Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1201: A Prime Example by Nutmeg

Posted by duncanshiell on November 9th, 2011

duncanshiell.

The preamble stated "To reveal the prime example solvers should follow instructions spelt out by single extra letters yielded by the wordplay in each clue in order. Two answers are abbreviations; ignore two punctuation marks."

This crossword had 51 clues with the longest entry being only 8 letters.  I realise, of course, that 51 clues were necessary to spell out the instructions.  However with that number of clues in this barred crossword, I suspect that most solvers will have found that some clues solved themselves, particularly the six three-letter entries, DUE, SOE, AIS, DOR, NYE and WEE where all three letters are checked. In fact, there were also 2 five-letter entries, TRITE and  FRATI, and 2 six-letter entries, IMIDES and STRATA and that were fully checked.

The clues were not too difficult to solve, but there were a number that required some thought to parse, epecially where the wordplay required solvers to omit or change one or more letters from a component part, on top of the fact that there was already a redundant letter in the wordplay that was needed for the instruction.  Examples of this were the clues to DUE, AIS, ELUDE, UNSHROUD, and AND/OR

I worked my way fairly steadily through this, but it was quite late on before I was able to deduce the complete message and identify the required extra letter in the wordplay of the final few clues.

The instruction was as follows : TAKING CELLS IN ORDER, HIGHLIGHT PRIMES, THEN READ DIAGONALLY

I briefly toyed with just highlighting cells with clue numbers that were prime, but felt that this wasn’t going to reveal anything useful.  I then moved on to numbering the cells in order, left to right and then down, giving 1 to 13 in the first row, 14 to 26 in the second and so on.  Highlighting all the cell numbers between 1 and 169 that were prime yielded the grid shown below.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Reading the highlighted letters diagonally, from left to right starting in the top left corner, yielded the following message:

SERIAL NUMBER OF TODAY’S INQUISITOR CROSSWORD 

The number 1201 was therefore to be entered as the Prime Example in the space allocated under the printed grid.  

1201 is, not surprisingly, a prime number.  If the puzzle had been submitted too late to be published as 1201, the next possible date for publication would be 12 weeks later as 1213 to ensure a prime number as the serial number.

As mentioned above, the clues were eminently solvable with the usual mix of clue types and misdirection.  It was a pleasant change to come across ‘initially’ in a clue referring to the initials of an individual’s Christian names rather than referring to the first letters of some words in the clue. 

After completing the puzzle I tried to imagine how Nutmeg went about compiling it. What idea came first? Was it using the 39 prime numbers between 1 and 169 inclusive to form a final message? Was it the idea of using more than just the central diagonal to generate a message? Was it just a first idea of trying to hide a message throughout a grid? Having decided on the message format, did Nutmeg then carefully craft something of 39 letters or did she [The Crossword Who's Who on Best for Puzzles tells me that Nutmeg is female] try lots of ideas before homing in on the prime number theme? After having got a suitable message, did Nutmeg then put those letters in a blank grid and get something like Sympathy or Crossword Compiler to produce a symmetric grid around them? Indeed, can those software packages actually do that? And finally which came first? – the message from the extra letters in the clues, or did the grid dictate that the message had to be 51 letters long? So many questions! I wonder what the answers are?

Overall, another enjoyable puzzle from Nutmeg.

Across
No Clues Wordplay Extra letter Entry
1 Disorderly student was unaccustomed (6) Anagram of (disorderly) STUDENT

T

USEDN’T (an old usage meaning unaccustomed, as the negative of use [to be accustomed]) – first punctuation mark ignored
6 Iowa talk resolved woodsmen’s problem (7, 2 words) Anagram of (resolved) IOWA TALK

A

OAK WILT (a serious fungal disease of oak trees, causing wilting and discoloration of foliage)
12 Tolling end of lengthy life (5) KNELL (to summon or proclaim, as by a tolling bell) + final letter, Y,  of (end of) LENGTHY)

K

NELLY (life, in the slang phrase not on your nellie or nelly)
13 Chauvinism’s back, thus penetrating more in Edinburgh (6) (SIC [thus] contained in [penetrating] MAIR [a Scottish {Edinburgh} variant of more]) all reversed (back)

