Cyclopaedia by Triple
Posted by shirleycurran on 14 September 2012
I was feeling rather snarly about the Listener having just broken a long line of correct entries with that question of the B or b on KOHb (which I still think was ambiguous – Chambers allows only a capital B for Bass). However, that is water under the bridge. Still, last week’s numerical had made me even more snarly (though it was less alien for a numpty numerophobe than the numerical ones usually are, and all around me people are saying that there was a logical path to the solution and none of that stabbing at numbers and flailing with the calculator that I was doing).
All it needed was a carte blanche with a playfair square, misprints and jumbles, to unhook me forever from the Listener drug and return me to the charm of the ‘Sun coffee break easy clues grid’ (with naked royals prancing on the cover to make my day).
Thus Triple’s Cyclopaedia came as a real surprise. Since the demise of Tantris we haven’t seen many eightsome reel crosswords (though Pointer produced one in the June 2011 Magpie and Rasputin have one in the July Magpie – time for another Magpie plug! http://www.piemag.com/) It looked like a new setter too, and the clues soon revealed an engaging zaniness with blue clues like priapic-est (Ind) royal, especially lacking a bit of private time. This puzzle must have been submitted at least a year ago so Triple couldn’t have known how topical his clue to RANDIEST was going to be (Back to the Sun front cover!)
If I claim that this crossword was plain solving from start to finish, that wouldn’t be quite true, as solutions flew off the end of our pencils (7 SCANDIAN, 5 GANGSTER, 13 ARKANSAN, 16 ANTELOPE, 20 RANDIEST, 32 ALMANACS, 36 VERRUCAS) but, of course, just as with the numericals, one needs a way in where two clues neatly intersect. Even then, there is a fair chance that they will be entered in the wrong direction.
SANDWORT gave us the opening and it was conveniently in the north-west corner. What a generous clue with Arenaria at the end of it. (aurora n a sunburst dawn to wilt Arenaria). We were off, and filling was just like completing a jigsaw as we smilingly built up the picture. Even with a break for dinner, we had a full grid in three hours. We appropriately finished in the top right hand corner and spent a frustrated moment looking for a non-existent word, as we managed to enter NOLONGER as NOLONREG (Well, it depends which was you read the palindromic part, doesn’t it!)
I haven’t quite been kicking my Chambers round the room or tearing out the Russian alphabet page with its ‘usual transliteration’ this week and now it was back in favour as we looked up CIRCULAR and didn’t find ‘ROUND AND …’. those letters that had appeared as extra letters, but were sufficiently convinced by ‘in the form of a circle; round; ending in itself;’ to feel that the lovely little endgame of this crossword was satisfactory and justified the letters that had appeared: CHAMBERS DEF OF CIRCULAR GOES …
Thank you, Triple – a totally enjoyable debut – if it is one.