Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1254: ALIKE by Ferret

Posted by Hihoba on November 14th, 2012


Ferret’s only previous crossword in this series was 1213 earlier this year – Twenty blocks and twenty bars – and the rubric mentioned 90 degree symmetry. This time it was the more conventional 180 degree symmetry involved, but with a splendid twist which made this a most unusual grid. So thanks to Ferret for a very clever offering. The grid must have been very difficult to compile!

The rubric was quite complex, was critical to the puzzle’s completion, and is reproduced here in full:

Clues are in conventional order and lead to answers which are all alike. Four unclued across entries suggest how solvers must colour, or not, four alike squares; the unchecked letters in these entries are alike, forming part of a set. The other member of this set must be written thematically under the grid. All the unchecked letters signal what the theme word means. Numbers need not he entered, but all bars must be shown in the completed grid, which exhibits 180° symmetry. 

It rapidly became clear that all the answers were 6 letter words and that you actually had four separate 6×6 word squares to solve, rather than the conventional barred crossword, so the bars required divided the grid into four square quarters plus those between the letters in the four unclued down columns.

There were 20 down clues, which meant five for each square, so one of the down 6 letter blocks in each quarter had to be part of the “unchecked letters . . . forming part of a set”. Armed with this knowledge solving the clues proceeded at a reasonable rate and the unclued across clues appeared as ROUGED, ALBINO, BLANCH and RUSSET. The unchecked letters in these are respectively O, I, A and E. The other member of this set (of vowels) is U and this is to be written thematically below the grid.

The “unchecked” letters in the down columns formed the warning YOU ARE STANDING INTO DANGER – most sailors would recognise that as a flag signal, and the flag had to be composed of two red and two white squares. I had to look up the flag and found the information here.

The relevant flag is the flag   and in the phonetic alphabet U is UNIFORM which is a synonym for ALIKE, the title of the puzzle.

So the Theme Word to be written under the grid is UNIFORM.

I hit a minor snag when I entered ENSIGN in the bottom left quadrant before realising that there were two successive across entries beginning with EN!

I was uncertain whether or not it was necessary to place bars between each letter of the unchecked letter phrase. I (Hi) would not have done, but Ho would. They are included in the diagrams.

Two diagrams are shown, The one on the left showing the colours and the warning, the one on the right being the puzzle as submitted.





