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The Dentures of Sherlock Holmes

Posted by shirleycurran on 17 Feb 2012

What a delightful title! ‘Tusk, tusk!’ It told us all! “Shouldn’t it be ‘Adventures'”? Asked one numpty with a smile. “It’s probably full of teeth!” replied the other – let’s get our teeth into it.

We noticed, with care, that wordplay and grid entry would always correspond and be confirmed by the ‘lengths in brackets’, so here was a hint that some definitions might not tally with the wordplay.

We were also told that ‘Some clues consist of wordplay only, having answers that conform to the statement.’ Wasn’t that a fine example of a chunk of preamble that is gobbledygook until the penny-drop moment, then makes perfect sense?

When was our ‘penny-drop moment’? It was the Z of ZINGARO that led us from a string of likely words to HERE’S A PUZZLE WE CAN REALLY GET OUR TEETH INTO, WATSON. We already had PREMOLAR in the grid, though I still don’t understand the wordplay that led to it ‘US Rock group breaking from the deep South, say (8)’. PREMOLAR was the only available word and confirmed our suspicion that we needed a fine set of teeth. We already had INCISORS, CANINE and WANG, which turned out to be a word for MOLARS.

This enjoyable little puzzle took nothing like the days we spent on Mash’s Klein Bottle or those fearsome Knight’s moves – in fact, we had an almost complete grid within our first hour of solving with a generous dose of anagrams and hidden words, ‘E.g. olein, part of lifE’S TERrors (5)’, and ‘Some altitudinAL Pasture in this (3)’, but there was that little twist at the end. We had a couple of ‘non-words’ to explain.

We know a NAEVUS is a birthmark, so what was N?US doing at 9 across, ‘Pigmented spot not unknown in linked group (4)’? NEXUS had to be our linked group and we had to remove X (unknown) from it, so our NAEVUS had become NEUS. Aaaaah! Just as [a]D[v]ENTURES had become DENTURES.

All that was left to do was to see how the other gaps in our grid could be filled in a similar way. Some hunger striker had to be ?TR?R ‘Perhaps one packing nothing away’ – so a STORER less O, a STRER. Adding the AV produced a ST[a]R[v]ER.  With our STRER in place, we could suss out AGIT[a]TI[v]E and [a]D[v]ENT which gave us a neat little French tooth into the bargain.

A bit of Chambers searching produced T[a]I[v]ERT for ‘Maclean’s muddled story time (TIER on T) and we had a full grid and a toothy smile on our faces. Great fun, thank you, Salamanca!

2 Responses to “The Dentures of Sherlock Holmes”

  1. Shirley, I don’t know if you’re up to speed now with REM, but they’re a US rock group … as in music, not geology.

  2. shirley curran said

    Thanks, Dave, no this is one of my fields of ignorance (total!)

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