Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1204: Non-standard by Chalicea

Posted by HolyGhost on November 30th, 2011


The rubric states that extra letters in the wordplay of down clues identify an achievement, one feature of which is symbolically represented in the grid, together with the full name of its creator. All elements must be highlighted (46 cells in all).
(My first reading of the rubric led me to think that both “achievement” and “creator” would be given by the extra letters, not that the latter was to be found in the completed grid.)

MOAN: If the setter means that a letter must be removed from the wordplay before solving, then he/she should say so; if he/she means that the wordplay leads to an extra letter that should not be entered, then say that instead. (I shall not repeat the reprimand from Roddy Foreman (Radix) in a recent thread on the Crossword Message Board: “If the setter does just say something like ‘There is an extra letter in the wordplay’, he and his editor should …”) Verb. sap.

I started this whilst coming back from the theatre in London, and made reasonable progress but had a fair bit of checking to do when I got home, Chambers confirming almost all of my answers. After not too long, most of the upper left quadrant was in place together with a healthy sprinkling of entries elsewhere – bottom right was a bit sparse. The “achievement” was emerging as THE GREAT + assorted letters and gaps, and then the breakthrough occurred with 10d SDEIGN – ISAMBARD leapt out of the grid and, given I already had KINGDOM at 32a, it didn’t take long to see BRUNEL appearing just above the leading diagonal.

I initially had the extra letter from the wordplay for SDEIGN as U (from DUE in the clue) but that was very obviously wrong – the extra letter is W (from DEW, the clue crucially reading “was due”). It was now pretty clear that the “achievement” was THE GREAT WESTERN RAILWAY, and, knowing the extra letters in the unsolved clues, I filled in the rest of the grid quite promptly. (The wordplay for 30a NAMES delayed me for while, and that for 40a LEE eluded me for over a day – I’d omitted to check the 11th paper edition, using the CD-ROM instead.)

With 21 cells already highlighted there were 25 to go. The line runs from PADDINGTON (found starting at 12d) and the first stretch reached MAIDENHEAD (found starting at 14d) so that’s a further 20 cells – no it isn’t, you idiot, these intersect some you’ve already highlighted. I’m now looking for 8 more cells, and the words I still have to find to be highlighted almost certainly intersect some cells already highlighted; soon enough I see BROAD-GAUGE in row 10, neatly evoking a railway sleeper between two rails. Non-standard, certainly, being 7ft 0¼in as opposed to the narrower 4ft 8½in.

Thanks Chalicea – enjoyable stuff, tight clueing, and an impressive amount of thematic material packed in, much of it cleverly hidden in full view.
Note to self: the last part of that comment seems likely to hold when such a large proportion of the cells have to be highlighted.

No. Answer   Wordplay
1 MACULAR   CU(t) in MALAR (cheekbone)
6 FAGUS   F(ine) AG (silver) US
11 OKAPI   PI (confusion) after O (round) KA (bird)
13 SAM   SAM (the books of Samuel)
15 REVAMP   REV(erend) (minister) A MP (politician)
16 WALLIE   W(ith) ALLIES (supporters) – S(ociety)
17 BELIE   BELIE(f) (conviction)
18 ANI   (p)ANI(c) (state of terror)
19 HERDS   SHERD (gap, dialect), letters cycling
20 RED FLAG   ED(itor) (journalist) FL(ourished) in RAG (newspaper)
22 ASTIR   A STIR (gentleman, Scots)
24 SUER   SU(p)ER (exceptionally good)
28 NEVI   (Alpi)NE VI(llage)
30 NAMES   NA (not, Scots) + MES (master, obsolete)
32 KINGDOM   KIN (related) G(erman) + DOM (Portuguese nobleman)
33 HEART   HEAR (perceive) T(act)
34 EMO   BEMOAN – BAN (prohibit)
36 TELAE   (s)TELAE (stone slabs)
38 ABROAD   A BROAD (prostitute)
39 GAUGER   G(ood) AUGER (tool)
40 LEE   LEE(t) (a form of writing, used esp by young people on the Internet)
41 D-MARK   DENMARK (country) – EN (space)
42 YCLED   CYCLED (rode bike) – C(old)
43 ASSUMES   ASSES (fools) around U(niversity) M(aster)
No. Answer Extra
1 MORCHA T M(ass) TORCH A(cademy)
2 AKEE H HAKE (gadoid fish) + E(astern)
4 LIMBS G GLIM (scrap, Scots) BS (balance sheet)
5 ASPERS R RASPERS (things that scrape)
7 ABLE E ABELE (poplar tree)
8 GALA A (m)ALAGA (Spanish resort) rev.
9 URINAL T TURIN + A L(atin)
10 SDEIGN W SIGN (gesture) around DEW (due, obsolete)
12 PADDING E ED(itor) in PAD (path, dialect) + ING (meadow, hayfield)
14 MAIDEN S SMA (small, Scots) IDE (fish) N(ew)
23 REDEAL E REDE (advice, archaic) + ALE (porter)
25 AMALGAM R RAM (tup) around M(arine) ALGA (seaweed)
26 SKEARY N SKEAN (dagger) + RY (railway)
29 IMAGES A AIM (design) AGES (matures)
31 STIRKS I STIR (disturb) KITS (fox cubs) – (poin)T
33 HEADS L H(ospital) LEADS (shows the way)
35 ORAL W OR LAW (litigation) rev.
36 TONE A AT ONE (harmonising)
hit counter


