Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1215: Countdown by Schadenfreude

Posted by kenmac on February 15th, 2012


Phew what a workout! I just hope Schadenfreude derived a lot of “freude” from everyone’s’ “schade!” However, I got there in the end.

Each answer had to be entered with one letter misprinted, though (as if that ain’t difficult enough) four of them are in unchecked cells. The correct letters define a 10 letter (hyphened) word to be written below the grid. This word then cryptically describes thirteen items (one per row) to be highlighted.

The device for generating the superfluous letters was one I’d never seen before and proved quite tricky. This was further compounded by entering 1d as REOBANT instead of REBOANT!

The puzzle took me a long time. I wouldn’t be able to estimate the number of hours but it wasn’t till the Thursday following publication that I finished.

On reading the clue to 1a, given that the crossword was published on the opening day of the rugby Six Nations, I thought we were in for a rugby theme but ’twas not to be.

The misplaced letters spelled out SOMETHING OUT OF DATE, OLD FASHIONED OR NO LONGER USEFUL, which is the definition for BACK-NUMBER, coupled with the title (COUNTDOWN) this led to identifying the numbers TWELVE down to ZERO hidden backwards from the top row down to the bottom row, which also allowed us to identify the four misprints in unchecked cells (I:i4, I:e6, N:h5 & O:i8.) In my grid the down misprints have a blue background and the across misprints have a green background.

I had a problem with one or two of the clues. 41a should have been BADGES not BADGE, surely; I can’t see the “topless lass” in 35a and do I have 11d wrong? And, I’m not happy with the eventual entry for 5d!! I’m surprised the editor allowed it through. The last answer I justified was TOFT – sheer brilliance – what misdirection.
(re: BADGES, see comments 1 & 3 below.)

What a masterpiece, one of those puzzles that finds one saying, how the heck did he construct that?

Thanks Schadenfreude.

No. Clue & definition Answer Entry Correct Letter Wordplay
1 Increases in speed take France’s back five seconds REVS REVL S R (take)+[franc]E+V (five)+S(econds)
6 Put an end to shrewd ruler TOPARCH TIPARCH O TOP (kill: put an end to)+ARCH (shrewd)
12 A poison mixed by me in a pot? PTOMAINE PTOXAINE M ME IN A POT (anag: mixed)
14 Cromer’s neighbour eyes Scottish lane BOREEN BORUEN E BOR (neighbour in Norfolk (Cromer))+EEN (eyes)
15 King and queen on island finding a deadly creature KRAIT KRAIB T K(ing)+R (queen)+AIT (island)
16 A swimmer opposite a hotel OPAH OPAC H OP(posite)+A+H(otel)
17 Ensign travelling across Italy catching fish SEINING SEENING I ENSIGN (anag: travelling) with I(taly) inside
18 Tube reduction not about to change CONDUIT COIDUIT N [re]DUCTION (minus about: RE) (anag: to change)
19 Steps engagement for all to see? Ecstasy! GIGUE GIEUE G GIG (engagement) + U (for all to see)+E(cstasy)
22 Riot’s out of control in the Spanish resort ESTORIL ESTIRIL O RIOT (anag: out of control) inside EL (the in Spanish)
24 Car for practice runs TOURER TOTRER U TO (for)+URE (practice)+R(uns)
25 Goddess lives on hospital pay ISHTAR ISHZAR T IS (lives)+H(ospital)+TAR (pay)
29 Parts of crabs etc left thus in tangled nets TELSONS TELSFNS O L+SO (thus) inside NETS (anag: tangled)
33 Pope led by government is abrupt in manner GRUFF GRUOF F G(overnment)+RUFF (pope)
35 Topless lass, perhaps, and her lover turned over without one sharing a ‘high’ COTIDAL COTINAL D Not sure :( I can see LAD (rev: turned over) and I (one)
36 A removed person this blind could be undeceivable EVACUEE EVUCUEE A EVACUEE+BLIND is an anagram of UNDECEIVABLE
38 How many times on time? (HOW = hillock = TOFT) TOFT TOFI T T(imes)+OFT (many times)
39 This Asian beast could be worse off SEROW SAROW E WORSE (anag: could be … off)
40 One besotted sailor goes in to assault daughter DOTARD DETARD O DO (to assault)+TAR (sailor)+D(aughter)
41 Badge close to perfect lost by unorthodox Ulsterman NUMERALS NUMERARS L ULS[t]ERMAN ([perfec]T lost) (anag: unorthodox)
42 Supermarket accommodating educated German TEDESCO TERESCO D ED(ucated) inside TESCO (supermarket)
43 Zulu king secures a fine cup bearer ZARF ZARE F A inside Z(ulu)+R (king)+F(ine)


