Fifteensquared

Inquisitor 1241:Obsession by Chalicea

Posted by duncanshiell on August 15th, 2012

A fairly short preamble for this puzzle – "In each clue, the wordplay has one letter too many or one letter too few.  In clue order, Down letters instruct solvers what to highlight in the completed grid (31 letters in total).  Across letters will assist.

This was a bumper puzzle in terms of clues – 28 across and 23 down.  That number was required to get the two messages spelled out by the omitted/extra letters.  I guess the number of clues led to the use of 13 * 13 grid instead of the more common 12 * 12 used in most barred puzzles today.

A lot of the across clues seemed to have a scientific theme – perhaps to balance the arts theme of the end game?

There was no indication of the split between omitted letters and extra letters in the wordplay.  In the end I reckoned there were 12 clues with too few letters in the wordplay and 39 with an extra letter.  In all but one of the clues the extra letter featured in the components of the entry.  For one clue, 21 across, the only way I could get the required extra letter (F) into play was to add it to the clue to change LYING into FLYING.

It took me a while to get a foothold in the grid, but once I did, the solving progressed steadily.

When I solved the puzzle I had three clues where I selected the wrong extra letter initially.  In 2 across, I first thought that the AL at the end of STERNAL came from ALM, half of ALMOST which led to an extra M. In 27 down, I thought the dimension to be removed was width so I had an extra D for a time rather than the required W. On 40d, I reckoned the T in TOIL was an omitted letter before I realised that the A in AT was actually the required extra letter.

Eventually, studying all the letters that I had, the two messages became clear.

Across extra/omitted letters spelled out WHISPERS OF IMMORTALITY – T S ELIOT

The Down letters yielded A MAN – HIS CONCERN – WHAT HE SAW

Given that literature and poetry is not my strong point, I had to undertake a little bit of research and found the opening lines of ELIOT‘s poem WHISPERS OF IMMORTALITY to be:

Webster was much possessed by death

And saw the skull beneath the skin

A study of the grid shows WEBSTER central to the top row.

MUCH is contained in (possessed by) DEATH, in row 5

THE SKULL sits in row 10, just beneath THE SKIN in row 9

The final grid therefore looks as follows:

None of the clues were particularly complex, illustrated by the fact that I haven’t felt the need to show the detail of the construction of many entries in the parsing analysis below.  However, solving the clues kept me pleasantly occupied for some time and I enjoyed the puzzle.

I assume the title of the puzzle – OBSESSION – relates to WEBSTER‘s concern with DEATH

As ever, I learned a number of new words, or additional meanings of words I have come across before – e.g. SCULK, TAKAS, CROTTLE as Across examples and SECTATOR, SIST and PROPHYLL as examples in nthe Downs.

Finally, I guess it is a coincidence that the word MISFIT is located in the unches at the left end of row 4.

Across
No. Clue Wordplay

Omitted

Letter

Extra

Letter

Entry
1

Trap elderly gull eating earthworm’s head (6)

COBB (archaic [elderly] word for the greater black-backed gull) containing (eating) E (first letter of [head] EARTHWORM)

COB (E) B

W

COBWEB (a spider’s web or net; any snare or device intended to entrap; trap)

6

Tail attached to almost half of bone (7)

STERN (rump or tail) + HAL (first three letters of [almost] HALF)

H

STERNAL (relating to the breastbone in humans; of bone)

11

Line crumbling ice house lacking use (4)

Anagram of (crumbling) ICE HOUSE excluding (lacking) USE

I

OCHE (the line, groove or ridge behind which a darts player must stand to throw)

12

Willow chalice with no top (5)

CALIX (cup, chalice) excluding the first letter (with no top) C

S

SALIX (any tree or plant of the willow genus SALIX)

13

Bone horribly painful if extracted in fragments (4)

Anagram of (horribly) PAINFUL excluding (extracted) I and F (the component letters of [fragments] IF)

P

ULNA (the inner and larger of the two bones of the forearm)

14

Historically steal away second century universal S European coinage (5)

S (second) + C (century) + U (universal [a certification designating a film that people fo any age can see]) + LEK (monetary unit of Albania; Southern European coinage)

E

SCULK (an obsolete [historically] spelling of SKULK [to sneak away; steal away])

15

Monetary units’ questionable karats (5)

Anagram of (questionable) KARATS

R

TAKAS (standard monetary units of Bangladesh)

19

Coats tree trunk with trimmed iron (7)

BOLE (tree trunk) + IRON excluding (trimmed) I and N (first and last letters)

S

BOLEROS (jackets or waistcoats not reaching the waist nor meeting in front)

20

Semiconductor device not opening accepted image (4)

DIODE (semiconductor device) excluding (not) D (first letter [opening]) + A (accepted)

O

IDEA (an image of an external object formed by the mind)

21

Chum’s lying a lot (4)

Anagram of (FLYING) CHUM where the F is an extra letter inserted into the instruction to construct an anagram (that’s the only way I can get an F into the wordplay).  I can’t get an F into the actual wordplay

F

MUCH (a lot)

22

For Spenser those units oddly represented minute measures (5)