I

RACISM (chauvinism)
14 He once paid court painter fifty nicker (7) RA (Royal Academician; artist; painter) + L (Roman numeral for fifty) + NEIGH (one of the more obscure meanings of ‘nicker’)

N

RALEIGH (reference Sir Walter Raleigh who paid court to Queen Elizabeth I)
15 Well-trodden gravel in borders of Tees-side (5) GRIT (gravel) contained in (in) the first and last letters of (borders of) TEES-SIDE

G

TRITE (well-trodden)
17 Tub for moving fruit consignment (7) HIP (fruit) + BATCH (consignment)

C

HIP-BATH (a portable bath in which the bather sits; tub for moving) hyphenated word in Shorter Oxford; two words in Chambers and Collins
19 Outstanding cat leaves train (3) EDUCATE (train) excluding (leaving) CAT

E

DUE (something that is owed; outstanding)
20 Component of plastic liners decomposed (5) Anagram of (decomposed) LINERS

L

RESIN (component of plastic)
21 Tax put on research facilities – it’s a sore point (7) LABS (laboratories; research facilities) + CESS (tax)

L

ABSCESS (a collection of pus in a cavity, usually causing an inflamed swelling; a sore point)
22 Remarkable noon forecast (4) SOME (remarkable) + N (noon)

S

OMEN (a sign of some future event; forecast)
23 Detectives guarding ocean state that is rotten at heart (8) (DICKS [private eyes; detectives] containing (guarding) RI [Rhode Island, a US State in the Atlantic Ocean; ocean state]) + IE (id est; that is)

I

DRICKSIE ([of timber] having decayed spots concealed by healthy wood; rotten at heart)
26 Elite unit ages in revolution (3) EONS ([vast] ages) reversed (in revolutions)

N

SOE (abbreviation for Special Operations Executive, The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a World War II  organisation of the United Kingdom. It was officially formed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Minister of Economic Warfare Hugh Dalton on 22 July 1940, to conduct guerrilla warfare against the Axis Powers and to instruct and aid local resistance movements. On its formation, it was ordered by Churchill to "set Europe ablaze". Its mission was to encourage and facilitate espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance behind enemy lines. In its early days, it was also involved in the formation of the Auxiliary Units, a British resistance movement which would act in case of a German invasion of Britain; elite unit)  There has been quite a bit in the British press recently about the Nearne sisters who served in the SOE.

27 Tree dwellers place of rest lacking sun (3) OASIS (place of rest) excluding (lacking) S (sun)

O

AIS (three-toed sloths; tree dwellers)
30 Don’t believe spiteful gossip about society’s decay (8) (DIRT [spiteful gossip] containing (about) S [society]) + RUST (decay)

R

DISTRUST (don’t believe)
32 Doctor’s ascended, grabbing right type of piton (4) (DR [doctor] + UP [ascended]) containing (grabbing) R (right)

D

RURP (a very small hook-like piton used in mountaineering)
33 Quieten a cuckoo after manner of the ancients (7) Anagram of (cuckoo) QUIETEN A

E

ANTIQUE (after the manner of the ancients)
36 Temperature splitting scientist’s dish (5) T (temperature) contained in (splitting) CURIE (reference scientist Marie CURIE)

R

CUTIE (pretty girl; dish)
37 Dung heap’s only resident initially? (3) First letters of (initially) DUNG HEAP’S ONLY RESIDENT

H

DOR (a kind of dung-beetle; resident of a dung-heap)
39 Men to pin back bunting (7) OR (other ranks; men) + TO + (NAIL [pin] reversed [back])

I

ORTOLAN (a kind of bunting, common in Europe and eaten as a delicacy)
40 Fruit concealing what may be smelt by suspicious brothers (5) FIG (fruit) containing (concealing) RAT (reference ‘smell a RAT‘; what may be smelt by suspicious [people])

G

FRATI (friars who depend on alms; brothers)
41 Ideal place to be when hero’s in action (7) Anagram of (in action) WHEN HERO

