Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1217: Request Stop by Ifor

Posted by duncanshiell on February 29th, 2012

duncanshiell.

The preamble stated that ‘Solvers must fill the central cell and highlight it together with 12 others, so identifying a character whose first action provides the theme.  Each perimeter entry is a pair of words thematically related to solutions to the relevant clues, which are not to be entered.  The answers to the remaining clues must be thematically modified before entry: numbers in parentheses refer to grid entries’

I didn’t really understand the preamble when I first read it, so I decided to try some cold solving and see if anything in the solutions would help undrestand the preamble.  It soon became clear that answers were longer than the space available in the grid.  The first few I solved were 22a LUSTRE, 25a LACUNARIA, 28a LEARNT and 19d CORTISONE.  This gave me some crossing letters.  My startegy on solving puzzles where there are clashes and multiple letters initially in cells, is to use an Excel spreadsheet as the grid and study each cell to see how to reduce the potential clashes.  What became clear fairly quickly was that the final 2 letters in  each answer had to be entered normally.  After solving a few more crossing in the NE and SW corners, my first thought was that I would be entering odd letters numbered letters as well as entering the final two.  This made me thinks of ODDS and ENDS as a theme for a while.

However it eventually became clear that this initial thought wasn’t going to work as I couldn’t get first letters of answers to intersect properly.  Solving a few more clues and studying the potential clashes showed at that all answers were one and half time the space available in the grid  – i.e. all 6 letter answers had 4 cells available, all 9 letter answers had 6 letters available and all 12 letter answers had space for 8 letters in the grid.  This helped identify the length of missing answers.  Eventually the penny dropped that every third letter starting from the first had to be omitted before entry into the grid.  

At this point I still had no idea of the specific theme or the character.  A further study of the grid around the central cell showed the the ANCIENT MARINER was lurking on the diagonals.  As I’ve mentioned in other blogs, poetry and literature are not among my strengths, so further research was needed.

A Google search on ANCIENT MARINER revelaed that the first lines of the RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER are:

It is an ancient Mariner,

And he stoppeth one of three.

Therefore we have the reference to the first action that provides the theme to stop of one of three letters.  We also have the title confirmed as REQUEST STOP, with the ANCIENT MARINER requesting that the Wedding Guest stop for him.

Turning now to the perimeter clues, we had four anwers that were much shoprter than the space available, with 2a HOOK, 10d ENGLAND, 29a BELL and 1d TAG.  The letters available for grid entries made it fairly easy to deduce LINE SINKER for the association with HOOK, BOOK CANDLE for BELL and RAG BOBTAIL for TAG.  The association for ENGLAND took a bit more research (lack of poetic and literary knowledge again) to find an aria on the Death Of Nelson which contained the phrase ENGLAND, HOME and BEAUTY.

The final grid was a follows.

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

This is Ifor’s second Inquisitor puzzle, I blogged his previous one 1161 Nicknames, just over a year ago.  I enjoyed this even although it was a bit of a struggle to fit the jigsaw pieces initially.  The clues were fair and I was able to parse them without difficulty. There were quite of lot of anagrams throughout the clues.  I counted 19 in total (including one clue, 17d INGLENOOK,  that had two)

As ever, I learned some new words, RAUCLE, STREETAGE, STRIGGING, LACUNARIA, HIBERNICISED, ALGAROBAS, PITAYA made more difficult by being listed in Chambers under PITAHAYA)  and TIERCERON.  Some of the others I have only come across before in crosswords.

The Inquisitor series continues to provide an enjoyable challenge every week.

Across
No Clue Wordplay Solution Entry
2 Excuse, satisfactory after moderation (10) HO (moderation) + OK (satisfactory) HOOK (excuse or pretext) LINE SINKER (reference the phrase HOOK LINE AND SINKER Accoridng to Brewers, to swallow a tale HOOK LINE and SINKER is to be extremely guillible, like the hungry fish that swallows not only the baited HOOK, but the SINKER [lead weight] and some of the LINE as well)
8 Harsh in Barlinnie; clear suffering for all imprisoned (4) U (universal, designating a film that is available for all to see) contained in (imprisoned) an anagram of (suffering) CLEAR

RAUCLE (Scottish word meaning rough.  [Barlinnie prison is in Glasgow])

