Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 938: Worse than Swine Flu by Syd Lexis

Posted by Dave Hennings on November 6th, 2010

Dave Hennings.

The first line of a verse and a 6-letter word are to be identified and highlighted here with the help of four unclued entries.

There has been the occasional discussion at the Crossword Centre as to whether the Listener should have a difficulty rating along side; similar discussion has taken place at Magpie regarding its puzzles. The general view is not for the Listener, but Magpie does have one between A (easy) and E (very difficult). I think that EV puzzles could also benefit from a rating, printed as it is with a wide variety of other types of puzzle in a separate pull-out section of the Sunday Telegraph. There are probably many solvers who complete the normal crosswords, and perhaps dabble in the other puzzles, but who give EVs a wide berth because they know they can’t solve them! However, it is probably the easiest of the three barred thematics here at fifteensquared (although 935 Naughty Boy by Mynot certainly was not!), and I think some attempt to get new solvers on board would be a great idea.

The reason I bring this up today is that this puzzle was one of the easiest EVs for a very long time. Although I was momentarily sidetracked into thinking that Blackheath might be the subject in some way, the Black Death soon became the more likely theme, with …

“Ring-a-ring o’ roses, (in rows 2 and 3 and column 1)
A pocket full of posies (5dn 32dn and in row 12)
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!
We all fall down. (46ac)

… providing the unclued entries and what is to be highlighted. If this had been a Listener, I suspect appropriate, ie black, highlighting would have been required.

I guess it’s worse than swine flu … I’ve not had either!

Solving time: less than an hour

ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden

1 THE BLACK DEATH Unclued thematic
11 RING fungal growth mark(s): RIND (bark) + G (starting to Germinate) – D (died); I can’t see the justification for marks
12 RESPIRE to breathe: RESPITE (delay in action, old) – T (time) + R (right)
14 GOING in course of life: GOG (one mythical survivor) absorbing IN; the other survivor was MAGOG
16 EROS god: SORE< (grief)
17 SAGAS long stories: SAGA (cloaks) + S (Sweden); saga is the p[lural of sagum, a Roman military cloak
18 STOIT stumble, Scottish: SIT (ride) around T (the) O (old)
20 EGMA attempt at William's riddle: EG (for example) + MA (My Acting's first); EGMA is Costard's attempt at enigma in Love's Labours Lost
21 SKAIL disperse: S (son) + KAIL (slang for money in the US, eg Bronx)
22 REAR 2 meanings: take away, Spenser & lightly cooked in some parts, ie dialectic
24 SEA FRET mist blowing ashore: SET (sprinkle) about EA (running water) FR (French)
25 PASTE basis of one's character: PAS (precedence) + TE (note)
26 ARTIST sage, old: TRAITS*
28 TEAPOT spouted container: TEA (marijuana) + POT (cannabis); you've got to ignore the " in spouted "Container which I don't like!
30 GRIPE 2 meanings: ditch, dialectic & vulture, obs
33 ERODENT caustic: E (drug) + RODENT (gnawing)
35 ETCH corrode: ETC (and the rest) + H (heroin)
37 LUTES musical instruments: L (fifty) UTES (Amerinds, ie American Indians)
38 ERAS divisions of time: ERAS(E) (almost destroy)
40 BELLY bulge: BELL (bubble formed in liquid) + Y (bit of Yeast)
41 FLARE spread: F (fellow) + LARE (learning, northern)
42 LION conspicuous person: NOIL< (piece of combed wool)
43 ALGAE group of organisms: ALAE (membranous outgrowths) covering (ie around) G (grand)
44 APROPOS to the point: A + PROP (tiepin) + OS (exceptionally large)
45 STOP pinch off: S (second) + TOP (tip)
46 WE ALL FALL DOWN Unclued thematic
2 HIRAGE money for rental fee: HIE (hasten) about RAG (paper)
4 LAGS convicts: (S)LAGS (slovenly men losing face, ie front)
5 A POCKET Unclued thematic
6 KENTIA palm: KENT (pole) + I (in) + A (America)
7 EPEIRA common spider: in crEPE IRAte
8 AIRT direct, Scottish: AIR (voice) + T (to, shortly, ie t')
9 TRONA chemical combination: TRON (market place) + A
10 HES men: SHE*
11 ROSE became hostile: SORE*
13 NAAFI canteen: initials of Nutrition An African Food In
15 GOLPE circular device (heraldic): G (gallon) + OLPE (jug)
18 SATIETY abundance: SATISFY (convince) - SF (science fiction) + ET (alien)
19 ARETT award, once: ARE (abbreviation A) + TT (trophy)
23 ESPERANTO language: [PARSEE INTO - I (island)]*
24 SAGER more intelligent: SAG (bend) + ER (the Queen)
27 SELLA (it’s) in bone: SELLA(FIELD) (nuclear base, halved)
28 TREMAIL pin: REN (roll, old) in TAIL (long curl of hair)
29 ADELA noble girl: ADELA(NTADO) (half Spanish grandee)
31 PHENOL acid: PEN (write) about H (heroin) + LO< (look)
32 FULL OF Unclued thematic
34 NARROW precise: N (new) ARROW (pointer)
36 TRIPE rubbish: TRIP (sheep) + E (earth)
39 SEEP percolate: SEE (bishopric) + P (power)
40 BORA wind: [A ROB (short man, ie for Robert, etc)]<
41 FEEL think: FEE (French fairy) + L (left)
42 LAW 2 meanings: determine & hill, Scottish

4 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations 938: Worse than Swine Flu by Syd Lexis”

  1. Mike Laws says:

    Dave put a lot of effort into his blog.

    No comment?

  2. nmsindy says:

    I’d say, Mike, it’s just because Dave’s explained everything so comprehensively in the blog in relation to a puzzle that did not give rise to any ‘issues’.

    While ratings are fine in the specialized world of the Magpie which has puzzles even harder than the Listener, I think it’s right to avoid them in the dailies/Sundays firstly as they are subjective so could be wrong and secondly saying a puzzle was difficult could put solvers off even more IMHO.

  3. Dave Hennings says:

    Mike, thanks for your comment … and concern. This blog probably took twice as long to write as the puzzle did to solve, a record for me. As nms says, lack of comment may just mean nobody has anything earth-shattering to say. (I rarely post a comment which basically says ‘I agree with him’.) I’m looking forward to writing a blog for a puzzle that I have failed to solve completely (EV935 Naughty Boy by Mynot, which I mentioned above, nearly stumped me). That might provoke a few comments.

    Musing further on the publication of difficulty ratings, I guess that if you have looked at barred thematics and have decided they generally take too much time or are not your thing, then you are unlikely to be swayed by the occasional ‘this one is easy’ tag. Fair enough. I have a similar view of Magpie puzzles above rating C! Not that that stops me marvelling at their ingenuity and trying to unravel the solution … time permitting!

    Thinking more on your comment, Mike, I take it on board with regard to my commenting on other puzzles!


  4. Dave Hennings says:

    PS The preamble states: “5 and 32dn (four words) plus a further hidden word (six letters — to be shaded) …”. In my opionion, this requires, in addition to the first line as required earlier, only POSIES to be shaded in the completed grid, and not A POCKET (5) and FULL OF (32dn). However, the solution states: “The first line and POCKET FULL OF POSIES were to be highlighted.” Who knows?!

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