Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No.1023 – Phoenix by Rasputin

Posted by Mister Sting on June 30th, 2012

Mister Sting.

I’ll get my grumble out of the way first: the crossword editor should be hanged. There were FIVE length errors (46 across and 2, 16, 32, 42 down). These didn’t make solving harder, but such mistakes can do so, and are in any case unacceptably sloppy. Also, 38dn should have been hyphenated, and this did affect the difficulty. Furthermore, speaking of affects, 31ac read ‘AFTER AFFECTS’, rather than ‘AFTEREFFECTS’.

No one who solves the Enigmatic Variations with any regularity will be inclined to the opinion that perhaps the editor had an off day, as errors are far too common. In summary, next time I suggest that the editor uses the time-honoured technique of actually looking at the puzzle. With their eyes.

Now, onto someone (actually, some people – ‘Rasputin’ is a team) who did do their job properly.

The puzzle was tougher than recent EVs. I found the shaded area in the centre a particular challenge, as one couldn’t be sure of many of the letters, at least until one had the message. In fact, I had the ‘over-riding instruction’ before I had the ‘finishing proposal’, which led to a certain amount of head-scratching.

Most of the thematic answers made theme pretty obvious. The eight were:


Now, I know next to nothing about cricket, but I didn’t need to. In keeping with the theme, once I finally worked out the clashes, the shaded area’s ‘proposal as to how to finish off the puzzle’ read BURN THE GRID AND SEND THE ASHES. But (hopefully) before the solver reached for the matches, the ‘over-riding instruction’ was discovered to be ONLY JOKING – SEND AS NORMAL.

These ‘fake’ instructions were a nice touch.

I noticed that both ASHET and GNASHES appear in the grid. Such curiosities always interest me, as I wonder if they are indicative of some abandoned alley of the creative process.

However, there was one problem. Doesn’t the subsidiary indication of 25ac involve an indirect anagram? I can’t see that even a charitable reading of ‘cycling’ would involve moving the first letter to the end, although that might be what was intended. Despite the fact that ‘confident’ = SURE isn’t a tough leap, admitting indirect anagrams would risk making puzzles effectively unsolvable.

Setting that aside, this was a pleasantly-taxing way to spend a number of hours when I should have been otherwise engaged. Thanks to Rasputin’s components.

P.S. I’ve not managed to parse 21ac. Apologies.

(xxx) = definition
{xxx} = (anagram/homophone/container/etc.) indicator
XXX* = anagram
< = reversal
xxx = unused letter(s)
Idlers=redundant word

Please post a comment if the explanations are not clear.