Clue  Answer  Definition  Wordplay
 A yen to strike back alongside American people  AYMARA  (South American) people  A + Y(en) + RAM reversed + A(merican)
 Doctor unpegs old drain  SPUNGE  old drain (obsolete spelling of sponge)  [UNPEGS]*
 Local girl once started showing a horse  MORGAN  a horse (named after breeder)  MOR (local girl) + GAN (archaic form of began)
 Our cat mutilated a bird  TURACO  a bird  [OUR CAT]*
 Historical yeoman maybe backing both service and unit  FARMER  Historical yeoman (old name for a farmer)  RAF reversed + REM (unit of radiation dosage) reversed
 Seasonal lakes keep back South American grasslands  LLANOS  South American grasslands  Hidden reversed in seaSONAL Lakes
 River fish supplying organic compound  UREIDE  organic compound  URE (river) + IDE (fish)
 Plug for a cut that is attentive to Cameron  TENTIE  attentive for Cameron (Scottish word)  TENT (a medical plug) + IE (that is)
 Minor French article rejected research  LESSER  minor  LES (French article) + RES(earch) reversed
 Elaborate lyrics performed inside theatres  ODEONS  theatres  ON (performed) in ODES (elaborate lyrics)
 No longer sputter over soft old suit collars  BESPIT  no longer sputter (sputter is an old word for to spit on)  BESIT (archaic word for to suit) round P (soft)
 Craft coasted; Cambridge finally lost eights  OCTADS  eights  [COAST(e)D]* (e removed is the final letter of CambridgE)
 Make jar from a French barrel with a bit of effort  UNTUNE  Make jar (discord)  UN (a French) + TUN (barrel) + E(ffort)
 This was once neglected in favour of a gun  FORGAT  this was once neglected (archaic word)  FOR (in favour of) + GAT (gun)
 Spenser’s to run after female – a stranger to him  FRENNE  Spenserian word for a stranger  F(emale) + RENNE (Spenserian word for run)
 Relatives depart for school in Perth  KINDIE  School in Perth (Australian word for Kindergarten)  KIN (relatives) + DIE (depart)
 Space to put a cross on paper flag  ENSIGN  flag  EN (space) + SIGN (put a cross on paper)
 Destroy short article and write no more  ENDITE  write no more (archaic form of indite, to write)  END (destroy) + ITE(m) (short article)
 Aussie vaunts aircraft aboard ship  SKITES  Aussie vaunts  KITE (aircraft) in SS (ship)
 For example the Queen’s speechmakers  SAYERS  speechmakers  SAY (for example) ER’S (the Queen’s)
 Clue  Answer  Definition  Wordplay
 Ultra disconcerted about female cunning  ARTFUL  cunning  [ULTRA]* round F(emale)
 Malta set up game reserve for guillemots  MURRES  guillemots  M(alta) + RU reversed + RES(erve)
 A school is supplying trumpeters in S America  AGAMIS  trumpeters (birds) in S America  A + GAM (school of whales) + IS
 Unprecedented arrests decline  RECEDE  decline  Hidden in unpRECEDEnted
 One worships in a Byzantine order  ADORER  one worships  A + [ORDER]*
 Cut little portion of glass for mosaic  SMALTO  glass for mosaic  SMALL TOT might be a little portion, and cut it is SMAL(l)TO(t) but I don’t find this very satisfactory! Is there a better explanation out there? Yes – see comment 2 below!
 Politician showed the way and voted  POLLED  voted  POL(itician) + LED (showed the way)
 Society’s condemnation breaks old practice of City  URBANE  of City  BAN (society’s condemnation) in URE (old word for practice)
 Gourde immediately covering one hard layer  GANOIN  hard layer  G (symbol for Haitian currency) + ANON (immediately) round I (one)
 An informer found in El Salvador unions  ENOSES  unions  NOSE (informer) in ES
 An American boy with uncut hair trimmed a trifling amount  BUBKES  a trifling amount  BUB (American boy) + KES(h) (uncut hair, trimmed)
 Connect closely without for example kneeling unnaturally  ENLINK  connect closely  [KNELIN]* (kneeling minus eg)
 Contract cancelled in port authority  PUNDIT  authority  UNDI(d) (cancelled) in PT (port)
 Offer inducement (5 to 100 dollars) to move into action  INCITE  move into action  INVITE (offer inducement) with C (100$) for V (5)
 Escort, straight man sent up for laughs  TE-HEES  laughs  SEE (escort) + HET(ero) (straight man) all reversed
 Officers in charge sacrificed the first advances  OFFERS  first advances  OFF(ic)ERS
 These horns gee up or otherwise encourage  CORNUA  horns  [(e)NCOURA(ge)]*
 Formal time for daughter with plaited hair  TRESSY  with plaited hair  DRESSY (formal) with T(ime) for D(aughter)
 Confess once; easing suffering  AGNISE  confess once (obsolete)  [EASING]*
 Finally arrange for independence in allowances and taxes in Scotland  STENTS  taxes in Scotland  STINTS (allowances) with (arrang)E for I(ndependence)



4 Responses to “Inquisitor 1254: ALIKE by Ferret”

  1. Liz Geear says:

    Hihoba, I agree absolutely that this was a gem from Ferret. My heart sank initially when so many solutions were of six letters (there always seems to be a preponderance of them in carte-blanche type puzzles], but of course this helped in the end with the four-square grid. I also entered the bars of the unchecked letters of the phrase, if only to emphasise it.
    My biggest mistake was highlighting the grid on top of a clean white tablecloth.
    A great blog, thanks to you and Ferret.

  2. kenmac says:

    Hi HI,

    I didn’t do this puzzle but I think I can sort out SMALTO for you.
    How about: SMALl=little portion (cut by one letter)+TO=of?

  3. Hi of hihoba says:

    Yes, that’s better Kenmac, thanks.

  4. HolyGhost says:

    This was one classy puzzle from Ferret – 10/10 from me.

    The veils peeled away one by one. All answers 6 letters; each of 4 groups fitting into a quadrant; unclued entries, one per quadrant, indicating a colour, and having a different vowel unchecked – so U was the remaining member. All the unchecked letters stacked in columns to yield a message, that not only confirms U=Uniform, but also the shading of the quadrants. Wow.

    And I missed ALIKE being synonymous with UNIFORM – so thanks to Hi.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

nine − = 0