H

EREWHON (reference a novel  by Samuel Butler [1835 - 1902].  It appears initially that Erewhon is a utopia, but later developments indicate that this is not the case.)
43 Mentors’ reprimands about a mild expletive (6) TUTS (reprimands) containing (about) LOR’ (Lord! [mild expletive])

L

TUTORS (mentors)
44 Time lost by erudite Republican ousted by Liberal dodge (5) ERUDITE excluding (lost) T (time) and R (Republican) replaced by (ousted by) L (Liberal)

I

ELUDE (dodge)
45 Partners firstly reject grooms (7) NEGATE (reject) + ( N [North] and S [South], partners in the game of bridge)

G

NEATENS (grooms)
46 Having rank, son’s attended to (6) S (son) + HEEDED (attended to)

H

SEEDED (in sporting tournaments, seeds are given privileged positions in the draw to ensure that they do not meet each other in early rounds; having rank)
  Down  

 

 
1 Expose earl expelled in thunderous tumult (8) Anagram of (tumult) THUNDEROUS excluding (expelled) E (earl)

T

UNSHROUD (expose)
2 Current measures set up to protect one bird (7) AMPERES (units of current; current measures reversed (set up) containing (protect) I (one)

P

SERIEMA (either of two South American birds of the family Cariamidae related to the cranes and the rails; bird)
3 Went past ‘stop’ signal admitting failure of attention (7) RED (‘stop’ signal) containing (admitting) LAPSE (failure of attention)

R

ELAPSED (went past)
4 Elected the old health minister (3) IN (elected) + YE (and old variant of ‘the'; the old)

I

NYE (reference Aneurin Bevan, father of the National Health Service, known as NYE Bevan)  This is probably the second abbreviation.
5 Order return of correct chemical? (7) TRIM (to set in order)  + (EDIT [correct] reversed [return of])

M

TRITIDE (a compund of tritum with another with another element or radical; chemical)
7 In need of analgesic every year? (4) EACH (every) + Y (year)

E

ACHY (in need of analgesic)
8 Coffins holding eastern fliers (5) KISTS (coffins) containing (holding) E (eastern)

S

KITES (birds or light frames covered with paper or cloth for flying in the air; fliers)
9 Nervous geese regularly avoided compounds (6) TIMID (nervous) + second and fourth letters (regularly) E and S of GEESE

T

IMIDES (any of a class of organic compunds)
10 Lily’s unwilling to lead us (5) LOTH (unwilling) + US

H

LOTUS (an Egyptian or Indian water-lily)
11 Among supporters, our queen pines perhaps (5) ER (Elizabeth Regina; our [UK and some members of the Commonwealth] queen) contained in TEES (supporters [for golf balls])

E

TREES (pines are a type of tree)
16 Substituting for another in setbacks, king is unsteady (5) KNOCKS (setback) with K (king) replaced by R ([another]) king

N

ROCKS (is unsteady)
18 Mountain state briefly presenting possibilities (5, 2 words) ANDORRA (Mountain State in the Pyrenees, border by France and Spain) excluding the last letter A (briefly)

R

AND/OR (presenting possibilities) – second punctuation mark ignored
21 Came to notice source of love described by Housman initially (5) EROS (the Greek love-god; source of love [?]) contained in (described by) (A and E, the initials of A. E. Housman [poet])

E

AROSE (came to notice)
24 First killer before court surrounded (5) CAIN (in the Bible, CAIN, son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother ABEL; first killer) +  CT (court)

A

CINCT (surrounded)
25 Laid out final section under old windows in notable feat (8) (XP [reference Windows XP, an old version of Microsoft's operating system] + END [final section]) contained in (in) DEED (heroic exploit; notable feat)

D

EXPENDED (laid out)
26 Rampant hallucinations about squiffy bird (5) (DTS [delirium tremens; hallucinations] containing (about) LIT (drunk; squiffy]) all reversed (rampant; in heraldry ‘rampant’ means rearing)

D

STILT (bird)
27 Dreadful tripe penned by idiot being printed (7, 2 words) Anagram of (dreadful) TRIPE contained in (penned by) ASS (idiot)

I

AT PRESS (being printed)
28 Audibly dismissed youth where Parisian’s combined (7) OUT (dismissed) + (LAD [youth] containing [combined {?}] OU [French {Parisian} for 'where'])