THO (Spenserian form of THOSE; for Spenser those) + UIS (letters 1, 3 and 5 [oddly] of UNITS)

I

THOUS (thousandths of an inch; minute measures)

23

Crop halved and docked mottled lichen (7)

(CROP excluding the second two letters (halved) OP+ MOTTLED excluding the last letter (docked) D

M

CROTTLE (a lichen used for dying)

25

Once observe millions of instructions per second reflected with energy (4)

MIPS (millions of instructions per second) reversed (reflected) + E (energy)

SPIM< E

M

SPIE (archaic [once] spelling of SPY; observe)

26

Fixed stakes set on a return (5)

(SET + ON + A)  reversed (on return)

(A ON TES)<

O

ANTES (fixed stakes put down by poker players))

29

Linnaean Society chasing hard backward pea plants (5)

HARD reversed (backward) + LS (Linnaean Society [of London])

DRAH< LS

R

DAHLS (pigeon pea; a pea-like plant)

31

Male decline (4)

SAG (decline)

T

STAG (male)

32

Old lullably to calm disheartened infant (7)

HUSH (calm) + BY (first and last letters of [disheartened] BABY)

A

HUSHABY (a lullaby used to soothe babies to sleep)

36

Easy for poet to thrash without resistance (5)

LEATHER (thrash) excluding (without) R (resistance)

L

EATHE (Spenserian form [for poet] of ‘easy’)

37

Snakes periodically rejecting thin outer layer (4)

NKS (letters 2, 4 and 6 [periodically] of SNAKES) reversed (rejecting)

I

SKIN (thin outer layer)

38

Tree genus planted in soil texture (4)

ILTEX (hidden word in [planted in] SOIL TEXTURE)

T

ILEX (a shrub or tree of the genus ILEX)
39

Garments disgust by the smell initially (7)

CLOY (disgust) + THE + S (first letter of [initially] SMELL)

Y

CLOTHES (garments)

42

Apparent in quotidian fungal stages (5)

OIDIA (hidden word in [in] QUOTIDIAN)

T

OIDIA (the conidial stages of the vine-mildew and other fungi; fungal stages)

43

Long rope twisting round a flight of steps (5)

(A + STAIR [flight of steps]) all reversed (twisting round)

(RIATS A)<

S

RIATA (lasso or picketing rope; long rope)

44

One-time German chose side twice removing limits (4)

OSSI (CHOSE SIDE excluding (removing) the first two letters and the last two letters [twice …. limits])

E

OSSI (a citizen of the former German Democratic Republic [East Germany] before reunification with the Federal Republic in 1990.

45

Court session about internal security losing a month (5)

(TRIAL [court session] containing [about] IS [internal security]) excluding (losing) A

T (IS) RIL

L

TISRI ([in the Jewish calendar] the first month of the Jewish civil year)

46

Immediately curtailed alkaloid found in tea (4)

THEINE (an alkaloid found in tea, identical with caffeine) excluding the final letter (curtailed) E

I

THEN (immediately)

47

Lop back in middle of ditch, with time introduce new growth (7)

(LOP reversed [back] contained in (in middle of – specifically between RE and AN, i.e. in the middle of] REAN [a ditch or watercourse]) + T (time)

RE (POL)< AN T

O

REPLANT (plant again; introduce new growth)

48

South Australian word of affirmation you utter in an archaic way (6)

SA (South Australian) + YES (word of affirmation)

T

SAYEST (archaic word for say [utter]; you utter inan archaic way)

Down
1

Orderly combined operations in charge after the people endlessly rise (6)

CO (combined operations) + (MASS [the ordinary people; the people as a whole] excluding the final letter [endlessly] S) reversed (rise; down clue) + IC (in charge)

CO SAM< IC

A

COSMIC (orderly)

2

Undisciplined cosmetician led cause to conform to to western ideas (13)

Anagram of (undisciplined|) COSMETICIAN LED

M

OCCIDENTALISE (cause to conform to western ideas or customs)

3

Rushed to the north concerned with financial support (7)

FLEW (rushed) reversed (to the north; down clue) + RE (concerned with)

A

WELFARE (financial support given to those in need)

4

Translation of smoke in northern language (6)

Anagram of (translation of) SMOKE IN

N

ESKIMO (the language of the ESKIMO people inhabiting Arctic America)

5

Let loose that tuba beat! (7)

Anagram of (let loose) THAT TUBA

H

BATTUTA (beat)

6

Ladles rising mud (4)

BAILS (ladles [water out]) reversed (rising; down clue)

I

SLAB (mud)

7

Glorified rumpy-pumpy dealt out (7)

SEX (rumpy-pumpy) + an anagram of (out) DEALT

EX ALTED*

S

EXALTED (glorified)

8

Cunning earthenware pot (4)

CRUSE (earthenware pot)

C

RUSÉ (cunning, as an adjective, from French)

9

Sort of lite unsalted sausages (13)

Anagram of (sort of) LITE UNSALTED

O

ANDOUILLETTES (small chitterling sausages)

10

Clumsily nail and bend up long string (6)