AULE
9 Enter without authority in desperate search after gun (6) GAT (gun) + an anagram of (desperate) SEARCH GATECRASH (enter wihtout authority) ATCRSH
11 Vegetable’s very dull eaten after fruit (8, 2 words) CHERRY (fruit) + (MAT [dull] contained in [eaten]TOO [very]) CHERRY TOMATO (vegetable; internet research shows that the TOMATO is botanically a fruit, but for culinary purposes it is regarded as a variable.  Apparently the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1893 that a TOMATO should be considered a vegetable for tax
purposes)
HERYOMTO
12 Nuclear weapon – start of ban latterly ignored, to instinctive voiced hate (6) A-BOMB (atomic bomb; nuclear weapon) excluding (ignored) the second occurrence of (latterly) B (the first letter of [start of] BAN) + INATE (sounds like [voiced] INNATE [instinctive]) ABOMINATE (hate) BOINTE
14 Half of me yet confused? (4|) MOI (me) + an anagram of (confused) YET MOIETY (half, either of two parts or divisions) OITY
15 Cross in step? It’s required when using some US roads (6) TREE (a cross for crucifixion[archaic usage]) contained (in) STAGE (step) STREETAGE (in the United States, a toll for street facilities; it’s required when using some US roads) TRETGE
16 Stands down after leading section’s ignored rules (4) RESIGNS (stands down) excluding (ignored) S (first letter of [leading] SECTIONS) REIGNS (rules) EINS
18 Restaurant once again returning leftover food (4) BIS (twice; a direction in music indicating that a section has to be repeated; once again) + ORT (fragment, especially one left over from a meal) reversed (returning) BISTRO ([small] restaurant) ISRO
20 Tackle stone before removing stalk from fruit (6) ST (stone) + RIGGING (tackle) STRIGGING (renoving the stalk from [fruit?]  Chambers doesn’t mention fruit but The Shorter Oxford offers currants as fruit that can be STRIGGED) TRGGNG
22 Fame’s result abandoned… (4) Anagram of (abandoned) RESULT LUSTRE (renown; fame) USRE
25 … unfortunate launch without hard vocal solo depressed panels (6) Anagram of (unfortunate) LAUNCH excluding (without) H (hard) + ARIA (vocal solo) LACUNARIA (sunken panels; depressed panels) ACNAIA
26 Rendered Irish, calling attention to poorly inscribed English (8) HI (calling attention) + an anagram of (poorly) (INSCRIBED and E [English]) HIBERNICISED (rendered Irish) IBRNCIED
27 Tropical fruit (also bargain in squashed bananas) (6) Anagram of (bananas) ALSO BARGAIN excluding (squashed) IN ALGAROBAS (carob or mesquite; the fruit of either; tropical fruit) LGROAS
28 Memorised rental rolls (4) Anagram of (rolls) RENTAL LEARNT (memorised) EANT
29 I’ll be upset – I missed ring (10) Anagram of (upset) I‘LL BE excluding (missed) I BELL (ring) BOOK CANDLE (reference the phrase BELL BOOK and CANDLE, which is the popular phrase for ceremonial excommunication in the Roman Catholic Church [Brewers])
Down        
No. Clue Wordplay Solution Entry
1 Thanks grand closing words (10) TA (thanks) + G (grand) TAG (closing words of a play)

RAG BOBTAIL (when I was a young lad in the 1950s I remember watching regularly a black & white childrens’ television programme in the Watch with Mother series called RAG TAG and BOBTAIL about a hedgehog, mouse and rabbit.  Brewers goes a bit more highbrow with RAGTAG [one word] and BOBTAIL which referred to the riff-raff or great unwashed.)