A

OUTLOUD (audibly) This seems to be two words in the dictionaries I use.
29 Epicure aunt oddly discovered in cold store (7) (1st and 3rd letters [oddly], A and N of AUNT) contained in (discovered in) FRIDGE (cold store)

G

FRIANDE (epicure)
31 Thus a floozie raised levels of society (6) SO (thus) + (A TART [ a floozie] reversed [raised])

O

STRATA (levels of society)
33 Scandinavian supporting bill to the end (5, 2 words) AD (advert; bill) + FINN (native of Finland; Scandinavian)

N

AD FIN (towards the end)
34 Refusal to wipe out language (5) NO (refusal) + RASE (varaint spelling of ‘raze'; wipe out)

A

NORSE (language)
35 Cover nude’s bottom completely (5) QUILT (cover) + final letter, E, of (bottom) NUDE

L

QUITE (completely)
38 Working alone for eternity (4) Anagram of (working) ALONE

L

AEON (eternity)
42 River running through Wales with English water (3) WYE (river that runs through Wales) + E (English)

Y

WEE (urine; water)

10 Responses to “Inquisitor 1201: A Prime Example by Nutmeg”

  1. Hi of hihoba says:

    I thought this was a brilliant puzzle, and also, like Duncan, wondered how on earth the grid was constructed by Nutmeg. It was so clever that I was able to forgive OUT LOUD and HIP BATH, both of which are two words in Chambers. Thanks Nutmeg!

  2. HolyGhost says:

    Good stuff from Nutmeg – reliably inventive as ever. Finished the penultimate stage late one evening, and it was a pleasure to highlight the cells and read the second message over coffee the next morning.

    PS Duncan – under AD FINEM (in Chambers) it reads abbrev ad fin., so I think that the second abbreviation is more likely to be at 33d.

  3. Nutmeg says:

    Thank you for your kind comments. It’s some time since I set this puzzle, but as I recall the idea sprang from a reference to Eratosthenes’ sieve in a quiz. As to construction, I highlighted the 39 cells in a blank grid & experimented with various forms of the message, then added suitable bars to exclude impossible letter sequences (hence the undesirable number of fully-checked words). I always fill the grid by hand, aided by electronic Chambers to suggest words – it’s part of the fun of setting! Then it just remained to concoct a suitable ‘extra letters’ message and set the clues.

  4. Wil Ransome says:

    Good puzzle. Pity 1201 isn’t prime. I couldn’t see why Nutmeg included the word ‘moving’ in 17ac: the clue would read just as well without it so far as I can see. And surely it’s Windows not windows in 25dn. This clue struck me as naughty and unfair.

  5. duncanshiell says:

    1201 is a prime number. Factorisation checker

    A hip-bath is portable, according to some dictionaries; a bath that can ‘move’?

    I thought the ‘windows’ clue was clever, but you may be right that omitting the capital from ‘Windows’ is technically unfair.

  6. Hi of hihoba says:

    I agree that the W/windows clue was clever and gave me a nice chuckle. Ignoring punctuation and case (upper/lower) is surely part of the fun?

  7. HolyGhost says:

    I think I’m with Wil Ransome on the W/windows topic. If a clue contains a proper noun which the writer wants to disguise as a common noun, then I feel it should start the clue and thus be capitalised, e.g. “Pop, for example, supporting New Labour, initially enrolled – a tad worrying” was how Dysart clued NIGGLY, the reference being to Iggy Pop, US rock singer/songwriter.

  8. Wil Ransome says:

    Sorry, I misread the blog, which says “1201 is, not surprisingly, a prime number.” I read this as “1201 is not, surprisingly, a prime number.”

  9. regalize says:

    Will. Ah, yes, punctuation can matter. A telegraph sent from a CO to base asked for advice when a soldier was bitten by a rabid dog. The answer came back : ‘Shoot soldier under no circumstances shoot dog’.

  10. Wil Ransome says:

    I was once talking to a solicitor and observing how often there were no commas in legal documents, and the reply was “yes, they’re very dangerous; they can be misinterpreted”. I still can’t understand this.

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