5 Responses to “Inquisitor 1204: Non-standard by Chalicea”

  1. kenmac says:

    Thanks HG.

    I finished this one reasonably easily though, at first, I tried going east rather than west – i.e. GREAT EASTERN RAILWAY. Once I cleared that up I found IKB reasonably quickly and the others just jumped out.

    On completion, I was a little disappointed that the highlighted squares didn’t represent any kind of design, as I had highlighted all squares the same colour. I had not noticed the subtleness of shading the creator and the creation in different colours. Your blog has made that much clearer for me.

    And … I agree with your moan!

  2. Hi of hihoba says:

    I found the word RAILWAY from the extra letters and saw BROAD GAUGE next. The rest was easy enough. We still suffer from the fact that everyone else decided that the narrow gauge was to be the standard. Trains would be more comfortable if Brunel’s gauge had been used!

    I am normally very annoyed by inexact rubric, but didn’t find this confusing, strangely. I think there has been a marked improvement in the accuracy of our rubric lately, so thanks to Ed for that.

    I had never heard of LEET – and am not sure I believe in it!

    It was only thanks to the crossword that I found that the first stage of the line ended at Maidenhead!

    Not quite on a par with the recent run of outstanding Inquisitors, but very good nonetheless. Thanks to Chalicea.

  3. Chalicea says:

    Thank you to the blogging team (especially to HolyGhost; I am relieved that it wasn’t too easy this time).

    Radix’s detailed input about extra letters was the result of a request for clarification of an extra letter issue that sprang from a discussion between the Inquisitor Editor and me. We have certainly taken what he said on board. He has kindly vetted the next one where I use that device.

    It was John’s idea to have all that material highlighted. I originally had only the six letters of Brunel’s name to be coloured. Clearly a lot could have been completely ignored by solvers.

    Yes, it would be difficult, Hihoba, for lesser mortals to reach the standard of that astonishing Gloria Estefan crossword.

  4. HolyGhost says:

    Not sure I concur with Hi’s assessment (“Not quite on a par …”) – I rated this as a respectable stablemate of the recent puzzles by Hypnos & Nudd, and better (whatever that means) than a couple of others in between.

    Maybe because it was my turn to blog I paid more attention to the wording of the clues – there was virtually no redundancy, with almost every word pulling its weight. (The sole exception that I can find is “accepting” in 30a.) That’s what I meant when I wrote “tight clueing” in the blog – very pleasing.

  5. Chesley says:

    I enjoyed this and found it entertaining and educational as I was unaware or the significance of Maidenhead until an internet search enlightened me.

    I totally agree with the moan about the preamble. Although I was pretty sure of what it actually meant, one of these days the presumption will be incorrect! “Wordplay yields an extra letter” would simply suffice.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

eight − = 4