Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1264: Centre Forward by Ferret

Posted by HolyGhost on January 23rd, 2013


I rather enjoyed Ferret‘s two previous Inquisitor puzzles – and I enjoyed this one too, though it proved less difficult than it first seemed. The grid is 9 × 13, and essentially split into left & right with almost negligible overlap. Clues are paired, separated by an extra word, the first answer being entered on the left, the second in the mirror image slot on the right.
“All entries are consistent with the theme so solvers will have to make one square do double duty and will need to withdraw some entries entirely.” {Remove, or enter R to L? That’s for us to discover.} Initial letters of the extra [separating] words define a phrase (4,4) to be entered in the barred off central column.

Inq_1264 And still the preamble goes on … “Substituting this phrase for Centre in the title [directs us] to five exemplary theme words … in the completed grid. One on the left describes all of the theme words” {one what? again, we’ll find out} “which may be of use to one on the right! In the final grid, every cell contains a single letter.” {Why use “cell” here, and “square” earlier? Should the Inquisitor ever publish a puzzle with a circular grid, let’s hope we adopt the former.}

I ignore that last stuff for the moment and get on with solving. Not many Acrosses solved on the first pass, but quite a few Downs, which confirmed that Across answers on the right of the grid are to be entered reflected. Also, it was pretty clear that the double-duty cell is the central column of row 1 since both answers are 7 letters, and the entries each have a trailing S. (I assume that the last line of the rubric is simply to indicate that we don’t write a double-S there.)

Quite a few words were new to me (~8?), so progress wasn’t rapid but steady. I was highly impressed by how tight the clueing was – I’d be hard pressed to point to a redundant word not pulling its weight in a clue. (But just a wee bit unimpressed by two occurrences of A = ante = “before”.) Anyway, the grid was filling up fine, the letters from the extra words spell YIELD ONE’S OPINION, and with just GUEBRE v. GHEBRE at 15a to be resolved (… and the phrase in the central column, and the five exemplary theme words, and those others: “one on the left” and “one on the right”) I go to bed.

In the morning I checked my (newer) Chambers hardback, which has GHEBRE (which fits in with the wordplay) – why did Ferret choose the H version in preference to the U version, I wondered. I stared at the definition of the (4, 4) phrase for quite a while and became hung up on BACKTRACK, but that was no good, and it wasn’t until some time later that I had a rethink and latched on to BACK DOWN – that had to be it! So, with “Back Down Forward” in mind I scanned the now completed grid … initially looking for a 4-cell block to be read Back, Down, then Forward – nothing doing. And then at last I picked out ARABIC running back in row 4, then HEBREW running back in row 8 (so that was why GHEBRE was preferred to GUEBRE), and CHINESE running down in column 2; and finally GREEK in row 5 and LATIN in row 9, both running forward.

Nearly done. “One on the left” must refer to SCRIPTS (1a L) and “one on the right” to WRITERS (1a R), since the names of the 5 scripts are found in the direction in which they are written. Another cracker from Ferret – thanks.

No. Answer separator word Wordplay
1 L SCRIPTS Y: yet SCRIP (stock) T(respas)S
1 R WRITERS homophone: RIGHTERS (those who redress wrongs)
6 L THALIA I: ideally THALI (set meal) A (ante, before)
6 R BEFANA BEF(ore) A N(ew) A (annus, year)
8 L VIREOS E: eagle V(ictor) + I(mport) R(are) E(ggs) O(f) S(ome)
8 R SLOVAK OVA (eggs) in SILK − I
10 L DEGREE L: locating DREE (endure, Scot) around EG (say)
10 R RIBALD RIB (bar) A (ante, before) + (awfu)L D(ay)
14 L EEYORE D: during E(xplain) E(lectrocution) YORE (long ago)
{ref.: character in Winnie the Pooh}
15 L REASON O: of RE (about) A SON (disciple)
15 R GHEBRE G(od) + B(ook) in HERE
16 L GELATI N: Nigella GELATI(n) (jelly)
16 R ETWEES (mad)E in [SWEET]*
No. Answer separator word Wordplay
2 L CHINES E: easiest double definition
2 R RELAID DIAL rev. after RE (Royal Engineers)
3 L ILEA S: slowly [I + ALE]*
3 R TAVA A VAT (back) rev.
4 L PIONEER O: opinion ONE (first) in PIER (buttress)
5 L TASS P: permanganate (po)TASS(ium)
5 R RAKI I (one) + KA (spirit) + R (recipe, take) rev.
7 L AREG I: if ARE G(ood)
{note: that’s me standing on one of them in the pic}
7 R FORB FOR (beneficial) + B(lack)
9 L EDBERG N: needing ED(ucated) + B(ritish) + GRE(w) rev.
{ref.: Stefan Edberg won several major tennis titles
        between the mid-1980’s & mid-1990’s}
9 R BRIDGE double definition
11 L ROOSA I: in ROO(k) (piece) + AS (so far) rev.
11 R ADOBE [ABODE]* &Lit.
12 L MYAL O: once [AL(l) MY]*
12 R ANEW (mund)ANE W(arlock)
13 L FENI N: nothing [FINE]*
hit counter

5 Responses to “Inquisitor 1264: Centre Forward by Ferret”

  1. Jockie says:

    I enjoyed this immensely, but was prevented from finishing the endgame by a red herring. Was it deliberate? The 4,4 phrase which I entered was GIVE VIEW which seems to me just as good a solution to the clue as the correct one. In addition the puzzle looked like a pair of spectacles so GIVE VIEW FORWARD made sense (well, a bit). Yes, and lurking there are clumps of letters spelling out EYE (on the left, so that bit seemed to work) and RETINA … but that’s where I got stuck. No complaints to Ferret, whose construction and clueing were as usual very good, but shouldn’t the Editor have noticed the red herring and asked Ferret to give a little more indication (perhaps by specifying that the hidden words were in a line)? So like Mma Makutsi only 97% for Jockie this time.

  2. starburst says:

    Hmmmmm. I wasn’t a fan of this

    As Jockie says, the 4,4 phrase needed to be completely unambiguous in this context and it wasn’t. I entered ‘TURN BACK’and was then utterly unable to make sense of ‘TURN BACK FORWARD’

  3. Bertandjoyce says:

    We don’t know why but this one didn’t really grab us. Yes, the clueing was good – nothing to complain about there. We did however miss CHINESE and thought that SCRIPTS was one of the five themed words which didn’t really make much sense given the other four! The preamble mentioned one on the left which we thought related to one of the themed words which somewhat confused us.

    Thanks HolyGhost for putting us right.

  4. Trebor says:

    Think I more or less got all of this. Missed the point about the languages being in the direction they are written – a wonderful Easter Egg.
    1st Inquisitor i’ve ever (nearly) finished…
    And potentially the last given this week’s…

  5. Neil Hunter says:

    I also didn’t imagine that ‘one on the left’ and ‘one on the right’ referred to normal clues. Thanks to Holy Ghost for that – and also for noticing the rather clever detail that the languages are the right way round, or down.

    I think the isolation of ‘back down’, plus the lack of a nice click when you got it, explains some people’s lack of excitement over this Inquisitor, especially given the recent very high standard. But I found it quite fun.

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