Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1258: WETS by Lato

Posted by Hihoba on December 12th, 2012


Wow Lato! Another in this latest series of superb Inquisitors.

A long and confusing preamble only became clear as the last element of the puzzle fell into place. It said that all of the clues except 5A and 16A had wordplay which indicated an extra letter. 5A/16A indicated a connection between the unclued answers (blue in the grid), and to phrases from the extra letters. One of the unclued answers was used twice and one was “spare” and linked to the final element of the puzzle.

In these circumstances the only thing to do is get on and solve as many clues as possible. With so many unclued elements in the grid this was quite tricky – links between the left and right halves and the top and bottom halves were in short supply.

After discarding my initial answer of LOTTERY for 16A, I came to the conclusion that the phrase was LIQUID LETTERS. So the unclued answers should lead to a set of six “liquid letters”, the extra (wordplay) letters lead to three more, and those three lead to a tenth.

The unclued answers appeared to be :


I thought that R?SS must be ROSS and Googled it. One of the first entries was Ross on Wye, and I knew that HAY was also on the WYE, so one of the “Liquid Letters” was Y

This led to the thought that the river CLYST (Clyst St Mary is on one of my regular journeys to the west country) was a tributary of the EXE, so a quick search found the BARLE, also a tributary. So the second liquid letter was X

Following this theme through gave LLANGOLLEN to CHESTER as the course of the river DEE (D)

DARJEELING and CHA were clearly TEA (T)

BALTIC and ROSS (used twice as indicated in the rubric) were SEAs (C)

Initially I thought that TINKLE and WATER would be a pair as PEE (P) with RUNNING as the “spare” twelfth unclued answer, but this turned out to be incorrect.

Thus far we have YXDTC (and P?)

After a number of false dawns, partly caused by the misapprehension that MELTING SNOW (with two missing letters) was one of the WET indicators (see 6D below), I got the following set of extra letters:

DEVIEAWESTERROSSSEALOCHMELTONMOWBRAYRIVER which broke down into De Vie, A Wester Ross Sea Loch, Melton Mowbray River.

DE VIE indicates EAU (O)

A WESTER ROSS SEA LOCH (thanks to Google) is Loch EWE (U)

and (Google again) MELTON MOWBRAY RIVER is the river EYE (I)

So the three extra “liquid letters” are OUI, pronounced  WEE whose synonym is PEE (P) and the twelfth “spare” unclued light must be TINKLE

So RUNNING WATER must indicate one of the liquid letters. Eventually the penny dropped and I found that in Chambers the definition of EA (E) is, indeed, running water!

So our final set of “liquid letters” is YXDTCEOUIP. These form 2A COXY and 26A TIED UP which are to be highlighted in the final grid. Phew!


