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Listener 4226: Polar by Kea (or Quite a Sleight)

Posted by Dave Hennings on 15 Feb 2013

Listener 4226As I saw that this week was Kea’s annual outing, I wondered whether we were in for a bit of playful fun or a gargantuan tussle with our editor. The preamble gave nothing away. All we were told was that some entries needed to undergo a transformation after the initial grid was completed, and that a word in 16 other clues needed to be similarly changed before solving. My initial thought was that there could be anagrams or misprints involved, and then discounted both ideas as they would probably be too obvious.

1ac was BADER and 12ac was APODS, neither of which needed to have a word in the clue changed. I was tempted to concentrate my efforts on the top left corner, but decided instead to do my more customary jaunt through all the clues in sequence. This proved somewhat depressing, as very few jumped out at me. 17ac Partially roasted alive in Spenser’s case (6) looked like it should be STEDAL, but that wasn’t in Chambers, at least not that I could see.

Onto the downs, and 2 Overhaul resort retaining unsure supports (6) was A•P••• which looked like APPUYS, being SPA reversed around PUY or SPA around YUP all reversed. PUY doesn’t exist, and I failed to see how YUP meant ‘unsure’. (Well it doesn’t does it!) 4dn Diminutive girl, willowy perhaps, raising top as far as possible (5) was R•S•• and was probably ROSIE … OSIER with the R moved to the top. And so the penny dropped. It wasn’t the top that was raised, but the bottom, and the transformation that was required was to replace a word with an antonym. YUP meant ‘sure’ and that clue now made sense.

And so a very entertaining couple of hours (well… more like three, I think) was spent trying to identify the rogue words in the clues. Some were fairly obvious, such as ‘unnatural natural order’ in 6dn, but others weren’t quite, such as ‘period of activity inactivity’ at 5ac. Other clues that I particularly liked were:

16ac KYRIE Prayer guide for heroic souls neglects trinity at start (5)
Nice use of ‘trinity’ to drop first three letters from VALKYRIE.
17ac STEDDE Partially roasted alive dead in Spenser’s case
I got there in the end.
28ac TANAGER Adolescent’s absent for late Early English bird (7)
TEENAGER (adolescent) with EE (Early English) being replaced by A (absent).
33ac WOE UNTO Doctor won out, injecting drug, to see a plague off on (7, two words)
As in ‘a plague on both your houses’.
19dn BATHER Someone soaking my meagre drinks
BAR=maigre=meagre containing THE (my, as in ‘the wife’, I think); tricky!

Listener 4226 My EntryAll that remained was to replace the five entries not touched by words with transformed clues with their antonymns: LOOSE became TIGHT, HEAVY became LIGHT, BLACK WHITE, WRONG RIGHT, and STUPID BRIGHT.

Top marks again to Kea for a finely-crafted and thoroughly enjoyable puzzle.

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