Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 942: Block Capitals by Nutmeg

Posted by Dave Hennings on December 4th, 2010

Dave Hennings.

In my last blog, I suggested that very easy puzzles should have an ‘easy’ rating to attract solvers who would normally give the EV puzzle a wide berth. I think it worth adding that it would also be a good idea to mark hard puzzles so that we poor reporters on this blog site can prepare ourselves accordingly! I commiserate with mc_rapper67 who was brave enough to post an admission of failure last week for Salamanca’s The Sign of Four.

The New Map of Europe!

The New Map of Europe!

I jest, of course. Suffice it to say that, apart from some final steps recently, I found this the toughest solve for a very long time.

I got 7dn DECEMBER, too long for its grid entry, and after a bit of a struggle 1ac COLD CATHODES, followed by 6dn SLOP OUT crossing its second O. It seemed natural to think that the S and L of SLOP OUT were to be dropped; I pencilled them in above the ninth column. It also meant that I put DECEMB in the grid and ER above its column. As you can see, it was all going horribly downhill. At some point, I guessed that capital cities were involved somehow, with SL being part of Oslo, but it all stumbled on for far too long!

What was going on, of course, was that sometimes more than one character needed to be entered in these squares, so that, for example BER from DECEMBER combined with LIN from FLINTY to give BERLIN in row 6 column 10. In all there were ten capital cities in the grid, and from the very artistic map to the right, you can see that they were all positioned pretty much spot on in relation to each other. (Apologies I’ve made Ireland a bit small … it was either that or put Dublin in Northern Ireland!!)

I think I enjoyed the puzzle, although I did spend too long swearing at the grid! I suppose that’s what tough puzzles are all about. I’ve come across entry methods like this before, where some squares hold more than one letter, and I think this was the hardest, possibly because extra letters were involved as well.

Finally, the message spelt out by those extra letters: BLOCK MEANS A BLACK CELL, so all that hard work entering the capital cities in tiny writing went up in smoke as I blacked them all out! This may also explain why “Block capitals” in the preamble was not capitalised like the title normally is for an EV. I’m also not sure that the message “offers clarification to the solver” as stated in the preamble … it’s more an instruction as to what to do.

Solving time: several hours of dipping in and out

ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden
LON = letters contributing to capital cities
X = extra letters in subsidiary indications

1 B COLD CATHODES electrodes: (BOTH CLAD)* in CODES (rules)
9 L OMASA stomachs: [LAS (notes) + A MO (doctor)]<
11 O REPENT regret: RENT (tear) around POE (US writer)
12 C WELL IN prosperous (in Australia): CELL (unit) in WIN (success)
14 K SHYLOCK moneylender: LOCK (make safe) after SHAKY (loose) – A (article)
15 M QUEAN Scot’s girl: in brusQUE MANner
17 E ERNIE system for picking winners: N (number) in EERIE (weird)
18 A ONSET charge, perhaps: ON SEAT (where bum may be counted)
20 N OINTED oiled (Dryden): IN (at home) in NOTED (eminent)
22 S FLINTY hard: FLINT (pirate captain in book, Treasure Island) in SY (Seychelles)
23 A SPAG Italian (offensive): PA (father) in SAG (decline); not really sure why offensive is in brackets at the beginning of this clue
25 B SPARTANS Greeks: [SNAB (old highland cobbler) + TRAPS (captures)]<
27 L JESS it may restrain (in Merlin’s time): LESS (without) with J (justice) initially
29 A BRAIL nautical rope: AB< (sailor) + RAIL (banter); the sailor being thrown back seems a bit iffy and superfluous even though it makes better surface reading (sorry, probably just me)
30 C EBONIES trees: BO (chap) in EN (heart of kENt) + ICES (kills)
33 C DROMES where fliers may be found: DR (doctor) COMES (turns up)
34 E NOCAKE meal: CON< (prisoner) + AKEE (exotic fruit)
35 L LORDS rulers: LOLLARDS (religious reformers) – LA (the, French)
36 L GUERNSEY LILY amaryllis’s relative: (YELLING SURELY)*
1 COWLED like a monk?: COW (neat) + LED (under control)
2 LA-LA provide accompaniment: LAMA (eastern monk) with L (left) for M (mass)
3 CASSETTE reel of film: SET (go down) in CAST (shed) + E (initially Extracting)
4 ASHBLONDES striking girls: [BOSS HANDLED - D (director)]*
5 TRYPS little parasites: sounds like TRIPS (outings)
6 SLOP OUT what we do when loo’s put out of order?: (LOO’S PUT)*; not quite &lit
7 DECEMBER a few weeks: DECREE* restraining MB (doctor)
8 STINGY such as Scrooge: NITS< (Idiots) + G(U)Y
10 METROPOLIS city: L (learner) IS under OP (work) in METRO (underground, à la Paris)
13 DUBBING accolade: BUDDING as Spooner might say; ?
16 RIGHTSIZED adapted for greater efficiency: RIGHT (Tories maybe) + SEIZED (caught) – E (energy)
19 EXTERNALLY apparently: EX (former) TALLY (account) around E (English) RN (navy)
21 DISSUADE put off: (ISSUE DAD)*
22 FARAD engineer’s unit (of electrical capacitance): FAR (not close) + AD (active duty)
23 SEEING witnessing: SEEKING (courting) – K (king)
24 APIECE each: ACE (great service) round PIE (church rule book)
26 CLASSY showing style: CLASSIFY (regiment) – IF
27 JEMADAR officer: [DAME (lady) in RAJ (colonial rule)]<
28 SYCES Indian attendants: [ECY (regularly tEtChY)]< in SS (on board)
31 PERI spirit: PERIOD (of age) – DO< (party)

One Response to “Enigmatic Variations 942: Block Capitals by Nutmeg”

  1. mc_rapper67 says:

    Dave H – at the risk of this becoming a mutual appreciation society, I feel that somebody has to commend you on this blog – especially for your splendidly ‘retro’ graphical represenation of l’Europe á la Nutmeg.
    After the trauma of the previous week, I was lucky to twig this one quite early on, with ASH-BLONDES and ONSET.
    Is anybody with me on the recent EV/Inquisitor coincidences – this week they are both by Samuel – after recent weekend pairs from Nutmeg and Kruger…

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