Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No.972 – Extraction by Oxymoron

Posted by Mister Sting on July 2nd, 2011

Mister Sting.

Ah, forgive me. Once again, the days run away from me and you are left without your due, a run down of EV972.

I read somewhere that Oxymoron was considered “scrupulously fair”. I think the implication was that he’s hard, but legitimately so. If so, perhaps this was a little easier than some Oxymorons. Certainly there were a fair few unusual words – indeed, if you look below, you’ll see how unlikely it is that you’d have recently encountered many of the grid entries in everyday speech. Even the more common words tended to be clued in their less common meanings. But, somehow, the grid fill was steady enough.

I am particularly enjoying the occurrence of  ‘def’ for ‘brilliant’ in 23dn, as in Def Jam.

Anyway, the extra letters… A device I am fond of, and one that was to spell out instructions, which implies some sort of grid alteration as was the case here. The instructions proved to be two:

Running from top left to bottom right (always a good place to look) was LION’S THORN PAW. So THORN was neatly expunged.
Now, any fool knows (at least with the help of Google) that ANDROCLES removed the thorn. So he was located and shaded.
The last thing to do was to complete the unclued entries. Despite there only being two letters missing, this was a bit of a challenge. Luckily, Wikipedia is of use. The article on Androcles mentions GELLIUS, and that on Androcles and the Lion mentions SHAW. Both have written versions of the story.

In summary: I am ungroanful.

(xxx) = definition
{xxx} = (anagram/homophone/container/etc.) indicator
XXX* = anagram
< = reversal
xxx = unused letter(s)
Idlers=redundant word

Please post a comment if the explanations are not clear.

1 LIGS Idlers run away from active girls (4) idles: GIrLS* {active; R (run) away}
4 PETERSHAM Safe code for usually blue material (9) usually blue material: PETER (safe) + SHAM (cod)
11 INTUSE Sun and Times mostly misrepresented poet’s injury (6) [SUN + TIEs {mostly}]* {misrepresented}
12 PETARA Glasgow’s tout with a good box (6) box: PET (Glasgow’s ‘tout’) + A + RA (god)
Full of complaints, old frugal navvy getting excited (8) full of complaints: [O (old) + FRUGAL + N (navy)]* {excited}
14 NUMNAH This prevents chafing, new and awfully humane (6) this prevents chafing: N (new) + HUMAN* {awfully}
Bread stick, one containing heroin apparently (7) bread: ins. of H (heroin) + AP (apparently) in CAT (sick) + I (one)
18 OERLIKON Role played by idol Channon (7) cannon: ROLE* {played} + IKON (idol)
19 SHEART Cute transitive oath (6) oath: SHEAR (cut) + T (transitive)
Video recording containing zero clack (4) lack: ins. of O (zero) in VID (video recording)
24 COHOS Thais brought back very large fish (5) fish: <HOC (this) + OS (very large)
27 OHONES Mournful cries from house on collapsing (6) mournful cries: HOSEON* {collapsing}
31 SAFFRONS Plants spared face sun after seven (8) plants: S (seven) + AFFRONt (face) {pared} + S (sun)
Char harbouring the ultimate in mean spite (6) spite: ins. of N (ultimate in meaN) in TOGUE (char)
34 COB PIPES Smokers use these, clubs moan about butts (8, 2 words) smokers use these: C (clubs) + <BO (man) + PIPES (butts)
35 RICTAL Fat corners of the mouth somewhat restrict a libation (6) at corners of the mouth: restRICTALibation {somewhat}
36 WHENUA Asp for all to see on athletic ground in Wakito (6) ground in Wakito: WHEN (as) + U (for all to see) + A (athletic)
37 DATELINES Headings in a tele ad edited by Siemens (9) headings: INATELED* {edited} + S (siemens)
38 GREW I produced Morag’s hound (4) produced: hound (Scot.) {Morag’s}
1 LIGNES Cannons restricting German movement measures (6) movement measures: ins. of G (German) in LINES (canons)
2 GNOMAE More than one saw sprites keeping active (6) more than one saw: ins. of A (active) in GNOME (sprite)
3 STANZA Part of poem “Shun the Northern Soldier”, unfinished (6) part of poem: S (sun) + T (the) + ANZAc (northern soldier) {unfinished}
Cold winds turned fully north awhile (5) cold winds: <UP (fully) + N (north) + AS (while)
5 TEUCER Noted mostly cruel unorthodox Trojan leader (6) Trojan leader: TE (note) + CRUEl* {mostly; unorthodox}
6 REGALES One local girl regularly gets choice dishes (7) choice dishes: RE (on) + GAL (local girl) + gEtS {regularly}
7 STUPIDS Put back identification on board passes (7) asses: ins. of <PUT {back} + ID (identification) in SS {on board}
8 HALAKAH Close to Sabbath a large number blocked by rare legal code (7) H (close to sabbatH) + ins. of A (are) in A + LAKH (large number)
Zoological area shown by animated cartoon, missing Norse goddess (9) zoological area: CARTOn* {animated; missing N (Norse)} + GAEA (goddess)
10 MATING Mike and Gavin relaxed taking time finishing the game (6) finishing the game: ins. of T (time) in M (mike) + GAIN* {relaxed}
15 HOT ON Very fond of American prostitute as fair as Nancy’s face (5, 2 words) very fond of: HO (American prostitute) + TO (as far as) + N (Nancy’s face)
A mild chorea lacking resistance aggravated a blood disorder (9) blood disorder: AMILCHOrEA {aggravated; lacking resistance}
Jock’s shed, cold and quiet, housing Aberdonian ewe(5) Jock’s shed: ins. of OO (Aberdonian we) in C (cold) + ST (quiet)
Striker, popular flourished in court (7) strike: IN (popular) + FL (flourished) + I (in) + CT (court)
Brilliant Liberal toasted lower price levels (7) lower price levels: DEF (brilliant) + L (liberal) + ATE (tasted)
Competitor I see wearing something like a frock (7) competitor: ins. of I + V (see) in CORAL (something like a rock)
That Irish cropper misses absolute heaven (6) heaven: AS (that) + GARDa (Irish copper) {misses A (absolute)}
Note spread of weight in a French tin (6) not spread: ins. of O (of) + W (weight) in UN (a French) + SN (tin)
Halving round number in flock (6) having: O (round) + ins. of N (number) in WING (flock)
City doctor trapped by a ruin crumbling (6) city: ins. of GP (doctor) in ARUN* {crumbling}
Spey observed to rise and fall (6) rise and fall: SEE (spy) + SAW (observed)
Foot underneath for turning sheets (5) sheets: <OR {turning} + PES (foot)

