Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 974: Repent Sinning by Ifor

Posted by Dave Hennings on July 16th, 2011

Dave Hennings.

Ifor is a relatively new setter whose recent puzzles I have enjoyed. His latest Listener (4137: Frightened Catherine), was fairly tricky, and his last EV (956: Ego Problem) was quite amusing!

There were four clue types here, and every set of four clues contained one of each type: Normal; Definition and Letter Mixture (each clue contains a definition and a hidden mixture of the letters of the answer); Extra Word in Clue (an extra thematic word must be removed from a longer word before solving); and thematic answers (the subsidiary indication is only to part of the thematic entry).

The extra words in clues normally left only one letter remaining which was used “as is” in the wordplay. It wasn’t too long before the feature shared by the thematic answers became apparent: they began and ended with the same letter. Generally, the grid itself was a fairly straightforward, but the thematic words that needed to be removed from the clues didn’t immediately become obvious: carpet, bull, corn, ring, rat, hoop, green, rock, sea, milk, black.

In hindsight, I suppose carpet, ring and hoop should’ve given it, but I was put off by bull, milk and rat. In fact, I needed to find the two 12-letter words to point me in the right direction. Nothing appeared obvious in the columns, rows or main diagonals, and I was praying that they weren’t in square or rectangular shapes (like MynoT’s hidden messages frequently are). Scanning the minor diagonals, I saw AMPH, but couldn’t get any further, and shortly after that, DOUB which led me to DOUBLE-HEADED in an S shape down the central part of the grid. I then identified AMPHISBAENAE symmetrically placed.

So the theme was snakes, especially the double-headed snake from Greek legend, Amphisbaena, born from the blood of Medusa which was dripping as she was being carried by Perseus. The extra words in clues were all types of snake and the thematic feature shared by entries was having the same letter at the head and tail of the word. I was also reminded of the Caduceus, Hermes rod which is represented by a wand surmounted by wings and entwined by two serpents. Whether Ifor tried to include that somewhere in the grid, only he can say.

I think the title is the subsidiary indication for SERPENTS without its head and tail. Well, actually, I know it is, but I think that’s what was intended!

Solving time: about 1¾ hours (half the time it took to create this blog!)

Definition in clue
Letter Mixture in clue
snake = thematic word to be omitted from clue
X = head and tail not indicated by wordplay
ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden

Clue Types
N: Normal
DLM: Definition and Letter Mixture
EWC: Extra word in clue
HT: Head and Tail omitted before entry

