Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1135 – Six further on, by Quixote

Posted by petebiddlecombe on July 29th, 2010


This was pretty much the opposite experience of the Raich puzzle with the World Cup theme. The thematic content was a ‘anagram and one letter change’ 7-letter word chain, the first and last words of which came from extra letters in across clue wordplay, and the rest from unclued answers. The chain turned out to be: STEPHEN, PESANTE, PEASANT, NAMASTE, AMENTAL, MATINAL, MATILDA. Apart from Stephen and Matilda being names, this sequence didn’t suggest much. Google searches after completing the grid revealed that England’s only King Stephen came to the throne in 1135 (the puzzle number). He was married to one Matilda, and replaced another Matilda as monarch – my guess is that the Matilda of this puzzle is his wife, as the natural word ladder treatment of the other seems to be a change from MATILDA to STEPHEN rather than the other way. The note from Mike Laws below tells me that with more careful research I’d have discovered that the Empress Matilda from whom he took the throne replaced him (at least briefly) in 1141 (1135 plus 6), so the puzzle’s title is about more than the word chain, and the order of the word chain DOES relate to the theme. Over the next 17 years or so, I guess we can expect to see more puzzles based on this kind of theme, though I’d expect the thematic treatment in some to be more closely related to the theme – here, the only link I can see is the match in length of the names STEPHEN and MATILDA. I finished up a bit unhappy with the puzzle because (with my incomplete research) there was no real penny-drop moment, though I can see that for people with better historical knowledge, there could have been one.

In the across explanations below, the extra letter in wordplay is shown first, and underlined in the indication of the wordplay – though sometimes this is an arbitrary choice between two adjacent identical letters.

6 S PEST,AR.=Arab
10 T TEX(O.C.,E)T
11 E e.g.,IDE(a)
12 P A,C.,CO.,PUT,RED=redd=rubbish
17 N NAN,E,VOID=invalid
25 M SAT,MAN,AS=when
27 T TW(R)ISTS,HOT=skilful – slightly surprised by “shot” in both clue and answer, with exactly the same meaning
28 I EILDI – reverse of “I’d lie”
29 L S(I,AL)LIC(k)
30 D DRABAT = rev. of TABARD
31 A ELSAPETH – S=son in rev. of pale, then THE*
1 P.E.,TIP,A – Marius Petipa was a French dancer and ballet master, responsible for the danceing side of Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty”
3 ACCORD = “a chord”
4 NEOPLATONIST = (son, potential)*
5 ENTER=admit,A,L
6 PARACENTESIS = (creates a spin)* – worked out backwards from “something-centesis”
7 E(x),GEST=romance (story)
8 A,DON,A1 – not sure how much of the surface is about the setter!
9 RE(TT)ED – retted = soaked, so not dry
12 ANEW = A,”gnu” – one pronunciation of “gnu” in Chambers is “new”
16 DOWNHOLE = (we hold on)* – equipment “working in an oil well” is apparently described as “downhole”
18 ANSWER – hidden word
19 M.I.A.=missing in action,MIA=aim rev. – a mia-mia is an Aboriginal dwelling hut
20 M1,SHAP = “Lake district village”, best known for the nearby Shap Fell, whose slopes are crossed by both the West Coast mainline railway and the M6, which seems to make the use of “motorway” in the clue rather a giveaway
21 HAET = Scots for a bit – HATE with the E moved up one space in the grid
22 FLANCH – 2 meanings
23 GARDA = (Irish) policeman – rev. of “a drag”

8 Responses to “Inquisitor 1135 – Six further on, by Quixote”

  1. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Pete.
    I enjoyed this puzzle and I think it must be my quickest Inquisitor solve yet.I like to think it’s because I’m getting better at doing them but it’s probably just a slightly easier puzzle than some.No doubt regulars here will set me straight on that!
    I think the clarity of the preamble helped me and the fact that I could start filling the grid without having to treat the answers in some way.
    Last to go in was 27 across and like you,I was a little surprised to find “shot” in both clue and answer.

  2. Mike Laws says:

    The solution notes will read:

    “The word ladder was Stephen, pesante, peasant, namaste, amental, matinal, Matilda. Stephen ascended the throne in 1135, the number of the puzzle. Six years further on in 1141 his position as monarch was for a period seized by his rival Matilda, six further on at the end of the ladder.”

    It was easier than most, yes, but the idea is to encourage (comparatively) new solvers, rather than put them off. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security.

    I made a note to substitute “stroke” for “shot” when solving the puzzle in the first place, but forgot to implement it – sorry, it was just a quixotic oversight. (Boom, boom!)

  3. nmsindy says:

    Yes, I found this the quickest Inquisitor solve that I can recall – very enjoyable and clear. Wondered if there was something thematic about STEPHEN and MATILDA but did not pursue it too far so it’s v interesting now to see it explained. Re quixotic oversight, that clue puzzled me too, making it my final entry. Homer nods as they say which is reassuring in a way…

  4. HolyGhost says:

    I delved a while after completing the crossword and learnt a little history. Matilda (Stephen’s cousin) was the daughter of Henry I and heir to the throne, but Stephen seized it (1135). He was captured & imprisoned by her (1141), and although she became known as “Lady of England” she was never crowned.

    I guess she got even when her own son, Henry II, succeeded Stephen.

    (Not sure what Pete meany by “the next 17 years or so”.)

  5. nmsindy says:

    Only guessing but I think what is meant by ‘the next 17 years or so’ is that the puzzle numbers wd take us to the present time more or less if the puzzle numbers were perhaps to relate to a theme.

  6. Scarpia says:

    Thanks for the encouragement Mike …and the warning!
    I have a feeling I may be struggling this week!

  7. petebiddlecombe says:

    “17 years or so”: nmsindy has understood what I meant.

  8. Quixote says:

    Thanks for feedback. I was rather pleased that Matilda and Stephen were the same length and six letetrs different given the 1135/1141 temporary transferral of power. And I come from an era when thematic puzzles didn’t all require highlighting. The Indy weekend puzzle has tradionally been a gentle introduction to thematic barred puzzles, even if it now tries from time to time to outdo its illustrious Listener rival — so if someone did it quickly for a change, I’m happy!

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