Monday, October 13, 2008

The Hindu Crossword 9350: Gridman

I solved this puzzle in fits and starts – filled in 40% of the answers in a hurried first pass in the morning, another 40% in the evening and then resorted to electronic aid (Wikipedia and There were many words in the puzzle not familiar to me, but as these were derivable from the wordplay it was a matter of verifying online if the solutions were correct.

The emphasis in this puzzle seemed to be on knowledge more than wordplay. Obscure words, easy wordplay. My preference is the other way round. I am also not keen on straightforward definitions, there were one too many in this puzzle.

That said, the surface reading of the clues is pretty good overall and the wordplay plays by the rules, though I would welcome a little more novelty.

Clue-Wise Analysis


1 Original strip remodelled by one new engineering head (8) PRIST* I N E : Anagram + Selected Letters
Easy anagram, direct abbreviations. Good surface reading.

6 Coptic divine for putting two sailors back to back (4)AB BA<- : Charade + Reversal
I saw the wordplay and thought ABBA – had the definition been “pop band” the answer would have been entered right away. But what is “coptic divine”? I didn’t know, so the solution was on hold till the checking letters were confirmed. 

9 Brown follows hub set up in country (6) BHU* TAN : Anagram + Charade
Brown is probably meant to be taken as a proper noun in the surface reading, though it didn’t work like that. With the brown=TAN association the answer was obvious.

10 One who can give cover for life (7) INSURER [CD] : Straight/Cryptic Definition
All right, cryptic definition but was straightforward enough to get solved quickly.

13 Seriously, tanneries cleaned up (2,7) IN EARNEST *  : Anagram
Easy anagram. (Doesn’t the word EARNEST appears really often in crosswords?)

14 Right to have more than eight coming back for an enzyme (5) R ENIN<- : Charade + Reversal
Coding NINE as “more than eight” is rather tame!

15 Rex to employ a trick (4) R USE : Charade
Jaded wordplay.

16 From where a tourist would like to see a scenic spot? (5,5) IDEAL POINT : Straight/Cryptic Definition
A clue ending with ? makes one think that there is something cryptic or witty about it. To find a direct answer after all is quite anti-climactic! Also, if a phrase appears in the solution, it should have standard/popular meaning. The clue here does not lead to any definite solution, only a likely answer to the question. IDEAL POINT is a standard term in geometry, perhaps using that definition would have been more apt.

19 It allows you to locate a point on a map (4,6)GRID SYSTEM : Straight/Cryptic Definition
Direct clue.

21 City, in fine, is backward in parts (4) IFNI [T]<- : Reversal + Telescopic
The reversal and hidden word indicators were immediately identified, and a quick glance at the fodder confirmed that this was not a city I knew. With F entered, the answer fit in.

24 You take out round primarily colourful California flower (5) Y{-o}U C CA : Charade + Deletion + Selected Letters
Shaky surface reading, though the word breakup is fine. Yet another encyclopaedic word.

25 Descending and halting roughly to capture one gangleader (9) ALIGHT{I}N* G : Anagram + Container + Selected Letters
Very nice clue. Good surface reading, good SI – fair without being obvious. Many will be pleased that the setter did not use the A=I substitution. (“…capture a gangleader” would have made better surface reading)

26 Contemptible person showing a sense of guilt (7) HANGDOG [2] : Double-definition
Not sure if this works as a straight clue or a double-definition. OK clue, not one of my favourites.

27 Obstruct spies returning deep-set (6) IM<- PEDE* : Anagram + Reversal
Weak surface reading - what are spies returning deep-set?

28 Revolutionary following for head cook (4)CHE F : Charade
Quite like this short crisp clue, though I don’t recall seeing the following=F substitution before. (Update: It turns out that this notation is used in research papers. In notes you have pp. 52f. where f. means following and glances at 53 only. 52ff. will be following when it goes beyond 53 as well.)

29 These periods are for recouping from work (4,4) REST DAYS [CD] : Straight/Cryptic Definition
Another straight definition.


2 Again tilts to one side as that woman comes up with slippery characters (7) REH<- EELS : Charade + Reversal
Fine clue, and the surface reading evokes the comical picture of someone trying to dodge a female escorted by obnoxious chaperones.

3 Swift writing, perhaps (6) SATIRE [CD] : Straight/Cryptic Definition
At last an actual CD in this puzzle, but somehow the Swift=author connection was very easily got. Has this been used before in THC?

4 Edison and nun make malicious implications (9) INNUEDOES* : Anagram
Good anagram. Surface reading is neat too.

5 Order cited as being incorrect (5) EDICT* : Anagram
Interesting clue. I like the fact that both sides of CITED can pass for anagram indicators. CITED also opens the possibility of it being a homophone. However, the cited=edict transformation was so evident that none of these interesting facets caused confusion for this simple anagram.

7 Rubicund, hundred leave disturbed country (7) BURUNDI(-c)* : Anagram
The word RUBICUND is so jarring here, it was only a matter of working out which country the letters RUBIUND make. Those with limited knowledge of Geography might have had to look this up, as I did.

8 As a grown-up, one shouldn’t be tied to these (5,7) APRON STRINGS [CD] : Straight/Cryptic Definition
Ah, a multi-word solution in this puzzle that is not straight! Clever one, I like.

11 Overly sweet: why are you heard to be entangled with a secret agent? (6) S{YRU{~why are you}}PY : Container + Homophone 
The container+homophone combination is uncommon, and is done well here. The split between the definition and wordplay is too abrupt perhaps, but if you imagine this out loud as chitchat between two girls, then that works perfectly too.

12 Go! He chirpily will produce a writing system (12) HIEROGLYPHIC* : Anagram
Anagram fodder makes for an awkward sentence.

17 Last word on one site fixed with things that put you at ease (9) AMEN I TIES* : Anagram + Charade
Good one! Anagram indicator blends well with the sentence.

18 “___ ___ visible?”: the shipwrecked’s concern (2,4) IS LAND : Charade
Another straight/cryptic clue, but somewhat better than the others of this type. 

20 Cause anger with something smouldering maybe (7) INCENSE [2] : Double-Definition
Both the definitions have the same root. Not the best candidate for a double-definition.

22 When the weather condition is acceptable (4,3) FAIR DAY : Straight/Cryptic Definition
Straight clue.

23 Did a potter’s work — or a topiarist’s (6) SHAPED [2] : Double-Definition
Fair enough double-definition.

25 Soothsayer’s drill, say (5) AUGUR [CD] : Straight/Cryptic Definition
All right, but unexciting. I read this as a straight/cryptic clue, did I miss a homophone here? The ‘say’ makes me wonder. (Update: This was indeed a homophone. AUGUR{~auger})

Wordplay Breakup

The breakup of wordplay techniques used in puzzle 9350 shows a leaning towards anagrams and straight definitions.  Anagrams lead the list with 5 whole anagrams, 1 almost whole (ALIGHTING), the rest in combination with other clue types. 3 whole anagrams occur consecutively.   

Wordplay Breakup Graph 
When compared with yesterday’s puzzle (9349), a positive observation is more equitable distribution across different clue types.

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Chaturvasi said...

If I may point out: A typo needs to be fixed. Of course, it is


Shuchi said...

Fixed! Thanks for pointing out. Have also included your other comments as updates to 28a and 25d.