Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations 998: Nativity by Oxymoron

Posted by Dave Hennings on January 7th, 2012

Dave Hennings.

Only ten weeks since the last Oxymoron EV (988, Pairs), but I, for one, am not complaining. One letter or (in five cases) word to be removed from each clue, and they would spell out three thematic items which would enable completion of the puzzle.

I started with 1ac REPAST followed by 1dn RAPES … except that the entry for 1dn had six cells. It wasn’t a great leap to reckon that the down entries would have extra letters added to enable two things to be read in rows 4 and 9, the cells of which were all unchecked.

Even with this early revelation, I found the clues pretty tricky. Solving 41ac revealed that the words to be removed from clues were not necessarily distinct words; in that clue it was ‘do’ from ‘kendo’. The first part of the extra letters that I got was Christmas Day, but I needed Here’s looking … before things quickly fell into place. Obviously HUMPHREY BOGART came to mind with his words from the 1942 film, Casablanca, and I recalled that he was BORN on Christmas Day. However, even seeing AA as likely letters to be added to 32dn R.ISE and 37dn .CID didn’t enable me to see SIR ISAAC NEWTON lurking. That needed me to look up hypotheses, spelt out by extra letters in the early downs, in the ODQ to see a quotation from him.

So the letters/words to be removed from the clues finally spelt out Here’s looking at you kid. I do not feign hypotheses. Born Christmas Day. A thoroughly entertaining puzzle, and what a superb piece of grid construction, with every down entry having an extra letter added to form a new word.

Solving time: just over 3½ hours.

EV 998 SolutionLegend:
Definition in clue
X = letter or word to be removed from clue before solving
Y = letter from Humphrey or Sir Isaac making new word
ABC* = anagram
ABC< = reversal
abCDef = hidden

No Answer Removed
or Word
Clue and Explanation
1 REPAST H Travelling salesman has time for a meal (6)
REP (travelling salesman) + AS + T (time)
6 ACCLAIM E Publicity about corpse found in land appropriated by miner (7)
A (about) + C (corps) in CLAIM (land appropriated by miner)
11 AMELIA R Liver trouble returned consuming English girl (6)
AM (live) AIL< (trouble) holding E (English)
12 ANASARCA E Skin problem scare spread in an American academy (8)
SCAR* in AN A (American) A (academy)
13 PARADOR S Take a stake in standard converted holiday accommodation (7)
R (take) A DO (take, as in drugs) in PAR (standard)
15 DRAGEES L Hazel enters race backing “Chocolate drops” (7)
RAG (haze) in SEED< (race)
19 ELIJAH O Priest meeting good prophet (6)
ELI (priest) + JAH (god)
21 RISPETTO O Tories playing with top song (8)
24 BUSTEE KING Beaten but seeking a settlement (6)
26 RAHU AT A demon rider at a hurdle in the middle (4)
centre of rideR A HUrdle
27 SELE YOU We hear you give confirmation of happiness (4)
sounds like SEAL (give confirmation of)
28 IMPAWN K Risk my handwriting in ink (6)
M (my) PAW (handwriting) in IN
31 PREFORMS I Short of time priest from Barking determines the shape in advance (8)
(PREST FROM – T)*; anagram indicator is barking, ie barking mad
33 ENTERA D Body cavities are penetrated at the front (6)
A (are) preceded by ENTER (penetrate)
40 ARSENIC I As Cain and the devil? Not quite (7)
ARSE (can, buttocks, US slang) + NIC[K] (devil, not quite); As is the symbol for the element Arsenic, but I don’t know if ‘can’ is as crude as ‘arse’ is in English!
41 ICE RINK DO I see kendo played outside Rhode Island sports arena (7, 2 words)
I C (see) + KEN* outside of RI (Rhode Island)
42 LAURASIA NOT Groups of cells not in a supercontinent? (8)
LAURAS (groups of cells) + I (in) A
43 SPARTA F Flocks returned to a Greek city (6)
TRAPS< (locks) + A
44 ENISLED E Ugly senile head put on an inch? (7)
SENILE* + D (had); ‘inch’ in the sense of island
45 ASPENS I Trees swain’s planted next to bank (6)
PENS (swan’s) next to AS (bank)
No Answer Removed
or Word
Clue and Explanation
1 RAPHES G Censure songs about ecstasy and violent crimes (6)
RAP (censure) S (sons) about E (ecstasy)
2 PERM N An earl captured by prince (4)
E (earl) in PR (prince); for those that haven’t come across it before, the definition ‘a’ is as in so much a (per) pound
3 ALAP H Something like a wing accepted when in California (4)
A (accepted) + LA (wen, ie big city, in California)
4 SIDHA Y Name of many Australian herbs (5)
SID (name of man) + A (Australian)
5 CARERS P Jock’s purge on bishop’s bogs (6)
CA (urge, in Scotland) + RRs (bishop’s)
6 ANDY O Hoe in places and dig at the front as well (4)
A (he, dialectic) + N (and) + D (Digs, at the front)
7 CARBS T Audits perhaps are incomplete in Civil Service (5)
AR[E] (ARe incomplete) in CS (Civil Service)
8 LAGGERS H Retiring girl and Elizabeth shun alcoholic drinks (7)
GAL< (girl) + ER (Elizabeth) + S (sun)
9 ICER E Top missing from device for gripping pipe (4)
[V]ICE (device for gripping, with top missing)
10 MAST S Smiles are beginning to spread in this Gallic house (4)
M (miles) + A (are) + S (beginning to Spread)
14 AULDER E Lecturer read up about large planet (6)
L (lecturer) with READ* outside
16 EATAGE S Floor base supporting earth stack (6)
E (base) supporting (ie underneath) E (earth) TAG (tack)
17 RHUM B Beast leaves shouting, millions no longer applaud (4)
HUE (shouting) – E (east) + M (millions)
18 OPEN O Shout in parking space (4)
P (parking) + EN (space)
20 IDLERS R Liner surrounded by fish is unoccupied (6)
L (line) surrounded by IDES (fish)
22 THORON N Splint protecting centre of the spine (6)
TORN (split) around H (centre of tHe)
23 DEFIERS C Chart covering female section delays (7)
DEER (hart) around F (female) + S (section)
24 BIOS H Three cherishing one short life (4)
BO (tree) cherishing (as in protecting) I (one)
25 EWEN R Echo on both sides of wide kerb? (4)
E (echo) on both sides of W (wide)
29 ASCIAN I An oriental so fair with boy’s name (6)
AS (so far) + IAN (boy’s name)
30 TANKAS S In Scotland swallows like foreign bread (6)
TAK (= TAKE, Scottish) + AS (like)
32 RAISE T Retired English gentleman got up (5)
(E (English) SIR (gentleman))<
34 NEEPS M Special men raised Tom’s favourite plants? (5)
(SP (special) EN)<; Tom’s = cat’s
35 SALE A There’s no phosphorus in whitish paint (maybe) (4)
PALE (whitish) – P (phosphorous)
36 IRAN S Shared border lacking depth (4)
RAND (border) – D (depth)
37 ACID D Herod died after chapter one (4)
D (died) after C (chapter) I (one)
38 WRAP A Crimea standard raised (4)
PAR< (standard)
39 TIRE Y Passion that is shown outside rectory (4)
IE (that is) outside R (rector)


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