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Listener 4146: What It Says by Waterloo (or Boxing Clever)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 5 Aug 2011

Another puzzle this week from ‘Mr Quirky’ himself – Waterloo. His last was almost two years ago, and entitled fiDlEDE, requiring repeated letters or groups of letters to be entered in red/blue and lower/upper case. Not so much fiDlEDE as fiddddly. Hopefully this week’s puzzle would prove more straightforward.

The grid was certainly unusual, with great swathes of real estate, as well as single and double squares, separated from other swathes of the grid. Plus the clues comprised 1, 2 or 3 separate entry spaces strung together.

I have to say that, probably along with a lot of people, I got the theme (actually it turned out to be only half the theme) after just one clue. For me, it was 7a,3d SORTED (although I didn’t realise the meaning of well-organised/equipped was ‘esp with drugs‘); it seemed likely that the two entries would consist of S or TED, although in this case it was obvious which went where. My hunch was confirmed by 16a,49a,70d (1,3,1) which was CORMORANT, ie C or M or ANT. 28a,7d CORSET was next and then something I was almost (if not hopefully) expecting 29a LANDE or L and E to be put in the same entry space. So OR and AND both needed to be removed from answers and the bits entered separately or together.

Surprisingly, the grid took the best of two hours to fill. I think this was because sorting out the different elements of clues was a bit fiddly (oh dear, we’re back to that again!). Plus some of the clues needed detailed analysis to be sure that they worked (one of the trials of having to do the weekly blog). For example, 18d,64d Perhaps Star Wars force ring traps Tarzan? No thanks, emphatically (2,2) led to SFORZANDO [SF (perhaps, Star Wars, ie science fiction) OD (force) O (ring) holding TARZAN – TA (thanks)]. However, I had a real problem with 53a,16d Peace lost in the past after fashionable herb (1,4) [HISTORY (the past) – HIST (peace) after CHIC (fashionable)] which gave CHICORY; I just wasn’t happy with the definition herb. Was it just me?

I had my own little tangent to go off at with 1a,68a Change from Sinatra, not total scene change which also took a bit of time to work out. An initial flash of inspiration (which turned out to be totally ill-informed) fed MANDARIN CANDIDATE into my brain as one of Frank Sinatra’s films. This would need to be entered as MARIN CIDATE, but that wasn’t enough letters. I pretty soon realised that I was thinking of The Manchurian Candidate and it wasn’t relevant here at all! The simpler TRANSFORMATION was the required anagram of from Sinatra not.

Now when I said ‘the grid took the best of two hours to fill’, what I really meant was ‘the grid took the best of two hours to fill, apart from two squares’. Yes, 61a,40d,62d Unlucky opener to obtain zero runs in most of day (1,1,2) was there to rouse us from our complacency, even though we had the letters P, A and •A. No doubt many of you got it immediately, but I’m hoping (in a caring way) that there were others, like me, who were truly stumped by it. It obviously had OR (zero runs) in it, and presumably there was another OR in there to make it spread over three entry spaces. If only I’d just taken the easy way with most of day just being DA, rather than MONDAy, FRIDAy or MARDi; I might have got PANDORA a bit sooner. Actually it was being convinced that opener to obtain led to an O that was the real stumper. As it was, it took about 7 or 8 visits over the next couple of hours before she finally materialised, needing to be entered as P or A in 61a,40d and P and A in 62dn. Unlucky opener indeed!

So another dose of playful enjoyment from Waterloo, and a bit of a break from the run of testing puzzles by the likes of Shackleton and Phi … or is it the lull before the storm of toughies to come?

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