Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 1016: Sentry Duties by Mynot

Posted by mc_rapper67 on May 12th, 2012


A short preamble instructs solvers to consider ‘SENTRY DUTIES’ in ‘thematically treating’ 12 answers before entry, to create new words. So far so good. But then we are told: ‘How the remaining answers must be entered could also be considered thematic.’ Doesn’t that mean that ALL answers are treated thematically?! I think I have solved/completed this, but I’m still not sure that all the remaining answers were ‘treated’…

Preamble grumbles aside, I found this a stiff challenge of an EV, requiring a lot of dipping in and out during the full 10 days or so available to complete and submit in time for the competition deadline. (Although those 10 days were interrupted by 4 days of golfing and drinking – or was that the other way around – in bonnie and sunny Scotland…)

There were no obvious mismatched clue/grid lengths, so I guessed that the ‘treatment’ was going to involve some sort of jumbling/reversing of answers, or maybe adjustment by clashing letters. For me this means use of a pencil, and an enlarged copy of the grid, entering across words in the top right corrner of their cells, downs in the bottom left, and highlighting any clashes. Because this means one can’t necessarily ‘trust’ crossing letters, it does make for some harder/purer solving… And lots of it – a lot packed in there, with the longest entries at 8 letters, lots of 4s, 5s, 6s. A nice mixture of some relatively quick gets (double defns like 36A RUE, homophones like 5D ROOD) and plenty of harder clues and interesting obscure/dialect words like 22D JOLL, 26D DRICKSIE, 21A AHINT. I particularly enjoyed 4A, with the image of the local WI greeting each other with an I-AND-I!

After a while – and much head scratching, erasing and re-work – it started to become clear that many of the answers had to be reversed on entry – and there were more than 12 like this, so this must be those ‘remaining answers’? But there seemed to be two other groups forming – some where they seemed to enter normally, and some where there seemed to be letter clashes not resolved by simple reversals.

In all this, I had lost focus on the puzzle title – or rather just hadn’t understood it/got the hint! The penny slowly dropped when I realised that all the clashes I could see were one letter apart – so the SENTRY DUTY for the 12 answers was a ‘shift’ one letter to the right (alphabetically): NEER became OFFS, ANTS became BOUT, etc. And those reversed entries were a ‘shift’ in direction? But there were still a number of normally entered answers…unless I have mssed a third interpretation of the theme?

All in all, a very enjoyable challenge from Mynot, proving that sometimes you can solve all the clues and fit them in without fully understanding the preamble and theme!