1 BATSMAN Has Obama’s check bounced with employee (7) no definition: <[bounced][S(has) + TAB (Obama's check, that is, cheque (US)]
O 6 FI DONC Shame! Archetypal dog trick backfired (6, 2 words) shame: FIDO (archetypal dog) + <[backfired]CON
N 11 ACTA An Australian holding court for minutes (4) minutes: ins. [holding] of CT (court) in AN + A (Australian)
L 13 HOPPER Funnel used to feed convulsing thropple that doesn’t open (6) funnel used to feed: THROPPLE* [convulsing; doesn't open]
Y 14 ICE Risky? Heading off road with this on might be (3) semi-&lit: DICEY (risky) [heading off]
J 15 BULLA All refrain from dance, returning without a blister (5) blister: <[returning] ALL + JUBa (refrain from dance) [without A]
O 17 OVATE Welsh graduate’s scruffy overcoat catholic removed (5) Welsh graduate: OVERCOAT* [scruffy; RC (catholic) removed]
K 18 SIENNA Sneak in ground pigment (6) pigment: SNEAKIN* [ground]
19 LUBBARD Dull and monotonous nonsense mostly about lazy fellow (7) lazy fellow: <[about] DRAB (dull and monotonous) + BULL (nonsense) [mostly]
20 HEEDS Observes man with education and a modicum of sense (5) observes: HE (man) + ED (education) + S (a modicum of Sense)
21 STAGES Retrograde judge conceals moral to one story, or many in Salem (6) many [stories] in Salem (US): ins. [conceals] of TAG (moral to one story) in ???
23 DINER Where you’re served ropey red wine? We left (5) semi-&lit: REDWINE* [ropey; WE left]
25 URES Mark has eight of these being confident when cycling (4) mark has eight of these: SURE* (confident) [cycling]
27 ENDOW Present object aimed at old women (5) present: END (object) + O (old) + W (women)
29 ESTH Man from the North, east and south (4) man from the North: E (east) + STH (south)
31 CRASH Disagreeable aftereffects of Cocaine rush in Glasgow (5) disagreeable aftereffects: C (cocaine) + RASH (rush in Glasgow) 
35 ESCHAR Slough school to be accommodated by faculty (6) slough: ins. [accommodated] of SCH (school) in EAR (faculty)
I 36 ASHET Butcher ate his plate of meat up north (5) plate of meat up north: ATEHIS* [butcher]
N 37 IMPLETE Filled up once last of voters left plain X (7) filled up once: removal [left] of S (last of voters) from SIMPLE (plain) + TEN (X)
39 MAIDEN Male auxiliary nurse (6) no definition: M (male) AIDE (auxilliary) + N (nurse)
G 40 IDOLA False notions created by delay after one party (5) false notions: I (one) + DO (party) + LAG (delay)
S 43 AIDOS Greek’s modesty is in difficulties (5) Greek’s modesty: ins. of IS into ADOS (difficulties)
E 44 OBO Decoration on vessel designed to carry liquids and solids (3) vessel designed to carry liquids and solids: OBE (decoration) + O (on)
45 STUMPS Tramp’s heading into local bogs (6) no definition: ins. [into] of T (Tramp’s heading) into SUMPS (local bogs)
N 46 ELLS Measures of lens luminance changed (5) measures: [LENS + L (luminance)]* [changed]
D 47 SESTON Small organism found in diseased stonefish (6) small organism: diseaSEDSTONefish
A 48 GNASHES Strikes teeth together in rage as he nags inordinately (7) strikes teeth together in rage: ASHENAGS* [inordinately]
1 BAIL Lifted small book about acting (4) no definition: <[lifted]LIB (small (short for liber) book)
S 2 ACCOUTRE Equip armoured car in area of land (8) equip: ins. of SCOUT (armoured car) in ACRE (area of land)
3 SABATON Protective half-boot is old Yemeni fashion (7) protective half-boot: SABA (old Yemeni) + TON (fashion)
4 ABLER Comparatively skilful storyteller drops folio (5) comparatively skilful: FABLER (storyteller) [drops Folio]
5 NYLONS New artificial legs with no top on stockings (6) stockings: N (new) + PYlons (artificial legs) [with no top on]
7 IONIAN Greek independence on island on fringes of Aegean (6) Greek: I (independence) + ON + I (island) + AN (fringes of AegeaN)
8 OPENERS Frenchman held up in operations (7) no definition: ins. of <[held up]RENE (Frenchman) in OPS (operations)
N 9 NEW Young navy men (not married) misbehaving with women (4) young: [N (navy) + MEN [not Married]]* [misbehaving] + W (women)
10 CREASE Constant rest from work after beginning of retirement (6) no definition: C (constant) + R (beginning of Retirement) + EASE (rest from work)
12 PUTURE Old foresters’ claim to stake historic area of land (6) old foresters’ claim: PUT (to stake) + URE (historic area of land)
13 HASTATE Hurry clutching a tool initially shaped like a weapon (7) shaped like a weapon: ins. [clutching] of A + T (Tool initially) in HASTE (hurry)
16 YELD Barren Scots cried aloud (5) barren (Scots): homonym [aloud] of YELLED (cried)
22 INDUNAS In Sudan, revolutionary warrior leaders (7) warrior leaders: INSUDAN* [revolutionary]
O 24 STATABLE Possible to express painted porch picture (8) possible to express: STOA (Painted Porch) + TABLE (picture)
R 26 ECHINUS Sea-urchins not as ill-adapted as this individual type of the species (7) this individual type of the species [of sea-urchin]: [SEAURCHINS]* [ill-adapted; not AS]
28 HOPDOG This caterpillar with lust finally for bit of pepper would be tasty US sandwich (6) caterpillar: HOTDOG (tasty US sandwich) with T (lusT finally) replaced by P (bit of Pepper)
29 ECLOSES Fails after executive committee emerges at different stage (7) emerges at different stage: EC (executive committee) + LOSES (fails)
M 30 CAMASS Lily’s greater part is under flower (6) flower: CAM (flower) + MASS (greater part)
A 32 REDS Lectures on wines from Tuscany possibly (4) wines from Tuscany possibly: READS (lectures on)
33 A TEMPO In time, operation was satisfactory on a back (6, 2 words) in time: <[back] OP (operation) + MET (was satisfactory) + A
34 HIRING Taking on young sea trout — no learner! (6) taking on: HIRlING (young sea trout) [no Learner]
38 MID-ON Japanese family crest encapsulating identity (5) no definition: ins. [encapsulating] of ID (identity) in MON (Japanese family crest)
41 TOSS Habitual drunkard brought up last of drinks (4) no definition: <[brought up]SOT (habitual drunkard) + S (last of drinkS)
L 42 ATE Dead goddess (4) goddess: LATE (dead)

3 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No.1023 – Phoenix by Rasputin”

  1. nmsindy says:

    I did not, unfortunately, have time to tackle this puzzle. Re 21A, ETAGES would fit the wordplay with judge = see (reversed). I’ve seen CYCLE used in puzzles meaning to move letters eg ABCDE could become DEABC.

  2. Chalicea says:

    Many thanks Mister Sting for that detailed, perceptive and encouraging analysis. I understand your feelings about all those errors and you can imagine the frustration and despair of the team when they appeared in the published copy. I promise none of them were in the final version we sent. We were relieved that it was still possible to solve a puzzle we had worked on for two years. (The word lengths were the Editor’s vestiges of a much earlier version that he had insisted we change!) I’m the scribe and my file on this puzzle is a centimetre thick. However, please don’t shout for stringing up of the Editor as we have a few more puzzles on the go!

    Yes, msindy, those clues are parsed exactly as in our solution document. The Artix third of the Rasputin trio loves the cycling device – we had it in our recent Listener, and he will certainly insist on using it again.

  3. Artix says:

    I bablypro will

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