No. Clue & definition Answer Entry Correct letter Wordplay
1 Baritone improvised with no end of tremolandi producing a loud reverberation REBOANT REBOCNT A BAR[i]TONE (no end of [tremoland]I) (anag: improvised)
2 Poet’s pressure isn’t strong on top STRAINT VTRAINT S STR(ong)+AIN’T (isn’t)
3 Shifty look given by Unionist facing leader of revolution LOUCHE LOUCDE H LO (look)+U(nionist)+CHE (Guevara)
4 Processions without English queen? That’s the beginning of socialism EXEQUIES EXEQUVES I  
5 Work in Spain could become comparatively crooked WONKIER W@NKIER O WORK+IN+E (Spain) (anag: could become)
7 Design of old probe INTENT INTEHT N IN (of)+TENT (old word for probe)
8 Rising politician goes in to justify the future of France AVENIR AVRNIR E IN (politician) (rev: rising) inside AVER (to justify)
9 He wrote and studied English (Charles Reade) READE REAIE D READ (studied)+E(nglish)
10 College with news about food for whales CLIO CLIN O C(ollege)+OIL (news)
11 Explosive mature language HEBREW HEBGEW R HE (high explosive)+BREW (mature) does brew mean mature? I searched and searched but I couldn’t justify it anywhere :(
13 New established group in Chambers perhaps NEST IEST N N(ew)+EST(ablished)
20 One of several kings love the French female OLAF ULAF O O (love)+LA (the in French)+F(emale)
21 Subaltern and his men lifted a weight ROTL ROTR L LT (subaltern: lieutenant)+OR (his men: other ranks) (rev: lifted)
23 A line used by meteorologists is different on earth ISOTHERE ISETHERE O IS+OTHER (different)+E(arth)
25 According to procedural rules a nun may be this IN ORDER ISORDER N (double definition)
26 Elizabeth’s grandchild keeps on good terms with German Bohemian ZINGARA ZINOARA G IN (on good terms)+G(erman) inside ZARA (Tindall) Queen Elizabeth’s grandchild
27 Spare steward, about fifty-one RELIEVE RELIDVE E LI (fifty-one) inside REEVE (steward)
28 Power on television adjusted in advance PRESET PGESET R P(ower)+RE (on)+SET (television)
30 Chamber music’s second piece drowned by noisy cello LOCULE LOCOLE U [m]U[sic] (second piece) inside CELLO (anag: noisy)
31 Wrong to use female animal, only partially developed FOETUS FOETUC S TO+USE+F(emale) (anag: wrong)
32 Oil-filled cavities quickly absorbing reduced tar VITTAE VITTAZ E TA[r] (reduced) inside VITE (quickly)
34 Scoundrel ignoring Command Paper goes in for excitement FUROR UUROR F [c]UR (scoundrel: cad) (ignoring C (command paper) inside FOR
35 Coal for some conservative German city CULM CELM U C(onservative)+ULM (German city)
37 Perth’s unfrequented narrow street LANE VANE L (double definition)

14 Responses to “Inquisitor 1215: Countdown by Schadenfreude”

  1. John Lowe says:

    I agree: it was a difficult one.

    I think, though, that Badge without ‘s’ in 41 across is right: in Chambers, under “numeral” the last definition says “(in pl) a badge indicating regiment, year of curriculum, etc.”

    In 35 across, I think that “lass, perhaps” is a Scot who loses her top.

    I do agree about “brew” – I couldn’t find a synonym which meant aged, so I rejected Hebrew as an answer until forced into it.

    As for 5 down – I don’t think any of the misprints are supposed to be meaningful…

    And “Toft” was just brilliant, and my last clue to solve, too.

    Thanks to Schadenfreude for many hours of entertainment and of course to Kenmac for the blog: your diagram looks as if it has measles!

  2. Hi of hihoba says:

    Congratulations! We (Hihoba) didn’t get there. Solved all the clues except the fiendish TOFT, had the same problems with COTIDAL and HEBREW, but failed miserably with the puzzle element. So well done Kenmac – super blog by the way – and all others who succeeded.

  3. kenmac says:

    Hi John,

    re: 41. You’re right. I completely missed “(in pl)” in the dictionary.

    As for 5d, yes I guess you’re right. It was probably because I had to write the word out in full (for the blog) that I found it a problem.

    And hey, if you think my diagram’s measly, let’s see you do better! ;) (only kidding, your comment made me chuckle – or should that be LOL? :D )

  4. Dave Hennings says:

    Thanks for the blog, kenmac, and what a stunning puzzle from Schadenfreude that left me, like you, thinking “how the heck did he construct that?” I too thought ‘Scot’ = ‘lass, perhaps’ and ‘brew’ = ‘mature’ were borderline, but TOFT made up for all that!

