Posted by HolyGhost on September 28th, 2011
Clues are presented in alphabetical order of answers (at least, that’s what the preamble said), and 19 have single-letter misprints in the definition. These spell out a link between the theme of the puzzle and the 8 unclued entries, 5 of which are to be entered at numbered locations.
In the first session (Saturday evening) I managed to solve all bar three of the clues – not too fast, not too slow – but then was too tired to start fitting them in to the ‘jigsaw'; I merely entered the Z from one of the nine-letter words into the slot at r4c3 and went to bed.
The corrected misprints read INTERNATIONAL RESCUE, but that meant nothing to me, and it was time to tackle the grid. There were three cells that were the starting points of both across and down entries, and the most fruitful of these was at r1c2, which contained the initial letters of both a six-letter word and a seven-letter word: they had to be SCROGS and SEA DUCK. Most of the top left quadrant fell into place pretty quickly, followed by the bottom left. PENELOPE came to mind for the unclued entry at r2c1, and VIRGIL for that at r7c1; so I thought we might be dealing with the Odyssey and the Aeneid, but that was completely the wrong track to go down. In the meantime I’d picked up LIGURE (one of the three that had remained unsolved overnight) and also REHAB when I’d done the bottom right quadrant. (I had been looking for an answer between RAVAGE and REEF, which REHAB most certainly isn’t!)
It was only when I’d nearly finished the final quadrant (top right) and noticed that PARKER fitted at r1c8 that something clicked: Lady Penelope and her chauffeur Parker (“Yes, milady”) were characters in Thunderbirds, a children’s sci-fi show on TV in the mid-1960’s with marionettes (Highly Strung). With some internet help, the five pilots were identified as (1) SCOTT, (2) VIRGIL, (3) ALAN, (4) GORDON and (5) JOHN, with BRAINS completing the thematic characters, all members of the INTERNATIONAL RESCUE organisation.
All that remained was to highlight a cryptic seven-letter representation of the theme. I scanned the completed grid – across, down, diagonally – to no avail, and then sat back … I should be looking for a cryptic representation, e.g. TH under BIRDS, and soon found CROWS TH in the central column. Job done.
Very engaging from Samuel – satisfying, and reliable as ever. (Still unclear about GERRY.)
REHAB and REEF are not clued in alphabetical order;
GERRY: can’t see where the RY comes from – did “railway” somehow drop out of the clue?
Private communication from the editor & Samuel (21-Sep-11): Apologies regarding the two clues out of order, and the missing “railway” before “map”.