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Listener No 4313: Weak Force by Tut

Posted by Dave Hennings on 17 October 2014

The first newbie for a few months appears this week in the shape of Tut, and it seems that we are in for a continuation of the science theme after last week’s Elementary Deduction from Rood. I was very late starting this puzzle as a week’s golf in Portugal got in the way, so the Tuesday before the deadline had me hoping that this would be a quick solve. Only a dozen definition misprints to contend with had me feeling confident.

Listener 43131ac Madman in Austin briefly used to shoot down Jews (4) seemed likely to need ‘jets’ to replace ‘Jews’; the preamble was very helpful in saying that ‘capitalisation may need to change’, help that I didn’t think we really needed but the editors obviously did. Anyway, I still couldn’t get it, and 4ac Possible farmer of lac in taro cropped with fish (6) referred to 1ac (!), so I couldn’t get that either. Eventually I solved 14ac SKIMPIER and then another gap before 23 GESTAPO across the middle. With only another half dozen acrosses, my grid looked somewhat sparse.

The downs started off well, with 3 AERIE, 4 COMPUTERS and 5 CINEMATICALLY at last making my grid-fill looking substantial. Unfortunately, only 31 ABASE and 35 SERK completed my initial down solving, but eveything then speeded up nicely.

When I finally got 1ac FLAK (‘flake’ being a crazy person in the US), I was left wondering what A farmer/firmer/warmer of flak was at 4ac. It was some time before I realised that 1ac was lac, and a possible farmer of lac was the COCCID. There was a close call at 21dn Monsters: fifty donning episcopal robes (8) where I nearly entered CHIMERAE as the plural of ‘chimera’ instead of CHIMERAS (CHIMERS about A).

As I neared completion of the grid, I was getting worried that I only had 9 out of the 12 definitions identified. So far, I had T… P U P…P TRAN…. It was only with a bit more examination that I realised that coccid insects weren’t farmers of lac, but formers of lac… ie they formed it!

Listener 4313 My EntryThus I could see that we were dealing with quarks — TOP, UP and STRANGE. The PLAYER at 39ac was one ‘in the cast’ not ‘in the part’ as I originally had. Moreover, ‘commonly takes pear’ at 10dn should be ‘commonly takes gear’ (ie drugs) and leads to USES, while 16dn BLASH is ‘rain pounding on the brats braes’ (ie river bank).

Finally, appearing neatly in the leading NW-SE diagonal, was the end of a line from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake: “Three quarks FOR MUSTER MARK”. This theme was also the subject of Inquisitor 1288 Matters in Particular by Radler.

In the end, this wasn’t a purely scientific theme but a literary one with a dash of science thrown in. I was lucky that it turned out to be a pretty straightforward and enjoyable 2-hour solve which enabled me to easily meet the deadline, so thanks for that, Tut.


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