Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 1060: Change of Title by Oxymoron

Posted by mc_rapper67 on March 23rd, 2013


An intriguing preamble: As ‘instructed’ by the grid, solvers must make a choice in the case of eleven clashes; and a further ten clues omit a letter in the subsidiary indications – these letters, in normal reading order, ‘setting the scene’…

As always, with the prospect of clashing letters, I printed an enlarged copy of the grid and entered answers, as I gradually solved them, with across letters in top right of the cell, down letters bottom left – to see if any clashes started to appear. And of course – beware of crossing letters – they won’t always help or confirm!

I am writing this on Friday evening, nearly three weeks since the puzzle appeared, and probably two weeks since I managed to finish it - and I am afraid to say I don’t have much recollection of the solving process, or when the penny particularly dropped. I think I spotted a few of the omitted letters first – 4 or 5 of them crowded up in the first two or three rows. Reading across and down, I had M I A M …

Then a few clashes appeared, and looked like they were going to be the NW-SE diagonal – minus the outer letters, hemmed in by the bars in those top-left and bottom-right corners.

Armed with this deduction, I was able to ‘trust’ a few more crossing letters away from the diagonal, and the grid filled up steadily. And the diagonal? Well I started to make out CASS…at the start, with U, C and L later on – and twigged that it could be CASSIUS CLAY. So presumably the ‘change of title’ will be to MUHAMMAD ALI? But no, the clashing letters revealed themselves as SONNY LISTON. And a little research (it was before my time – a little over three years before, to be precise!) revealed that these two heavyweights met at MIAMI BEACH on 25-Feb-1964. (Clay winning controversially by a ‘technical knockout’, when Liston remained in his corner and refused to come out for the 7th round…don’t blame him really!)

So the remaining omitted letters made MIAMI BEACH – as highlighted in the grid below – and the ‘choice’ was to enter CASSIUS CLAY (the winner), rather than SONNY LISTON, the loser. And presumably the ‘change of title’ was the fact that the title of ‘Heavyweight Champion of the Wooooorrrld’ transferred from Liston to Clay?


I say ‘presumably’, as I did dally with wondering if it referred to Clay’s subsequent change of name soon after the fight – and maybe it should be MUHAMMAD ALI in the completed grid after all? I didn’t find any obvious ‘instructions’ in the grid – happy to be enlightened…or will be on Sunday when the solution is published.

My time-diminshed memory notwithstanding, I thought this was a very interesting and educational puzzle – very cleverly constructed – and maybe medium-to-hard-ish on the EV scale in terms of clueing and denouement. Thank-you Oxymoron – I’m glad I didn’t have to throw in the towel!

(There may be other errors below, but I did have one clue I couldn’t quite parse when blogging it – 37A – not sure where the S of MILOS comes from?

Thanks to Twencelas for pointing out there is a missing bar…37A should be MILO, as per the enumeration.)

NB. There was eventually a re-match 15 months later, also controversially won by Ali – as he was by then called – when Liston went down from a ’phantom punch’ halfway through the first round, before many of the crowd had even taken their seats. Will Oxymoron treat us to another variation on this theme in fifteen months’ time?!

STOP PRESS: I have just spotted ‘PICK LOSER’ rising up the other diagonal – if you leave LISTON in the completed grid – doh! Bang goes my chance of a prize for yet another week!


