Enigmatic Variations 1609 (Hints)
Sad Neighbours by Chalicea
Hints and tips by Phibs
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Solvers who have previously encountered Chalicea will know that they can expect a fair and entertaining – but not too tough – challenge, and an endgame which will leave no room for doubt that it has been successfully negotiated.
Preamble: A comment about SAD NEIGHBOURS circles the perimeter of the grid from the cell at the top left. Solvers must complete the names (unclued) of two of them in the grid and highlight the name of the speaker. Unchecked letters in the perimeter would anagram to LEXINGTON’S BATTED LAST. Chambers Dictionary (2016) is recommended.
Both ‘my’ puzzles this month have featured normal clues (yay!) and a phrase running right round the perimeter. Nowt to do here but get cracking on the grid fill.
10a Decrepit basket made of rushes (5)
The Chambers entry matching the first definition in this clue will probably be more familiar than the second – the primary meaning of ‘decrepit’ given by the big red book sums the answer’s usual sense up nicely.
13a Extremely late for work from time to time (3)
Indicators like ‘from time to time’ and ‘regularly’ typically instruct the solver to use every second letter from a word or sequence of words, but the instruction means only that the number of overlooked characters between each selected letter must be the same. That said, I’m sure that every editor would draw the line somewhere, or we could end up with some very long clues indeed.
23a Likewise in the past, alas, not later accepted (3)
One of those clues that looks tricky at first glance but becomes much simpler if you interpret ‘later’ as ‘the second instance of’.
31a Complete removal of old partner coming back in command pursued by echoed din mostly (8)
The wordplay here consists of three elements in a 2-2-4 pattern, with the ‘coming back’ relating to the ‘in command’ and the ‘echoed’ indicating reversal of the element following it.
9d Old English tomb for historical colony’s founder (6)
There is no ambiguity here as long as you’re using Chambers, which gives only one valid combination of the two-letter abbreviation and the two possible spellings of an archaeological term for a particular type of tomb
21d Grief of old fellow, duke accompanied by female according to Will (6)
A 2-3-1 charade, with the first three words accounting for the two-letter chunk.
28d Brief time – hour is not that! (4)
I thought initially that this clue might be self-referencing in some way, but it’s a conventional three-part charade of which one piece is already in plain sight.
Definitions in clues are underlined
With only around half of the perimeter letters checked, the best approach to the endgame is probably through either the vertical unclued entry or the name of the speaker (Chalicea regulars will have a shrewd idea where to look for the latter). Anyone making what Sir Humphrey Appleby might have described as the ‘courageous’ decision to tackle the comment first may find that the bit running from SW to NW offers a way in. Having completed the perimeter phrase (checking off the letters entered in the process against the unch message) and the two unclued entries, it remains only to highlight the name of the speaker. This person was obviously rather charmed by the idea expressed here, having apparently said and written much the same thing in various forms over the years; the current version differs from the one given by ODQ, and was spoken not by the man himself but by an actor portraying him in a 1970 film.
This puzzle was very similar in its construction to 1607 (Eightsomes), even down to a perimeter phrase consisting of twelve words, and once again the clues were sufficiently friendly to compensate for the higher-than-normal proportion of letters unchecked by clued solutions. The ‘comment’ may not have been familiar (I certainly didn’t remember having heard it before), but with the aid of the other thematic material it was readily identifiable without recourse to any additional sources.
Phibs Toughness Rating : 🥾/🥾🥾 (Suitable for all, but having Chambers to hand is advisable)
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