Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No.964 – Complement by Shark

Posted by Mister Sting on May 7th, 2011

Mister Sting.

I found this rather tougher than some of the recent offerings and even thought for some time that I might be forced to throw in the towel. In fact, there were two clues that I’d been unable to parse until after writing this rest of this entry. Probably indicative of the general mental slowness I’ve been suffering of late.

The clues didn’t play to my strengths, and I found myself checking possible solutions to see if they matched the given definitions (e.g. 18ac, 24dn). This was exacerbated by the design of the puzzle, which involved the alteration of an unspecified half of the down clues, reducing the number and certainty of crossing letters. I’m not complaining so much as reporting my difficulties – in a puzzle such as this, ‘unusual’ words seem fair game to me.

In any case, the affected down clues involved the removal of either all Fs (standing for force) or of a synonym for force (main, grit, etc.). The 8-letter word to be highlighted is, appropriately enough, ADYNAMIC, meaning “characterised by the absence of force” (Chambers).

In set theory, a COMPLEMENT is the collection of things that are not members of a set – the things missing from that set. I doubt many solvers worked out the relevance of the title until a fair amount of solving had been done.

(xxx) = definition
{xxx} = (anagram/homophone/container/etc.) indicator
XXX* = anagram
< = reversal
xxx = unused letter(s)
MAINSTREAM= thematic entry/removed portion

Please post a comment if the explanations are not clear.

1 AMBASSADRESS American singer about to thrash diplomat (12) diplomat: AM (American) + BASS (singer) + A (about) + DRESS (thrash)
9 IDANT Chromosome in poet (not English) (5) chromosome: I (in) + DANTe (poet) {not English}
11 HIDALGO Gentleman concealed half of arithmetic (7) gentleman: HID (concealed) + ALGOrism {half of arithmetic}
14 LAYER Bed topless actor (5) bed: pLAYER (actor) {topless}
Murmur right after difficulty returns (4) murmur: <RUB (difficulty) + R (right)
17 NEATH Clean old hospital here in South Wales (5) here in South Wales: NEAT (clean) {old} + H (hospital)
Backward European city – blame Scots (6) blame Scots: <Madrid (European city)
20 LINDS Plants one rather than all trees (5) trees: LANDS (plants), I (one) replacing A (all)
21 BEDIMMED I am at sea after river channel darkened (8) darkened: BED (river channel) + I’M (I am) + MED (sea)
Cut Ian’s athletic practices earlier for convenient opportunities (8) convenient opportunities: LEISh (athletic) {Scots} + URES (practices) {obs.}
28 SCURF Is dog following scales? (5) scales: S (is) + CUR (dog) + F (following)
31 SCOUTS Spies head of office in tails (6) spies: ins. of O {head of Office} in SCUTS (tails)
33 ESTOC Short sword wrapped in lace stocking (5) short sword: lacESTOCking {wrapped in}
To secure old basket locally (4) basket locally: T (to) + RUG (secure) {old}
36 PLATO Contraction of muscle inside narrow-minded philosopher (5) philosopher: ins. of LAT (contraction of muscle) in PO (narrow-minded)
38 HYLOIST Materialist’s curious life history after raging fire extinguished (7) materialist: LifeHISTOrY* {curious; FIRE* {raging} removed}
39 EATEN Destroyed short London district after ousting society (5) destroyed: EAsT ENd (London district) {short; ousting S (society)}
40 OVER THE SCORE 21, perhaps, is unfair (12, 3 words) double definition
1 FAILED Worn-out Japanese fish disappeared outside (5) worn-out: ins. of AI (Japanese fish) in FLED (disappeared)
2 BAYARD Knight’s horse tied to old plough (6) knight: BAY (horse) + ARD (plough) {archaeol}
3 FANE Devotee starting to eulogies temple (3) temple: FAN (devotee) + E {starting to Eulogies}
Integrate schoolchildren? Mother concerned with sacked master (6) integrate schoolchildren: MA (mother) + IN (concerned with) + MASTER* {sacked}
5 FAINT Poet’s compelled to pass out (4) pass out: FAIN (compelled) {poetic} + T (to)
6 FRABBIT Peevish local cat returning with young woman (6) peevish: <BARF (cat, meaning vomit) + <TIB (young woman)
7 EFFLUENT Letter number six written competently is waste (6) waste: EF (letter number six) + FLUENT (written competently)
8 SOROSIS Pineapple, perhaps, sounding painful… is back in mouth (7) pineapple, perhaps: SOR {homonym of sore} + ins. of <IS in OS (mouth)
Wise judge nailed criminal (6) wise judge: NAILED* {criminal}
12 DAHL Botanist’s pulse (4) double definition
13 GRIDIRON Two French lines cleared inside American football field (4) American football field: ins. of RID (cleared) in GIRON (two french lines)
Shark – clumsy me! Hot inside stomach (6) shark: HAM (clumsy) + ME + ins. of H (hot) in READ (stomach)
Iron in pen is irritable (6) irritable: FE (iron) + I (in) + STY (pen)
Boozer to stop following a lot of bad language (7) language: BAd {a lot of} + SOT (boozer) + HO (stop)
Intend withdrawing most of archaeological expedition finding Mexican stone (6) Mexican stone: removal of {most of} DIg (archaelogical expedition) from MEDITATE (intend)
Scots burst of anger in cruel novel creates disorder (6) disorder: ins. of FUFF (Scots burst of anger) in CRUEL* {novel}
Kill with a grenade or crash once (6) crash {obs.}: FRAG (kill with a grenade) + OR
Arrange brief opening in surgery and deals with flexible viewing instruments (6) flexible viewing instruments: BRIEF* {arrange} + S {opening in Surgery} + COPES (deals with)
Middle East verse truncated before modified rhythm (6) modified rhythm: RUBAi (Middle East verse) + TO (before)
Try bacon – that’s wrong for Greek priest (4) Greek priest: TRYBACON* {wrong}
Wash with a local spirit (4) spirit: FEN (wash) + I (a) {local}
Boiled dish has firmness equivalent to coarse rock (5) coarse rock: GRITS (boiled dish) + TONE (firmness)
Band’s excursion has no agreement (4) band: removal of AY (agreement) from SASHAY (excursion)
37 LAC
Resin in half of cavity (3) resin: LACuna {half of} (cavity)

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