Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1149: Last Laugh by Kea

Posted by Hihoba on November 3rd, 2010


I found this pretty tricky and it took several hours over three days to complete. Some interesting words, two of which (ZARI and NIKAB) are only in the latest version of Chambers.  Google helped somewhat, but they caused me grief. I may have to invest in a new dictionary!

There were two types of clue. Those with a letter missing from the wordplay (10 across and 10 down) and normal clues (6 across and 6 down). We had to make an aphorism out of the former and a “conclusion” from the latter.

I wasn’t having much luck with the missing letters which did not seem to mean a lot – you only have to get one or two wrong to make a complete mess of the phrase! An inspired guess led me to the conlusion that “The Last Laugh” referred to the recent death and funeral of Sir Norman Wisdom, (6, 6). I found his name diagonally up left to right starting at the N in square 21 and the W to the left of square 30.

As I composed this blog my missing letter errors became plain, and the aphorism appeared – GOD IS NOT GIVEN TO FOLLY. The final step was to link this to the name of the deceased. So the completed aphorism is


In the table below, the aphorism letters are in red. The name letters are (appropriately) in black and are numbered to make the order clear.

 Clue  Letter  Answer  Explanation
 1  G  JET ENGINES  Thrusters: JETE (leap) + NINES (9 in a baseball team)
 10  O  ELINOR  Girl’s name which means “foreign” in German
 11  N 6  NIPTER  Ritual washing of the feet: PTE in N(orthern) + IR(eland)
 12  D  FEEDBACK  Useful response: K(nown) + CA + BEEF reversed.
 13  I  ZARI  A thread wrapped in gold (only in the latest edition of Chambers): ZR round A
 14  M 4  MISALIGN  Fail to even properly: [MAILINGS]*
 16  S  SEHRI  Meal before dawn: HR (personnel department) in E(ast) I(ndies)
 19  M 12  SLIPFORMS  Enable continuous building (assembly lines): SLIMS (contracts) round PF + OR (otherwise)
 20  N IN GENERAL As a rule: [NAIL GERE]*
 24  O  ADDIO  Cheers: ADD + I
 25  S 9  NAHUATLS  Aztecs: [THAN SUAL]* (U removed from Usual – less refined. I liked that!)
 27  T  ITEM  Couple involved romantically: IE + M
 28  I 8  CRIBRATE  Perforated: CRIB (wicker basket) + RATE (=RET – soak)
 29  W 7  SEA MEW   A gull: SMEW (merganser) round EA
 30  G  TROGON  One flies (tropical bird): TROON is a town with a golf links
 31  I  DOTTED LINE  Sign here: DOTE (timber decay) round TED (spread) + LN (natural log)
 Clue  Letter  Answer  Explanation
 2  V  ELEVEN  A prime number: even letters in Nellie Dean
 3  E  TIER  Fastener: TIR appears in attire
 4  R 3  ENDORSED  Approved of: Witch of ENDOR (Bible) + SED (Milton said)
 5  A 5  GRAINIEST  With least detail in picture: RAIN in GI (an American private!) + EST(ablished)
 6  N  NIKAB  A NIKAB (more usually niqab) is a veil, but only in the latest edition of Chambers. IB(idem) round KA
 7  O 11  STAIRROD  A bar to secure Wilton carpet (22D): STROD(e) round AIR (dry)
 8  T  TERGUM  Insect’s back: ER (hesitate) + GUM (stick)
 9  O  TRINISCOPE  A TV display: NIS (friendly goblin) + C(aught) in TRIPE
 12  F  FASHIONIST  Clever &lit clue: Whole phrase is the definition and the wordplay is model (=anagram) [TONISH AS I]*
 15  O  SAPROLITE  Another &lit clue: Whole clue is quite a good paraphrase of the definition and A + P (soft) + R(ock primarily) + L(eft) in SITE (location) is the wordplay
 17  O 2  HOGSHEAD  Capacity for beer etc. HOGS (refuses to give up) + HEAD (froth)
 18  D 10  FOLDEROL  Senseless burden (=refrain): FOLDER (file) + O(n) + L(iberal)
 21  N 1  NEATER  With more efficiency: (Ma)NEATER
 22  L  WILTON  Carpet: WIT (marbles) + ON
 23  L  LACET  Braiding: ACE + (plai)T
 26  Y  YAGI  A directional aerial: AgI (silver iodide)

11 Responses to “Inquisitor 1149: Last Laugh by Kea”

  1. Quixote says:

    A beautifully constructed puzzle with fine clues and a lovely aphorism! In the good old days this would not have been out of place in The Listener.

  2. Mike Laws says:

    Norman Wisdom died on Monday 4th October. This tribute from Kea was in my inbox at 4.30 a.m. on Wednesday 6th.

  3. Steve Foulds says:

    I also found this hard but an enjoyable and well constructed puzzle. If it was compiled in a day then I’m in complete awe.

  4. HolyGhost says:

    Harder than of late, but not hugely so – probably because the wordplay in the ‘non-normal’ clues had a letter omitted rather than generating an extra letter. (For example, it was quite easy to see that 16a was ?EHRI, but I had to hunt a bit to find that it was S that was needed. Also, for quite a while, I thought that 11a was NI + PTE with the final R being extra … but what was role was “welcomes” playing.)

    And the (rather neat) &lit. clue for 15d (SAPROLITE) took a while before I realised what was going on: I considered “A soft rock” as the definition, and PROL(e) (=primarily left ???) in SITE as the wordplay, generating an extra A, but that was just too messy.

    The thick black line edging the grid was rather a strong hint; but all in all quite an enjoyable puzzle. (And, as Mike L. indicates, a very impressively fast construction from Kea.)

  5. scarpia says:

    Thanks Hihoba.
    Tricky,but very satisfying puzzle.
    Managed to complete but couldn’t make head or tail of 31 across.
    Not too difficult once it’s been explained!

  6. Simon Harris says:

    TRINISCOPE kind of beat me, I could only think of GRINDSTONE for a long time, but couldn’t justify it.

    A typically great Inquisitor, and Mike Laws’ comment helps remind me just how amazing some of these setters are. Bravo, Kea.

  7. Hi of Hihoba says:

    I too am amazed at the speed and accuracy of the setter, Kea, so thanks for that insight Mike!
    In response to HolyGhost, isn’t “welcomes” simply indicating a “contains” – so “Ireland welcomes private” = IR round PTE.

  8. HolyGhost says:

    Hi(hoba): I was describing my early erroneous analysis of 11a; it was only later, when thinking about “welcomes” not pulling its weight in the clue, that I realised that Northern Ireland wasn’t simply NI, but in fact N(orthern) + IR(eland).

  9. Hi of Hihoba says:

    Sorry HolyGhost, misunderstood!

  10. Kea says:

    Thanks for the comments. For the record, the time taken from starting to construct the grid to emailing the puzzle was 7 hours. Not my normal work rate!

  11. nmsindy says:

    Was that faster or slower than normal, Kea,…?

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