2 Edited volume one in live sex show (6, 2 words) (Anagram of [edited] VOLUME and I [one]) contained in (in) BE (live) BLUE MOVIE (pornographic film; sex show) LUMOIE
3 Art of information gathering in taping criminal society (8, 2 words) OILS (news, information [Australian term]) containing (gathering) an anagram of (criminal) IN TAPING OIL PAINTINGS (art) ILAITIGS
4 Disbelieving minority blocking money for esoteric science (6) HERETICS (people whose views are at variance with those of the majority; disbelieving minority) containing (blocking) M (money) HERMETICS (esoteric science) ERETCS
5 Feel sorry for one grasping a cactus (4) (PITY [feel sorry for] + A [one]) containing (grasping) A PITAYA (variant spelling of PITAHAYA a cactus of the genus Hylocereus) ITYA
6 Begins to chase in turns (6) Anagram of (turns) TO CHASE IN INCHOATES (begins) NCOAES
7 Invests stakes covering first two in selection (4) BETS (stakes) containing (covering) SE (first two letters (first two in) of SELECTION) BESETS (besiege; surround with hostile intentions; invests) ESTS
9 Advocates occasionally neat hair (4) BAR (the legal profession; advocates [Scottish term for barristers]) + NET (a word that can mean NEAT but rarely used us such [occasionally]) BARNET (hair) ARET
10 Defile and glen country (10) Anagram of (defile) AND GLEN ENGLAND (country) HOME BEAUTY (reference the words ENGLAND, HOME and BEAUTY taken from ‘The Death of Nelson’, an aria in the opera The Americans by John Braham [1774-1856])
13 Row one’s filling in later randomly, between the gaps (8) (SPAT [row] + I [one]) contained in (filling in) an anagram of (randomly) IN LATER INTERSPATIAL (between the gaps) NTRSATAL
17 Hot seat in gin rummy left one playing all right (6) Anagram of (rummy) GIN + L (left) + anagram of (playing) ONE + OK (all right) INGLENOOK (an alcove by a large open fire; seats are often placed in alcoves, hence hot seat) NGENOK
18 Secondary rib ligature replaced corner (6) TIE (ligature) + anagram of (replaced) CORNER TIERCERON (architectural term defining a subordinate rib springing from the intersection of two other ribs; secondary rib) IECEON
19 Steroid is not casually injected into heart (6)

Anagram of (casually) IS NOT contained in (injected into) CORE (heart)

CORTISONE (steroid) ORISNE
21 SA birds in cages I’m against returning (4) Hidden word in (in) CAGES I’M AGAINST reversed (returing) AGAMIS (golden-breasted trumpeters, crane-like birds of South America [SA]) GAIS
23 Boat free to leave Caribbean island (4) Anagram of (free) BOAT + GO (leave) TOBAGO (Caribbean island) OBGO
24 This cuts Arc odds? (4) Odd numbered letters of (odds) of THIS CUTS ARC TIC-TAC (bookmakers telegraphy by arm signals)   There is also a reference here to the classic horse race known as the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe, run in Paris [Longchamp in the Bois de Boulogne]) ICAC

26 Responses to “Inquisitor 1217: Request Stop by Ifor”

  1. Hi of hihoba says:

    NO, NO, NO!!!

    I am amazed at Duncan’s solving ability, but if I wanted to solve crosswords of this level of difficulty I would take on the Listener. I/we (as in Hihoba) solved 23 of 32 clues and were still unable to fit anything into the grid. I expect to be able to enter SOMETHING in a grid when I have solved a decent number of clues and this simply was not so in this case!

    The rubric was woefully inadequate, giving us no leads as to what was to be entered, and astounded as I am by Duncan’s deductive ability, I really can’t say I think this was fair. It was not even possible to deduce the “stoppeth one of three” from the title. It certainly was not in the spirit of the Inquisitor series and I cry FOUL!

  2. John H says:

    I’ll wait for other commenters to post before replying to Hi of Hihoba.

    But for now, and for general information,

    (i) (1dn) check TAG in Chambers – if the entry were to do with either the TV prog or the Brewers entry, it would not be consistent with the theme, as you’d be stopping (No.)2 of 3, not (No.)1 of 3;
    (ii) (10dn) there is evidence to suggest that ENGLAND, HOME and HEARTH is a decent alternative, so the checkers will be accepting either;
    (iii) I shall soon be able to answer the popular question as to how many entries are received each week, so watch this space!

    Best,

    John

  3. duncanshiell says:

    Hi@1

    I didn’t get the quotation until I’d found the Ancient Mariner in the grid, so the puzzle was solved without really understanding the theme, and as John H has noted at 2, I didn’t fully understand it even then.

    John H@2

    It did briefly cross my mind that I was stopping 2 of 3 in RAG TAG and BOBTAIL, but I was just so pleased to have completed the puzzle at that point that I didn’t do a search for TAG RAG and BOBTAIL which I see now is defined by Chambers (under TAG as you say) as RAG-TAG AND BOBTAIL. If you then look up RAG-TAG AND BOBTAIL (under rag) elsewhere in Chambers, you are given the Brewers definition of riff-raff.

  4. Ali says:

    I’d be telling porkies if I said I fully understood the rubric, but often don’t, and like Duncan just ploughed ahead with trying to solve the clues.

    I’m far from a veteran, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a puzzle in which every clue requires some thematic treatment before entry, and my heart often sinks when I see puzzles like this as prolonged cold-solving prior to being able to put anything in the grid is always a slog. I cottoned on to the fact that entries were shorter than the answers fairly quickly, but ultimately couldn’t solve enough of the clues to be able to start trying to fit them in. This reflects my lack of ability and/or perseverance rather than any failing of setter/editor though.

