Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 1272: ? by Anax

Posted by HolyGhost on March 20th, 2013


A first time out for Anax in the Inquisitor series.
Twelve answers, each clued without a definition, are of a kind. Their characters fall into two groups (as indicated in their clues); the members of the two groups are similar, but “?” is missing from the second group. We need to identify “?”; the (definitionless) 4d might be helpful.

I tend to skip over the non-standard clues the first time through in this type of puzzle. I thought I was in for a rough ride on this one, as on the first pass I solved only two (the last two) of the across clues. I did better with the down clues, especially in the lower half, which also gave me HAYDN at 24d and then SOUSA at 26a. Things were looking up. The whole of the lower half became filled quite soon and I had about half of the composers, then the top right was completed. The top left took a little longer to yield, but in a relatively short time all (!) I had left to do was sit back and contemplate the rubric. Classical music is not one of my strong points, and it is only WEILL whose works I am at all familiar with, and he seemed to me to be a bit of an outlier here.

OK: group 1 comprises CLEMENTI, HAYDN, HUMMEL, RAVEL, ROSSINI, SOUSA, WEBER and for group 2 we have MAHLER, MESSIAEN, SCHUBERT, VERDI, WEILL. A consideration of dates, styles, compositions, etc., was going nowhere, so it was time to think about a more literal reading of the rubric – “characters” not as individual people, but as the letters that make up their names …
This means that group 2 is currently lacking AMNNOOSUY, which (with the help of 4d, RAVEL = entangle/disentangle) becomes ANONYMOUS.

For me, the endgame was more “phew” (relief) than “wow” (wonder), but, even so, there has to be some admiration of Anax’s ingenuity to work 12 composers (nearly a third of the entries) into the grid, and satisfy the workings of the puzzle.

No. Answer Wordplay
1 SHUT SHOUT (call) − O (love)
4 RENVERSE RE (about) N(ew) VERSE (poetry)
10 NUCHA AUN(t) (relative) rev. around CH(ildren)
{NUCHA = nape of the neck = ‘scruffy area’}
11 REBOOT ROT (corrupt) around OBE (honour) rev.
12 IMPAVID IMP (mischief-maker) AVID (eager)
13 RUSMA AM SUR(e) (have no doubts) rev.
14 MOLEST MOLE (secret agent) S(ecre)T
16 DISME (lan)D IS ME(ntioned)
17 WEILL WILL (what’s left) around E(arth)
20 CLEMENTI L(eft) in CEMENT (glue) + I (one)
21 SCHUBERT S(uitcas)E R(igh)T around CHUB (fish)
25 CS GAS SAGS (falls) rev. after C(anister), &Lit.
26 SOUSA SO USA (typical of America)
27 SERIPH HE’S (chap’s) rev. around RIP (rent)
29 IMSHY I’M SHY (socialising scares me)
30 CLEARLY C(ontro)L + EARLY (advanced)
31 DUENDE DUE (expected) around END (death)
32 WEBER WEB (a source of information) + (h)ER(e)
33 ESSONITE [IT’S SEEN]* around O (ring)
34 NERO (pengui)N + (z)ERO
No. Answer Wordplay
1 SNIP SNIP(e) (carp)
2 HUMMEL HUM (smell) + (s)MEL(l)
3 THALLIUM HALL (lobby) I (one) in TUM (corporation)
4 RAVEL AVE(nue) in RL (right & left = both sides)
5 EPISTLERS EP (extended-play record) + [IT LESS]* around R(eading)
{younger solvers may not understand EP – it’s not a download;
  Reading is one of the 3 R’s – reinstated in Gove’s Brave Old World?}
6 VERDI REV (gun) rev. + D(ischarge) I(t)
{gun, as in ‘open the throttle’, not an abbreviation of revolver}
7 ROSSINI (c)ROSSIN(g) (voyage) + I(ndia)
8 SOMME M(en) in SOME (a great)
9 ETAERIOS SOIRÉE (do, party) rev. around TA (thank you)
17 WEST SIDE E(ast) ST(reet)’S in WIDE (great)
18 MESSIAEN MESS (trouble) + IN around A&E
19 CHOUSES C(irca, about) + HOUSES (families)
22 MAHLER REAL (proper) − A (article) + HAM (meat) rev.
23 COMUS CO(mpany, business) + MUS(t) (requirement)
24 HAYDN AY (always) in HD (high definition) + N(ot)
25 CREWE W(omen) in CREE (native American)
28 TYRO (mem)ORY T(est) rev.
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13 Responses to “Inquisitor 1272: ? by Anax”

