Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No.1027 – Checkmate by Shark

Posted by Mister Sting on July 28th, 2012

Mister Sting.

Hopefully I’ve got the right puzzle this time. Let’s check… 1027. Yes. Good.
Many apologies for posting the wrong one earlier.

Shark’s ‘Checkmate’ has extra letters and highlighting galore, which I’d like. I’d also like it if ‘Checkmate’ was a reference to the Wu-Tang Clan (warning: link contains rap music), but I doubt it will be. (It’s not.)

It was a steady solve, and I remember taking a little while over it, but going back over the questions, I’m not sure why. Certainly, it’s a little tougher than, for instance, EV 1028, but there’s nothing terribly unfair. Some clues, such as 22dn, did a good job of disguising what is essentially a very simple charade.

In any case, as I discovered them, the extra letters from the down clues gradually began to form the phrase THE FINAL STAGE OF CHESS, which is an abridged definition of ENDGAME, a play by Samuel BECKETT, whose surname is spelt out by the correct letters from the across misprints.

Unfortunately, being an uncultured fellow, I knew only that ‘ENDGAME’ is the name of a play by Beckett, but some judicious Googling brought me to the necessary information.

Following his usual method of trying to put as many actors out of work as possible, Beckett’s play has only four characters (yes, I have cut-and-pasted from Wikipedia):

  • Hamm – unable to stand and blind
  • Clov – servant of Hamm; unable to sit.
  • Nagg – Hamm’s father; has no legs and lives in a dustbin.
  • Nell – Hamm’s mother; has no legs and lives in a dustbin next to Nagg’s.

HAMM is represented in the grid in the closest approximation to sitting that is possible with four characters.
CLOV is represented vertically, that is, in a standing position.
NAGG and NELL are found ‘inside’ the word DUSTBINS, which is, as it were, wrapped around their bottom halves.

In retrospect, the ‘endgame’ of the puzzle (the highlighting) was appropriately elaborate.


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

Please post a comment if the explanations are not clear.

