Listener 4227: 42 by Xanthippe
Posted by Dave Hennings on 22 February 2013
Xanthippe’s last puzzle was the first mathematical of 2012, all about number plates and the American states. It’s a couple of weeks until our first mathematical of 2013, so this is standard Xanthippe crossword fare. There are two unclued entires, 8dn and 42ac which somehow affect material in eight pairs of answers. “Material” sounded a bit vague, if not ominous.
1ac was an easy reversal of HG IS to give SIGH, neatly planting the idea that 2dn Man forged Greek money began with a G; in fact it would turn out to be a simple anagram, MNA (after a transformation of 1ac). 11ac Stale talk of fruit among bananas (5) was an unuaual clue. I solved it from among bananas leading to MANGO, but, as well as the definition fruit there was also a second slice of wordplay in MANG (old word for talk) + O (of).
24ac Living obtainable from businesses (6, two words) was a straightforward hidden – IN ESSE. However, this didn’t help much with 31ac Denoting a state of being 4 24 (6), and it took some time to realise that only 24 related to a clue answer, the final wordplay reading IV (four) in ESSE, ie ESSIVE. We were certainly getting some innovative clues here.
Of course, what wasn’t mentioned by the preamble was that there were many squares where letters clashed, but how they were to be resolved remained a mystery for well over an hour. That was when I finally solved 4ac Include moving uniform to end — education resumed (9) and was COUNT IN with the U moved to the end + ED (education) to give CONTINUED. This meant that it looked as though 8dn was UNIVERSE and 4ac could transform into CONTINUUM, which agreed with MEEK at 9dn.
At last, the eponymous 42, which wasn’t quite the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, but was WORMHOLES. Thus eight answers disappeared after starting at their clue number, to appear at the corresponding point in its pair with the pair undergoing a corresponding transformation. All this needed keeping careful track of how the various pairs were matched:
|1ac SIGH||36ac NAME||became||SAME||NIGH|
|4ac CONTINUED||43ac STUM||CONTINUUM||STED|
|11ac MANGO||18ac ERSE||MANSE||ERGO|
|15ac PILL||38ac TONE||PINE||TOLL|
|34ac WARTIME||1dn SPACESHIP||WARSHIP||SPACE-TIME|
|35ac PUTS||16dn TRANCE||PUCE||TRANTS|
|4dn CUBICAL||5dn NUMEROLOGISTS||CIBISTS||NUMEROLOGICAL|
|13dn ADEPT||25dn SWORE||ADORE||SWEPT|
A final clue to comment on: 13dn Harry Potter aids regularly: he knew secret of philosopher’s stone (5), being ADEPT, an anagram of alternate letters: PoTtEr AiDs. All in all, these were a solid set of clues, and I’m sure there were others that were somebody’s favourite.
The final task was to highlight two affected entries, which were thematic. SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM were the two and brought Xanthippe’s enjoyable escape into the fourth (or fifth?) dimension to a neat finish.