Saturday 14 February 2009

The Hindu Crossword 9456: Sankalak

the-hindu-crossword This is the first Sankalak puzzle that I'm writing about - I realize I've mentioned all other compilers of The Hindu Crossword on this site before except him.

Of all THC puzzles I usually finish Sankalak's the fastest. The wordplay is fair, not too taxing, and the vocabulary is within reach. I suppose that applies to other solvers of The Hindu Crossword too: on the THC community, the protocol is that each member contributes 4 answers to the puzzle. It is normal for the puzzle to get completed by 11am, but since the last two days on which Sankalak's puzzles (9455 and 9456) have been published, I login at 8am and find the puzzle wrapped up already.


1 Incapacitate the biased student somehow (7) DISAB{L}E*
Getting the first solution into the grid is half the battle won. (I was writing here about the criticality of solution positions on the grid, but it was getting too long. Will keep that for a separate post. Update: On the grid: Where to start?)

5 Would such a house be full of 'spirit? (7) HAUNTED [CD] 
For a moment I wondered if the apostrophe before spirit was signal for dropping a letter. Well it was not. This was a cryptic definition for HAUNTED, and there should've been a closing quote mark after spirit.

9 Completing studies - at a place where social graces are taught (9,6) FINISHING SCHOOL [2]
Do finishing schools still exist? My knowledge of them is only through British novels from the last century. Anyway, the answer got into the grid quickly. As it spanned across the entire width of the grid, all the top-half DOWN clues got a lot of helpful letters filled in.

10 Take for granted that flightless birds return after a bit of a sortie (6) A S SUME<-
This one makes you wonder how flightless birds will even do a sortie. I think I enjoyed this clue because of the debatable surface reading!

11 Permit holder is untruthful reportedly, never beginning to understand (8) LICE{~lies} N SEE
LICENSEE is easier to spot from the definition in this case, and then the wordplay gets worked out later.

15 Abe put out but optimistic (6) UPBEAT*
'put out' flows well. It is nice when the anagrind blends with the anagram fodder.

19 No end confident? Get on, conquer! (8) SUR{-e} MOUNT
This would read better as "Confident no end? ..". A good clue otherwise.

22 Supplemented by a prosecutor and finished off (8) A PP ENDED
Nita Jaggi-ish charade isn't it? :P

24 A tree for the general public, say (6) PEEPAL{~people}
PEEPAL and PEOPLE sound alike in an Indian accent - a fine homophone in that context. The same clue might have raised eyebrows in a British publication. Homophone clues are tricky to write for an audience with varied dialects, there are always peepal er…people who don't pronounce the two words the same way. More on this: Not Quite Homophones To The Indian Ear.

28 Three feet and one upper limb seen on a ship (7) YARD ARM
Not a word I knew, the last one I entered after confirming the meaning of YARDARM. The play on the word 'feet' is neat.


1 Fed up, one worker is mutinous (7) {DEF}<- I ANT
This has all the crossword clich├ęs but strung together well.

2 Bodily cavity in humans in use constantly (5) SINUS [T]
Well-concealed solution!

5 An unpleasant woman soldier's meat dish (6)HAG GI'S
HAGGIS – a dish I know only from crosswords.

6 Relative who makes advances (5) UNCLE [2]
UNCLE is also a pawnbroker, therefore the 'makes advances'.

16 Orczy's floral hero's signature! (9) PIMPERNEL
Another one that I had to look up for the Orczy connection.

18 Daily record includes honour for a government with two heads (7)DIAR{CH}Y
I wish there were abbreviations for Bharat Ratna and Padma Shri too, for some more local ground to play upon.

20 Message sent: Delete unknown error (7) TELEXED*
A very smart clue, no connectors makes it even nicer.

21 Utter confusion that led MBA astray (6)BEDLAM*
MBA is colloquially used to mean not just the degree but also the person holding the degree, but I'm not sure if that is actually valid. 

23 Jejune traditions that capture a girl (5) NETRA [T]
Another hidden word that I didn't spot instantly, one reason for it being that NETRA is an uncommon name.

26 Aggressive remark from advocates: brouhaha starts (4) BAR B
I like Sankalak's way of picking interesting words for taking bits and pieces from. 'brouhaha' here and 'sortie' in 10a for example.

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Chaturvasi said...


Ah, this word triggers some memories. The first time that I came across this nice-sounding word was in 1958 when I was 15 and staying in Durgapur, near Calutta.

It appeared in a letter to the Editor and as usual I looked it up in a dictionary and did not find it.

I wrote a letter to the Editor which was not only published but the Editor confirmed my guess at the meaning in a note!

Shuchi said...

Incidentally, there's a popular coffee shop in Bangalore that puns on this word - the place is called 'Brewhaha'.