Posted by HolyGhost on March 21st, 2012
Answers to 16 clues have one letter removed (wherever it occurs) before entry; wordplay refers to the entry. The three unclued entries are of a kind with what these missing letters suggest. Ten cells are to be highlighted in the final grid.
If I were to stretch John H’s easy-to-hard ranking from 1-3 to a less coarse 1-5, I’d grade this a 2.
I started this in the wee small hours of Sunday morning, after the guests at my birthday dinner had left. I solved about 40% of the clues on a quick run-through, then went to bed. After a late breakfast I picked it up again, and made steady progress. I had STRIC from letters omitted from the across answers and I thought of STRICTLY and maybe BALLROOM, but that didn’t fit with the letters I already knew were omitted from the down answers. Then I got an A preceding STRIC, and then another one, so MAASTRICHT looked a better bet, and that meshed well with my guess of AMSTERDAM as the long unclued entry. So, cities in the Netherlands? No, because I could see LISBON coming from the down answers, and ROME and NICE as the other two unclued entries. And that implied that the “27” in the title referred not to 27a (ENDS), but to the 27 member states of the EU.
Pretty much done, just agonising over whether AGE for “old” in the wordplay at 33a was good enough, and whether DIEU at 14a could be defined by “power”, but there were no other contenders for that. I looked on the diagonals for the ten cells to highlight – nothing doing, so I began looking across the rows, and there, in row 4 starting at column 3, I spotted EU TREATIES (coincidentally confirming DIEU).
A pleasant stroll – owing to the gentle clues. But all quite neat – a grid construction with answers mutilated so as to leave a message can’t be that easy. (And a nice split between MAASTRICHT from the across entries, and LISBON from the downs.) Thanks Raich – I have a very busy week ahead.
(A disappointing loss for Liverpool at Sunderland on Saturday, but Gerrard’s hat-trick against Everton was a perfect birthday present …
… followed by a win last weekend against against Stoke in the FA Cup quarter-finals, setting up a rematch with Everton in the semis.)
|4||ADA||ADA(m) (early man)|
|7||RAIL·AN||M||RAGLAN (coat) with I for G(ood)|
|11||OSCILLOGR·M||A||[GIRL’S COOL]* + M(ale)|
|12||·REC·-NUT||A||TUNER (piano worker) rev. around C(ocaine) (drug)|
|13||MI·ALLY||S||MI (Military Intelligence) ALL (quite) Y (unknown)|
|14||DIEU||IE (that is) in DU(tch)|
|15||TIES||TIRE (become weary) − R(esistance) + S(train)|
|17||GOURME·||T||GE(orgia) around OU (Open University) RM (room)|
|21||AMO·INI||R||A(ccepted) MO(nth) IN (at home) I(taly)|
|22||RICY||RI (Rhode Island) C(learl)Y|
|23||MUMM||MU (Greek character) + MM (Messieurs, Frenchmen)|
|26||E’ER||E(mbrace) ER (the Queen)|
|29||FROE||FR(ench) + OE (Old English)|
|31||C·I KUNG||H||[KING CU(t)]*|
|33||ARBI·RAGEUR||T||BRA (supporter) rev. I(ndia) (ange)R + AGE (old) UR (city)|
|34||TENPIN||NIP (smart) + NET (clear) rev.|