Clue No Answer, to be ‘shift’ed Entry Clue (definition in bold)/
1A NEER OFFS At no time is turnip right for Prince (4) /
NEER = NEEP (turnip) with R (right) for P (prince)
4A I-AND-I I-DNA-I In WI ‘We’ is boy and girl (5, hyphenated) /
IAN (boy) and DI (girl) – WI being West Indies, not Women’s Institute!
9A ANTS BOUT Insects opposed to sun? Not one (4) /
ANT (anti, against, without ‘I’, one) + S (sun)
12A AORTAL LATROA A gate not opening for arterial flow (6) /
A + ORTAL (portal, gate, without opening letter)
13A ERROR RORRE Wrong caviar, perhaps, brought back in Roller? On the contrary (5) /
RR (Rolls Royce, roller) in ROE (fish eggs, caviar) – all brought back
14A   PODIA Help work to return in stages (5) /
AID (help) + OP (opus, work) – all returned
16A   VOCAB Short list of words used in very old taxi (5) /
V (very) + O (old) + CAB (taxi)
17A   OPAL Stone’s eye’s lacking involuntary movement (4) /
OPticAL (of the eye, less ‘tic’ – involuntary movement)
19A   RHONCHUS Horn broadcast such terrible sound (8) /
double anag – HORN ‘broadcast’ + SUCH ‘terrible’
21A AHINT BIJOU A suggestion less advanced in Perth (5) /
A + HINT (suggestion) – Scottish (i.e. Perth) dialect for ‘behind’
23A ARAK KARA Spirit of artist in Alaska (4) /
AK (Alaska) around RA (Royal Academician, artist)
25A DHOL LOHD Lambert leaves pulse in drum (4) /
DHOLL (variant of DHAL, lentil) less L (Lambert, unit of brightness)
27A OOF FOO Sponge essentially for money (3) /
OOF = middle (essence, inner distinctive nature) of LOOFA (sponge) – ‘oof’ being slag for ‘money’
30A   BATON Do not declare mace (5) /
double defn. BATON = stick/club, or mace; BAT ON (in cricket) implies not declaring
31A RACY YCAR Skate over bit of conversation that’s risqué (4) /
RAY (fish, skate) around C (first letter of, ‘bit of’, conversation)
32A   FLARE Glitter sounds like stylishness (5) /
FLARE = homophone of FLAIR (stylishness)
33A NONG GNON Fool is sometimes in on guile (4) /
hidden word (sometimes) in ‘iN ON Guile’
35A   RAMIS Sheep is pursuing rheas (5) /
RAM (sheep) with IS after (pursuing) – ‘rami’ being a nettle-like plant, also called ‘rhea grass’
37A   RUE Regret French way (3) /
double defn. RUE meaning to regret; also French for road
38A EPEE EEPE Topless tent it’s used for fencing (4) /
(T)EPEE (tent) without the first letter
39A CAVA AVAC It’s sparkling about Virginia? (4) /
CA (circa, about) + VA (Virginia)
41A STEED TUFFE Little support in South Dakota for horse (5) /
SD (South Dakota) around TEE (support, e.g. for golf ball)
45A   TANK TOPS Pullovers with knot in beat other people’s (8, 2 words) /
TAN (beat) + KT (knot) + OPS (Other People’S)
47A   ROWS Lines of oars (4) /
double defn. ROW as noun (line) and as verb (to oar)
49A   IRISH National horse initially following flag (5) /
IRIS (flag) + H (horse, initially)
51A   ON TAP American’s punctual and not drunk before meal (5, two words) /
anag (i.e. drunk) of NOT, plus AP (Latin, Ante Prandium, before meal)
52A RAITS STIAR Dish lacking a bit of salt rots (5) /
RAIT(A) (Indian dish, without A) plus S (bit of salt) – RAIT being a variant of RET (to soak, or to rot by exposure to water)
53A LAISSE ESSIAL Tirade could be aimless having no end of rhythm (6) /
anag (i.e. could be) of AI(M)LESS – without M (end of rhythm)
54A NAND OBOE Circuit of theological student? Not half (4) /
(ORDI)NAND (half of theological student) – NAND = logic circuit in computing
55A CAROB BORAC Cobra entwined tree (5) /
anag (i.e. entwined) of COBRA
56A DUDS EVET Clothes failures (4) /
double defn. DUD = failure; also,in plural, ‘clothes’
Clue No Answer, to be ‘shift’ed Entry Clue (definition in bold)/
1D NOON OPPO New oven for Scots, 1500 for Romans (4) /
N (new) + OON (Scottish for oven) – in Roman times ‘noon’, or ‘Nones’ was the 9th hour of the day – so 3 pm, 15.00
2D   FLOPS Penny for gram sells turkeys (5) /
FLO(G)S (sells) replacing G (gram) with P (penny)
3D   STILB Measure of brightness recalls sound of air-raids (5) /
STILB (unit of brightness) reversed = BLITS – homophone of BLITZ, air-raids
5D ROOD DOOR Sounding insolent and cross (4) /
ROOD (cross) = homophone of RUDE (insolent)
6D   NACHO Chip from new and current house (5) /
N (new) + AC (current) + HO (house)
7D BRA ARB Iberian oddly lacking support (3) /
even letters (oddly lacking) of iBeRiAn
8D ENVOI IOVNE Last words messenger heard (5) /
ENVOI (concluding words of book/poem) = homophone of ENVOY (messenger)
9D   BROCKAGE Dirty fellow’s silver base coin misstruck (8) /
BROCK (dirty fellow) + AG (silver, Argentum) + E (base, mathematics) – BROCKAGE being a mis-struck coin
10D   ORCHAT Gold songbird in old fruit garden (6) /
OR (heraldry, golden) + CHAT (songbird) – ORCHAT being an obsolete variant of orchard
11D STAR TUBS Leading performer’s special pitch (4) /
S (special) + TAR (pitch)
15D AHEAD DAEHA Active toilet in van (5) /
A (active) + HEAD (ship’s toilet, usually in plural)
18D SHEER TIFFS Mere deviation (5) /
double defn. SHEER can mean MERE (pure, unmingled) or to DEVIATE/swerve
20D ARYLS SLYRA Smelly radicals are wasting energy with surreptitious return (5) /
AR(E) (are, without E – energy) + YLS (sly, surreptitious, returned)
22D   JOLL Marine almost has double chin (4) /
JOLL(Y) (marine, sailor, Jolly Tar) without last letter (almost) – JOLL being a variant of JOWL
24D PENNA ANNEP Feather of swan not available (5) /
PEN (swan) + NA (not available)
26D   DRICKSIE Perish grasping stacks having hidden decay (8) /
DIE (perish) around RICKS (stacks, of hay) – DRICKSIE, or druxy, being spots of decayed timber, hidden by healthy wood)
28D   OAR Row on a river (3) /
&lit-ish – O (on) + A + R (river)
29D FURL LRUF Roll up coat that’s left (4) /
FUR (coat) + L (left)
30D ADDER BEEFS Summer reptile (5) /
double defn. ADDER as snake; also someone who adds (sums)
34D TOKEN NEKOT To know an indication (5) /
TO + KEN (know)
36D   MANITO Fool enthralled by Chinese leader’s spirit (6) /
MAO (Chinese leader) around NIT (fool) – MANITO being N American Indian sacred object or spirit
40D BAHTS STHAB Fliers eating Henry’s Asian bread (5) /
BATS (fliers) around H (Henry) – BAHT being the currency (bread) of Thailand
42D   UPPER In revolt against person of their Lordship’s house (5) /
UP (in revolt) + PER (person)
43D   ERNIE Lots chosen by this one are essential to scale (5) /
ERNIE (Premium Bond computer) is ‘essence’ of DERNIER (scale)
44D   SWALE Southern horse loses tail in gutter (5) /
S (Southern) + WALE(R) – Indian word for imported horse, losing last (tail) – SWALE being to cause to gutter, as in a candle
45D SHUN TIVO Avoid barbarians putting end first (4) /
HUNS (barbarians) moving last letter to start
46D ASPS SPSA Snakes in old trees (4) /
double defn. ASP = snake, and also obsolete for ASPEN (tree)
48D RODS SPET Poles a force among eminent scientists (4) /
RS (Royal Society, eminent scientists) around OD (force, as per Reichenbach)
50D ORA ARO More than one opening produced by old god (3) /
O (old) + RA (Egyptian sun god) – ORA = plural of OS, mouthlike opening, in anatomy

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