Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1137 – Cryptogram by Kruger

Posted by petebiddlecombe on August 12th, 2010


I have to confess to being stumped by the final step of this puzzle. The instructions tell us that:

“The ‘cryptogram’ formed by two normally clued entries should be highlighted and the relevant interpretation (5,2,5) written below the grid. Wordplay in every other clue yields an extra letter; in order, these letters identify the four unclued entries, and confirm the interpretation.”

The phrase from extra letters is: CAPTAINS IN LAST THREE ENGLAND-AUSSIE SERIES, and the unclued answers are VAUGHAN, STRAUSS, FLINTOFF, PONTING – all fine, given that we’re talking about cricket. The two normally clued answers seem to be CADAVERS and SPEARS, which cross in the top right corner. It seems that ASHES must be one of the 5-letter words, and the 2-letter one seems very likely to be IN or OF. My best shot is HEADS IN ASHES, but this feels too weak. I also thought of HEADS OF TEAMS and HEADS OF SIDES, but neither seem connected with CADAVERS/SPEARS, and if the position of the answers was significant, I think AMBLE rather than CADAVERS would be the “head” of its side of the grid.

So I’m expecting the first commenter to put me right with a (5,2,5) phrase that I’ve not thought of, or maybe some reason why I’ve got the wrong two words for the ‘cryptogram’. Part of my problem here is that I’m not sure what ‘cryptogram’ in quotes means – I’m guessing that it means a little puzzle like GAMARTLE for ‘martingale’ (mart in gale), but that doesn’t seem to help. On the other hand, final steps like this quite often seem to catch me out.

In the lists below, I only give a complete wordplay when the extra letter has to be in a particular place.

5 CAD = aged inferior assistant,(w)AVERS = “shakes headless”
14 P / PHOEBE H in (BO PEEP)*
17 T / SPHERE S,P(aper),THERE
19 I / OFAYS O, (say if)* – ofay is US black derogatory slang for a white person
21 N / APLANATS T in (NASA plan)* – aplanats are lenses free from spherical aberration
26 I / SWEDE (weed is)*
27 N / ENDIVES hidden in ‘reverEND IN VEStry’
29 L / POSSIE P,LASSIE with O for A
34 A / COOING CO,O=over,I,NAG=find fault
35 S / CREPE SOLE (peers close)*
36 T / OFFSHORE OFF=kill,SHORT=little,E
37 T / TONYS (snotty)*
1 H / ADVISOR ADV. = against (presumably from the Latin adversus), HIS, O.R.=soldiers
2 R / MEAD (dream)*
3 E / BRUSH BRU = Brunei (IVR), SEH = rev. of he’s
7 N / ASHE ASHEN=very pale
8 G / VIOLINS (solving, (invest)I(gation))*
9 L / EMENDATE LE,MEN from first letters,DATE
11 SPEARS – P(owerful) in SEARS = sights on guns
13 N / AGUE hidden in TalebAN GUErilla
15 D / SEA REED rev. of READS, rev. of DEE = D = delta
16 A / VOLUSPA VOLA=the hollow of the hand or foot,US,PA=publicity agent – voluspa = sibyl is a misinterpretation which Chambers blames on Walter Scott
20 U / AARDWOLF (award, foul)*
22 S / PAS PAS(s)
24 I / PEENGES P.E.,(seeing)*
25 E / TERCIO ThEy ReCeIvE,O=old – TERCIO = is a Spanish term for an infantry regiment
26 S / SONNET TENNO=Japanese emperor, rev. in S(enseles)S
28 E / SUPER S(UP=informed)EER
30 R / SOTS SORTS = attends to
31 I / SCION (coin is)*
32 E / INCH hidden in genuINE CHilblains

14 Responses to “Inquisitor 1137 – Cryptogram by Kruger”

  1. anax says:

    I’m guessing ASHES TO ASHES but that really is a complete guess!

  2. twencelas says:

    Pete – my belief for the end game, as it were, was “Ashes to Ashes” as both words could be defined as such in Chambers. Lacking access to the red book at the minute, I can’t quite recall the cadaver link to ashes.

  3. John H says:

    If that’s right, I think it’s rather an unsatisfactory denouement to the puzzle, and not really in my view a CRYPTOGRAM at all. I’ve entered ASHES TO ASHES from the letter-count, but like Peter I don’t know why, apart from the obvious connection.

  4. HolyGhost says:

    Filled the grid fairly quickly on the train to Carlisle, but puzzled over the ‘cryptogram’ for a couple of days while walking along Hadrian’s Wall to Newcastle. I felt sure it was ASHES TO ASHES but couldn’t quite satisfy myself …

    I finally checked ASH in Chambers, to find: ash^1 (in pl) a dead body; ash^2 an ashen spear-shaft or spear (obs). So, ASHES is synonymous with both CADAVERS and SPEARS, which abut on the top right corner, giving the TO.

    Bit of a weak ending I thought.

  5. petebiddlecombe says:

    Thanks all – ASHES TO ASHES it must be. I do feel a bit of a chump for (a) not thinking of using the same word twice, and (b) not thinking of looking up “ash” in C.

  6. Simon Harris says:

    Enjoyed the puzzle greatly, but have to concur with commenters. ASHES TO ASHES occurred to me early on, but was dismissed on that grounds that, well, that ain’t a cryptogram.

    In the end, the cricket theme and the two defs confirmed it, but still, how is this a cryptogram?

  7. Mike Laws says:

    I wasn’t too happy with the word cryptogram, either, which is why I put ‘cryptogram’ in the preamble.

  8. aloo2 says:

    I thought maybe that as both words defined ‘ashes’, what was required was the t.v. ‘series’ Ashes to Ashes

  9. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Pete.
    I found this very enjoyable. M
    anaged to enter the unclued lights with about two thirds of the puzzle completed.Check letters then gave me enough help to complete.
    I got ASHES TO ASHES from the cricket references and the normally clued answers and didn’t really think any more of it – have to admit I didn’t know what a “cryptogram” was,so I suppose my ignorance was an aid on this occassion!
    Interesting(and totally unconnected) fact – Lindsay Duncan starred in the U.K. premieres of David Mamet’s “The Cryptogram” and Harold Pinters “Ashes to Ashes”

  10. RayFolwell says:

    Like Peter and others, we managed to finish the grid without too many problems but failed to understand what to do next. We guessed ASHES TO ASHES might be the phrase but were looking for something other than simply CADAVERS and SPEARS to highlight.

    One meaning of “cryptogram” is a simple substitution code and I wondered if there was one of these somewhere. Perhaps “cryptically defined” would have been a better term ?

  11. Jim says:

    Isn’t the emphasis on the CRYPTogram?

  12. mc_rapper67 says:

    I went for ASHES TO ASHES on the basis of the cricketing theme – although not sure about it being a cryptogram.

    Like Si

  13. mc_rapper67 says:

    (Oops, slip of the mouse there)
    I went for ASHES TO ASHES on the basis of the cricketing theme – although, like others above, not sure about it being a cryptogram.
    Like Simon H last week, my perseverance was rewarded with a bottle of bubbly delivered to my doorstep…Cheers! Hic…

  14. Chris Weston says:

    Not my understanding of a cryptogram,so couldn’t send it in as I couldn’t explain Ashes to Ashes to myself! But I like the idea of the emphasis being on crypt!

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