1 HUBRIS Arrogance from boss almost a danger (6) arrogance: HUB (boss) + RISk (a danger)[almost]
6 STUMPS Quiet refs signal the end of play (6) the end of play: ST (quiet) + UMPS (refs)
11 UNROOTS Pulls out of ground and poke about in poor sun (7) pulls out of the ground: ins. of ROOT (poke about) in SUN* [poor]
B 13 SCYTHE Slade’s awfully chesty (6) blade: CHESTY* [awfully]
14 STATER One says “sample special first” (6) one says: TASTER (sample), S (special) moved to the start [first]
15 LAMBENTLY Beat car losing drug brilliantly (9) brilliantly: LAM (beat) + BENTLeY (car)[losing drug]
E 16 DOBERMANN Caning woman following assault next to wall (9) canine: DO (assault) + BERM (wall) + ANN (woman)
C 18 OBA Steals without limits— amateur African thief (3) African chief: rOBs (steals)[without limits] + A (amateur)
21 CAESAR Delivery caught by Australian and demolish over (6) delivery: C (caught) + A (Australian) + <[over]RASE (demolish)
23 PERIOD Maybe stop walker around Brazilian city (6) maybe stop: ins. [around] of RIO (Brazillian city) in PED (walker)
K 25 ONE Jose finished without degree (3) joke: dONE (finished)[without Degree]
E 27 FLEDGLING Now dart about short ridge with latitude (9) new: ins. [about] of EDGe (ridge)[short] in FLING (dart)
28 DURICRUST Dutch cut grass and fungus resulting in hard surface of earth (9) hard surface of earth: DU (Dutch) + RICe (grass)[cut] + RUST (fungus)
T 31 IPECAC Internet protocol returning one to beginning of chat room (6) root: IP (internet protocol) + <[returning]ACE (one) + C (beginning of Chat)
32 CHIBOL Chestnut tree’s trunk chopped, embed one onion (6) onion: ins. of I (one) in CH (chestnut) + BOLe (tree’s trunk)[chopped]
33 KEITLOA Plastic toy like a rhino if last bit of ivory removed (7) rhino: TOyLIKEA* [plastic; last bit of ivorY removed]
34 MYTHOS Expression of surprise—it stops theme (6) theme: MY (expression of surprise) + T (it) + HOS (stops)
T 35 INSERT Pub in Northern Ireland turned over (a sure thing by the sound of it) (6) put: <[turned over] NI (Northern Ireland) + SERT (homophone of CERT (a sure thing))
T 2 UNCLOVEN In some places a close slit in garment is undivided (8) undivided: UN (in some places a) + CLO. (close) + VENT (slit in garment)
H 3 BRYMBO H-bomb exploded round railway in village near Wrexham (6) village near Wrexham: ins. [round] of RY (railway) in HBOMB* [exploded]
E 4 ROTL Variable weight of medieval instrument initially light (4) variable weight: ROTE (medieval instrument) + L (initially Light)
F 5 STEMMED Checked woman with sexually transmitted disease, externally (7) checked: ins. [externally] of FEMME (woman) in STD (sexually transmitted disease)
I 7 TUTENAG Short student has to reach up for alloy (7) alloy: TUTEe (student)[short] + <[up]GAIN (to reach)
N 8 MOTTO Irish girl with fashion device (5) device: MOT (Irish girl) + TON (fashion)
A 9 PEEL Apparently fish for local trout (4) local trout: AP (apparently) + EEL (fish)
L 10 SURYA Rough and gloomy about sun-god (5) sun-god: SURLY (rough and gloomy) + A (about)
S 11 USED-UP Discovered topless on horseback exhausted (6, hyphenated) exhausted: sUSSED (discovered)[topless] + UP (on horseback)
T 12 FANNELL Membrane covers brown and navy strip of material worn by cleric (7) strip of material worn by cleric: ins. [covers] of TAN (brown) + N (navy) in FELL (membrane)
A 17 EDIFICE Big house obsolete without roof in the event of freeze (7) big house: dEAD (obsolete)[without roof] + IF (in the event of) + ICE (freeze)
G 19 BARN DOOR Moving flap to obstruct name and date on sugar (8, 2 words) moving flap: BAR (to obstruct) + N (name) + D (date) + GOOR (sugar)
E 20 VOLCANO Perhaps Hudson boat has volunteer on top (7) perhaps Hudson: VOL (volunteer) + CANOE (boat)
O 21 CADUCEI Chapter one contains two latin independent medical symbols (7) medical symbols: ins. (contains) of DUO (two) in C (chapter) + ACE (one) + I (independent)
F 22 REGULA Almost free gullet for fillet (6) fillet: FREe [almost] + GULA (gullet)
C 24 NIBBLE Find fault with barrels inside French city (7) find fault with: ins. [inside] of BBL (barrels) in NICE (French city)
H 25 ODIUM Offensiveness of unpleasant smell following one-day international (5) offensiveness: ODI (one-day international) + HUM (unpleasant smell)
E 26 ERECT Standing back in private ceremony (5) standing: <[back]privaTECEREmony [in]
S 29 UPSY Drinks last of sherry in carouse (4) carouse: SUPS (drinks) + Y (last of sherrY)
S 30 TITS Songbirds and wading birds wanting lake (4) songbirds: STIlTS (wading birds)[wanting Lake]

3 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No.1027 – Checkmate by Shark”

  1. Shark says:

    Many thanks Mister Sting for an impressive breakdown of the clues. It was intended to be a light-hearted representation of a play that I have never come across before, but got the theme from the modern version of Brewers.

    To highlight a couple of red herrings and an extra point:

    The preamble specified two words so it is “a dustin” rather than dustbins, thereby keeping it symmetrical and looking like a dustbin

    Also there was Clov upside down (in volcano) and may have tricked some solvers (sadly intended). Of course he wasnt standing on his head and was just standing upright meaning the Clov in uncloven was the correct one.

    Stumps had a double meaning in that it means the end of play = endgame, and also are legs, which Nagg and Nell did not have


  2. Mister Sting says:

    Ah. I was caught out there I’m afraid.
    The preamble does indeed say two words. I was fooled by reading that Nagg and Nell live in separate (although adjacent) dustbins.

  3. slaney says:

    Thanks for the blog Mister Sting, and thanks to Shark, both for an excellent crossword and the clarification about Clov, which did indeed cause a fair amount of discussion!

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