4 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No.972 – Extraction by Oxymoron”

  1. Tony says:

    Thank you, Mr Sting

    I got nowhere with this – far too many obscure words. And sorry to sound grumpy but when I see that I was supposed to know that “def” means brilliant (something I would never have got in a million years) I begrudge the time I wasted on it. What a shame, as it was a lovely idea for a puzzle.

  2. nmsindy says:

    I think the reference dict for puzzles such as this is Chambers, as is signalled in preambles, so def = brilliant which is in Chambers is quite OK, I’d say.

  3. Mister Sting says:

    This idea of the ‘acceptability’ of clues is curious, and not one that easily lends itself to an answer.

    One could demand only ‘general use’ words, but I don’t think that many would be so demanding. Certainly, every EV I’m aware of would fail such a stringent test.

    Alternatively, one might want a limit on the use of obscurities. It sometimes seems to me unfair when a setter has needlessly used Words Only Found In Chamber’s to clue a word that is, itself, utterly obscure.

    What is noteworthy, but not indefensible, is the palpable dislike of some solvers of slang such as ‘def’. I’ll admit that I find it odd to object to a word that is widely used in a limited area of parlance while not objecting to an archaic, Sperserian, or even traditional dialect word. As I say, I accept that there is a difference between these sets of words, although, to me, it does not seem a significant one. Personally, I find the use of ‘Scottish’ words that no Scot knows, let alone uses, more bothersome, although I can see their value to setters.

    The debate echoes in some ways the elitist/populist arguments that reign over the acceptability of Livy and/or Lady GaGa as thematic material.

  4. nmsindy says:

    Interesting points. I think the main thing is that, while obviously seeking above all to provide entertainment, a puzzle should be fair, with everything justifiable in its reference source (Chambers for these puzzles). I agree puzzles should not be made artificially difficult or use obscure references just for the sake of it, but I think people who tackle these puzzles expect them to be more difficult than the standard fare so that it would take them a little while more to solve them with their journey on the way to solving hopefully being enjoyable.

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