Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1210 – INCOMPARABLE! by Glow-worm

Posted by Hihoba on January 11th, 2012


A nice seasonal puzzle with some tricky cluing. I started at the top left (unusually) which turned out to be very helpful, as the most important theme word was at 1A. DA?E? led readily to DAMES. So we were looking for two types of Dame, and the rubric indicated pretty clearly that they would be real ones and pantomime ones.

The M of daMes led quickly to Helen MIRREN, then Maggie SMITH appeared lower down, so these were Dames from the THEATRE (31A) and the others would be from PANTOMIME at 6D. I took a punt on this and put pantomime in on the basis of its last letter only! Judi DENCH was clearly going to figure in one of the two remaining 5 letter slots on the right of the diagram. It wasn’t until I found ORVIETO at 26D that DENCH could be fixed as the lower of the two. On the basis of the N of paNtomime, I guessed Julie ANDREWS as the final theatrical dame.

Now the Pantomime dames. I was at first searching for the names of men like Les Dawson, Douglas Byng, Danny La Rue and John Inman, but the one in the fourth column was Aladdin’s Widow TWANKEY. (Named in 1861after Twankay which was a tea, popular in London at the time, from the Tuan Kay province of China – not relevant, but interesting.) I did an internet search and came up with Dame TROTT from “Jack and the Beanstalk”, SARA the cook from Dick Whittington and finally Mother GOOSE. This corresponded nicely with the rubric’s “three surnames and one given name”. A further indication was given by a lovely clue at 21D giving MEN IN DRAG.

This left the “appropriate lyrical description” provided by the extra letters. Many years ago I played in the orchestra pit for a week of performances of  Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”. I knew the lyrical reference must be to the famous song “There is nothing like a dame!” – hence the title INCOMPARABLE!, but I had to look up the lyrics to get the final line of the song “A girly, womanly, female, feminine dame!”

It was only after getting this quotation that I was able to unravel a number of the clues, particularly on the right hand side of the grid. The clues were tricky because the extra letter might have been anywhere in the clue, definition or wordplay. We had particular trouble with 30D and 40A.

The final missing piece was the seasonal reference to the New Year HONOURS at 17A.

Thank you Glow-worm for a challenging puzzle which brought back many happy memories.

As it is January 1st 2012 as I write this, may Hihoba wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR, and hope that the Inquisitor keeps us amused and informed for another 52 weeks!


 No.  Clue  Letter  Answer  Definition: Wordplay
 4  King and Queen, say, in tog(a)s  A  TWO-PIECES  Togs: reference to chess pieces
 10  Vessel’s in dock – a (g)rand climax forfeited  G  TRIMARAN  Vessel: trim (dock) + a ran(d) – climax (last letter) removed
 12  Misjudged recoil of Derr(i)nger; no good – last rook missed  I  ERRED  Misjudged: remove N(o) G(ood) R(ook) from DERR(ng)E(r) and reverse (recoil).
 14  Bitumen g(r)ains found in bullseyes  R  TARGETS  Bullseyes: TAR + GETS (gains)
 15  Go(l)d brought back in triumphal launches  L  ALLAH  God: hidden reversed in triumpHAL LAunches
 16  An(y) abstracted, hesitant convert can become a believer  Y  THEIST  A believer: [HESIT(an)T]*
 19  Stereotyped plans returned by Centre for Astronomy (w)atchdog  W  SPAMMY  Stereotyped: MAPS reversed + MY (centre of astronoMYatchdog)
 24  De Nir(o) regularly mentioned backing image recreator  O  EIDETIC  Image recreator: (d)E(n)I(r) regularly + CITED reversed
 25  Sell a pu(m)p to couple in bar?  M  TWO-TIME  Sell a pup almost means the same as two-time: Two time indicates a musical time signature of two in a bar
 29  See g(a)in when switching into spirits  A  GENIES  Spirits: [SEE GIN]*
 34  Girl – Iva(n)’s daughter returning to North America  N  DAVINA  Girl: IVA+D(aughter) reversed + N(orth) A(merica)
 35  Topless 29 (l)over’s a flower of Paris  L  SEINE  Flower of Paris: 29 is genies, so [(g)ENIES]* – over is the anagram indicator
 36  Car(y)’s admitted by medic – a saint  Y  DOMINIC  A saint: DOC round MINI
 37  Fires sank a (f)ew bats  F  AWAKENS  Fires: [SANK A EW]*
 38  W(e)aver ties the end of raffia off  E  HESITATE  Waver: [TIES THE (raffi)A]*
 39  Somewhat hastily grab (m)y gratuities back in dispute  M  ARGY-BARGY  Dispute: Hidden reversed in hastilY GRAB Y GRAtuities
 40  P(a)unches can be turn-offs?  A  BORES  Double definition: punches (both punch and bore mean pierce in Ch) and turn-off also means to bore in a different sense
 1  Two cats, maybe, (l)et in dust – it’s messy  L  DUETTISTS  Two cats maybe: ET in [DUST IT’S]*
 2  For tribal leader pursuing absolute support to overr(e)act’s not right  E  ABRAHAM  Tribal leader: A(bsolute) + BRA (support) + HAM (over(r)act)
 3  Seen along bookshel(f) eg is this poet  F  ELEGIST  Poet: hidden in bookshEL EG IS This
 5  ‘(E)’s invited into Vienna watering-place  E  WIESBADEN  Watering-place: S (from (E)’S) + BADE (invited) in WIEN (Vienna)
 7  (M)organ’s prominence gives nobleman gong  M  EARLOBE  Organ’s prominence: EARL + OBE
 8  Not especially w(i)despread disorder in Lear, maybe?  I  EDWARD  Lear: [WD(esp)READ]*
 9  Band section needs a second horn up front  SASH  Band: S(ection) + A S(econd) + H(orn)
 11  Pound from Mum’s helpful at first  MASH  Pound: MA’S + H(elpful)
 13  Old book’s short title  DAN  Double definition DAN(iel) and a title
 18  Count out contents of disused till  UNTO  Till (obsolete): hidden in coUNT Out
 20  A(n) open-air setting for Mark Spitz’s birthplace  N  POMERANIA  Spitz’s birthplace (the Pomeranian dog is a Spitz): M(ark) in [A OPEN-AIR]*
 21  In Ongar (I)’d nine members putting up as 6 1ac  I  MEN IN DRAG  Wonderful clue! 6, 1ac is Pantomime dames: hidden backwards in OnGAR D NINE Members
 22  Diamonds Switzerland’s stored in (n)asty unsound vessels  N  ICE YACHTS  Vessels (are they? My understanding is that they skate ON ice not IN it!): ICE (diamonds) + CH (Switzerland) in [ASTY]*
 23  One single nereid  IONE  A Nereid: I + ONE
 26  Rov(e) around heart of Kiev to acquire white wine  E  ORVIETO  White wine: [ROV]* + (K)IE(v) + TO
 27  Plant auction includes new cuttings from “(D)inky” chrysanthemum  D  SANICLE  Plant: SALE (auction) round N + I(nky) C(hrysanthemums)
 28  Grinder’s headache we(a)rying rather  A  CHEWER  Grinder: hidden in headaCHE WERying
 30  Ca(m)p in Harrow  M  PINNER  Double definition: Pinner is a suburb of Harrow and is a “headdress with lappets flying loose” – a cap?
 32  Type of square support  TEE  Double definition – T-square + golf tee
 33  No end of scary ferment in Norfolk?  EAST  in Norfolk?: YEAST (ferment) with Y (end of scarY) removed
 34  Mad(e) in pointilliste fashion  E  DOTTY  Double definition – mad and pointilliste



