Enigmatic Variations 1451 (Hints)
The Beagle Has Landed by Chalicea
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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This is the first of a series of gentle puzzles with hints and tips to help newer solvers.
Preamble: To show that THE BEAGLE HAS LANDED, solvers must 11, 20, 16 No. 1451 at 1 & 34 (seven words);
Chalicea’s puzzles are usually at the more generous end of the difficulty scale and this proves to be no exception. As there are unclued words in the grid, the clued ones will have to be relatively easy. We are told that there are seven words at 1a and 34a. Chalicea has been rather sneaky as the fifth of these words has been split between those two lines.
It is often worth giving a thought to the title. Clearly this one is a play on Neil Armstrong’s 1969 triumphant statement, “The Eagle Has Landed”, but why the Beagle? Surely Chalicea is not using the tragic story of little Laika, the pup the Russians launched into space, who crashed into the earth in Sputnik 2 in 1957. Another famous beagle? In what way might he have ‘landed’?
9a To badly rear backward little dog difficult without help at first (6, two words)
We look for indicators: ‘return of’ and ‘turning up’ suggest that we are going to invert the words that our wordplay produces. Here we see ‘backward’ and maybe a suggestion that a little dog really is the theme of the puzzle.
10a Reluctant states facing East (6)
‘East’ like so many words (‘accepted’, ‘following’, ‘second’ – there are hundreds) can represent just one letter, as can the indicators ‘ultimately’ and ‘primarily’.
13a Goalies now and then missing Real Madrid’s expression of approval (3)
‘Now and then’ like ‘regularly’, ‘from time to time’, ‘oddly’ and ‘occasionally’ are invitations to use alternate letters.
17a Partly implant a turquoise skin design (4)
Setters often have a ‘hidden’ or even a ‘hidden reversed’ word in a clue and we find indicators ‘partly’ and ‘sample of’ – these are gifts to advance the grid-fill.
18a Tongue-like structure not accepted in Italy for pasta (8)
‘For’ in a clue, introduces the definition part of the clue (which must be at the front or back of the clue) so we know that we are looking for a word for ‘pasta’ and we can enter a putative final letter – we can always erase it later if ‘ravioli’ or something like that isn’t the solution.
20a Main office of bishop, it’s said (3)
We hunt for other indicators. ‘It’s said’ introduces a homophone for a well-known name of a bishop’s office.
22a Disentangle a local shore bird (6)
This has an interesting feature that doesn’t appear in the blocked cryptic puzzles. Chambers allows many dialect words like ‘un’ – a local word for ‘a’ – but the rule is that the setter must, in some way, indicate that he/she is using a Scottish, rare, obsolete, Spenserian or Shakespearean word (you will see ‘according to Ed’, or ‘the bard’s’, for example).
24a A greater thing absorbing one before trees (8)
As the Editor, Steve Bartlett, indicated in his introductory notes, The Chambers Dictionary is used by setters of barred puzzles (the EV, the IQ, the Listener and the Magpie puzzles among others). This allows setters to use abbreviations (like A for Ante – ‘before’ here) that are not in the list of those allowed in the blocked puzzles. Chambers contains lots of foreign and obsolete words, so solving a barred puzzle will demand some dictionary delving.
29a Endlessly solemn teacher (3)
‘Endlessly’ is used by some setters to simply remove the last letter of a word, but here Chalicea is removing both ends of a word for ‘solemn’ to give us a rather rare three-letter definition of a teacher. All her more obscure solutions are generously spelled out (like 14d, see below).
5d Unusually severe snag Emma Peel, perhaps, rarely encountered (10)
We often begin our solve with a hunt for anagram indicators and today we find several; ‘unusually’, ‘absurdly’, ‘in confusion’, ‘surprisingly’, ‘doctored’, ‘cooked’. These allow us to untangle a number of longish words. (We know that a setter will often resort to an anagram to cope with a difficult long word.) As well as an anagram, we have here a reference to someone who could be an example of the solution word – she is an example of one – thus the word ‘perhaps’.
14d Seabird dung wrapping nitrogenous compound reduced tumour growth treatment (9)
Here we find one of those obscure words that most solvers are unlikely to know (Chalicea has been devouring her Chambers!) The best policy is to break the clue down. You probably know the word for ‘Seabird dung’ and we are told that that word ‘wraps’ a shortened ‘nitrogenous compound’. The tip is to look up the first three or four letters of the word you know – there aren’t many in Chambers beginning with those!
19d Back of animal imprudent cooked without splitting it (7)
This uses a convention in the barred puzzles. The word count is indicated as (7). Barred puzzles do not indicate hyphens. In a blocked crossword, the Toughie, for instance, this solution would be indicated as (4-3).
We have enough in our grid to find our Beagle and, as is so often the case, Google helps us continue our solve. We hope it proves to be a pleasure for you too.
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