Anagram of (clumsy) NAIL + (ESS [shape of the letter S; S bend] reversed [up; down clue])

LAIN* SSE<

N

LAISSE (string of verses on one rhyme)

16

Lock up enclosing heroin powder (4)

LOCK reversed (up; down clue) containing H (heroin)

KC (H) OL

C

KOHL (fine powder of native stibnite)

17

Victory memorial topless and wrapped in old parchment leaf-like structure (8)

TROPHY (a memorial of victory) excluding the first letter [topless] T contained in (wrapped in) PELL (rollof parchment)

P (ROPHY) ELL

E

PROPHYLL (bracteole [a small leaf on the axis of a flower]; leaf-like structure)

18

Party adherent turns up round councillor (8)

ROTATES (turns) reversed (up; down clue) containing (round) CR (councillor)

SE (CR) TATOR<

R

SECTATOR (adherent of a school or party)

24

Notes mounting fit of bad temper (3)

SNIT (fit of bad temper) reversed (mounting; down clue)

N

TIS (notes of the scale in sol-fa notation)

27

Ritual animal slaughter, perverse death wish lacking dimension (7)

Anagram of (perverse) DEATH WISH excluding (lacking) D (dimension)

W

SHEHITA (the slaughtering of animals in accordance with rabbinical law)

28

Sports special spirit on the ascendant with start of success (7)

S (special) + (RAKI [an aniseed-flavoured spirit of Turkey and the E Mediterranean] reversed [on the ascendant; down clue]) + S (first letter of [start of] SUCCESS)

H

SHIKARS (sports)

30

Power by embracing one lover primarily with sex appeal (7)

BY containing (embracing) (I [one] + L [first letter of[primarily] + IT [sex appeal])

B (I L IT) Y

A

ABILITY (power [physical and mental])

31

Complicated score to divide into portions (6)

Anagram of (complicated) SCORE

T

SECTOR (divide into portions [of storage])

33

Scottish expert ushered queen out of the way (4)

USHERED excluding (out of the way) ER (Elizabeth Regina [queen])

H

USED (in Scots, expert as an adjective

34

Failure to produce water, mishandling eau and rain (6)

Anagram of (mishandling) EAU and RAIN

E

ANURIA (inhibition of urine formation; failure to produce water)

35

Section of circle still standing (6)

SEXTANT (the sixth part of a circle or its circumference, a sector or an arc of 60°)

S

EXTANT (still standing)

40

Work long and hard at type of painting (4)

AT + OIL (type of painting)

A

TOIL (work hard)

41

Shakespeare’s switch, first of troupe moving south to stay (4)

SWITS (Shakesperean word for switch) with the T (first letter of [first of] TROUPE moving down to the end [south; down clue])

W

SIST (stay)

5 Responses to “Inquisitor 1241:Obsession by Chalicea”

1. Hi of hihoba says:

Very literary stuff from Chalicea. I spotted Webster quite early and wasted some time looking up Webster’s dictionary-related facts, which were very interesting, but not helpful! I had to solve most of the puzzle before getting the phrases from the letters, then Google sorted it out.

I could not fathom the F in 21A, so am happy that Duncan has an answer. All the other extra or missing letters were part of the definition or the wordplay, so this was the odd one out.

I enjoyed it very much and found it yet again a learning experience! So thanks to Chalicea.

2. Chalicea says:

Thank you, Duncan and Hi of Hihoba. Indeed, I stepped out of the IQ mould in going to such a literary extent – I just couldn’t resist the possibilities offered by ‘MUCH possessed by DEATH’ and the rather evocative description of Webster’s obsession. The editor picked up that anomaly in 21ac but, despite innumerable proof checks, we let the revised clue through. Setting can be a bit of a minefield. I do love your detailed analyses, Duncan.

3. HolyGhost says:

Recently returned from an extended holiday, and a backlog of puzzles to tackle.

Not sure I understand Chalicea‘s “despite innumerable proof checks, we let the revised clue through” – what was the unrevised clue?

Anyway, the F missing from 21a didn’t detract too much. Thanks to all.

4. Chalicea says:

My original clue was for reasons I can’t explain ‘Risky chum’ which was even worse as John, the editor, pointed out with the comment ‘If the F gives Frisky as an anagram indicator, there’s no definition here. Actually there’s no definition here!’
Mindlessly, I simply added a definition: ‘Frisky chum to a great extent’ (which, of course, with FRISKY intended as an anagram indicator, had exactly the same anomaly as the final clue).

John then suggested the current clue (Chum’s lying a lot (4)) and, as usual with editorial suggestions, I was happy with it since it looked like an improvement and my mind was focussed on providing a definition.

I can see the objection to it, in that the extra letter comes from an instruction within the word-play section of the clue and all the others produce the letter as an additional one to the letters needed (or remove it as a letter omitted from those needed) for the solution. Phi pointed it out to me gently at once when the puzzle appeared. However, I appeal that, at least, the letter came from the ‘word-play’ half of the clue.

As I said, it’s a minefield, and though I love the setting, I keep stumbling over those mines.

5. HolyGhost says:

Thanks, Chalicea, for the explanation – let’s leave it at that & move on.

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