Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1268: Ply by Schadenfreude

Posted by HolyGhost on February 20th, 2013


A welcome return to Schadenfreude – you kinda know what you’re getting.
The rubric is clear: ten answers, having something in common, are encrypted using a 26-letter phrase, the nth letter of which replaces the nth letter of the alphabet.

Inq_1268 Much of the top half filled quite quickly – enough to spot that JONES at 17a had to be encrypted, as did SHACKLETON at 12a and a little later FEYDEAU at 35a. But what did they have in common? Anniversaries of birth, death, or some other significant event? I had a smattering of letters in the 26-letter phrase, but not much to work on.

A fair number of other clues suggested that they would produce answers to be encrypted (likely proper names), whilst a number of entries around the grid looked to be in code: OF_MI_ entered at 9d looked to be heading nowhere, and the same for IEG__IP_II at 41a. I tried to decrypt some of these but soon realised that a number of letters would be encrypted to the same substitute. My breakthrough came with solving 41a as RUTHERFORD and realising that he & SHACKLETON were both named ERNEST, the “something in common” being immediately confirmed by solving 1d as HEMINGWAY. The 26-letter phrase was now apparent: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ERNEST.

After that, BEVIN (36a), BORGNINE (38a), and GOWERS (9d) fell out, by now the full phrase helped with decrypting the letters I already had in their entries. DOWSON (11d) is a poet I’d never heard of, and BRAMAH (29a) was the last to be answered/entered. {I suspect that the clue for the latter is in error: ERNEST BRAMAH was an English author (ODQ); JOSEPH BRAMAH was the arguably better known English inventor (Chambers Biog.Dict.).} See comments 2 & 3.

Finally, the title … given that the 26-letter phrase is the title of Wilde’s play omitting the A of EARNEST, I assume that PLAY loses its A to become the puzzle’s title PLY.

Schadenfreude has a couple of trademarks: “cat” meaning “vomit” is one (not here); “sex” clued as “at it” or “the other” is another – present at 27d. Thanks to the old stager – firm but fair as ever (even if we did have V for Victor twice).

No. Answer Wordplay
7 GAOL GAL (girl, young woman) around O (nothing)
12 SHACKLETON SHACKLE (coupling) TO N(ew)
16 TANAGERS TA (Army) S(ection) around [RANGE]*
17 JONES J(ack) + ONES (drinks)
18 OINKING O(ld) IN (popular) KING (monarch)
20 TUTSIS TUT (show impatience) + SIS (sister, girl, N Am)
22 EMBLIC MB (doctor) L(eft) IC (in charge) after (hurrican)E
24 NOOPS SPOON (simpleton) rev.
26 OSSIA OSSIAN (Irish poet) − N(ame)
29 BRAMAH BRA (support) MA (mother) + H(enry)
{ref.: Joseph Bramah, English inventor}
33 SECTOR SECT (party) OR (other ranks, men)
35 FEYDEAU FEY (slightly mad) D(irector) + EAU (channel, dialect)
{ref.: Georges Feydeau, French dramatist}
36 BEVIN BE (remain) + V(ictor) IN (at work)
38 BORGNINE BORG (tennis star) + NINE (square)
40 ENTERA ENTER (join) A (it, dialect)
41 RUTHERFORD [HURT]* + ER (queen) + FORD (US president)
{ref.: Margaret Rutherford, British actress}
42 KHAN double definition
43 INSINCERE IN (elected politician) SINCE (seeing that) RE (god)
No. Answer Wordplay
1 HEMINGWAY HEM (draw attention) IN G(erman) WAY (street)
2 UNFAIR UN (a, French) FAIR (trade show)
3 SNEAKY [KENYANS − N(avy)]*
4 ORIGINS O(ld) + GIN (aborigine, Aust) in SIR (gentleman) rev.
5 HEIR Homophone: AIR (warm and dry)
6 INUST (good)S in [UNIT]*
8 AGIO A+GO (an attempt) around I(nternational)
9 GOWERS GO (work) W(ith) ERS (climber)
10 LOON double definition
11 DOWSON DO (finish) W(hiskey) + SON (native)
13 MUFTIS FUM (phoenix) rev. [ITS]*
15 PAUL U(nionist) in PAL (mate, China)
19 NETE E(cho) after NET (pure, obs)
21 STALEMATE MELA (festival) rev. in STATE (Washington perhaps)
23 BERM B(aroque) + E(ndless) RM (room)
25 PITTER [TIT]* in PER (a)
{¿”blue” as anagram indicator?}
26 OPSONIN [POISON]* + N(itrogen)
27 SEMTEX M(a)T(t)E(r) in SEX (the other)
28 TEMPEH (t)EMP (casual secretary) in [THE]*
30 TOOL LOOT (lieutenant, subaltern) rev.
31 MIOTIC CITO (quickly, Latin) I M(ix) rev.
32 STORER STOVER (fodder, archaic) with R(ight) for V(ictor)
34 RHEIN R(iver) EIN (one, German) around H(ilden), &Lit.
36 HAIK double definition (second is dialect)
37 RAGA RAG (newspaper) + A(mateur)
39 FOPS OP(eration) in SF (science fiction) rev.
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4 Responses to “Inquisitor 1268: Ply by Schadenfreude”

  1. NormanLinFrance says:

    Thanks for the blog. I’m just discovering the Inquisitor, and enjoyed this. I solved Rutherford early on and then found a few others, but didn’t spot the Ernest link until I’d set out the decoding possibilities and suddenly spotted that Importance would fit which then led me to the dropped penny (that reads about as incoherently as my solving process). The only thing I hadn’t spotted was the PLY, for which thanks.

  2. Hi of hihoba says:

    I thought this was a brilliant crossword, well in keeping with our editor’s continuing great run.

    I don’t agree that there is any error in some of the clued names, just an extra layer of Schadenfreudeism. Three of the clues point to names of people NOT called Ernest – Margaret Rutherford, Joseph Bramah and Georges Feydeau. Each has an Ernest equivalent.

    I came to the solution in a slightly different way, having written (or typed) out the letters I knew from the encoded entries, and suddenly seeing “THE IMPORTANCE . . .” as part of the phrase. I twigged quickly about PL(A)Y, and was able to discover the remaining Ernests from their partially encrypted names. Strange how much more difficult it is to decrypt the names than to encrypt them!

  3. HolyGhost says:

    Hi at #2 is of course correct about BRAMAH – I had mistakenly mentally placed this in the HEMINGWAY, BEVIN, BORGNINE, etc. category instead of the FEYDEAU, RUTHERFORD group. Apologies to Schadenfreude (& the editor).

  4. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks HolyGhost for explaining PLY. We finished this one late one evening and couldn’t work out the logic behind the title. Took us ages to sort out the substitution but very impressed with Schadenfreude when we did.

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