MOTTO Rising empire wants a new slogan (5) Slogan: <OTTOMan (empire wants a new = no ‘A N’)
27 AMICE What may be worn by minister’s friend at church (5) what may be worn by minister: AMI (friend) + CE (church)
29 SITES Locates great deals on the blower (5) locates: homophone of ‘sights’ (great deals)
30 ESTH Book Queen’s left for one from the Baltic (4) one from the Baltic: ESTHer (Book of the Bible, no ‘ER’ = queen)
32 HUSO Writer given shilling for good fish (4) fish: (Victor) HUGO, S (shilling) replacing G (good)

5 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No.920 – Find The Lady by Nutmeg”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Did not have time to tackle this puzzle, unfortunately, but think 6D may refer to OTHELLO, with to (reversed) removed.

  2. Mister Sting says:

    Thanks. I’m far too embarrassed to leave in my original suggestion, so I’ll edit that now.

  3. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Mister Sting
    “Although I can’t see a firm thematic reason for entering half of the clues in reverse, …”

    All the reversed answers were on the left hand side of the grid and so they needed to be reversed in order that their ‘heads’ were within Madame Guillotine and so would be chopped off when the blade fell.

    I agree with your parsing for 29dn but for 18dn I had:

    CTS (courts) reversed in TEASE (to worry)

  4. Mister Sting says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid. That is certainly more satisfying.

  5. Mike Laws says:

    Only just tackled this. A superbly elegant puzzle, and a welcome antidote to the previous disagreeably tortuous EV. I wish I’d had it for IQ.

    It reminded me of the Independent’s Weekend Crossword #530 (20/8/05) Mme G by Athene.

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