Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1164: Descent by Raich

Posted by HolyGhost on February 23rd, 2011


Raich is averaging about three Inquisitors a year since his first appearance in mid-2008, and all pretty decent ones in my opinion. (And he notched up his third Listener just the weekend before, if I’m not mistaken.)
Ten clues have an extra letter in the wordplay; in another ten the wordplay is deficient by a letter: these give two words from a quotation and a place name. Three grid entries are unclued, and eleven letters have to be highlighted in the completed grid.

[Make that four entries unclued, if your copy of the puzzle is the same as mine – what happened to 35d? Did it simply fall off the end?]
Later communication: “35 Too much taken? Daughter and son in dispute (4)”

Things were moving along at a fairly smart lick, but there was the odd stumble: I thought the apostrophe s in “Lily’s” might be a superfluous letter in the wordplay at 19d, but decided it was merely redundant (right); I made the same call with the apostrophe s in “painter’s” at 37a, so had a missing S from the wordplay (wrong). The bottom right corner was still fairly blank, partly because of the missing clue, partly because of the intersections of two of the unclued entries, and partly because 25d and 38a referenced answers to other clues (22a and 27d) that I hadn’t solved. (Not a huge fan of clues referencing answers – leave those to ‘blocked’ puzzles.)

But that all fell into place and I started to think about FULTON (the place related to the quotation) – Fulton Missouri had come up earlier in the week … on University Challenge as I later recalled – but I had to put the puzzle away for a couple of hours to focus on dinner. Picking up the nearly completed grid, I scanned it and soon saw IRON CURTAIN running down a central column, neatly intersecting the unclued CONTINENT – ah yes … Churchill’s speech (in Fulton MO, on 5 March 1946), the key sentence of which is “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic an iron curtain has descended across the Continent.”

The wordplay letters spell out BALTIC, ADRIATIC, and FULTON; STETTIN is unclued in the top row, TRIESTE unclued in the bottom row, and IRON CURTAIN descends from the former to the latter, running across CONTINENT. Nice one, Raich.

But the clue for 6d seems weak – “holds up” would work better that “hauls up”.

+B indicates an extra letter in the wordplay; –A indicates a missing letter in the wordplay.
Since the recent discussion on “symmetry”, I checked the distribution of extra/missing letters: 5 of each in the Across clues, and 5 of each in the Downs – design, or happy accident?

No. Answer
(unclued entry)
± letter Wordplay
11 NOMADIC +B [BACON I'M + D(espair)]*
12 NEGEV N(orth) + EG (=say) + E (=Spain) + V (=against)
13 ADHERE A A + D(emocrat) + HERE (=at this point)
15 INK-BLOT L [L + K(elvin) + BIT ON]*
16 DOR DORM (=bedroom) – M(aiden)
17 GOODNIGHT T GO (=attempt) + DO (=party) rev. + NIGH (=near) + T
20 REAL Double definition
21 CLOACAE CLOA(k) (=garment) + C(o)A(t)E(e)
22 OVETT O (=round) + VAT (=check) + T(ime)
{Steve Ovett, English athlete}
24 TOSCA +I [STOICAL – L(earner)]*
{opera by Puccini}
26 PECCARY C RACE (=competition) rev. in PY (=Paraguay) + C
{“in Paraguay” also part of definition}
28 VOAR V(ictor) + OAR (=row)
31 LOT +A LAO (=SE Asian) + T(enor)
36 OURALI +R O(leander) + RURAL (=suggesting the country) + I(ndia)
37 ERASE E(nglish) + RA (=Royal Academician =painter) + ‘S + (confidenc)E
38 NODICAL I [I + CODA (=27d)]* in NL (=Netherlands)
No. Answer ± letter Wordplay
2 LOUNGE LOGE (=box) around UN (=a, French)
3 SMOKO SM (=sadomasochism =kinky sex?) + OK (all right) + O (=love)
4 TAP BOLT T [T + ATOP + B(arre)L]*
5 EDEL E(ast) + DEL (=delineavit, drew it)
6 TIRO Hidden: (auth)ORIT(y) rev.
7 INDIGOTIN I IN (=home) + D(irector) + I + GOT (=procured) + I + N(ew)
8 AGED DEGA(s) (=artist) rev.
9 KEROUAC C [U(pset) + KOREA + C]*
{Jack Kerouac, US novelist}
10 OVERBEARINGLY +F OVER (=some cricket) + BEARING (=direction) + FLY (=avoid)
14 HA-HA Double definition
21 CURT TRUCE (=respite) – E(nergy) rev.
23 VELOURS L V(aluabl)E + L + OURS (=belonging to us)
25 OVEN-TIT +T [TIN + OVETT (=22a)]*
27 CODA COD (=chap, dialect) + A
29 ATAMAN +O (m)A(n)T(r)A + MOAN (=grumble)
30 NIECE +N NINE (=square) + C(onservative) + E(nglish)
32 TRAP PART (=portion) rev.
34 EVOE EVOKE (=call to mind) – K (=Kampuchea, Cambodia)
35 O?DS I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue.
35 ODDS OD (=overdose, taken too much?) + D(aughter) + S(on)