No Type Answer Clue and Explanation
1 HT SURPASS Go beyond beginning to indicate original action? (7)
UR- (prefix meaning original) + PAS (action)
7 EWC APSE Clumsy fellow covering carpets in recess (4)
APE (clumsy fellow) around S
11 DLM TRUISM Conundrum? It’s an obvious statement (6)
13 N IMAUM Foreign leader‘s amateurism foolishly dropping fluctuating rates (5)
14 HT AILSA Heart of bliss, silly girl (5)
15 EWC UPSY Carousal lifts bully (4)
UPS (lifts) + Y
17 N OHMAGE Resistance leader turning up late in tribute (6)
HOMAGE (tribute) with H (leader, ie first letter) moved
18 DLM CEORL Once he was low but free (or clear) (5)
19 N GRISLY Working girls ending in poverty — ghastly (6)
GIRLS* + Y (ending in povertY)
21 DLM ENTREES Decree sent rights of access (7)
23 EWC POESY American author’s corny verse (5)
POE’S (American author’s) + Y
24 HT SHOES Weed parts of drainpipes (5)
HOE (weed)
25 EWC BHANGRA Type of music to bring meaning to artist (7)
B + HANG (meaning) + RA (artist)
28 DLM IGNARO Rig another old fool (6)
29 N EXALT Refine liquid latex (5)
31 HT ARANEA Spiders scuttled near (6)
34 DLM RYND Millstone support ran dry (4)
35 EWC NAIRA African rhino found in Ararat (5)
(IN ARA)*; rhino is money and found is anagram indicator
36 HT ETAPE Broach rations (5)
TAP (broach)
37 N ASCIAN One the sun shines down on? What Americans and Canadians have as common ground (6)
CIANS* (common letters of Americans and Canadians; ground is anagram indicator
38 N DENT Depression contributing to accidents (4)
hidden in acciDENTs
39 HT SHEKELS Despicable person pinches a thousand old coins (7)
HEEL (despicable person) holding K (a thousand)
No Type Answer Clue and Explanation
1 DLM STANCE Can’t see point of view? (6)
2 EWC URINE Member of the governing party in practice forgotten — whoopee! (5)
IN (member of the governing party) in URE (practice, old word)
3 N PISE Earth for floors left out in untidy piles (4)
[PILES – L (left)]*
4 DLM SMUDGE Dug messy fuel that makes smoke (6)
5 HT SOPORS After operation, troops required deep sleeps (6)
OP (operation) + OR (troops)
6 EWC DISH Cook hid greens in prepared food (4)
(HID S)*
8 DLM PARALEGAL Help for brief pellagra after treatment (9)
9 EWC SURGY Rocky drugs distributed, leaving dead like a wave (5)
(Y + DRUGS – D)*
10 N EMPERY Power of hard mineral to absorb pressure (6)
EMERY (hard mineral) holding P (pressure)
12 HT SABLES Blacks base after labour briefly sacked (6)
E (base) after LAB* (labour, briefly)
16 HT NOTOGAEAN Duck to earth, like kiwis or emus (9)
O (duck) + TO + GAEA (earth)
20 DLM SON Product of something on stage (3)
22 EWC REN Marshalsea near without a journey long ago (3)
(NEAR – A)*
23 N PAEANS Japanese endlessly broadcast Songs of Praise (6)
24 EWC SEALED Criminal milks deal carrying drug enclosed (6)
(S DEAL)* holding E (drug)
25 DLM BRANES Bares naked surfaces (6)
26 HT HOWDAH When travelling abroad, seat bruised with unsurfaced roads (6)
[W + (r)OAD(s)]*
27 N ATMANS Satanism is wanting troubled souls (6)
28 DLM IRATE Cross it early (5)
30 HT LORAL Strap-like structural openings (5)
ORA (openings)
32 EWC EYED Spotted the elderly blacked out (4)
YE (the, old word) with ED outside
33 N TACK Food‘s distinctive flavour (4)
2 meanings

4 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations 974: Repent Sinning by Ifor”

  1. Tony says:

    Thank you, Dave.

    I really enjoyed this one with four types of clue. You’re right, of course, about the significance of the title but it also reminds me of the garden of Eden.

  2. Ifor says:

    Dave – thanks for this. A couple of points prompted by the blog – I did indeed try to include CADUCEUS at the bottom of the grid, but failed to find a way to do so. And you were kind enough not to point out that the clue to PELLAGRA contained a superfluous word and had a nonsensical surface. It should have read “Help for brief pellagra attack” but somehow underwent a change after proofs were agreed (I suspect it may have been read in haste as an normal clue with “attack” as a feeble anagrind)


  3. Dave Hennings says:

    Ifor, Thanks for your comments. Regarding the clue to PELLAGRA, I read it as Normal (anagram of ‘paralegal’, which it isn’t) when I solved it and only realised it was a DLM when doing the blog. I forgot to mention that the clues were fine, especially when your original clue to 8dn is substituted; and I loved the idea of Songs of Praise being shown on Japanese TV!

  4. bb says:

    One quibble with the endgame: AMPHISBAENAE and AMPHISBAENAS both appear to be acceptable plurals for AMPHISBAENA (Chambers Word Wizard only gives AMPHISBAENAS). Both words are available in the grid for highlighting, and the preamble does not say the highlighting has to be symmetrical. Obviously AMPHISBAENAE gives a prettier grid but it’s hard to see how AMPHISBAENAS could be marked wrong.

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