Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1156 – Touché by Charybdis

Posted by kenmac on December 22nd, 2010


What a great puzzle. If it wasn’t so cold, I’d take my hat off to

The preamble is very confusing. Firstly we’re told that a 5-letter thematic character has to be found in the grid. Given the title, I wonder if we are looking for a swordsman; perhaps one of the musketeers – no, their names are too long; perhaps ZORRO! Next we’re told that eight unrelated pairs of letters adjacent to his name have to be altered in one of two ways – WTF? Then, as if it wasn’t already mind blowing, we’re told that there are six definitions for unclued words “linked by a parsing of the character’s name.” Yikes! My brain is about to explode!! Then we’re told that the setter has hidden some extra help. But relief at the end to find that all grid entries are real words – phew!

So on to the first part of business, solving the clues. Actually it turns out that the clues are fairly simple so the grid (except for unclued entries) fills pretty quickly. I was doing the puzzle while watching the snooker and I had the grid filled in about an hour. It turns out that each of the six unclued entries can be prefixed and suffixed by a single “A” to make other words which are defined by the six definitions in the preamble but at this stage I don’t understand what “… a parsing of the character’s name.” means. I think I may be on to something if I mispronounce the title as “Touch A.” I then spent some time trying to find the character in the grid. I’m convinced that it must cross the centre square (since it’s barred off) but I can’t help noticing OBOMA (running East from h1) and I wonder (since A’s are involved, somehow) if we have to change it to OBAMA – is he a swordsman of any note? But then I don’t think we can describe him as a character.

Experience tells me that the best thing to do, having led myself up several garden paths, is to shelve it for a day and let my subconscious work on it. Sure enough within minutes of picking it up the next day, I had the whole thing done and dusted (apart from the penultimate sentence in the preamble.)

So, there we have it, the character is MIDAS (SE from d4) and all pairs of letters that touch him are changed to gold (either AU or OR) as in the story of King Midas. Parsing his name as “Mid A’s” gives us the link between the unclued words – they can all be placed in the middle of two A’s and still make words. I remain puzzled by the penultimate sentence (The setter himself has hidden some help in this respect.) I managed to locate CHARYBDIS in the grid (East from a13) but I don’t really see what help it offers. Any suggestions?

I repeat, what a great puzzle, so much to do and the fact that all original and final grid entries are real words. I really dislike puzzles where we have to enter non-words just for the sake of making things more difficult. Well done Charybdis!!

This is the last Inquisitor blog before Christmas so let me take this opportunity to say Grumpy Merry Christmas to everyone who takes the time to read my blogs and it would be great to hear any feedback (good or bad.)

Definition only words:

Definition Grid location Answer
Anonymous works m8 ADESPOTA
Coffee a9 ARABICA
Hindu teacher a13 ACHARYA
Lover k1 AMOROSA
Reads (a read is a ruminant’s fourth stomach) i1 ABOMASA
No. Answer Entry Definition Wordplay
1 NUOC MAM Fish sauce COMMUNA[l] (failing to finish) (anag: stewed)
11 A FEW More than A (one)+FEW (relieved sigh) (homophone: is heard)
14 FUELS FUERO Spurs F(orce)+[d]UELS (needle matches with minus D(ates).) Not sure where
“fixed” fits in.
15 RETRORSE Turned back TERROR[i]SE[d] (almost) (no I) (anag: mad)
16 FILM FORM The Italian Job? IL (the in Italian) inside FM (radio [wave]band)
18 AIRER RARER Broadcaster EIRE (Ireland) (homophone: say.) Not happy about this one as I’d
always pronounce the trailing R not being a proponent of Ess-chew-ree English.
20 LOCI Places Low key (with few highlights) (homophone: you could say.) Funny I’d have been inclined to pronounce this low-kye but now I find that it can either be low-see or low-kee. BUT there’s a difference of opinion between my Chambers CD-Rom and my Chambers iPhone app. The iPhone says it should be pronounced lock-ee.
21 ASAR Sand banks ASAR[um] (ginger) minus UM (hesitation)
22 YEANS YEARS Bears YEA (indeed) (anag: around)+N(orth)+S(outh)
23 DRANTING DAUNTING Droning on D(irector)+RANTING (haranguing)
24 EDDAIC Of Norse sagas ED(ited)+CA[nd]ID (hartless) (anag: novel)
26 LORELS Rascals LAURELS (bay trees) (homophone: picked up)
33 RAPT Transported WRAPPED (in a parcel) (homophone: say)
37 AILS Troubles [h]AILS (welcomes) as said by a person from London’s East End.
39 PLONK PLOUK (double definition) (double definition)
40 ERGS ‘Shifty’ parts of Sahara [iceb]ERGS (lettuces) (half-eaten)
41 BRACELET Handcuff CELE[b] (celebrity) inside BRAT (cocky kid.) Took a while to justify. CELEB is short for celebrity and then it is further shortened by one letter, thus very short.
43 END UP Finish [s]END-UP (scoff) minus S(econds)
45 ANEW Again A+WEN (a great city) (rev: to go back)
46 DISSENT Object DIS (Pluto: underworld boss)+SENT (put in post)
No. Answer Entry Definition Wordplay
1 NAFFLY In kitsch way FAN (rev: rising)+FLY (knowing)
2 ODE Poem [m]ODE[l] (exemplary) (the kernel of)
3 CULMINANT CORMORANT At its highest position MAN+I(n) (anag: mad) inside CULT (religious sect)
4 MASAI MAORI A tribe AS I AM (anag: nomadic)
5 MEERS Lakes once MEERS[chaum] (half a pipe: Meerschaum)
6 OWT Anything O(f)+WT (weight)
7 BARREN Uninspiring BARON (entitled) (homophone: to be heard)
8 OBOL A bit of talent (talent is a number of drachmas and obol is part of a drachma) LOBO (wolf) (rev: raising)
9 SPEIR Mac’s to ask (Scottish for ask) PE (physical education: games) inside SIR (teacher)
10 QUITED QUOTED (Edmund) Spenser’s left QUITE (completely)+D(eserted)
12 FRIED FRAUD Sauté I inside FRED
13 OSCAN Language like Latin O (love, as in tennis)+SCAN (study)
17 LOAD ROAD Burden LO (look)+AD (advertisement: promotion)
19 EL AL Air transport Not sure :-( It wants to be half of EL ALAMEIN (or EL ALAMAYN) but there’s a letter too many.(Clue: Air transport in WW2 battle half lost)
21 ATRAMENTS Old inks START NAME (anag: changes)
25 CEIL COIL Overlay [pla]CE IL[l-fitting] (hidden: frames)
27 EMIR Chief E(ast)+MIR (Russian community)
28 LEAGUE (double definition) Nice clue. LEAGUES (as in football leagues) have several sides!!
30 HAIRY Frightening H(enry)+AIRY (offhand)
31 TEPEFY Make lukewarm TE[a] (without A)+P[ot]+E[ven]+F[or]+Y[ou] (initially)
32 SENTE SAUTE African cash (Lesotho currency) SENT (dispatched)+E (Spain)
34 PLAZA Public square P(ressure)+LAZA[r] (footless)
35 NO END Ceaselessly DONNE (anag: revising)
36 SKEWS Goes aslant SKEW (coping stone)+S[lips]
38 SCAR (triple definition) Nice! Triple definition!
42 LAB Research area LAB[our]
44 DEE (double definition) One of many rivers Dee.