9 Responses to “Inquisitor 1164: Descent by Raich”

  1. Scarpia says:

    Thanks HolyGhost.
    Very enjoyable puzzle from Raich.
    As you say the IRON CURTAIN descending across the CONTINENT was a very nice touch.
    Had to consult a dictionary of quotations to get the significance of FULTON but the quote itself was familiar.
    I think ‘kinky sex’ is a fair definition for SM but maybe I’m just old fashioned!
    Shame about the missing clue but at least it didn’t interfere with the thematic elelment of the puzzle.

  2. Hypnos says:

    Very engaging puzzle and theme and beautifully constructed. TRIESTE emerged fairly quickly but only twigged the theme after seeing IRON CURTAIN in the column. NW corner proved trickiest and STETTIN was the last thematic term solved. Favourite clue SMOKO, hardest ANTIGROPELOES!

  3. HolyGhost says:

    Scarpia: The “?” after “kinky sex” in the wordplay at 3d simply replicates the punctuation in the clue as published – it is not an indication of my view of it being a fair definition of sadomasochism.

  4. Raich says:

    At this juncture, addressing just the SM in SMOKO point, this was based on Chambers which gives ‘kinky’ as ‘with unusual sexual tastes’ and SM definitely seemed to fit that.

  5. HolyGhost says:

    To reiterate: I have no problem with the clue for SMOKO – the “?” in the blog is simply copied from the clue. (Though I admit that I didn’t replicate the “!” after “love”.)

  6. Hi of Hihoba says:

    Interesting that finding the theme via the hidden “Iron Curtain” was the way in for both HolyGhost and Hypnos. My way in was via BALTIC and ADRIATIC, and I had to look up FULTON, not having seen that edition of University Challenge!
    Though careless, the missing clue did not seem to hold me up at all. Excellent puzzle!

  7. Scarpia says:

    Holy Ghost re SM – Apologies,I didn’t check the puzzle for that clue and wrongly assumed the question mark was yours.

  8. Ali says:

    A lovely puzzle. Having got BALTIC via the extra letters, but not getting anywhere with it in my ODQ, I adopted my usual brute force Google method and got there via a search for “famous quotes Baltic.” Had I bothered to look at the grid, I would have seen most of IRON CURTAIN already there! It’s a quote that is perfect for this kind of puzzle, and it was very well executed. Great clues too.

  9. Raich says:

    Many thanks, HolyGhost, for the excellent blog and to all for their comments, it was gratifying that Descent was seen as decent…

    It was unfortunate about the missing clue. This is referred to in a note by the crossword editor next to today’s Inquisitor in the Indy. Credit is due to the paper for moving quickly to print the clue in the next Saturday edition – this was before the closing date for entries. Also entries with the answer to the missing clue wrong or left blank were allowed, I understand.

    The disposition of the letters was a ‘happy accident’, I think. Where the ‘missing letter’ device is used, my first task is to identify answers for them because the relevant letter has to be in the clue answer.

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