Clue No Missing letter/ Original answer Entry Clue (definition in bold) /
1A M DOTCOM Rogue doctor mostly trading through the Internet (6) /
anag (i.e. rogue) of DOCTO(R) – most of doctor
6A I OKAPIS African beasts satisfactory before spring returns (6) /
OK (satisfactory) + APS (reverse os ‘spa’, or spring)
11A   CROPEAR Vehicle carrying climbing party and mutilated boxer perhaps (7, hyphenated) /
CAR (vehicle) around (carrying) ROPE (party of people climbing, roped together)
12A M TUMP A barrow pushed backwards (4) /
TUP = PUT, or pushed, backwards
13A FLORID FLARID Ruddy Ford I left rotting (6) /
anag (i.e. rotting) of FORD + I + L (left)
14A I TIMBRE Note impregnated with medium brown colour (6) /
TE (or ‘ti’, note in sol-fa musical notation) around (impregnated with) M (medium) = BR (brown)
15A   TENSILE Endless Listener puzzles can be drawn out (7) /
anag (i.e. puzzles) of LISTENE(R) – endless
16A   RIEVER Flowing water drowns English antique robber (6) /
RIVER (flowing water) around (drowns) E (English)
17A   GENES Information on 250 singular factors (5) /
GEN (information) + E (Roman numeral, 250) + S (singular)
19A   ASSIST A bodyguard exists to provide help (6) /
A + SS (Nazi bodyguard corps) + IS (exists) + T (obsolete contraction of ‘to’)
21A   IBOS Africans born in India returned in due course (4) /
I (India) + OS (‘so’, in due course, returned), around B (born)
23A   PENINSULAR WAR Revised plan was almost ruined before the end of our conflict in Europe (13, 2 words) /
anag (i.e. revised) of PLAN + WAS + RUINE(D), followed by R – last letter of ‘ouR’
27A   AKES No sign of rook in northern pasture’s old pines (4) /
(R)AKES – northern pastures, losing R (rook)
30A A SENECA A philosopher without church backing (6) /
SEN (without, senza – musical term) + EC (CE, Church of England, backing)
31A   COPRA Source of oil company money removed from tender (5) /
CO (company) + PRA(M) – Dutch fishing vessel, or tender – without M – money
32A C SLUICE USA’s leader lies about Watergate (6) /
anag (i.e. about) of U (leader of USA) + LIES
33A   ANTLION A new celebrity secures lead in The Fly (7) /
A + N (new) + LION (celebrity), around (securing) T (first letter of ‘the’)
35A   APPEAL What follows sex to make it attract one’s interest? (6) /
&lit-ish – APPEAL = attract one’s interest, and after SEX makes ‘sex appeal, or ‘IT’
36A   ESTATE European public property (6) /
E (European) + STATE (adjectiev – public-ly owned)
37A   MILO I look after my grass (4) /
M (contraction of ‘my’, as in m’lud) + I + LO (look)
38A SUSTAIN SUSTAIY SAS unit trained to keep going (7) /
anag (i.e. trained) of SAS unit
39A H SHEASS A funnel producer succeeded in North and South China? (6) /
SEAS (examples of seas – North, South, China) around S (succeeded) – NB. All three of my e-copies of Chambers have ‘she-ass’ hyphenated?
40A   SUNDAE Mixed nougat and nuts scoffed by a girl (6) /
SUE (girl) around (scoffing) anag (i.e. nuts) of AND
Clue No Missing letter/ Original answer Entry Clue (definition in bold) /
1D A DAFT Silly Dutch newspaper (4) /
D (Dutch) + FT (Financial Times – newspaper)
2D   TRANNY Old woman has time for German cross-dresser (6) /
(T/G)RANNY (old woman) with T (time) for G (German)
3D CORNET CORSET Soldiers in Cuba capture a standard bearer (6) /
C (Cuba) + NET (capture), around OR (other ranks, soldiers)
4D MEDLEYS MEDLEIS Medium lengths of cloth mixtures (7) /
MED (medium) + LEYS (lengths of cloth)
5D RATEABLE VALUE RATEABUE VALUE Accidentally reveal a table containing universal basis for tax assessment (13) /
anag (i.e. accidentally) of REVEAL A TABLE, around (containing) U (universal) – again, according to Chambers, this should be two words?
7D KOMISSARS KOMISSARC Knockout girl regularly saw rash department heads (9) /
KO (knockout) + MISS (girl) + ARS (regular letters of ‘sAwRaSh’
8D B AT BEST A trial assuming the most favourable conditions (6, 2 words) /
A + TEST (trial)
9D   PURVIEW Old Jack to watch TV enactment (7) /
PUR (obsolete, the Jack in the card game ‘post and pair’) + VIEW (watch – TV)
10D E SPORTERS They have fun left with Romeo on board (8) /
PORT (left, nautical) + R (Romeo) in (i.e. ‘on board’) SS (steamship)
11D SLEEKER CLEEKER One inquiring about railroad moulding tool (7) /
SEEKER (one inquiring) around L (US colloquial, ‘el’, elevated railroad
18D NON-ACCESS SON-ACCESS No opportunity for the other wayward canoness injecting cocaine (9, hyphenated) /
anag (i.e. wayward) of CANONESS + C (cocaine)
20D   OPOSSUMS Arboreal creatures work on very big problems (8) /
OP (opus, musical work) + OS (outsize, very big) + SUMS (problems)
22D   CARROTY Reddish sky in Inverness holding zero temperature (7) /
CARRY (Scottish, sky, or the movement of clouds) around O (zero) + T (teperature)
24D   NONUPLE Knight and worn out Palmer regularly like half a round of golf? (7) /
N (knight, chess) + ONUPLE – regular letters of ‘wOrN oUt PaLmEr’
25D LIONESS LSONESS Female is untruthful about forward son (7) /
LIES (is untruthful) around ON (forward), plus S (son)
26D   LEIPOA A bird in river dividing meadow (6) /
LEA (meadow) around I (one, a) + PO (Italian river)
28D ROTTAN ROLTAN Degenerate brown rat up north (6) /
ROT (degenerate) + TAN (brown)
29D OPIOID OPIAID A potion I’d spiked with ecstasy could yield this neat narcotic (6) /
compound anagram? – NEAT + OPIOID (this answer) could ‘yield’ A POTION ID + E (ecstasy)
34D   NENE English river bird with partially webbed feet (4) /
double defn. NENE is an English river, and also a web-footed bird – the rare Hawaiian goose

2 Responses to “Enigmatic Variations No. 1060: Change of Title by Oxymoron”

  1. twencelas says:

    37ac is only 4 letters there is a missing bar in the grid. Those Telegraph gremlins again.

  2. mc_rapper67 says:

    Thanks, twencelas – have updated blog and grid – including the ‘instruction’…

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