4 Responses to “Inquisitor 1210 – INCOMPARABLE! by Glow-worm”

  1. HolyGhost says:

    A slower solve than Hihoba for me, I suspect. (Busy with the King William’s quiz?) TWANKEY then MEN IN DRAG was my way in.

    Still not quite sure how 1d DUETTISTS comes from “Two cats, maybe” – “cats” are jazz fans, but …?

    Still, a very neatly played out theme from Glow-worm, and enjoyable to solve, so thanks; and a happy new year to all our setters & bloggers, not to mention the lurkers (see Chambers).

  2. RatkojaRiku says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this one, Glow-worm – it was just the kind of challenge that I needed for the Bank Holiday weekend. I couldn’t believe that I had never before connected the two types of dame in my mind, despite the fact that they are both so closely associated with the New Year. Anyway, now I have, thanks to Glow-worm :)

    My way into this was through THEATRE and TWANKEY, which made me think that 1A might actually be PANTO; only when MIRREN and SMITH slotted into place did I twig that the the key word at 1A was DAMES. PANTOMIME and HONOURS fell quickly into place and then it was just a case of deciding where to accommodate the various dames – like Hihoba, I knew DENCH had to be in there somewhere!!

    I have to admit that TROTT and SARA were not really familiar to me as named characters in pantos and are surely far less widely known that Widow Twankey, Mother Goose or any of the honoured dames. I guessed both of them and then tried to track them down on Google, where incidentally there was no easy way of finding the character names of dames in different pantos. Ultimately, I wasn’t even sure of SARA, since most of the online references that I found to Dick Whittington spelt her name as SARAH. I suppose that overall I would have preferred these entries to have been clued in some way, rather than just left to fill in from general knowledge or guesswork/checking.

    I basically recognised the lyric from South Pacific, which was a nice twist, and when taken in conjunction with the puzzle’s title, it nicely confirmed the theme. I struggled most with the SE corner, both with solving the clues and identifying the missing letters. I had wrongly been assuming that the text of each clue with the extra letter taken out still had to make sense as a piece of English prose, and for a long time would not accept (W)ATCHDOG, for example – I know that we are not told that this is the case but it often is in puzzles that use this device.

    Like HolyGhost, I took cats to mean jazz players or fans.

  3. Glow-worm says:

    Many thanks to Hihoba for his detailed and splendid review, and to Holy Ghost and RatkojaRiku for their kind comments. It was great fun setting the puzzle — splendidly supported by our new Inquisitor Editor, John Henderson, to whom my thanks also.

    Re “Two Cats”: I had in mind Rossini’s famous duet for two sopranos; just Google “Cat Duet” and you can spend the rest of the day comparing performances!

    Happy New Year!


  4. Hi of hihoba says:

    I should have made the Rossini reference a bit plainer – it had occurred to me.
    My source for the Pantomime Dames was Like RR (2) Dame Trott and Sara the cook were not familiar to me. The SE corner was my slowest part too. BORES and PINNER took ages to solve.

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