    So, unfair? No, I don’t think so. Incredibly hard? Yes!

    I’d also be interested to know what the average entry is these days. I’ve certainly not been in the hat for a long while. This series has got a lot, lot harder!

  5. HolyGhost says:

    I’ll comment in more detail when I have some time this evening, but I’m definitely in the “fair but difficult” camp.

  6. Thomas99 says:

    I’ve only done one Inquisitor before (Phi, I think, “A favourite poem”, about Louis Macneice), and I think I have to give both 10 out of 10. This was harder, but I don’t understand the objection that it’s unfair. I guessed correctly that the character had to be pretty famous (which he certainly is) and it didn’t actually take all that long to hit on the right one, as of course he had to be famous for doing something (at the beginning of something) that made sense as a crossword instruction, then of course he started emerging in the diagonals, and the kind of reduction the solutions required became more and more evident, so there were a few lines of attack working together. The biggest problem I had was with that right-hand trio. I went for “hearth” rather unconfidently and am pretty chuffed they’re allowing it, even though I didn’t actually send mine in. (Confession: I thought it was “Valley, home and hearth” which sounded poetic and familiar, although it made 10d into a fairly lousy double definition, rather than the neat anagram it actually is. So my chuffedness is tarnished.)

    I’d also like to put a word in for the actual cluing – inventive, entertaining and completely fair as far as I could see.

  7. Thomas99 says:

    Also should have said – great blog. These complicated puzzles really benefit from the full treatment, and it makes a good read in its own right.

  8. Chesley says:

    An ingenious puzzle but very, very hard. I solved the majority of the clues but still with an empty grid after 3-4 hours, I gave up.

    Was it fair? Well, I think it probably was – just too difficult for me (and I suspect most IQ solvers). I admire Duncan’s solving prowess though!

  9. Hi of hihoba says:

    I, too, would like to know the average entry numbers for the Inquisitor (see Ali above at 4). I once asked Mike Laws in his time as Ed, and got the simple reply “Haven’t a clue!” So is there any information available John H?

  10. John H says:

    Hi, see @2, part (iii).

    J

  11. kenmac says:

    Horses for courses, I guess. Our English teacher did The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to death! I’ve never forgotten the albatross (except nowadays I can only say “albatross” in a John Cleese voice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_u7VGiMO0U.) Thus, I spotted the “stoppeth one in three” device fairly quickly. Then I realised that they shared an I in the middle so much of the rest was a doddle. I had trouble with BELL, BALL & CANDLE – never heard of it but guessed at ENGLAND, HOPE & BEAUTY (wrong!)
    I enjoyed this one but I’m glad I didn’t have to blog it after the momentous Inquisitor 1215.
    Hey John, if you’re still watching, easy ones for me from now on!! (only kidding) keep up the good work, the standard may be a bit higher but at least they’re satisfying to finish. I find that The Listener can be too much like hard work sometimes.

  12. HolyGhost says:

    I’m pretty much in line with kenmac here.

    It took me longer than it should have to see the pattern in the 4-letter entries from 6-letter answers, 6- from 9- and 8- from 12-, and so 2/3 of the answers had to be entered. But then very quickly, that meant that 1/3 had to be removed, and so on to “stoppeth one in three”. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (drummed in by my English teacher also) was confirmed by the intersecting diagonal highlighting.

    A far bit of finishing off to do – quite a lot of freedom in the move from some entries to possible answers; (btw Ken, it’s BELL, BOOK & CANDLE), and I stumbled over ENGLAND, HOME & BEAUTY (also considered HOME & HEALTH, and HOME & WEALTH).

    I do sympathise with those that did a lot of cold solvng and made little headway – that can be very frustrating. But, for me, the harder the puzzle the more satisfying the feeling when you’ve cracked it. I’d rate this in the same league as Schadenfreude’s 1215, and we do seem to be alternating between feast and famine (hard & easy) with the last half dozen – that’s OK, to encourage newcomers and not discourage some seasoned solvers. I can only echo Ken: keep up the good work, John H, and I look forward to the weekly entry count – any chance of the count of correct entries? And thanks to Duncan for the blog.

  13. Dave Hennings says:

    This was a tough but enjoyable puzzle, with almost every stage taking me longer than it should have done, even finding that pesky character in the middle. Ifor is a relatively new setter who has developed a mature style very quickly. We should approach his puzzles with caution!