9 Responses to “Inquisitor 1156 – Touché by Charybdis”

  1. Mike Laws says:

    The puzzle was submitted as “… by ???”, but I didn’t think it was fair to expect solvers (especially new ones) to be able to identify the significance of “The setter’s name can be found in the grid” in the original preamble. However, I didn’t want to waste Charybdis’s effort in including his pseudonym, so used it as a bit of help to confirm one of the unclued entries, thus giving a start on that score.

  2. Mike Laws says:

    Sorry, “Touche (with the acute accent in place) by ???”.

  3. twencelas says:

    A fine puzzle – some lovely clues and so neat in the end game. Thanks Charybdis, Kenmac for the blog and Mr. Laws for providing so much fun in the series of puzzles this year.

  4. scarpia says:

    thanks kenmac.
    As you say an excellent puzzle.I also prefer puzzles where most,if not all entries are real words.
    Re 20 across – I’ve always thought of it as low-kye but there doesn’t seem to be a general consensus,even among scholars,how Latin should be pronounced.As you say there are 3 possibilities for LOCI

    I got as far as spotting MIDAS and changing the letters to gold but was stuck for some time on the definition clues.
    ARABICA was the one that opened that part up for me and it was just a case of checking Chambers for a couple of unfamiliar words after that.

  5. Mike Laws says:

    That’s Mike, not Mr Laws – I had enough of that during 20 years as a teacher!

    Thanks for your confidence in the setters and the editor.

    Don’t forget that the blog for 1157 shouldn’t be appearing until 5 Jan.

    Festive greetings to all.

  6. Hi of Hihoba says:

    A really good, satisfying puzzle. I thought the main theme (everything he touches turns to gold) was outstanding.
    Was I the only one who sat looking at RAB?? thinking “a rabbi isn’t a Hindu teacher!”
    I did wonder what “Charibdis sent” in the bottom row, and like kenmac, had to have a pause between the main grid and Mid As!

    Thanks to all the other bloggers, and to you Mike, for an outstanding year of Inquisitors!
    Merry Christmas.

  7. Ali says:

    Yep, another top class puzzle. ACHARYA was the first one to fall and I initially thought we might be looking for words with A as the middle letter, but ARABICA soon set me straight. Very impressive that the final grid contains real words.

    Seasons greeting to Mike and all setters after an excellent year of puzzles

  8. Ali says:

    And to all IQ bloggers too of course. These are by far the most detailed and prettiest entries on the site!

  9. HolyGhost says:

    Eventually made it to Syria (two days late) and just got back – no water, no heating, waiting for the engineers …

    My experience of the puzzle echoes Ken’s – relatively quick to fill the grid, and slept on it before resuming the search for MIDAS. I agree that EL AL at 19d is less than half of the WW2 battle, and I’m not sure why the clue for 10d references Spenser – Chambers gives QUITE merely as archaic, and then adds QUIGHT or QUYTE as Spenserian.

    But, as Ken says, well done to Charybdis for both the initial and final enries being words, AND for fitting in six words that could each be prefixed and suffixed by A’s.

    Season’s greetings to setters, fellow bloggers and all the commenters and other readers. (Not forgetting, Mike L., of course.)

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