Enigmatic Variations 1462
Incomprehensible by Kruger
Hints and tips by The Numpties
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Kruger will not be a new name to thematic cryptic crossword solvers. Dave Hennings’ Crossword Database lists over 130 of his crosswords in the Listener, Inquisitor, Crossword Magazine, Weekend and EV series so you can rest assured that you are in safe hands.
Preamble: Clashes occur in ten cells and must be resolved in a way that many solvers may consider to be INCOMPREHENSIBLE to them. Wordplay in half of the clues yields an extra letter not to be entered in the grid; in clue order, these letters give a further instruction. Numbers in brackets refer to the space available for entries. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended, 12 is in Collins.
You need to ask yourself why the setter would tell you that ‘numbers in brackets refer to the space available for entries’. That prompts us that some solutions are not going to be of the length that is given in brackets and we suspect that this will somehow be related to the ten clashes that we are looking for. We work in pencil anyway but obviously it will be very important to do so here.
1a Dancer’s mate to turn out on time (4)
We scratched our heads for a short name for a ‘dancer’s mate’. Rogers and Astaire? Torvill and Dean? But that ‘time’ that occurs in almost every crossword we solve seemed to put a T at the end of the word. When we realized what was going on here, we smiled, as you probably will.
11a Indian natives (those wanting to reduce racket) pursuing vehicle (5)
Remember that we are hunting for extra letters in the wordplay. We had a few potential vehicles to begin this solution and not many letters left for ‘those wanting to reduce racket’. Think of an abbreviation.
14a Plaited straw to sell picked up (5)
This clue needed our Bradford and Chambers to justify the rare use of the word that was suggested as a homophone of ‘to sell’.
16a Char stealing front of madam’s crown (4)
Bradford again! (If you haven’t bought a copy yet, we do really recommend that you treat yourself to an early Christmas present.) If you look at the lists of words she has for ‘char’ and ‘crown’, you will be able to construct the ‘crown’ from the ‘char’ with an extra letter (and it’s ‘the front of madam’s.)
26a Jujube‘s only found beside stream (6)
We had several letters in place before a potential answer suggested itself. We then had to find out about ‘jujubes’ (to our surprise, not just chewy sweeties) and work out how ‘only’ gave us the letters that went ‘beside’ our northern word for a stream.
32a Ma grumbled about protestants’ instrument (7, two words)
No need for a hint, really, here as the clue is so generous, but we didn’t know the name for this instrument (or for the unusual American word for a footballer in 12d, that doesn’t appear in Chambers but is in Collins – and is equally generously clued) so they deserved a hint. Remember that there might be an extra letter emerging from the anagram material.
33a It’s beef if cooking for woman of good reputation (5)
There was a fuss when Chambers removed its pages including ‘Some first names’ from the appendices and I believe they were restored. I knew this ‘woman of good repute’ from George Eliot’s use of the name, but you will be able to find her, remembering that there are extra letters in the wordplay of half the clues.
35a Heraldic device from another such term, in part incomplete (5)
We thought this clue was tough. We back-solved from our solution to find the second ‘heraldic term’ that had to go into most of a word for ‘part’ (think ‘part in a play’).
If, like us, you solved some easy clues like 4a and 6d first, you will have found clashes and worked out why we were told about ‘the space available for entries’. After that ‘aha’ moment, you should enjoy spotting similar clashes nicely scattered around the grid and a famous Shakespeare quotation (of Casca in Julius Caesar Act1, Sc2) will give you a p.d.m. about the title – no longer ‘incomprehensible’ maybe.
2d Confusion of Aberdeen’s miserly followers in Egypt (7)
Whenever we see the name of a country in a clue (or even an American state) we go to Wiki to find the pair of letters that identify it. Those are invaluable to setters desperate to find some way of cluing, for example, the letters VA or CZ. We realized that was needed here and that we had to find Scottish words for ‘miserly followers’ to go between those letters to produce a fairly obscure word for ‘confusion’ (not the crossword old chestnut ‘pi’).
5d Beaten mule, mad, going crazy (6)
This was the very first clue we solved and we went straight back to the preamble to check whether Kruger had told us that real words would be left when we had extracted those extra letters from wordplay – of course, he hadn’t said that.
7d Risk maybe a gamble Rod has lost £1 playing (7)
The word ‘maybe’ is significant. Fairly early in her setting career, a compiler will be told by an editor that ‘defining by example’ is not allowed so that we can’t use ‘fir’ or ‘ash’, say, to produce the letters TREE or ‘setter’ to produce DOG. However, there are ways of getting round that rule and ‘maybe’ is one of them. This ‘Risk’ is an example of something.
8d They were soldiers for ages (4)
Probably no need to prompt you that the ‘were’ is hinting at an old or archaic word for those soldiers.
9d Traffic in Scotland beginning to take traveller round old centre of Falkirk (5)
The Scottish Numpty didn’t know this word and, surprisingly it isn’t in Bradford either but if you look up in Chambers the word that she does provide, hey presto! Of course you can construct the solution from the three elements provided in the wordplay – with the traveller going around (and still remembering that we are hunting for extra letters).
12d American footballer‘s team mostly blocks furiously (8)
Unless you are a fan of US football, you are unlikely to have met this word, though you possibly have all but two of its letters already (and they are two that are not in the ETAOIN SHRDLU list – in order – of the most popular letters in the language). Kruger has kindly given us a very helpful clue.
25d Figure of speech containing essentially clumsier means of providing hot air (6)
In our comment on 2d we spoke of ways of producing required letters. ‘Essentially’ (which is not accepted by all editors) prompts us to look at the middle of a word.
We felt that this crossword was yet again within the range of difficulty of the four September ones with not too many difficult devices to handle. When you have spotted the device and realized what the extra letters have advised you to do, you will (unless this is part of your culture) need to return to Chambers (as we did) to neaten up your final grid.
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