  14. Jake says:

    Funny what this crossword is about.

    I’ve been reading/studying Coleridge’s poem over the last couple of weeks then he turns up in a puzzle! This has happened to me several times…

    I agree with DH @13 – approach with caution.

  15. regalize says:

    Like many of the above, I stared at the pre-ramble for hours, not making too much sense out of it. But as Inquistors are my weekly ‘must haves’ I wouldnt necessarily want a straightforward rubric – getting to grips with the instructions is a big part of the fun. My local stand-up recently quoted the source as the modus operandii for a certain customs officer at Gatwick. ‘Home and Hearth’? Well I’m not sure that this is acceptable, but then I only have a very dated ODQ and even the internet does not throw this up.
    But all in all, I thought this was excellent and I am not a superfast solver, but I would hate IQ’s to become too easy. Thanks Duncanshiell for the blog, to IFOR for the crossword and JH for his editorial comments.

  16. Ifor says:

    My thanks to all who commented, and to Duncan for the exhaustive blog.

    Regalise@15 – the source description has also been applied to more than one wicketkeeper, I believe.

  17. John H says:

    I’m glad that I waited before replying to Hi @1!

    This puzzle is clearly the nost talked about since I “inherited” the job twelve months ago.

    Only two things to add (particularly with Hi of Hihoba in mind), really:

    (i) I would never publish a puzzle that I myself could not finish. As always, I turn to the comments of my solving team for their input. There are five of them, from varying walks of life, and varying ways of tackling puzzles. All finished this puzzle, all found it quite hard and only one failed on the final step;
    (ii) in any consecutive group of five IQs, I like to have one at the tougher end, one at the easier end and three in between. This was the last in a series of three ‘in-betweeners’, I felt: 1215 Countdown was a ‘3’; 1216 Cold Cuts was a ‘1’ 1217 Request Stop, 1218 Rehoused, 1219 Location were 2s. These ratings are based entirely on my solving and the feedback from the team.

    If you’d like to know the estimated ratings of the next five, please post and say so. I shan’t give thme here now – it might spoil your enjoyment of the puzzles.

    Many thanks to all who take the trouble to comment and to send me mail. When I took this job on, I was very afraid – now I love it!

  18. Peter Coles says:

    It’s really a matter of personal taste, but for what it’s worth I’ll say that I absolutely hated this one. I am not really that keen anyway on puzzles that require a large amount of surgery on the solutions before insertion in the grid. I find it much more satisfying when there are words in the complete crossword rather than butchered remnants.

    This, together with the fact that the theme was entirely unclued (as were the perimeter entries), and in any case didn’t give a fair indication of the “thematic modification”, turned this into a tedious exercise in guesswork. I managed to solve it, with the help of a few hints from friends, but didn’t enjoy it at all so didn’t send my answer in.

    I only started doing Inquisitor a few months ago and I’d say that the cluemanship is generally pretty good but his one was definitely the worst I’ve come across. Dreadful.

  19. Chalicea says:

    Very harsh, Peter Coles! It is a matter of personal taste, I agree, and I absolutely loved the ingenuity of this one and the challenge right up to the last moment when the Ancient Mariner appeared in that central cross. Just think of the complexity of setting too!

    I agree that the cluemanship was pretty good and I felt that this was one of the best IQs!

  20. Hi of hihoba says:

    Thank you for your comment Peter Coles. I was beginning to think that I was the only one to have hated this puzzle (along with Ho and Ba).

    Thanks for the ratings John H, but PLEASE don’t publish them in advance of the puzzles, otherwise it might dissuade people (including me) from trying at all! Your indication of difficulty after submission date would be very welcome, however.

  21. John H says:

    All noted, folks.

    Well, one thing this puzzle has done is elicited a response, and I’m very grateful for it. I really do appreciate the feedback, and I’m fairly sure I speak on behalf of the members of the solving team too. I’ve been largely working on the assumption that no news is good news – I get maybe half a dozen weekly comments to the advertised address, one from the same person each week (whom I think I know quite well but have never met!) – and then suddenly this overwhelming polar response.

    When I solved this puzzle, I had no idea of what solvers might think (but that’s no different from any other week), but I enjoyed it very much – and the team (who solve independently of each other) concurred.

    My individual experience was noticing the ratio of solved answers to available grid spaces fairly early on, and then entering non-clashing letters.

    Apologies to all who found this tricky, and I hope the solver whom Ifor and I have frightened off (private correspondence) will return soon.

    Once again, thanks for the comments on this thread – they are so helpful.