  5. HolyGhost says:

    A puzzle to marvel at, literally.
    I’m in the (S)COT, HEBREW, TOFT brigade – but these are merely quibbles.

    I felt that the clue for 8d (AVENIR) was rather weak (but no-one else seems to mind): IN for “politician” is like GOVERNMENT for “Labour”, and AVER & “justify” aren’t that close – declaring something as true isn’t the same as showing that it is.

    (Glad I didn’t have to blog that grid – thanks Ken. And of course, Schadenfreude, not to mention the editor John H.)

  6. Chesley says:

    I think that was the toughest IQ ever (Listener+ standard). For me, potential misprints in unchecked cells meant too much cold-solving required to be entirely satisfactory or fair.

    However, a brilliantly constructed grid and excellent clueing.

  7. RatkojaRiku says:

    Thanks for the blog, kenmac, and well done to all who solved a puzzle that I eventually gave up on. How I wish I had spotted the reversed digits in the grid!

    I suppose that the main problem for me here was that I didn’t solve enough of the clues to be in with a shout of finishing.

    One thing that puzzles me: when you find a clash in two intersecting lights, how do you know which of the two clashing letters is the one to be entered in the grid? Is it on the basis of there only being one misprint per entry? Is there any logic behind this, or is it more a case of trial and error, ensuring that no more than one misprint occurs in any single entry??

    In any case, this was my first failure of 2012 – I suppose the opposition this week was simply too good!

  8. kenmac says:

    I have sent a private reply to RatkojaRiku.

  9. Neil Hunter says:

    Also my first failure of the year; like RatkojaRiku, I simply couldn’t see how to decide which of the clashing letters to enter, despite solving most of the clues.

    Since I haven’t entered a comment before, and only recently discovered this website, I’d like to add what an amazing service it is.

  10. HolyGhost says:

    For RatkojaRiku and Neil Hunter (and probably covering the same ground as Ken’s e-mail):

    This took me a couple of sessions to work through, and neither was that short.

    In the first session, I solved a fair number of the clues, and entered the answers as best I could: checked cells that didn’t clash were pretty certain to be OK, but there were a lot of clashes, or potential clashes from clues I hadn’t solved. However, I had enough material to spot that a judicious resolution of quite a few clashes produced number-words backwards – I think I saw TWELVE, EIGHT, SEVEN, SIX, THREE and ZERO – anyway, plenty to make me feel confident that I’d cracked the theme, especially as it fitted in with the title. Then I went to bed.

    Session 2: Took a deep breath then weighed into the task at hand. With EVLEWT entered in the first row, the first letter of STRAINT at 2d is misprinted as V, therefore all its other letters are correct. This in turn leads to the clashes with CONDUIT at 18a and TOURER at 24a being resolved in favour of 2d and producing misprints in those two across answers, so their other letters are correct, and so on. Next, putting in THGIE (row 5) and NEVES (row 6) causes misprints in unchecked cells (assuming we’ve solved 4d and 7d), so we know the other letters in those down answers are correct.

    So, to answer RatkojaRiku’s question (and for anyone else): Yes, it is on the basis of there only being one misprint per entry, and making the logical deduction that once you find it, the rest are correct, and this then determines the misprint in another entry …

    But if I hadn’t spotted those first few reversed number-words, I’m not sure how I’d have coped with resolving the clashes, finishing off the remaining clues, and finding the definition of BACK NUMBER! (I forgot the hyphen – would that have been marked incorrect, I wonder.)

  11. Hi of hihoba says:

    For RR & NH’s comfort, I failed to spot the reversed countdown numbers, and took a punt on the V of REVS being replaced by the S of STRAINT and was able to work through the whole grid using the “single misprint” principle as indicated by HG above. Unfortunately this left me with total gibberish, at which point I gave up!

  12. Colin Blackburn says:

    This was a rare IQ solve for me. Travelling out to Austria on the day of publication meant picking up a copy of the paper at the airport. The cryptic, concise and various other puzzles provided relief for the flight so the IQ was left as my bedside companion for the first few days out there. Part way though I spotted the potential for OREZ on the bottom line and EVLEWT on the top. A brief moment of doubt came when I still hadn’t resolved the clash between CONDUIT and LOUCHE and thus had HUITHGIE in the grid – French and English! I quickly realised that this was just a coincidence and saw that the clash had to be resolved the other way around. I was most grateful to have Chambers and Bradford’s on my iPod Touch!

    A very enjoyable puzzle that kept me entertained for a few nights after the days’ exertions of XC skiing.

  13. Geoff Dennis says:

    Mind you I am stuck on this weeks 1217 too and doubtless thousands of people solved it days ago.

  14. Hi of hihoba says:

    You’re not alone in 1217.

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