This was the numpty team’s first Tiburon and we approached it with some trepidation. Rule number one; read the preamble carefully several times and highlight some instructions! What a good thing that we noticed that we were looking for misprints in certain clues and corrections in the remainder! That instruction was slightly daunting; how were we going to separate them?
Solving progress was very slow. A friend suggested that this puzzle would fit into the Magpie A or B category. I found the wordplay very challenging – clearly there’s a long uphill climb to the D/E level. However, almost every time that I solved a clue, I commented ‘That was brilliant!’ or ‘That was magic!’ or ‘What a splendid clue!’ Well, they were, weren’t they?
Take 22d. ‘Nit treatments limited to prime locations’ I wonder how long Tiburon pondered before he spotted the fact that RETE (net) occupied the ‘prime’ (i.e. 2,3,5 and 7) locations of ‘treatments’.
Misprints are so often fairly obvious but not so with 37ac. ‘Ocarina formed of pipes etc.’ The surface reading is magic – an ocarina is formed of pipes isn’t it? The obvious misprint would have been ‘acarina’, so, for far too long, I tried to find some mites that would be anagrammed to ‘pipes etc.’ Oh no! AARONIC finally appeared and the new magic surface reading of ‘popes etc.’
Then there was the ARAL SEA. It took me a while to spot that ALS in AREA fulfilled the needs of the clue, ‘Lar(G)e lake once further in extent’. It took me even longer to recognise the sheer genius and relevance of the surface reading concerning this shrinking lake.
My favourite of all these fabulous clues has to be, ‘Exclude from li(S)t in newspaper limo having disembarked’. The thought of the SUN ROLLS is delightful. I have a vision of Murdoch swanning around in his Rolls – then we disembark him (remove the SS) and are left with UNROLL.
There was such pleasure in these wonderful clues that the team wasn’t particularly troubled by our slow rate. The four corners, one by one, slowly filled (that’s like saying soccer is a game of two halves, and we either win or we lose, isn’t it?) until we suddenly saw THYMINE in our corrected misprints. What a give-away! At once, the others resolved themselves into CYTOSINE, GUANINE and ADENINE and we were left with DEOXYRIBONUCLEIC ACID. Of course, that resolved a few of our remaining problems with the clues. 19d. ‘Pool buddy in bright costume’. I had been struggling to spot the misprint, and having visions of some dazzling orange and turquoise Speedo-clad bronzed Adonis at the poolside – but no, it was not to be. The L in Pool was the misprint and, of course, Kanga was Pooh’s buddy.
SALVE had given me Ice in the place of Ace – most unsatisfactory! However, the C was now needed as the misprint in 5d. ‘Ace possibly, except straddling line’, and here was another brilliant clue with an Ave as a Salve!
Finding WILKINS, WATSON, CRICK and FRANKLIN spiralling their way down the grid in symmetrical curves and encapsulating the DNA theme was the final beautiful touch of this magic crossword. What a triumph for Tiburon!