    John H

  22. regalize says:

    I don’t think apologies are necessary, either from the setter or editor. I am often defeated by the ‘easy’ ones. Sometimes, a puzzle, particularly IQs take me the full ten days to complete. Other times, they fall into place with a huge whoompf (is that a word?) of satisfaction. Loving crosswords is the key, enjoy them, whatever.

  23. duncanshiell says:

    I’ve blogged Inquisitor crosswords on a regular basis since 2007. Inquisitor 47 was my first – actually the 996th in the Independent Magazine series – if I’ve interpreted the Inquisitor index correctly. I have worked through puzzles that I have disliked [very few], puzzles that were OK [again very few] and puzzles that I have thought were wonderful. The ‘wonderful’ category contains by far the highest number of puzzles.

    It is encouraging for a blogger to see lots of comments and discussions about the puzzles. As a retired solver, I have enough time, between family life, golf, other sporting endeavours and holidays, to indulge in quite a lot of crossword solving. My diet of puzzles comprises dailies (Guardian [regularly], Independent [regularly], FT [occasionally], Times Concise [regularly] and Times Cryptic [occasionally]) plus weekend puzzles (Listener [regularly], Inquisitor [regularly]) and monthlies (Magpie [regularly] and the Genius [regularly]). The puzzle that frustrates me most is the Times Concise which I generally find more difficult than any cryptic as there is no wordplay to help when I am stuck on the definition. As I get older, I seem to get stuck on definitions alone more and more.

    There are always going to be a mix of standards of puzzles in all papers and magazines. Some people’s favourites will be other people’s stinkers. A puzzle based on obscure quotations from a poet I have never heard of is not going to excite me as much as a puzzle based on my own leisure interests, but I’ll learn something as I struggle to solve the puzzle or understand the endgame. Indeed, whatever the standard of the puzzle, I reckon I’ll always learn something that may come in useful in another crossword or general knowledge quiz elsewhere. I also learn a huge amount from blogs and comments on this and other sites.

    I support those who feel that setters and editors should not have to apologise for a mix of standards, or the odd typo. It is the mix of setters and puzzle difficulty that gives us opportunities for comment and discussion. How many of us are 100% perfect in everything that we do? I know I’m not remotely near that. I find it a struggle simply to identify every typo in the first draft of a blog. There are many times I have published a blog that I throught was error free only to find another typo in line one, let alone in other lines.

  24. Peter Coles says:

    I should probably add that another thing that put me off this was the need to solve a large number of clues before being able to enter anything at all in the grid. The only way I could get the “thematic modification” was to solve all the clues in one block – in my case the bottom right corner – and then work out which letters had to be jettisoned to make them fit. That’s a reasonable exercise in logic, so I have no complaints on that score. However the lack of any reasonable clue to any of the perimeter entries was, I think, unfair. “England Home and Beauty” is far too obscure a reference to be required without a clue. And “Rag TAG and Bobtail” is arguably inconsistent with “HOOK Line and Sinker”…

    I think a good cryptic puzzle should be hard, but when you’ve solved it you should always think you should have got the answers more quickly. “Of course! It had to be that!” is something I find myself thinking very often after struggling over clever clues. In this one the perimeter entries just left me thinking “It has to be that because nothing else will fit”, and that’s nowhere near as satisfying.

  25. duncanshiell says:

    Peter Coles@24

    The RAG TAG and BOBTAIL v TAG RAG and BOBTAIL point is covered at comments 2 and 3 above where it is shown by John Henderson that TAG RAG and BOBTAIL is a valid phrase. I must admit however that I was surprised to see TAG RAG and BOBTAIL actually existing in Chambers.

    Of the other entries round the outside, HOOK LINE & SINKER and BELL BOOK & CANDLE fell quite easily. I had to do research to find ENGLAND HOME and BEAUTY. I’m glad that I didn’t find ENGLAND HOME and HEARTH.

    My entry into this was mainly from the top right corner with a bit of assistance from the bottom right. I don’t mind cold solving – it sharpens the brain.

  26. Bertandjoyce says:

    We had difficulties with wi-fi yesterday and our comment on yesterday’s indy didn’t send but checking today we read your comment about this one!
    We really struggled to finish it, but finish it we did. That’s just why we like the Inquisitor, if we solve it too quickly we feel somewhat ‘cheated’. It’s the one puzzle that we look forward to on our return from holiday. I don’t think we have missed a single one. Reading John’s comments, we think he has the levels about right!
    In the end a very clever crossword. Thanks Duncan.

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