 No.  Clue (definition)  Entry  Wordplay  Extra letter
 2  Self-important college tart (4)  COXY  C(ollege) + {D}OXY (tart)  D
 5  Top writer kept getting lines censored (6) (no definition)  LIQUID  LID (top) round QUI(LL)
 9  Wonder about mass – shock for poet (Spenser) (6)  AWHAPE  AWE (wonder) round H{E}AP (mass)  E
 10  Keen about opera (4)  AIDA  A{V}ID (keen) + A(bout)  V
 11  Lely: ‘I’ve designed surveying instrument’ (6)  Y-LEVEL  [LELY {I}‘VE]* (designed = anag)  I
 12  Queen perhaps at American ball, high-level one (6)  BEAMER  (Queen) BE{E} + AMER(ican)  E
 13  Undergo breakdown over year – sale affected (4)  LYSE  [Y(ear) S{A}LE]* (affected = anag)  A
 16  European queen’s special (7) (no definition)  LETTERS  LETT (European) + ER (queen) + S(pecial)
 17  Follow Green backing old court (5)  ENSUE  NE{W} reversed (backing) + SUE (court – archaic)  W
 18  Greater Manchester town need not worry (6)  DENTON  [NE{E}D NOT]* (worry = anag)  E
 21  Statue to new emperor (4)  NERO  N(ew) + ERO{S} (statue)  S
 22  Nervous tailor missing one examination (4)  ORAL  [{T}A(I)LOR]* (I removed = missing one, nervous = anag)  T
 24  Get to retain clever little architectural feature (6)  GABLET  GET round ABL{E} (clever)  E
 26  True I’d easily 400 invested (6, 2 words)  TIED UP  [T{R}UE ID + P]* (easily = anag), P is one of those mediaeval Roman numerals for 400,  R
 27  Moving to rear, hold forth (5)  ORATE  [TO {R}EAR]* (moving = anag)  R
 28  In S American home work on plant derivative (7)  SAPONIN  S A(merican) IN (home) round {O}P (work) ON  O
 30  Ed’s (Spenser) alert – spotted a ?eet (5)  AWARN  {S}AW (spotted) + A + RN (fleet)  S
 32  Catch ship with hack (4)  SNAG  S{S} (ship) + NAG (hack)  S
 33  Panic left hearts pounding (6)  LATHER  L(eft) + [HEART{S}]* (pounding  = anag)  S
 34  Crazy servant’s one master (6)  MANIAC  MAN (servant) + I (one) + AC{E} (master)  E
 36  Cavalier artist in hospital sadly (4)  HALS  H(ospital) + AL{A}S (sadly)  A
 37  Smell Serjeant-at-Law’s ?sh (6)  STENCH  S{L} (Serjeant-at-Law) + TENCH (fish)  L
 38  Type of creed – good one (6)  NICENE  NICE (good) + {O}NE  O
 39  Chose different footwear (4)  SHOE  [(C)HOSE]* (different = anag)  C
 No.  Clue (definition)  Entry  Wordplay  Extra letter
 1  Bird cry (3)  OWL  {H}OWL (cry)  H
 2  Turned up around five – be careful! (4)  CAVE  CA{M}E (turned up) round V (five)  M
 3  Secretly look after old English tree (5)  OPEPE  O(ld) + PE{E}P (secretly look) + E(nglish)  E
 4  Wally sunk boat (4)  YAWL  [WAL{L}Y]* (sunk = anag)  L
 5  Settled near academy in country (5)  LIBYA  LI{T} (settled) + BY (near) + A(cademy)  T
 6  Finishes after Independence (Roman) Day (4)  IDES  I(ndependence) + D{O}ES (finishes). I thought for a long time that DIES was finishes, giving the wrong extra letter. Hence MELTING instead of MELTON!  O
 7  Take courage from a drop of Scotch, Kelvin – show up! (6)  UNMASK  UNMA{N} (take courage from) + S (a drop of Scotch) + K(elvin)  N
 8  Hot mud – roll up right away! (6)  IREFUL  {M}IRE (mud) + FU(R)L ( R removed = right away)  M
 14  Go to Spenser with the old poem (4)  YEDE  YE (the old) + {O}DE (poem)  O
 15  Brag about unoccupied Balkan native (5)  CROAT  CRO{W} (brag about) + A(bou)T (about unoccupied)  W
 17  Cheese sent over to oriental land (4)  EIRE  {B}RIE (cheese) reversed + E (oriental)  B
 19  Precious piece of whalebone in box maybe (4)  TWEE  W (piece of whalebone) in T{R}EE (box maybe)  R
 20  Ancient Ionian upset Scot (5)  TEIAN  {A}TE (upset) + IAN (Scot). I originally thought the extra letter was an S from “up SET”.  A
 23  Top rate wages around capital (of Samoa) (4)  APIA  AI (top rate) + PA{Y} (wages) reversed  Y
 25  Designer to supply princess (6)  ARMANI  ARM (supply) + {R}ANI (princess)  R
 29  Greek island surrounded by police (not Dutch) (5)  PLATO  A({I}T (island) surrounded by PLO(D) (police not D(utch))  I
 31  Wave furiously to northern bairn (4)  WEAN  [WA{V}E]* (furiously = anag) + N(orthern)  V
 32  Once cut slave with edge of knife (4)  SNEE  {E}SNE (slave) + E (edge of knifE)  E
 35  Excellent stock (3)  ACE  {R}ACE (stock = race or kindred)  R




8 Responses to “Inquisitor 1258: WETS by Lato”

  1. kenmac says:

    Well done Hihoba. I’m glad it wasn’t my week as I struggled towards the end and gave up :-/

  2. Liz Geear says:

    Phew indeed Hihoba. I struggled with this, and in fact put Tay iso Hay which threw out the rivers tally. I gave up after looking at a full grid for too long. However the clues were perfectly executed – no complaints from me there.
    Thanks for the active blog and to Lato for the headache.

  3. Hi of hihoba says:

    How interesting Liz, I never thought of anything other than HAY, but for all the wrong reasons! I linked Hay and Llangollen as festivals in my mind when entering them!

  4. HolyGhost says:

    Almost the first thing I look at with a new puzzle is the setter – sometimes my heart sinks. (Some of these times I’m pleasantly surprised, I’ll admit.)

    Last week we had “the LP cover of Abbey Road”, the week before “Clint Eastwood and the Dirty Harry films”. This week: “names/words that can be associated with names/words of things that are in some sense liquid, and also that are (or sound like) letters of the alphabet” (that happen to make up COXY & TIED UP) … so, not much of a theme for a thematic puzzle in my book.

    Difficulty: 3 or 4; pleasure: maybe 1(ish).

    But thanks to Hihoba – I too had “dies” instead of “does” in the wordplay for 6d for some time.
    And with Liz at comment 2, I had TAY pencilled in for quite a bit, it being not only a river but also meaning TEA.

  5. HolyGhost says:

    PS   I (nearly) forgot … EROS for “statue” at 21a isn’t that great.

  6. Hi of hihoba says:

    I think that’s a bit mean to Lato HG. I was really quite excited by the discovery of the watery letter connection and the multiple layers of the interface. To get all that into a grid, and probably all of the watery letters that exist into two words, was pretty special!

  7. Lato says:

    Many thanks to Hihoba for an excellent blog and to some others for their comments.

  8. Tramp says:

    I thought this was a brilliant puzzle. It’s right at the limit of my solving ability. I had the grid completed but spent three days deducing (D)OXY was ‘tart’ (I’d somehow missed it in the dictionary) and hence, the first D of DEVIE.

    Great blog Hihoba

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