Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1224: I’m Back! by Augeas

Posted by HolyGhost on April 18th, 2012


Augeas’s second Inquisitor puzzle, so an appropriate title? And forgive me if I’m brief – on a week’s break for Easter, just outside Hay-on-Wye.
Four items have something in common, three of them being the unclued entries in the top, middle, and bottom rows; the remaining item is an anagram of (some of) the letters in shaded cells, the rest providing what is needed to complete the grid appropriately. All fairly clear, except for the slightly mysterious last part. (The final bit of the rubric was slightly garbled, but the paraphrase above is what was meant.)

I managed just over half the clues on the first pass, meeting a fairly eclectic string of references en route: from Gormenghast via Last of the Summer Wine to Private Eye (and also The Lord of the Rings much, much later – neat clue at 16d). Back to the beginning, and filled in quite a bit more of the grid, enough to make a stab at the entries in the top and bottom rows, even though 1d was proving elusive.

OK, so what do LONDON LEEDS and MONEY SUPPLY have in common? The answer, M1, came readily, confirmed by the cryptic indication given by the title. The middle row looked like something NEBULA, and googling “M1 nebula” gave me CRAB NEBULA, also known as Messier 1, or M1. But that left me with an unexpected hole between the N and E of NEBULA, the central cell in the grid. Anyway, that led me to SAURIAN at 16d and finally LATROCINIUM at 1d, and so with just the endgame to go I called it a day.

The following afternoon, after a fine walk along Offa’s Dyke Path over the Hergest Ridge, I settled down with a mug of tea and piece of simnel cake to finish the puzzle. I had 15 letters form the shaded cells (almost symmetrically disposed), 11 of which were destined for the final thematic item and the other four presumably leading to what was to go in the currently blank central cell. After a little while puzzling, I looked up M1 in Chambers and there was GARAND RIFLE, leaving me with STAR. Not being sure how to depict a neutron star pulsing at over 30 times a second, I settled for putting an asterisk at the centre of the CRAB NEBULA.

On the easy side – but quite good fun, so thanks to Augeas.

No. Answer Wordplay
9 ARIOSO [AIR]* (Rigolett)O SO (thus)
10 ONCE ONCE (eleven, Spanish, team)
11 CANNON CANNON (big German gun, Big Bertha)
12 OLEO (h)OLE O(n)
13 RHEUM R(oof) HE (chap) + UM (er)
15 GROAN GR(ey) OA (on account of) N(ame)
{ref.: Gormenghast trilogy, Mervyn Peake}
17 AYU (b)A(b)Y (a)U(k)
20 UTU T(ension) in UU (Ulster Unionist, old party)
23 NORIA NORA (Batty {ref.: Last of the Summer Wine, BBC sitcom}) around I(ndependent)
24 RUCHE CH (Clubs & Hearts, suits) in RUE (street, French)
25 IWIS KIWIS (birds) − K(issing)
26 LEVITE LE VITE (=the fast, French)
27 FALL double definition
28 WOMBAT MOW (cut) rev. + BAT (animal)
No. Answer Wordplay
2 ORCHARD ORC (ogre) HARD (constrained)
3 DONUT DON (adept) UT (as)
{ref.: “Ich bin ein Berliner”, JFK; literally “I am a doughnut”}
4 NOOKY double definition: NOOKY (it, sexual intercourse)
5 LONGUEUR LIQUEUR (Benedictine) losing I (current) & Q(uestion) gaining O (nothing) & NG (no good)
6 ENORM E(nglish) NORM (rule)
7 ECLOGUE E(ye) + CLOGUE (Christopher Logue, British poet, long-term contributor to Private Eye)
8 SPONTANEITY SPY (Blunt, British art historian and Soviet spy) around [ONE TAINT]*
14 MANUALLY MAN U (Manchester Utd, football club) ALLY (supporter)
{ref.: “Hand of God” goal, Diego Maradona, Argentina v. England, 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final}
16 SAURIAN SAURON − O (incompetent Ringmaster) around I (one) A(ctive)
{Sauron, titular character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, losing O (ring): clearly incompetent}
18 ALLHEAL ALL (even) HE (His Excellency, ambassador) + A L(atin)
19 LISLE L(ong) + ISLE (Jersey, CI)
21 THEWS THE (article) + WS (Writer to the Signet, Scottish advocate)
22 GUIMP GUI(gnol) (i)MP (mischievous child)
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9 Responses to “Inquisitor 1224: I’m Back! by Augeas”

  1. Hi of hihoba says:

    Thanks HG and Augeas. I had it all except for the explanation of the O missing from SAURON. Very ingenious!!

  2. Hi of hihoba says:

    P.S. I don’t think your text includes the title fact that “I’M back” is MI (or M1)!

  3. Speo says:

    Thanks HolyGhost for the excellent blog.

    I too thought about the asterisk at the centre of the Crab Nebula until I googled Garand Rifle.

    There is a reference attributed to General Patton who called the Garand ‘The greatest battle
    implement ever devised’. A ‘shooting star’ possibly?

    I eventually settled on shading the centre of the Nebula black to represent a shot star,a
    ‘black hole’ possibly? Just a theory.

  4. HolyGhost says:

    wrt Hi’s PS (at 2): para.4 includes the sentence “The answer, M1, came readily, confirmed by the cryptic indication given by the title.” – insufficiently explicit?

    and to Speo (at 3): NASA’s website contains the statement “this information [about star masses] helps distinguish whether the object is a neutron star or a black hole, since black holes are more massive than neutron stars.” This implies that the object at the centre of the Crab Nebula is not a black hole …

  5. Speo says:

    Many thanks HolyGhost, your taking time to reply was very much appreciated.

  6. regalize says:

    MammaMIa – what a brilliant puzzle, thanks to HG and AUGEAS.
    Has anyone confirmed exactly what that central cell should contain? The alternative was a veritable plague of tiny rodents. An eight-pointed star would be the obvious answer – alas, I have only just realised this. Oh, well, all part of the fun.

  7. Augeas says:

    Thanks to those who have said they enjoyed this – it was fun to compose too. For a while it laboured under the title “Argand Rifle” which I had intended to be interpreted as rifle (ie fiddle about with) ARGAND – generating Garand, but then where does Garand’s rifle appear from? I’M BACK (caps essential, and happily in conformance with House Style) was an almost-last-minute bit of serendipity.
    As far as I’m concerned since no-one knows what a pulsar (or neutron star) actually looks like the 5-pointed thing was what was in my mind. But as any astonomic fule kno the surface gravitational force on a pulsar is so powerful that it must be about as perfect a sphere as it’s possible to conceive. Still, a representation of a star is required and spheres (or circles) don’t cut the mustard symbol-wise. Happily I don’t have the task of marking the thing!

  8. Speo says:

    Many thanks to Augeas for a very enjoyable Inquisitor puzzle.
    I note that this was only your second Inquisitor but hope that there are many more still to come
    and in the not too distant future.

  9. nmsindy says:

    Very enjoyable puzzle – not too difficult. While I got all the answers, some of the wordplay references escaped me till I came here.
    MONEY SUPPLY gave the idea and LONDON LEEDS came soon after that. The rest was a little trickier. BTW, the Ulster Unionist Party is very much still around tho it’s played second fiddle to the DUP in more recent times. Many thanks, Augeas, and Holy Ghost for the excellent blog.

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