  1. Anax says:

    Many thanks for the review HolyGhost. As is the way with prize puzzles, comments are scarce, but your efforts are very much appreciated.
    First off I must thank John H for allowing me to interrupt the flow of the big boys. Despite having a small handful of barred thematics published on the web/Piemag I didn’t really think I’d end up with one in the national press, so it was a huge fillip for me. As for the puzzle itself, it was my idea to keep it simple (because I’m not good at inventing elaborate theme ideas). The initial concept was a blank canvas really, just trying to think of something, and when you start listing ideas composers will be in there somewhere. It was only when I though of RAVEL that the anagram idea emerged.
    Doubtless I could have used all sorts of clue gimmicks to reveal an instruction, but it struck me that the final move – while apparently obvious – could with any luck be dismissed by many as too unlikely, so I tried to avoid telegraphing it too much.
    Funny thing, though. On the day of publication I kept an eye on AnswerBank in the hope that the final step wouldn’t be blurted out too quickly, and it was amusing to see several messages along the lines ‘I just can’t work out the last bit’. This went on for quite a few hours until someone finally twigged… and there followed a handful of ‘What? Was that it?’ posts. My tentative attempt at playing mind games seems to have worked on at least a small number of solvers, but I’m not sure I’ll take that approach again.

  2. NormanLinFrance says:

    Thanks for the blog, and thanks to Anax for dropping in.
    I solved the whole thing but for the Anonymous, which I don’t think I would have got in a million years. That Bletchley job will have to wait.

  3. Hi of hihoba says:

    Thanks to HG and to Anax. The grid filled relatively easily but there was quite a fallow period before it became clear what Anax had managed. I am in awe of anyone who could make such an amazing anagram out of composers’ names. Wonderful!

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, HG.

    My very first attempt at an Inquisitor, which I tried because it was Anax!

    I didn’t have too much difficulty filling in the grid [HAYDN followed by SOUSA was my way into the theme, too], and I really enjoyed teasing out the rest, learning a number of new words along the way – but I’m afraid I had to use ‘phone-a-friend’ to unRAVEL the rest.

    Many thanks, Anax, for giving me the confidence to have a go – I hope you get another opportunity soon!

  5. Thomas99 says:

    Yes, Anax’s final touch was certainly a big part of this. Otherwise it was quite a relief after Regson’s tough clues last week.

    I think, perhaps surprisingly, knowing about classical music did help here. There was no musical knowledge required for the “Anonymous” trick of course, but you realised that far quicker if you knew about the composers – and then you started looking for something else… It reminded me a bit of the word-based type of “connecting wall” group in Only Connect.

    I’d also like to see what else Anax might do in a barred puzzle. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long (they always look like they must take months to set, though!).

  6. mc_rapper67 says:

    Wonderful puzzle – didn’t realise Anax wasn’t already a regular IQ setter – a worthy debut, and look forward to more…

    Like Holy Ghost, I had the grid filled and the groups identified – then I spent ages looking for various schools/styles of music etc., or something else which these composers might have in common – middle names?; month/day of birth/death?…

    …forgetting, of course, the mantra drummed in to me all those years ago when doing exams: ‘Always read the rubric, then re-read it until you understand it, before you put anything to paper’.

    Re-read it – realised the significance of ‘characters’ – and then slapped forehead resoundingly!…

  7. Regalize says:

    Yes, indeed mcrapper67, that headpalm moment after hours of excercising the grey cells.
    A brilliant IQ debut from Anax, I too look forward to more.
    Thanks HG for the blog and to the musical Maestro. By the way, what is Answerbank? Never heard of it!

  8. Phil Richardson says:

    A great puzzle which took me longer than it should to spot the theme. Sousa was the chink of light I needed, then the rest followed quite quickly. 15D was a great clue. I got the Anonymous part remarkably quickly. Or perhaps a apot of luck as was my first idea. Anagram skills of the highest order. I sent off the puzzle but think I was late – the stamped envelope was on the hallway table for days before my memory got the better of me. So no chance of any champers this time

    Thanks to Anax for a wonderfully inventive puzzle and hg for the blog

  9. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Anax for an entertaining puzzle and HolyGhost for the blog.

    We took quite a while to solve the puzzle but our efforts in finding the missing ‘composer’ was not helped by placing one of the composers in the wrong group!

    Once we realised our mistake (or should I say when he realised HIS mistake) it still took an electronic search as we were looking for a real person and our knowledge of composers is somewhat limited!

    We look forward to seeing more of Anax inquisitors.

    Regalize@7 if you search on the web for Answebank + Inquisitor + number you will see what Anax is talking about. We found it by chance some while ago when we were really struggling but only look at it now if we haven’t finished the puzzle after a few days! They give hints rather than solutions which can be helpful.

  10. Raich says:

    I think Regalize@7 was possibly being tongue-in-cheek re Answerbank, B&J (#9).

  11. Ross says:

    Although I found it an easy solve, I loved this puzzle – a real case of “read the preamble closely”. Everything was cleverly hidden in the word “characters”, which had been niggling me throughout the solve – so the PDM came swiftly, but very satisfyingly. Had no idea this was Anax’s first IQ.

  12. Lancastrian Bluenose says:

    I hope Anax gets the chance to submit more in this series.

  13. Trebor says:

    Got all the clues but the final stage was far too clever for me! Having said that, very much appropriate to this series, so look forward to more from Anax.

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